Team 17 have created a shoot-'em-up, a platformer and a beat-'em-up, but most surprisingly of all have never produced a racing game. Well, to put wrongs to rights, the Teamies have brought out for your deliberation a racer that calls itself Overdrive.
I don't know anybody who dislikes this type of game. Is it because everybody feels the need fo speed and fantasises about becoming a top racing driver? Maybe, but I'll never know unless someone conducts a worldwide games survey!
The first racer I ever played was Pole Position and by Jingo what a cracker it was. OK, looking back now it looks amateurish and very basic, but it was easy, fun to play and highly addictive.
Since those days, racers have steadily progressed from being incredibly basic to being intricate, technical and realistic. The work that went into MicroProse's Formula One Grand Prix was just mind-blowing.
Team 17 seem to have conquered every genre in the Amiga world and now they've turned their hand to the racing game, but how will they fare this time? Well, as per usual they've produced a damn fine piece of Amiga software. I'll sum the rest up later, but first some handy information.
Overdrive feature four different style vehicles, five terrains, 20 tracks and eight different characters each with their own unique style. There are four different game modes to choose from: Arcade, practice, trails and two-player.
The single player arcade mode is the main one and the one that the game is based around. It offers you a selection of race scenarios to choose from as you progress through the ranks. In order to have the final "race-off" against the demon driver (the final objective), you must achieve the game's top-rank. You are given an amount of cash to start with because it costs money to enter each race, but the harder the race, the better the prize.
Before you start the race you have the chance to qualify and aim for a better grid position in three timed laps. This also acts as an aid to learning the circuit or if you've think you;re good enough you can jump straight into the race, starting at the back of the grid.
Improvements can be made to your vehicle by picking up various parts which have been liberally spread out all over the track.
Items like wheels, spanners and fuel increase your car's handling and performance in subsequent races. Other pick-ups come in the form of extra cash and turbo pads and these too are littered on the tracks,
You continue racing until your cash runs or if you finish last in three different races. To make Overdrive even harder, in some races you must finish in first place to continue and others, notably the easier tracks, you have to avoid finishing last.
When you finally enter the "Overdrive Race-Off" against the demon driver, it can be any one of a number of specially configured "demon tracks", so this ensures that there are number of different endings to the game.
The other modes that you can race in are fairly self-explanatory. Practise allows you to practise on any of the tracks and two-player mode configures the use of a serial link where you race against human opposition on another Amiga. The last mode is the trials. This is a form of practice game that puts you up against the clock. You can select one of 20 configured trials with the aim of beating the best lap/race time. This means that you can practice your driving skills and still retain that competitive human spirit that remain within us all.
When I first loaded and played Overdrive I was slightly disappointed because it didn't play as well as I thought it should have done. It seemed incredibly difficult and the awkward control system just frustrated me.
After playing around with it I began to become more accustomed to the track and found I could at least give the computer players a good run for their money.
Overdrive is one of those games where you have to spend a certain amount of time practising before you even attempt to try and win a "proper" race. If you use the practice or trials modes you'll find that your ability to control the car will improve drastically and soon you'll be whizzing around like Damon Hill on class As.
The graphics are small, but are very detailed and displayed in 32 colours. Overdrive is incredibly fast and runs at a super smooth 50Mhz. The game also contains five excellent pieces of music to race to and there is a fair smattering of sound effects and samples.
Team 17's racer is one of those products that steadily grows on you. At first it seems very complicated, but as you progress you get really engrossed and find yourself totally addictive. It is also perhaps one of the toughest race games I've played and tests your driving skills to the absolute limit.
For boy or girl racers wanting a tough yet exciting arcade racer, you need look no further than Overdrive. Team 17 have produced another gem of a game and to be honest I can't see anyone beating them to the award for Software House of the Year.