Overdrive logo Amiga Computing Gamer Gold

Race around corners, skid on oil patches, jump over jumps and collect loads of dosh in Team 17's first ever drive/race-'em-up.

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.


Keep on tracking!
GP Circuit
These are fast, smooth tracks where speed is optimum. GP circuits are best raced via the best "racing line". You'll find few bumps and obstacles on your way, but expect a fast paced race from start to finish.
City Circuit
Another fast, twisting track with good surfaces and few obstacles. The racing line isn't quite as important as with the GP circuits and therefore it's a little easier.
Icy Circuit
The road is fast, but very icy, making turning very hazardous. Speed freaks beware on these circuits. Watch out for rocks in the road!
Desert Track
This bumpy, dusty road is ideal stomping ground for the buggies and 4x4s. Expect all manner of obstacles in the way.
4x4 Arena
A soft dust 4x4 indoor arena full of bumps and twists, ideal for pacey buggies and 4x4 monsters. Don't expect to find a GP or Sportscar in here though.
Would sir like to take it for a spin?

GP Car
Overdrive
This ground-hugging race machine loves the track and hates the rest of the ground! You'll find the speed amazing and the acceleration incredible. GP cars are terrible on dirt and sand, they skid and spin uncontrollably and sometimes slow to a complete stop. The GP cars are available on the GP, city and icy circuits. It's more at home on a GP circuit than anything else.

4 x 4
Overdrive
This powerful vehicle is able to bump 'n' bounce its way over most terrains. It has a slower top speed, but it's more agile over rougher ground. It's most at home on its own 4x4 arena although it handles well on the desert city and icy tracks. Its suspension system makes it ideal for handling the jumps found on the desert and arena tracks.

Supercar
Overdrive
This hybrid super sports car is not unlike the GP in performance, but it does tend to slide on fast corners. It doesn't mind the dirt quite as much, but try and stick to the road if you can! It is quite versatile on the GP, city and icy circuits.

Buggy
Overdrive
This nippy little buggy will surprise everyone wit its turn of speed and versatility. It's right at home on the desert tracks, but you'll also find it handles the 4x4 arenas as well as the city circuits.


Overdrive logo

Welcome folks and here's your super, soaraway 10-step, no-nonsense guide to Team 17's new brake-blockbuster Overdrive. One player. Two players, using a null modem cable. Three skill levels. Four types of car. Five terrain types. Six hours of disk accessing. Seven better things you can think of doing while waiting. Eight different computer drivers to race. Nine lives are for the cats, not cars. 10-pin bowling bowling bears little resemblance to Overdrive.

"This is a tannay announcement. Would Mr Stephen Bradley please return to the Inevitable Comparisons department on the fifth floor."

Seen it all before?
Eeh, them stairs, they'll be the death of me. So this Overdrive, bit like that Micro Machines, eh? Diddy motors - racing cars, buggies and four by fours zooming around little tracks (and Supercars as well, young Bradley). It all looks the same to me. OK, so there are no breakfast tables, pool tables or baths to manoeuvre your machine around, but what the heck, this game could have been called Very Small Machines.

Oh, but if only this game had appeared on the Amiga a couple of months ago. Then we could have told you about the superfast cars, the fabulous scrolling, the great top-down view. Hang on there just a minute, we still can.

I mean, it's not as if we have to constantly refer to That Other Game. Come on Overdrive, stand up and be counted - get some blood on your tyres.

In the arcade challenge, you get a bundle of cash at the start of the game to enter races, and the harder the race, the bigger the prize. Race around the track against two computer drivers collecting pick-ups to enhance performance. Come last in three races and you will find yourself completely skint.

A touch too late...
No, I can't go on with this. Even if there had been a two-player option, Overdrive would still compare unfavourably against That Other Game. A case of bad timing for Team 17, I'm afraid. Sure, this game is good, polished fun but it goes down by three falls and a submission.



Bleifuß, Mann, Bleifuß!

Overdrive logo

Kaum hat man bei Codemasters die famosen "MicroMachines" auf die Rennstrecke gebracht, schon versuchen die Jungs von Team 17 mit eigenen Mini-Flitzern gleichzuziehen - wer sieht als erster die Zielflagge?

Was die Spielidee betrifft, bedienen sich beide Games hemmungslos am alten Gremlin-Hit "Super Cars": Hier wie dort rasen relativ winzige Boliden über aus der Vogelperspektive gezeigte und in alle Himmelsrichtungen scrollende Kurse, schneiden gekonnt Kurven an und bremsen die Konkurrenz unbarmherzig aus.

Doch wo die Mikromaschinisten mit fiktiven Modellautos über originelle Fahrbahnen wie Werkbänke und Kartentische brettern, flitzen Overdriver über wirklichkeitsnäheres Terrain - und zwar mit Sportwägen, Jeeps, Formel-Fahrzeugen und Buggies, deren Fahreigenschaften sich an realen Vorbildern orientieren.

Anhang gegnerloser Übrungsrennen auf 20 frei anwählbaren Kursen darf man sich zunächst mit den kleinen PS-Geschossen vertraut machen; in der "Challenge" müssen die Strecken dann Stück für Stück siegreich absolviert werden.

Das ist harte Arbeit, denn schon auf dem niedrigsten Schwierigkeitsgrad legen die jeweils zwei Computergegner viel fahrerisches Können an den Tag, wenngleich sie sich dabei den Fähigkeiten des Spielers anpassen und so die Chancen auf einen fairen Rennverlauf gewahrt bleiben.

Schade bloß, daß nicht alle auch eine faire Chance auf einen Zwei-Spieler-Modus erhalten; nur wer zwei "Freundinnen" mit einem Linkkabel aneinanderkettet, darf sich sich heiße Kopf-an-Kopf-Duelle mit Kumpels liefern.

Auch in puncto Abwechslung fällt Overdrive gegenüber der Mikro-Konkurrenz zurück, denn trotz Städten, Wäldern und wüsten mangelt es unterwegs einfach an Ideen: Prescht man etwas über hügeliges Gelände, so macht sich das weder durch einen Hüpfer noch sonstwie bemerkbar, und für kernige Rammduelle bleibt wegen des fast schon zu rasanten Gameplay ohnehin keine Zeit.

Ärgerlich auch, daß nach jedem Rennen zunächst tüchtig von Diskette nachgeladen wird, Zwangenpausen von mehreren Minuten sind an der Tagesordnung. So richtig für Laune sorgen mithin nur die Sammel-Extras, welche z.B. für eine bessere Straßenlage oder kurzfristigen Turboboost sorgen, und auch die Speed-Rennen, wo gegen die Uhr gefahren wird, sind ganz nett.

Das Entrichten von Startgeldern und der begrenzte Benzinvorrat machen sich hingegen in der Spielpraxis ebensowenig bemerkbar, wie die ständig sichtbare, aber zu klein geratene Streckenübersicht am unteren Bildrand.

Schlecht ist Overdrive deshalb aber noch lange nicht, beispielsweise ist die Sticksteuerung in zwei gleichermaßen astreinen Varianten zu haben und akzeptiert selbst so exotische Eingabegeräte wie Zwei-Button-Knüppel oder ein Freewheel-Lenkrad.

Auch die bunte und superflott scrollende Grafik weiß zu gefallen, zumal sie von ausgezeichneter Begleitmusik und prima Sound-FX unterstützt wird. Trotzdem gefällt der Vollpreis-Trip der Budget-Profis im direkten Vergleich halt ein Bißchen besser - so sehr wir Team 17 den Sieg auch gegönnt hätten... (rl)



Overdrive logo

It's a driving game, it's viewed from overhead - Team 17 proudly present - Headrace Um, no, er...

It's been a bit of a funny month, this month. On one hand, we've got a load of games which have appeared all of a sudden out of nowhere - the likes of Turrican 3 and Theatre Of Death, which just appeared on our doorstep almost without warning. Then we've got this, Blastar, Uridium 2, Donk and even Alfred Chicken. I suppose, a clutch of titles which have had difficult and protracted births and have only just finally made it here after what seemed like years of waiting, rejigging and slipping deadlines. And the funny thing is, it doesn't seem to have made any difference at all.

With the possible exception of Uridium 2, the games that we've been hanging around for ages for aren't any better than the ones which just turned up out of the blue - and more importantly, they don't seem to be significantly better than they were, say, a year ago.

To be fair, Overdrive hasn't actually been all that long in the making - it's just missed a lot of release targets, so it seems that way. Still, seeing how it's turned out in the end, I think I'd rather have waited another couple of months.

Overdrive is, as you can probably tell, an overhead-view Super Sprint-type racing game. It's got five different racing scenes, encompassing deserts, icy wastes and city streets among others, and four different types of vehicle to race through them, using two different control methods.


There are never more than three cars on screen

The most surprising thing about Overdrive, though, is that these are pretty much the most impressive technical statistics on offer. Oh sure, it's fast and smooth in that 50Hz-update kind of way, but otherwise you might be rocked back slightly on your heels by the relative, well, pedestrian-ness of it.

For a start, there are never more than three cars on screen at a time - you race either against the clock or against just two computer-controlled opponents, most of whom you won't see for most of the race. And there's another thing - computer-controlled opponents. There's no two-player mode in Overdrive, unless you link up two Amigas with a null-modem cable, and that's a major drawback as far as long-term game life goes.

Also, the game's structure appears to be almost non-existent. You get what appears to be a different, random selection of tracks every time you load it up, which means it's very difficult to generate any feeling of progress either as you go through a single game or as you play lots and improve over time. Even the main menu screen is cluttered and confused, and you have to search around for any useful information you want to glean from it.


I'd rather have waited another couple of months

And how about those old Team 17 strong points, Mr Graphics and Mr Sound? Well, the graphics are fine enough in themselves, but the level o zoom-in on the track is exactly wrong - it's not close enough for a real down-on-the-road feel, but it's too close to give any kind of overall graphical impression of the surroundings, or any useful idea of where the next corner's coming from.

There's a scanner for that purpose, but let's face it, scanners are crap and nobody ever looks at them and the screen space would be better used on, I don't know, a nice picture of a teddy bear or something.
The one in Overdrive (scanner, that is, not teddy bear. Obviously. You're just being silly now.) is worse than most anyway, being pretty zoomed-in itself and hence very little better than just looking at the track, where you at least get a big arrow on the road to warn you of corners fractionally before they happen.

And as for the sound, it starts of alright with good rocking tunes accompanying the standard revving and screeching sound effects, but after a lap or two the music seems to run out of puff and shakes and stutters and eventually loses its way altogether, to much an extent that it's distracting and annoying.


It's nice to have two options

All these presentation and aesthetic flaws could be saved by gameplay, but, er, they aren't. There's nothing really very wrong with the gameplay, you understand - indeed, the actual driving of the car's got a nice feel to it, and it's nice to have two options when it comes to control, even though the second one (an absolute directional control, whereby to go, say, down and right you move the joystick down and right, as opposed to the usual rotational control) is horribly unfamiliar and unworkable.

The difficulty curve is reasonable, although it's a bit too easy to lose a race by making one wrong turn at the start and watching the computer cars race off into the distance, never to be seen again no matter how flawlessly you seem to drive for the rest of the eight laps of the race (and there's another unfortunate mistake - eight laps is far too many in a game like this, and just gets tedious).

It's just that there's been nothing here that hasn't been done better before. And there, as they say, is the rub.

The truth is that pretty much every other Amiga game in this genre is better than Overdrive. Psygnosis' ancient Nitro is better-looking, more varied and more playable. The little-remembered Champion Driver from Idea is just as fast, but prettier and more controllable. Supercars 2 from Gremlin has the two-player mode (albeit flawed) and the Codies' Micro Machines, of course, has all the features of all of them put together and then some. Any or all of them are a better bet than Overdrive, and that makes this an even bigger disappointment than last month's F17 Challenge. Pull your socks up, Team 17.



Overdrive logo

They're small, they're fast and they can spin on the spot. However, there's nothing small about Team 17's machines. Tony Dillon, on the other hand...

Top-view racing games are a bit old hat in most people's eyes. The genre is as old as the hills and there are many who say that it has gone as far as it can. Naturally, these aren't people who have played either Micro Machines or Overdrive - the latest in a very consistent line of hits from Team 17.

BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE
Overdrive is practically two games in one. First, you have the arcade game, where you have to race against a succession of drivers, each better than the one before, until you reach the final challenge and claim victory. The second game is a time-trials challenge, where you have to race a variety of vehicles over a number of courses against the clock. This is slightly easier than the arcade version and gives you the option to get some practice in.

You have four different cars to control in Overdrive, ranging from a GP to a Super sports car. All have their own strengths and weaknesses, as you would expect. The speed and manoeuvrability isn't really an issue, as you only ever race against vehicles of the same type.

The only thing that exploits the weaknesses is the course you are racing on. There are five different types, from Grand Prix courses to icy roads, and the vehicle you are in greatly affects the difficulty of the course. A 4x4 will have little difficulty in the desert terrain, but would be wasted in the city. A GP car is far too fast for the city circuits, but perfect on a racetrack.

By mixing these elements together, you can tailor the game to suit your playing level, making the game as easy or as difficult as you like. Just as well, really, as this is not a very easy game to play.

Sure, the controls are very responsive, and it goes without saying that it's incredibly playable. What makes it so tough is the speed. Everything just whips along at such a rate that it's often hard to anticipate corners, and you end up careering all over the shop. Once you become familiar with a track, then the fun really kicks in. Before you know it, you're racing over every turbo pad there is, leaving the other drivers coughing your dust.

Of course, it can't all be good, or it would have got a mark of 100%. The biggest problem is the horrendous loading times. As the levels vary greatly, the game has to load in complete graphics for each race, which can take a lot longer than the race itself in some cases! One particular thing that annoyed me was the way that the program needs to load the track after you've finished qualifying. Surely the course is already resident in memory at that point?

Some of the presentation screens are a little bland too. I would have liked to have seen a lot more in the way of animated faces - maybe the other drivers passing verdict on your driving skills, but that's really just nitpicking.


MULTI-PLAYER MADNESS

What kind of arcade racer doesn't have a two-player mode? No kind of arcade racer, that's what! But there's none of this nancy split-screen action (can you imagine how hard that would make a game as fast as this!). Instead, Overdrive lets you link up two machines via that old workhorse, the null modem cable. Okay you say, plenty of games have done that in the past, why should this be any better?
Because the game doesn't slow one jot, that's why. For the first time, you can have full 50Hz scrolling on two linked machines!