the writings of a mind

Title: Rollcage Stage II
Genre: Racing - Arcade
Big Word: Flipped
Strap: Apathy (ĎśpƏθІ) n. 1. Absence of interest in or enthusiasm for things generally considered interesting or moving. 2. Absence of emotion.

But I donít want toÖ No!Ö Why should I?Ö Well yes, but not enoughÖ No, not with thatÖ OwÖ Okay, okay, Iíll do it, just donít do that again.

Iím not having any fun. Iím racing around at 400 mph, and Iím bored. I have driven up the walls, onto the ceiling, then blown up a building, and Iíve noticed the dirt under my finger nails. And donít get me wrong, Iím not used to these sorts of things. I havenít blown up a building since the 80ís, and driving on the ceiling has always been something Iíve never quite managed to do. So why am I so mind-numbingly, back-achingly, brain-drainingly, out of my head with sheer, undiluted, boredom?

Rollcage: Stage II
is the follow up to last yearís, wait for it, Rollcage. Upon release, it was welcomed by the gaming world into warm, open arms, with gifts of hot chocolate and buttered toast. Only one was not joining in at the party Ė standing alone with its back turned and a grumpy look upon its face, was yours truly, PC Gamer. As defiant as ever, we didnít care about Other Peopleís opinions. (What do Other People know anyway? Other People watch Youíve Been Framed and go line dancing. The fools.) So are we once again to be stood outside, alone?

The 1999 original made a number of mistakes. There were simply too many options - too many ways to play the game. The developers had spent so long creating the various options, that none had been given enough specific attention. Added to that, everything was so darned fast that you never really felt in control; instead you are left being thrown about the place with very little to do for your recovery. And finally, and most condemning, it just wasnít any fun. So what have ATD done to put it right?

Well, quite stunningly, nothing. All the niggles live on. While there isnít anything technically wrong with the game (if you wanted to create a 3D racing game, with speeds of up to 500mph, carrying weapons that could take out a city, all seen in stunning visuals, then this should be the solution), there is still a hollow feeling throughout. It is as if somehow, somewhere along the line, the soul was never put in.

Again you have numerous ways to approach the game, each involving a different style of play. You can race against the clock, race against the computer, or challenge yourself on a series of obstacle courses. You can partake in a straight race against a number of opponents, or be involved in a destructive, all-out, blast-em-up. All are incredible to look at, sucking the very last juices from your 3D card to create luscious backdrops, polished tracks, and breathe-taking lighting effects. And it is all so unbelievably fast. So what we have, it seems, is something approaching a technical masterpiece. With a half-decent graphics card you can crank the resolution to the top end and still have a phenomenally fast, and unbreakingly smooth, ride.

But what undoes this greatness is the unbelievable speed. You just arenít going at 495mph. So why say you are? It doesnít feel like it, it doesnít look like it, so what is the point in writing enormous numbers in the bottom right of the screen? It is the pinball-score of driving games.

Yet, you are still going ridiculously fast. You are belting along at such a speed that it isnít possible to be convinced of having any control. One mistake, one slight clip, and you are sent spiralling upside down and all over the place, left to fight your way to face forwards again (and in later levels, almost certainly out of the race).

This is really a Playstation game, and while being visually astounding on the PC, it doesnít escape its console roots. It isnít awful, it isnít even bad, itís just achingly soulless.

Margin Notes:
Dumb and Bass

Being a Playstation baby, it is necessary for Rollcage to carry a half-decent soundtrackÖ. In theory. What we have here misses the mark like a dad at a disco. Contained inside are a selection of dance tracks from the Moving Shadow label. Yes, you can listen to Omni Trio, the E-Z Rollers, Flytronix, Dom & Roland, Aquasky and Technical Itch. "Technical Itch"? Oh please.

Guns and Poses

As you receive more impressive cars, the variety of boosters littering the tracks improves. Cars, buildings, and rather strangely, signposts can be taken out with Mini-Rockets, the Chain Gun, and the Leader Missile. Then there are the usual speed-ups, and shields etc. But more fun are gadgets like Time Warp which lets you put all the other vehicles in slow motion, or Lazerblades that freeze any other cars, causing them a rather slidey driving experience.

Verdict: A real, real, pity. Looking this good should be saved for games with a soul.


Tech Specs:

Publisher: Psygnosis
Developer: ATD
Minimum System: 
Multi-player: Modem/Lan
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