Review by Matt Paprocki
Hydro Thunder was an early
standout for the Dreamcast during its initial release. Great graphics coupled with a
surprisingly high fun factor added up to an early must-play game for the console. Here we
have 4 Wheel Thunder which runs on a slightly modified Hydro Thunder
engine, but it obviously takes the water out and replaces it with dry land....and cars.
Differentiating this game from other racers is the fact that you don't have to finish in a high spot; just managing to place is an accomplishment. The excruciating difficulty will turn off more than a few people early. Nitro power-ups are the meat of the game and any player who runs out of them or doesn't collect enough will find themselves too far back to catch up.
Midway has done a fine job with the game graphically. The frame rate stays high as does the detail. Multiple players battling for supremacy will find that slowdown occurs a bit too often, but this hardly detracts from the highly polished look of the games landscapes. Eagle-eyed players will notice little secrets strewn throughout the game that only help make the experience more enjoyable. The soundtrack does detract from the game however. It simply plays in the background, hardly noticeable, while the engine sounds muffle out any other audio.
Controlling the cars requires little in the area of actual skill, but some players might find the tight corners too much to handle if they're impatient. Since using nitro boosts is a main part of the game, so if knowing the course layout. Hitting the nitro button just before a hairpin isn't pretty and experienced players tend to have a distinct advantage. Otherwise, controlling these monstrous vehicles is a great experience not be missed.
The usual modes offered by the game have all been done before, mostly by the previously mention Hydro Thunder. The limited number of courses hinder the replay value. Playing with a group of friends make this a little more tolerable. Indoor and outdoor courses add some variety to the game. There simply aren't enough of them to go around.
Beyond the ridiculously high challenge level and disappointing soundtrack, this is a bright spot for Midway. While the difficulty level problem may keep a few people away, the rest will love this games arcade feel. A few more Thunder games may get redundant, but if the series continues to be high quality, gamers will welcome this series.
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