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Top Gear Overdrive

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Reviewed by Raymond Almeda Here's a Jeopardy question for everyone: "Doing this will cause you to weave all over the road, skid your tires, and eventually crash!" If you guessed "What is drinking and driving?" then you are absolutely wrong! Well, okay, you are right, but that's not the answer we were seeking. The answer is "What is playing Top Gear Overdrive?" Top Gear Overdrive suffers from a multitude of little problems, all of which affect one particular aspect of the game. What am I talking about? Well, the controls aren't that bad, but they could have been better. The physics aren't that bad, but they could have been better. The collision detection isn't that bad. Yes, the collision detection is indeed bad. All of these nagging issues adversely affect one crucial element of gameplay: the ability of players to drive around the track. Let's take a hypothetical situation and see if I can explain myself more clearly. You are racing towards a curve in the road. You decide it's about time to turn, so you press ever so slightly left on the analog stick. Your car wildly jerks left. "CRAP!" you exclaim, and then you try to correct the problem by slamming on the breaks and pressing ever so slightly right on the analog stick. Your car wildly jerks right and slows down. You hit the rail going about 35 mph. The crappy collision detection causes your car to explode. You throw your controller across ANT H.Q., causing your boss to yell at you. Oh, wait, did I say hypothetical? Forget that last part. Unnecessary ramblings aside, the flaws in this game make playing Top Gear Overdrive more frustrating than trying to coerce a mule to jump through a flaming hoop. I have yet to see someone get through an entire race without their car exploding, much less have I done it myself! The control issues are really disappointing in light of the potential of this title. Top Gear Overdrive has some of the most impressive visuals in an N64 racer to date. Even without the RAM Expansion Pak, Top Gear Overdrive offers decent graphics at a smooth framerate. If you have that little piece of black and red plastic wonder (the RAM Expansion Pak), however, then this game's graphics will blow you away! Dynamic lighting, beautiful transparencies, you name a graphical effect and this game delivers it. Top Gear Overdrive's multiplayer game suffers from the same nagging flaws as its solo counterpart, but still manages to be fun somehow. I guess frustration is a dish best served for two (or three or four!). Whatever the reason, Top Gear's multiplayer game certainly outdoes the solo experience. If you're going to buy this game, make sure you have three friends that love to play N64! Alas, just when you thought there would be no more flaws, it's time to bring up Top Gear Overdrive's audio. While the game's sound effects serve their purpose, they certainly aren't groundbreaking. Most cars simply share the same effects, rather than have separate sounds for each individual car. Apparently, Kemco was trying to save space for the game's soundtrack. They should've kept the sound effects instead. Top Gear Overdrive's background music is provided by a band called Grindstone. While the music itself isn't that bad, after hearing it over and over again you may be tempted to try and find out where this band lives. (Just to warn them about the dangers of overexposure, of course.) No one would buy a Grindstone album after playing this game for any length of time. Top Gear Overdrive turns out to be merely mediocre, despite its wonderful graphics. This game definitely has a rushed feeling to it. This isn't a surprise, since Kemco wanted to have the first game supporting the N64 Expansion Pak. But had the developers been given enough time to work on the control problems, I feel this game could have been a great racer for the N64. As it is, however, the game doesn't warrant anything more than an average score. Top Gear Overdrive is most definitely a "rent before you buy" title.

Overall 7.75 out of 10

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