Speed freaks

Introduction

Call me a heretic, but I have to admit that the Mac isn’t my only gaming machine. It’s true: I’ve also got a few console games attached to my TV – because many of my favourite games just haven’t had good Mac equivalents. This has been particularly true of driving games, but the situation is changing. We’ll take a look at what’s available in the racing genre for the Mac. If movies like Bullitt or The French Connection are your thing, then you should definitely check out Driver, from MacSoft. In the game, you’re an undercover cop sent to bust up crime rings by becoming the person who drives the getaway car. You must fend off other cops, other crooks, loads of slow pedestrians, and city traffic. A frustrating game to learn, Driver is a blast once you get the hang of it. You’ll power around San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York in muscle cars, doing bad things that’ll get you in trouble unless you outrun the cops and robbers. Driver’s coolest feature is its Film Director mode: your inner cineast can block out shots and control the “cameras” when you replay your high-speed chases. The game does have rough spots. It crashed my Mac once, and its installer left me with a generic application icon and a messy folder filled with configuration files. Driver is a single-player game, but it offers many game types and enough challenge to keep things interesting. Some cities, for example, can’t be visited until you’ve completed your missions elsewhere. My other car is a boat
When I was a kid, I loved to play in the bathtub with plastic hydroplanes and jet boats. I suspect that the people at French Touch Software had similar experiences, because playing WaterRace – its debut Mac game effort – is a lot like that. You choose from a variety of characters, pick a boat, and race through your choice of exotic locations. Your goal is to win the WaterRace, an international speedboat championship. Some of the characters are comic to the point of silliness, with names such as MC Tiger and Rusty McCow. French Touch Software developed WaterRace as a Mac application from the start. Many of the tools used to create the game are included on the WaterRace CD-ROM – a rare and generous gesture. You can use these tools to create your own courses, boats, and other elements. WaterRace is enormous fun to play, but it can be unstable – I had to manually tweak some of the configuration settings to get them to stick. It does, however, have a great soundtrack, a decent physics model (boats slip and slide just as you would expect them to), and enough variety in boat handling and course layout to pose challenges along the way. It also supports network play, so you can round up an Internet game whenever you like. Let the good times roll
If your tastes run more to mud and grit than to sand and surf, 4x4 Evo, from Gathering of Developers, is worth checking out. It puts you behind the wheel of a light truck or sport-utility vehicle (from a real automaker) and lets you barrel through one of more than a dozen courses – from high desert to a military air base to a junkyard. Pangea Software scored big earlier this year when Apple chose to include Cro-Mag Rally on both the iMac and the G4 Cube. If you haven’t bought a new system this year and are looking for a cart-style racing game, look no further. Cro-Mag Rally is a good, well-rounded game. You take control of cave people as you navigate a series of racing circuits through different ages of civilization. It features a variety of cars with unique handling and performance, and power-ups. You can play Cro-Mag Rally over a LAN, but not over the Internet. My favourite feature is split-screen multiplayer support. You and a friend can sit down at the same Mac, with two game controllers, and Cro-Mag Rally actually divides the screen between the two of you. Pangea does an awesome job on the fit and finish, and the game is stupefyingly fun.
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