3D Stock Cars is very similar in design to all those racing games which have been released recently - SuperSprint, Jet Bike Sim - in that one or two players race little sprites round a course against the computer. At first sight, 3D Stock Cars is a pretty poor clone, with terrible graphics and shoddy presentation. But where it stands out from the crowd is in the depth of play and the realism of the controls, for the computer cars act intelligently- (clever, huh,) to what is happening on the track.
So instead of just finishing the race faster than the computer drones, you can, and must, use some tactics to win. In fact, the more evil the tactics, the more likely you are to win. For instance, turning sharply in front of cars causes them to swerve out of your way - time your swerve correctly and they'll collide with the barriers and hit the other cars as they reverse out! Heh, heh!
How many overhead car racing games have we had? Quite a few. Let me rephrase that. How many good overhead car racing games have we had? As far as I know, none. Even Superand Championship Sprints failed to be anything more than mildly exciting. Although they had nice large colourful graphics (including a lot of colour clash), they never really managed to capture the feel of the coin-ops, and consequently I never saw them as anything special.
3-D Stockcar Championship on the other hand, is great. Looking at the screen dumps on this page, I know you're going to say, "Whuuuh? With graphics that small and attribute clash that bad, how can it be good?" Well, my friends, quite easily. A still shot can't reproduce the 2 main things that this game has going for it. Superb animation and a great deal of fun.
Stock car racing involves zooming around in practically indestructible boom-bang-a-bang-mobiles, crashing and bumping into other cars, and the odd barrier, in a frantic attempt to get to the front. In SCC, you, along with 3 other cars (all of which can be controlled by the computer or another player, or just left out of the game) have to race around a series of 24 tracks, each one harder than the last. Each consists of a mazelike affair of short straights and very tight corners, which if taken too fast, results in your car skidding very realistically.
The only gripe I have about the graphics is their size. All the cars are only one character size large. Incredibly though, the programmers have made them look very much like cars, and to be honest, I don't think I've ever seen a car so realistically animated in a game. The look of the tracks is a little bland admittedly, but they serve their purpose well, so no complaints there.
Your car has 8 forward gears (yes, eight!! even more than a Mini Metro) and changing gears is a matter of releasing the fire button, pushing forward and holding down the button to accelerate. With good timing, you can get up to top speed in no time, though trying to steer around corners at quite-a-lot-of MPH is very trick indeed, so naturally in no time at all, you're gonna come a cropper and introduce your bonnet to a railing, a la Jon Riglar. This is where the 9th gear comes in, one that has never been done before, REVERSE. Yes, SCC is the first ever overhead racing game to utilise a reverse gear, and jolly handy it is too.
Sound is lame. I wish I didn't have to say that, but I've gone and said it anyway. The most irritating thing about it is not that it's the usual, "Neeaaaah, neeaah," sound that's on all the rest, but that there's only sound for car 1. The other three cars are completely silent. Now come on Silverbird, you could have at least tried.
The game is great fun to play, and the multi-player option adds a great deal to it, but the game does fall down slightly, since you can't expand or improve your car. Still what do you expect from budget? I don't think you could ask for more.
Reviewer: Tony Dillon
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