WHEN THE QUESTION 'WHO WANTS A DIRTY WEEKEND IN PARIS?' WAS ASKED IN THE OFFICE, NICK ROBERTS WAS ONLY TOO KEEN TO OBLIGE. WHAT WE DIDN'T TELL HIM WAS THAT IT INVOLVED TRAVELLING DOWN TO AFRICA ON A DIRTY ROAD (HA HA!)!
Software companies seem to have seen the faults in their road racing games and attempted to rectify them. Take Paris To Dakar, for example. It gives the player the choice of three different vehicles to play with, and choice is what many earlier games were lacking.
The idea of the game is to race your chosen vehicle from Paris to Dakar, encountering various styles of road en route. You can choose to race on a motor bike, in a Metro (bizarre, isn't it?), or a truck. Each have different strengths and weaknesses and can cope better with certain types of terrain.
France is full of fast road action, Spain has rocky off-road racing and there are plenty of sand dunes to be jumped in the Sahara desert before you reach Dakar.
FOR THE WINGS OF A DOVE
Along the route there are icons to collect which improve your vehicle's performance. Turbos send it into super speedy mode (and probably the nearest bush), wings make you stay in the air longer when you go over a ramp, fuel keeps the tanks stocked and damage decrease the damage-o-meter by 15 points.
As well as keeping your eyes on the road, the damage and fuel meters need to be monitored. If one of them falls to zero the game's over and you have to fly back to Paris in disgrace.
Just like author Lyndon Sharp's previous game, 750cc, the graphics are all in detailed monochrome and the game moves far too fast. Most of the time all you can see is a jumble of sprites: rocks, bushes and icons zoom all over the place at such speeds you'll probably run into a boulder and miss the icons altogether!
couldn't stand playing Paris to Dakar for long, there are much better race games about. It's not often said about a Spectrum game, but this is just too fast to be playable (can we try to keep to the speed limit next time, Lyndon?).
NICK ... 62%
'Aaaargh! Where's me sun shades? I've gone blind! Y'see punters, the horrible stripey road effect on Paris to Dakar isn't too kind on the old peepers. I wouldn't mind so much if the game was a more playable but it's a very average racer. True, there's a choice of three vehicles to drive, but what's the point of even trying to get from A to B (or Paris to Dakar) if the road is so treacherous you invariably wreck your vehicle within 30 seconds? Apart from the moving objects, there are boulders strewn all across the track. It's very difficult to miss them and I've given up trying (I just plough straight through them). It's all too uncontrollable to be playable.
MARK ... 38%
I've never understood these loonies who drive from Paris (in France) to Dakar (in, er, Africa). I mean why take your car to the dustiest, sandiest, hottest place in the world? I prefer to race my red XR3i around somewhere more comfy (like the Vatican City or Sark).
Anyway, here's Paris To Dakar from the Codies and no, it's not a 'sim'. Instead, it's a 3D scrolling avoid-everything-as-it-comes-over-the-horizon game. You can choose to drive a truck (which is tough but has a crap top speed), a Mini Metro (?) which is quite fast and quite strong (Don't make me laugh! Ed), or a motorbike which belts along (but will tip you off if you bump into anything) Whichever you choose, you get a back view of your vehicle on the road in front of you and the dashboard at the bottom third of the screen. This tells you your speed, revs, damage, fuel and position (usually about 800th in the race order).
Armed with these amazing statistics you have to race 99 kilometres per stage and collect extra fuel, time bonuses and damage recovery pants as you go. Oh, and you've also got to avoid an the trees, jumps and other vehicles. And there are about eight stages (but I couldn't be bothered to count them properly).
And guess what? It's not incredibly crap! It's fast, it's fairly flicker-free and it's just about hard enough. If you want something that's mildly fun-packed and isn't too taxing on the brain cells (or in the slightest bit revolutionary), then this one fits the bill. It's certainly better than doing 'Mark Thatcher' in the middle of the Sahara and getting roasted like a peanut.
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