“Electric as Green, Shocking as Pink, Rocking as Ronnie. Burning Down The Road.”
Oh baby, it’s back to the glory days. Ordinary guys, matches, houses, cars,
Reaganomics, non-cinematic Star Wars, and enough bright hues to blind a nation
of bats. The 80s, God yes, the 80s. Funk is over, it’s through. The rule of the
day is shameless greed, mindless decadence, electrified music, some damn good
James Cameron flicks, and even faster cars than before. Put aside the old Picard
Piranha, forget about the oil shortage, disremember the name OPEC, it’s finally
time to hot-wire a DeLorean, slap on some artillery, and kick some Moto-Sucka
right, Interstate ’76, the auto combat game funkier
than your grandma’s undies, has at last been given a sequel. And once again
it’s time to hop into the hot seat and do some down to earth automotive killing,
In 1982, six years after Groove and Taurus stopped the threat of Antonio Molochio,
a new and even more insidious threat has arisen: Ronald Reagan. Taxes are cut,
national dignity is eroded, Groove is kidnapped, Taurus cuts off his Jive-Ass
Afro. President Bonzo himself is finding new and interesting ways to cause our
heroes trouble, not to mention a few Ollie North shenanigans. Not bad for a senile
old guy, huh?
So, powered with a new graphical engine and a whole bunch of changes, Taurus
and Groove’s other sister, Sky, set out to save good old ‘G,’ stop Iran-Contra
(sort of), and smoke more creepers (bad dudes) than there were misspent dollars
in the 1982 military budget.
I’82 is, for the most part, I’76 with synthesizer. The play
system has been dumbed down… err, streamlined a bit to cut down on some of the
former title’s frustration factor. However a few rough edges and that same old
malady of unforgivable brevity mar what otherwise is one of the most entertaining
games of the year.
Anyone who has ever logged a few hours in I’76 should be completely
comfortable, even without practice or training, in I’82. The feel of the
combat, control, and overall… the game, is largely the same as I’76. Some
changes include the removal of having to shift to back up, the ability to flip
over and not automatically die (in fact the game rights you after about a minute),
the removal of damage to weapons, no 3D cockpit view, and that some of the game’s
excellent levels take place indoors as well as out.
You can also now get out of the car. Once out, you are armed only with a pistol
and your wits. If you make it to another car, you can carjack it, thereby changing
your ride (which you have to do a lot in the Single Player game) and occasionally
there are switches to pull out-of-vehicle. Controlling Taurus as he walks around
outside of the car is a bit tricky with a steering wheel, but it doesn’t matter
much given the extremely brief amount of time you spend on foot.
Salvaging of auto parts has also been taken out. Instead, you simply get cash
for killing creepers, which you can use to buy parts and stick them on your car.
Incidentally, customization is now based on a system of available grid space for
weapons and armor on the car, meaning that certain weapons will not fit on certain
cars, and that modifications to the car’s attributes effects the amount of available
But, once you get
past the somewhat simpler, more arcade gameplay, you’ll find that I’82
still feels just like I’76… dropped in the ’80s. Even though the vast multitude
of cars featured in I’82 all handle differently, they perform about as
you would expect them to if they had just been part of I’76. The same tricks
work, power-sliding still feels the same, and old fans of I’76 will be
right at home, grinning from ear-to-ear. Interstate ’76 had the most satisfying,
solid auto-combat of it’s time, and Interstate ’82 is no different.
Since I’76 came out, Activision has switched it’s in house engine from
the geriatric MechWarrior 2 code to the band new Dark
Engine. First featured in Heavy Gear 2, the Dark
Engine is able to produce some very appealing visuals. Where I’76 suffered
from a host of erratic polygon-popping in the terrain, I’82 is stable
as granite. Furthermore, the Dark Engine is able to produce some very convincing
terrain, and I’82 benefits greatly from some very compelling driving
areas that feel real enough to sink your teeth into. While some texturing and
special effects are not as flashy as some of the top performers this holiday
season, the overall graphical effect, combined with some excellent framerates,
makes I’82 a plenty pleasing game to look at, provided you have the required
Just like in I’76, music and sound are some of the game’s highest points.
I’82 features three previously unreleased tracks recorded in 1982 by 80’s
rock sensation Devo as well as instrumental music composed by members of the band.
They result is a set of true blue 80’s sounds mixed with just a little Funk flavor
to make yet another one of gaming’s most compelling soundtracks.
Still, as fun, good looking, and great sounding as Interstate ’82 is,
there are some definite problems. For starters, cars are able to drive up incredibly
steep inclines, which sometimes confuses the physics engine into doing some very
strange things, especially on a few of the games indoor levels. There are also
a few AI quirks and some assorted bugs that sometimes make I’82 feel like
an incomplete product. Finally, and most gravely, I’82 is just as short
as I’76 was, which makes for an extremely fun single player experience
that, in the end, leaves you wanting more. Although instant action is included
and multiplayer is seamlessly supported and a great deal of fun, the brevity of
the single player game takes away a lot from what could have been one of the best
games of 1999.
It may have a few problems and an intense similarity to its predecessor, but
I’82 still does not fail to please. It’s got the looks, the style, the
sound, and the gameplay of a winner. It’s even got one of the zaniest, funniest,
most politically motivated plots in the history of gaming. I’d spoil it all for
you, but suffice to say that someone important angrily screams that “I frickin’
hate this Hedonism! I’m going to climb into that giant robot and use it… to kill
you all!” I’ll leave you to find out who. Just get out there and, if you can be
a little forgiving, pick this one up and give it your sweet loving. If you don’t,
you can have it your way… but they’ll find you… just like they found Belushi.