Like a lead balloon.
Game reviewers have the luxury of not paying for games. But since the rest of the world actually has to shell out dough for these things, it makes sense that various companies would crop up offering cheap alternatives to the pricey 40 or 50 dollar 'A' titles. In the PC arena, Wizardworks is king of the ring...the plastic, 5-cent ring that comes in crackerjack boxes.
The most recent affront to expensive racing comes in the form of the off-road cheapo Leadfoot. While it might not gut your wallet, it will probably hurt everything else. There's a reason why it's so inexpensive.
From graphics to control, Leadfoot simply doesn't have much of interest to offer racing fans. For the $20 price tag, you get a hip coaster to set your drink on while you fluff the box for a pillow and try to forget that there is almost no way to return PC software these days.
Upon opening the box I smelled the rank aroma of low quality gaming; I noticed that there was no jewel case, only one of those flimsy paper disc holders. A subtle hint, but one that is usually pretty accurate. It's like the company knows that this game isn't going into your collection, so why waste the money on a place to store it?
Leadfoot deserves little credit in its graphics. The track textures are nice and the sky, when poking through the open roof of some of the stadiums, is photo quality. But that's where it ends. The crowd is a fuzzy blur of multicolored circles that look more like an extremely out of focus picture of a bag of M&M's than actual people. The track elements are really blocky; the tires that line the track are cubes, not rounded wheels.
Heck, the trucks themselves are riding high atop giant octagons. There are flat cardboard cutouts dotted around the track that are supposed to be the pit crew and such. And to top it off, there is zero attempt at creating light-sourcing or reflections of any kind. The whole game reads flat.
There are two kinds of vehicles in the game: SuperLight and Pickup Trucks. The two handle differently, but they're equally difficult to drive. Control is really hard to grasp, even on the novice setting. It plays like a sim but presents itself like an arcade racer, leading to a sort of awkward combination. Frankly, I can barely make it a full lap without a million crashes. The control just sucks.
There's a big Career mode to tool around in, featuring a bunch of events and tracks. A nice thought, but the weak gameplay and presentation makes it hard to get that far into the game.
Well, at least the sound rocks...oh wait, that sucks too. Upon starting Leadfoot, you're greeted with this big Sensaura logo and a big blast of surround sound. Then the game starts and it's back to the drawing board. The grainy whine of the engines could be easily replicated on the dusty old Genesis in the back of my closet. There is no music, so the annoying whir is even more obnoxious.
I could go on here and tell you how the force feedback only emphasizes collisions and does nothing for track elements like bumps or jumps, or how the cardboard cutout people can stop your truck like a brick wall and even cause damage. I could tell you how crashing into one of the prop trucks along the trackside causes damage to your vehicle while not so much as budging it, or how there are no transition screens to make it fun to go from racing to the menus. The menu screen just pops up when the winner crosses the finish line. I could go on, but I won't.
On a more positive note, every element of your vehicle is tweakable, from the camber and toe of the wheels to the gear ratio. You can really customize your ride, and Leadfoot offers an impressive amount of depth for such a cheap game. Still, even after tweaking and tinkering for what felt like hours, I never could get my truck to handle comfortably.
Luckily, they're only asking 20 bucks for this thing. Considering how much gross advertising is blatantly strewn about the game, I would have thought that they might pay you to play. There's even a folder full of links to the sponsors' websites (37 in all!!) that installs when you put this game in your machine. How tacky is that? But 20 bucks is 20 bucks, so those of your with a REALLY tight budget will be able to swallow this better than those looking for a good game.
Simply put, Leadfoot is pretty bad and I wouldn't be surprised to see it bundled with a cheap controller within the next few months. I recommend steering clear of this techno-coaster unless you have friends coming over and you want to protect the furniture.