C’mon…Big money! No Whammies!
There’s trouble a-brewin’. In 2017, Slick Clyde, now head of OMAR, has acquired
control of a time travel device and gone back…and gone bad. It’s the end of
the 70’s and he’s leading the Coyotes in a 3-sided battle against his old gang
of Vigilantes and a loose collection of others known as the Drifters. Slap an
8-track into the dash and hit the road. Once again, it’s time for bullets to
fly and metal to rend.
Activision has revisited the world of Vigilante
8, tossing a fresh coat of paint onto their tribute to road rage. The differences
between the original and Second Offense are largely superficial. The
screen configuration is tighter and a bit easier to keep track of while trying
to blow stuff away, the camera seems to track better and, oh yes, there are
three teams to play now. But, if you missed it the first time around, here’s
the run down.
In the one-player game, you can choose between Arcade, Quest, or Survival mode. Arcade and Survival are largely the same. Pick an arena and some opponents, then try to do your best to blow ’em all away. The specifics are a little bit different, but the goal is the same.
In Quest mode, the player must carry out a story line, visiting each arena in a pre-determined sequence (according to which team you decide to play). In each arena, you are presented with three goals. Don’t stop to read the goals when they first come up, as you’ll get blown away. Just know that the third goal is always wiping out all enemy vehicles. In fact, the round ends when the final enemy is destroyed. This can present conflicts with the other quest goals, as sometimes you have to retrieve items that your enemies have picked up. If you finish each arena AND successfully complete all of the Quest goals, a new character will be unlocked.
The game itself is fairly simplistic. Pick a vehicle, customize the color (if you so choose), drive around and shoot things. Your vehicle starts out with a single gun, and you can carry up to three additional weapons at a time. Once these extra weapons run out of ammo, they are discarded. There are also special joystick and button combinations you can use with the various weapons to get better performance out of them.
In addition to a selection of standard add-ons, each vehicle has a special weapon. The effects of these special weapons can be quite spectacular.
Plus, if you manage to hit your opponent simultaneously with more than one weapon (including your vehicle), you score a “Whammie”, which does extra damage. (I was pretty sure Whammies were little people who made you lose your money on a game show, but I guess they needed extra work).
In a Two-Player game, there is the head-to-head Versus Mode, Cooperative Mode, and a two-player Quest Mode. Multiplayer is much the same, although instead of a Multiplayer Quest Mode, there is “Smear” in which everybody gangs up on Player One. I’m pretty sure I know what childhood game this is named after, but I’m too old to name it out loud without being completely un-PC.
The various plot lines in Second Offense are pretty superficial, but who cares? The only real reason people play the quests at all is to unlock new characters. Besides, a good story line isn’t going to make the giant rolling donut you blew off the local coffee shop funnier than it was already, is it?
The 70’s soundtrack is fairly amusing and a few of the cuts are actually bearable. They shouldn’t, however, have bothered to waste space including digitized voices triggered by using your special weapon. They’re all pretty annoying.
The graphics, on the other hand, are fairly decent. I was impressed with the realism and attention to detail. The scenery is great, and the animated damage will keep you guessing how much repairs will cost. The camera tracking ability is also impressive. I don’t recall actually having lost track of myself at all in single player mode, although keeping track of things in a game with more than one player can be a bit hectic, especially if you choose the vertical display in two-player mode… but that’s not a camera problem.
My biggest complaint as far as graphics go has to be the implementation of
hi-res graphics. The game recognizes your expansion card, but you have to activate
hi-res graphics yourself by starting up a game, then pausing it and turning
them on. That’s ridiculous. Who would actually choose to play in low-res mode?
Hmmm…cheap graphics or good ones…I just can’t decide!
Still, the game has plenty to recommend. It’s got the same levels of fun found
in the other console versions. In fact, I almost dropped my controller when
I first ran into the giant ant in the meteor crater. I haven’t seen one of Them
in a long time.