Never get out of the car. Review

Interstate '76: Arsenal Info

genre

  • N/A

players

  • 1 - 8

Publisher

  • Activision

Developer

  • N/A

Release Date

  • 01/01/1970
  • Out Now

Platform

  • PC

rating

Never get out of the car.

Before I write one word about Interstate ’76: Arsenal, there’s something

you should know. Unlike those other game reviewers drooling over Wing

Commander: Prophecy
, Quake

2
and Jedi

Knight
, my pick for 1997 has to be Arsenal‘s predecessor, Interstate

’76
. Though I actually clocked more hours on several other games last year,

none came close to generating the pure gaming bliss that was the much-too-short

experience of Activision’s masterpiece. The setting, cars, guns, music, and characters

all found a place in my heart. It gives me warm fuzzies even today. I’m the guy

who owns the game’s soundtrack on CD. I’m the guy who laid down $100 for a Thrustmaster

T2 wheel just to enhance the experience. I’m the guy who still has Jade, Groove

and Taurus wallpaper on his Windows 95 desktop. The only reason you don’t see

me wearing Auto-Vigilante embossed bell bottoms is because they’re all sold out.

You get the point, right? I’m biased.

To my mind, there

was only one significant flaw in the original Interstate

’76
: it was over too soon! An expansion pack, then, was more than just welcome

news. Like all fans of the game, I had been greatly anticipating the rumored

sequel, Interstate ’77. Alas, this did turn out to be only a rumor. The

latest word is that the sequel will be released in 1999 and will be called Interstate

’82
. So what’s this new thing called Arsenal? And what’s that other

thing called the Nitro Pack? I know it’s confusing.

Here’s the deal: Arsenal includes both an enhanced Gold Edition

of the original game and a completely new twenty-mission add-on called

the Nitro Pack. This means that if you already own I-76,

you have two options: 1. Buy the complete Arsenal package ($40) and send

in your original CD for a rebate ($15), or 2. Buy the Nitro Pack separately

($20) and download the insanely large Gold Edition for free at www.activision.com.

If you don’t already own the original, the process is simple: go buy Arsenal

now!

I mean it. Interstate

’76
rocks, and with Arsenal, it’s twice the fun. Surprisingly the

Gold Edition really does improve the graphics and increase the

frame rate, just as Activision claims it does. The Nitro Pack missions

are cool as well – new sounds, tunes and terrain (snow and grass!) all add to

the experience and it’s a real treat to drive as Groove Champion’s sister Jade

and his buddies Taurus and Skeeter. Unlike the original, the Nitro Pack

is not connected by a linear story, but it does reveal more about the themes

explored in I-76.

You’ll come to better understand the vigilantes, the gasoline conspiracy, the

interesting Jade/Taurus relationship, heck, you’ll even learn more about Mondo

Burgers.

The in-game banter

and mini-movies are just as stylish and entertaining as the original and if

any of you were worried (as I was) that Activision might do something silly

like hire new voice actors (witness the disappointing Lara replacement in Tomb

Raider II
), rest assured that Greg Eagles, Lisa Picotte and Tom Kane are

once again on-board and do a fine job of reprising their roles. In addition

to the trio of heroes, a secret character is waiting for those with enough skill

to unlock him, and the new multiplayer scenarios include racing tracks, capture

the flag games, password protection, and weapons limitations. The handful of

added weapons and cars are nothing to write home about, but do supplement the

variety of the already-strong car setup screen.

On the downside, there are some things that could make this a better game: there’s still no mid-mission save feature, cooperative multiplayer, or pre-multiplayer chat room, the graphic textures and scenery still tend to pop in and out in unrealistic and distracting ways and even with new customizable difficulty levels, some missions are still insanely hard. But the biggest problem is that it’s still too short! This game is just too good to be over so quick, all we can do now is wait for Interstate ’82.

I’m rarely impressed by add-on packs. Though an occasional winner comes

down the pike (i.e., Scourge

of Armagon
, the single-player mission pack for Quake)

most don’t offer much bang for the buck (The Grand

National Series
add-on for Nascar

Racing 2
, comes to mind). At $20, the Nitro Pack is a steal. If you’ve

never played the original, then $40 for Arsenal will be some of best

gaming dollars you ever spent. Though the single-player game ends too soon,

this doesn’t substantively detract from the pure fun to be found in the hours

of play it does provide. I’d recommend this stylish piece of game art to anyone

seeking a top-notch action game.

REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

4
Rating
+ Slick as original
+ Better frame rate
+ Enhanced multiplayer
- Still too short
- No cooperative multiplayer