Make sure you wear a life jacket
VR Sports Powerboat Racing can be best described as a game that is “arcadey” in nature, yet has a realistic twist to keep the game interesting and more challenging. It’s not a simulation such as Nascar 2, but it’s also not an arcade sellout such as Cruisin’ USA. Powerboat Racing is a balanced median that requires a little skill and a little practice.
The graphics are either great or awful. Without a 3D card, the game looks horrible. You can run it on the best computer available and the game will still look like crap without a 3D card. On the other hand, 3D accelerated graphics are killer. The changing weather patterns look terrific when 3D enhanced (non 3d-accelerated computers have this option, too, but it doesn’t look nearly as impressive). Interplay has put lighting effects, lens-glare effects and fog effects to good use. Fortunately, these few effects and decent racing circuits save the graphics aspect of the game, because if they had not incorporated 3d technology, this game would have simply bitten the dust.
Sound effects are about average for this type of game. There’s not much you have to record other than a boat moving through water (hmm… I wonder how they did that?). One part that really bugged me was the announcer. Whenever he had something to say I felt like ripping my hair out. His voice was so annoying; I would have done anything to have an option to tell him to shut the hell up.
I must say that Powerboat Racing has managed to create the most annoying noise I’ve ever heard. I never thought you could make such crappy music until I opened this package. In less than one race I had paused the game and turned it off. To top that off, the tracks are saved on the CD as audio tracks, so whenever I thought like retreating to a REAL game like Quake 2, guess what music I got to hear? Thankfully, someone at Id software was smart enough to come up with the “cd stop” command (I wish Interplay had a “murder announcer” command…). Anyway, if you actually buy the game, don’t even start a race before going to the options menu and turning the music off – get my point?
Gameplay is actually pretty fun. There are a few aspects that the developers have included to keep things refreshing, however, for the most part the game will get boring after a month or two. Obviously, the up arrow is to accelerate (yes, this is one of those games that you can race the entire way without EVER having to release the acceleration button), and the left and right arrow buttons are to turn. The only twist is that you can trim up or down in this game. Basically what that does is modify the angle at which your boat is hitting the water. This, in turn, modifies how much of the boat is actually IN the water, and therefore modifies how much control you have over the boat versus how much drag the water is creating. To sum up, if you trim up, you will have more speed and less control in maneuvers, and when you trim down, you will have more control and less speed. These simple details are a little too basic for me and I found the game to be a little boring…
Aside from good graphics, I must commend Interplay for providing the gamer with many different options of gameplay. You have a choice of Championship Style racing, Arcade mode racing, which is basically a championship race only with one race instead of a series, along with Practice and Qualification options. You can also save your best race and use that to race against yourself 1on 1 in the “shadow boat” option. Unfortunately, you are only provided with 8 racetracks from around the world ranging from the Amazon River in Brazil to New York City. More courses would have been nice.
Powerboat Racing is a game for someone who likes a good boat race now and then and is not interested in learning 300 different controls. It is a fairly good balance of arcade and realism, however it is still very much on the simplistic side of things. All in all, this game is about average in most aspects. I don’t recommend it for people without 3D accelerators, and this is certainly not a game for realistic, simulation-type enthusiasts.