Car combat has come a long way since the days of Steve Jackson's pencil-and-paper masterpiece, Car Wars, its computer-game cousin Auto Duel, the coin-op Spy Hunter . . . and Activision's Interstate '76.
I-76 did it all. It dug up a fading genre, spliced in a funky '70s soundtrack, and allowed hundreds of closet auto-vigilantes to ice their friends and neighbours in online arenas. It was no surprise when Activision announced plans for a sequel.
The sequel, dubbed Inter-state '82, is ready. And it looks very promising.
The look, the feel, the sound - it's all '80s. The cars include Deloreans, four-door sedans, and exotic fibreglass sports cars. The characters have Jerri-curls, Mohawks, and pastel Miami Vice-inspired sport coats. And the soundtrack is a thumpin' mix of New Wave and Synth-Pop. Like I-76's soundtrack, it sounds incredible.
The new maps are gorgeous. They're bigger than they were in I-76, and provide a lot more room for multiplayer combat. You'll take the battle to underground mines and blaze through the streets of Las Vegas and across the open countryside.
Gameplay has also seen some significant additions. You can get in and out of your vehicle, run around on foot, and go places cars won't usually fit. While footing it, you can also shoot at other cars and pedestrians, and take over the different cars you'll find along the way.
"Single-player pedestrianism is the mechanism through which certain mission objectives must be accomplished," said I-82 frontman, Zack Norman. "It's also the only way to get a new car. You can't just buy a bigger, better car. You must jack it!"
But you won't want to run around on foot very long - not with all the new car-based weapons and special items that have been added to I-82. You'll now have access to cutting lasers, tyre blades, the Karpoon (a massive harpoon that will spear other cars), and the almighty Homekeeper Cannon (an incredibly large projectile weapon that makes mince meat of your opponent's armour) - to name a few.
Chaff and flare launchers will help protect you against missiles, fire extinguishers help put out car fires, and most importantly, car shielding can ward off fire, missiles and electrical surges.
With these features, I-82's multiplayer is turning out to be the cat's pyjamas. You'll get a dozen server-side options, including the ability to ban certain weapons and set weight and money limits. As in I-76, Internet play will be heavily supported. And you'll get game types like capture the flag, teamplay, and free-for-all.
And imagine leaving your car and running around on foot during multiplayer. "In multiplayer, pedestrianism is a method for survival," said Norman. "If your car gets worked' you can jump out of it into one of many stray vehicles on the battlefield!"
Las Vegas, Deloreans, and Synth-Pop . . . Who could ask for anything more? If all goes well, I-82 will rock the world of auto-combat 10 times harder than I-76 did.
Product: Interstate 82