I’m 1-2 hours into Autoduel now. It’s perhaps not as good as I was hoping. The technology used is very limiting to what you can do with this sort of game. The graphics while driving around are quite basic presumably due to having to scroll and there isn’t much variety to the missions or combat. On the bright side the game world is large, and the gameplay itself is reasonably entertaining.
You get to create a driver at the start, there are three skills you can choose to put your points into, driving, mechanic & marksmanship. Driving skill means, the car is more likely to go where you steer it, marksmanship increases your chance of shooting your opponent, and mechanic skill improves how much you can salvage from other cars. You can buy mechanic skill from garages so I sank all my points into the other two.
There is also a fourth stat, prestige. This can be built up by completing missions, winning fights, or easiest of all winning in the casino with a $200,000 bet.
You start off in New York. There are a wide range of places to go and the obvious thing to do here would be to purchase a car but I’ve had the bright idea of building up some cash quickly by going to the casino in atlantic city first. I catch a couple of buses there from the truck stop.
All the towns have their own map, some having much more facilities than others. Poker at the casino turns out to be a goldmine – the cards you will draw each time are decided before they are drawn. This means with the use of savestates, I break the bank in no time. Even without this exploit, poker would be an easy way to get cash as you get a pair most of the time. The IRS take 1/3 of it back in tax when I walk out the door but I’m still very wealthy so I head back to New York to buy a car.
The choice for building cars is enormous, and even with maximum money there isn’t an ultimate car you can build – its all about preference and compromises. You can place a variety of weapons pointing in 8 directions, add armor to any part of the car, choose suspension types, tyre types & power plants among other things. The car you need will depend on the combat strategy you adopt. You can own 8 cars so its possible to have different ones for different missions.
The combat is quite tricky, you can only fire one weapon at a time and you cycle through them with alt-fire. My best technique in my pickup seems to be to block the other car in and keep shooting till it dies. I’m sure with a bit of practice and I could come up with a better method but this is working nicely for now. Now I have a car, I can also drive between all the towns or take part in arena battles.
Arena battles are really just a road section with a lot of enemies. You have to kill them all, to win. There are various different divisions you can take part in with different classes of car and driver. As for the highways, each city has several exits, each of which will take you to 1 other specific city. There are branches on the roads, which can lead you on ridiculously long routes if you go the wrong way, but there is always just one town at each end of the map. There aren’t too many cars on the roads at all, you typically only run into a couple between any two cities.
One curiousity is that if you go to Manchester, Origin Systems are one of the buildings. If you go in you get a text screen advertising a few of their earlier games.
There has been no plot in the game so far, but I gather that you have to get your prestige up before the plot missions are available. I’ve got it fairly high with a bit of gambliing and have just heard a rumour that they are looking for me at the Washington truck stop. Thats as far as I got so my next step will be to drive down to Washington.
My stats are pretty decent even this early on. If I put a bit of effort in, I’d expect to be close to finishing this tonight.