Interstate ’76

This is an oldie but a goodie.  I recently finished this game in a quick 3 days, and not because I was playing all night.  While the single player campaign can be finished quickly, there is a skirmish mode that keeps this game going for as long as you like.  And while the poor graphics might cause one to pause (this game’s just begging for a remake, hear that Activision), the gameplay is outstanding.

The three things that make this game so good are the atmosphere, the ease of changing your car, and the combat.  This game is called Interstate ’76 for a reason.  It is just like an action show out of the 70’s.  Even the intro plays like a 70’s show with pictures moving across the screen, cool music, and scenes from the show.  This plays out through the cut scenes between the missions.  Again, even though the graphics don’t do the game justice, the voice work and dialog are good.

Throughout the game, you fight other vehicles during missions.  Just like in a Mechwarrior game (some have even compared this game to Activion’s classic Mechwarrior 2 series), you can collect parts from the vehicles you have beaten in a variety of conditions.  You have a mechanic who can repair a certain amount of parts between missions so they will be ready for your next mission.  The grouping of different systems, though, is easy to understand even for a non-mechanic like me.  You have different tires, engines, brakes, etc.  You also have different weapons and, depending on the car, are limited to how many and what kind can be mounted.  The weapons range from standard automatic guns, to missiles, mortars, mines, oil slicks, and turret mounted guns that can shoot at your enemies even when you aren’t facing them.

The weapons and the ease of driving are what really make this game fun.  I decided to play it with a gamepad, but you can also play it with a steering wheel, keyboard and mouse, or joystick.  Although I am not a big user of gamepads these days, this controller fit the game very well.  I mapped some basic commands to the buttons like fire and changing weapons and used the keyboard for other commands like using nitrous.

The single player campaign is pretty good, although there are a few missions that are rather dull (driving through a gauntlet of enemies and guns, taking on a number of more powerful police cars), but the ones that are the most fun are when you fight other vehicles that are equal in ability to your car.  That’s why the skirmish mode is so nice: you can pick what car you want to drive and what terrain to fight them on.

This is definitely a Windows 98 only game, although I’ve read about people trying to get it to work with XP (which shows you how good this game is that even with poor graphics by today’s standard, they still want to play a 12 year old game).  If you have an old 95/98 system and can find this game, give it a try.  And keep hoping somebody can make a modern version of a vehicle combat game like this one.

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