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Acorn Arcade forums: News and features: Review - BHP

Review - BHP

Posted by Jon Hall on 00:00, 30/10/2000 | , ,
It's been a long time since we had a decent car racing game for our platform; it is a commonly suscribed consensus that the only ones worth bothering with have been Stunt Racer 2000 and Saloon Cars from the now largely inactive 4th Dimension, and FTT from TBA. At last we have a new one: from the makers of FTT, enter BHP. The game comes on 3 HD floppies, and is easy to install. You need to keep disc 1 in the drive to play. There is no written manual, but a simple helpfile is included. The minimum specs are: 6Mb free RAM, and a StrongARM RPC.


[Screenshot!]This is one of the first games to utilise the power of the StrongARM processor. Upon starting the game, you are presented with option screens for the type of car to be raced. There are four cars, a choice of 3 graduated tracks, the gear box type, and the length of the race. These are easy to select using the defined keys.
[The presentation of these menu screens is functional and lacks a true finesse, but we have been willing to brush this under the carpet in the past in the name of great gaming, and there is really no reason to stop now, given the age-old argument of lack of funding in the Acorn games scene. -Ed]
[Screenshot!]From then on, it's a just a pure speed fest. There are no spectacular crashes, fireballs, or skids, which many consider the great virtues of the modern racing game, but what is lacking is almost made up for by the sheer speed and ease of control, and the heads down, no nonsense racing experience that the game offers. Don't think that once you have overtaken an opponent that is the last you will see of them - these cars have been preprogrammed to 'catch up' in the same way as the Daytona USA opponents.
Graphically, the game looks nice, though a little more shading and shadowing would have been welcome. I especially like the way that one can pick the level of difficulty at which to play this game, offering a good choice for the beginner or experienced player. There are 2 screen modes available to play in - the old standard TV resolution (13) or VGA (49), but these are both at the same actual resolution, the pixels of mode 49 doubling up to allow play on SVGA monitors, but no increase in clarity.
[Screenshot!]The sound is good, with 3 'thumping' racing tunes, and engine, tyre, and collision effects. There is a time limit that increases in difficulty for the particular car chosen, and time bonuses to be collected during the race. I found this quite severe for the highest specification car, but hey, I need to practise more! At least if you do run out of time, your car will still roll forward for a distance affording you the chance to collect if you are lucky.
We gave Jon the as yet unreleased patches for the game to see what he thought of them; Martin Piper of TBA has been putting a lot of work into them to hopefully address many of the complaints about the previous version.
The changes made in this new version include:
  • Automatic joystick detection
  • Re-coding of MODE 49 VGA monitor support
  • More power for the cars so they can get up the hill on track 2 after the end of a race
  • Cessation of music after exiting from a race
  • Lap counter and best lap display
  • Player's score now highlighted after name entry
  • New camera views
  • Some landscape details have been tidied up
In addition to the above, I noticed that some of the scenery had been improved, the track banking seemed more realistic, and it was now possible to 'coast', when out of time, for a much longer distance. I spotted this when, after an especially crash ridden race, I was able to freewheel down an entire hill and claim a time bonus at the bottom! Also you can now exit straight to the desktop without pressing the space bar or clicking the mouse.
The graphics are still not arcade, console or PC quality, but what we have here is a well put together home-grown game, and a well worthwhile patch; all in all, this new version is worth upgrading to, and I look forward to future improvements.


To sum up

The good...
  • Computer controlled cars that 'catch up'
  • Different levels of difficulty
  • Sound effects
...the bad
  • Graphics could benefit from a little more shading and shadowing
  • Lack of skidding
  • No spectacular crashes


Rating: GOODRating: GOODRating: GOOD

Post:TBA Software
Mead Farm
North Road
Timsbury, Nr. Bath

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Acorn Arcade forums: News and features: Review - BHP