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15Aug/090

Lotus III : Ultimate Challenge for DOS

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Now THIS my friends, is one hell of a fun old school racer.

The first time I ever played this, I saw the Sega Genesis version on eBay and at the time felt like playing an old school racer. Back before there was "real" 3D. I was playing Outrun all the time (and I still pop it in every so often and play for probably an hour or two. That's how addictive and relaxing that game is.) and this looked similar, so I picked it up never having played it before.

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And man, I wish I had played this when it came out, because for the time it was released it is AWESOME. I can't say enough that's good about this game. But I'll try to keep it down somewhat. :)

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Graphically, well, you can see from the screenshots that this uses the same type of racing style that Outrun uses. These types of games always have one glaring problem with me that's fortunately easily overlooked in the ones that are well done. And it's hard to describe. It's like the car is sitting still and the track itself is moving under you. Even more modern games like Need for Speed III : Hot Pursuit felt like that to me. But it doesn't keep me from loving these games. It's not as technologically impressive as, say, Outrun or Power Drift ... but those games are also done on much more powerful arcade hardware. But this game is still damned impressive graphically. The cars looks great, the tracks look great and the sense of speed is great. And it even has weather effects like rain and snow that do have an effect on how the car handles. Not to mention from time to time you'll find stuff in your way on the track that'll slow you down like rocks, puddles of water, logs, snow banks and various other things. The sprite scaling itself is top notch and the game really shows off the 256 color VGA palette perfectly.

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The control is perfectly tight for a game like this, like it should be. I can't say anything else about it. It's just perfect. And this is definitely one of those games where you can't just slam down on the accelerator and keep it there, there is some strategy involved.

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And much like Outrun, the thing that stands out about this game is the music. When you first select Race from the main menu, you are brought to a screen of a car CD player (cars had those in 1993?) where you select which track you want to listen to from a few choices. And all of them are awesome and worth listening to on their own even if you for some reason don't like the game. If you choose not to have music, then you'll get the sound effects for the cars like the engine roaring, tires screeching, the crunch of when you hit something or something hits you. But those are pretty underwhelming and honestly pretty annoying. Thankfully they aren't being spit out by the PC speaker. But you can't have both the sound effects AND the music, which is fine by me because I wouldn't want those irritating sound effects getting in the way of these great tunes.

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The thing that really sets this game apart from a lot of others of the day is the fact that you can (kinda) make your own tracks. I'll quote Wikipedia here, because I can't think of a better way to describe this feature since I don't pay much attention to it. I just use it. :)

The system allows users to create a race track by defining various basic parameters, such as amount and difficulty of turns and hills, amount of obstacles, type of scenery or difficulty of opponents. The created track can then be raced by one or both players. The course can also be written in form of a letter-and-digit code and later reused; these can be raced individually or in a series of up to nine user-created tracks. The RECS system allowed players to quickly create a unique track without having to use a course editor; however, it sacrificed the facility of precisely positioning turns or obstacles.

And that ramps up the replay value for this by a hell of a lot.

Now, in all honesy, it's kind of a toss up between this and the Sega Genesis version, because this looks a lot better and the music is WORLDS better than the Genesis version, but the Genesis version is a tad bit faster. I personally don't have a preference and I'll play whichever version I'm in the mood to play. And that track creator system, despite the limitations of it is still a lot of fun to use.

I'm going to give this a solid 8.5 out of 10 just because I like it. :)

Download - 1MB

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