Atari Jaguar – Power Drive Rally – Review

(Another ST Review article from days gone bye)

Power Drive Rally steers its way on to the Jaguar. Iain Laskey puts on his crash helmet and gives it a spin.

Time Warner Interactive have finally arrived on the Jaguar scene with their first title, Power Drive Rally. This is an enhanced version of the title Power Drive that was released on the SNES and PC some time back.

I must admit to have been expecting another average game having played it briefly some months back. How wrong could I have been! This game has obviously had a lot of effort spent on it and now oozes playability and great attention to detail.

Power Drive Rally starts you off with a choice of 2 standard cars. From here you go through 48 different races in a bid to complete the rally. At each stage, you need to perform a qualifier race before going up against the computer controlled car. If you complete the race in the given time, you win cash. If you’re first, you get a bonus. If you lose you have to pay again to race. The object of the game is not to run out of cash. If you do then it’s all over.

After each race you have to spend your precious winnings on repairs to your car. After several races you can upgrade to a better model, funds permitting. Periodically you get put through a skill test which involves reversing, stopping on lines and finding your way through a circle of cones within a given time. This is easy the first few times but soon gets much harder. By level 20 onwards, trying to turn tight circles in snow becomes a real test of your control and when every cone you hit loses you 15 seconds, it can become a bit frustrating too. However, it does have that ‘just-one-more-go’ factor that keeps dragging you back for more.

The various courses are set in different countries. Weather conditions from dry to snow along with day or night racing all help to add to the atmosphere. If you’re unlucky enough to be driving past water when lightning strikes, the flash can really dazzle you. In addition, the roads often contain obstacles that can be steered around or tackled head on. It’s great fun to see your car bounce through the air after hitting some rocks.

The control of the car is excellent. You can make full use of the different conditions to skid and slide around corners. The dynamics are spot on and it feels very realistic when driving. Each type of car has genuinely different driving characteristics and needs to be learned to get the best from it.

During each race, your navigator barks out the directions such as ‘right 90’ and ‘left hairpin’ to warn you of the track ahead. The computer controlled car is fairly easy to keep up with initially but gets much more proficient later in the game and becomes extremely hard to beat but never so hard as to put you off.

Power Drive Rally is full of wonderful little details such as the tracks left by the cars, tinkles of broken headlights when you catch barriers and changing engine pitch inside tunnels. Reversing lights come on to help you during those delicate backwards manoeuvres.

The graphics are nicely detailed and well animated. The cars and other objects cast realistic shadows. The sky is reflected in water and the reflections moves as you do. The tunes complement the game well. The spot sound effects as well as the navigators voice are all clear.

There are very few Jaguar games that I would consider essential purchases but Power Drive Rally is one of them. The whole game feels very polished and is great fun to play. After what has been far too long, the Jaguar is finally getting games worthy of its power.

Product Name:    Power Drive Rally
Publisher:            Time Warner Interactive
Telephone:           01604 xxxxxx
RRP:                   £49.99

Pros: Loads of tracks, speech, attention to detail, realistic dynamics.
Cons: Can be frustrating, only one opponent.
Score 9