Commodore User

4x4 Off-Road Racing

Author: Bohdan Buciak
Publisher: Epyx
Machine: Commodore 64

Published in Commodore User #61

4x4 Off-Road Racing

4x4 is really a pretty ordinary racing game with a few extra bits bolted on to spice things up. The extra bits amount to a choice of four terrains and four vehicles, with the ability to customise your vehicle to suit the conditions.

The terrains look pretty much the same. The sand in the Baja desert is cunningly disguised as snow in Michigan, whilst the desert cacti do a good job of looking like fir trees.

Like the scenery there is a choice of four trucks: two American, one Japanese and one British model. A list of specifications is given for each truck to help you choose one that's best for a particular terrain.

4x4 Off-Road Racing

From there, you mosey down to the Custom shop and the Automart to do the necessary customising. This is where you buy spare tyres, a winch, extra petrol and a canopy. The Automart supplies more basic stuff like oil, water a toolkit and even a mechanic.

Why a mechanic? Because when you need to do repairs, this bloke will get you going quickly. But you pay the price of going more slowly due to the extra passenger.

You start as the last man in a 17-man race. You see the standard view of the back of the truck with the road scrolling towards you. Joystick control is very basic, simply press the fire button to accelerate, push back to slow down and forward to brake quickly.

4x4 Off-Road Racing

Catching a rock or tree trunk with just two wheels results in a wheelie for a few yards. Smacking into obstacles headlong makes the truck take off, Buggy Boy style, do a few somersaults and land again with apparently no harm done.

The only really worthwhile meanie on the road is the Doombuggy, which sounds its horn at you from behind and tries to push you off the road.

At the bottom of the screen you find speedo, rev counter and a load of warning lights for various bits of the car. The lights turn blue for medium damage and yellow when things are looking serious.

Each race starts at 8am with checkpoints every two and a half hours. A checkpoint is a compulsory stop at which you can do repairs if you want. A damage screen is displayed showing just what needs fixing, and will appear at any point in the game at which sustained damage is too great to carry on.

4 x 4 is a competent game with average graphics and a reasonably good racing section. But it's simply not varied enough and it gives me the annoying impression that they couldn't be bothered to make it into something special.

Bohdan Buciak

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