Commodore User1st July 1989
Published in Commodore User #71
Despite the tusks on the cover and the name this is not big game hunting software, this is a 4 x 4 racing game. Perhaps the French software house, Coktel Vision didn't think that was glamorous enough or perhaps it's because they didn't get the licence for the Paris-Dakar rally, either way the title is naff. So are 4 x 4 games usually, there's something about four wheel drive which games designers think means that they have to spend lots of pre-race attention on how much brake fluid you can carry without sacrificing the wheelbase sprocket mechanisms. Very nice if your idea of light reading is a Haynes car maintenance manual.
African Raider scores points here. You're straight off on a rally stage without a single tyre pressure measured or gasket cantile-vared. The idea of the game is simple: get to the route end in the fastest time possible. There is a road market out for you with old barrels, but following them slows you down, so after a few initial runs, it's time to go cross-country. This means you're quite likely to get lost, but if you stay on the road nothing of any interest whatsoever happens; no obstacles, no pitfalls, just boring old sand. Fortunately, an electronic compass will tell you where you are and can be used to plot where you're going when you make your own tracks.
When you're roaring across the desert Coktel Vision have succeeded in creating a feeling of speed; it's not Super Hang-On, but it's certainly better than a lot of Raider's competitors. This does go part way to annulling some of the boredom as you zip across dune after dune, but the real fun is in the hazards. For some reason there are herds of camels to be avoided. When dodging them gets too boring, there's always the quicksand that slows you down to crawling pace, unless you engage four wheel drive (yawn).
Now I know why people go mad in the desert; competition is far and few between and when you do find some, yoou can't even overtake. The appeal of this sort of game is limited to those with enormous patience thresholds. The sky is a curious shade of purple and the sand green, but I'm past caring or wondering why.
African Raider has nice graphics, average sound and dispenses with all those fiddly bits other games are obsessed with. Sadly, repeats of Howard's Way are more interesting.