I can't begin to count the number of hours I've sunk into this game. Autoduel is based off of the Car Wars board game and RPG system by Steve Jackson, so you know it's good. That, and they made it into an expansion set for GURPS, so it's even better. The game takes place in the year 2030, where law has broken down somewhat, and people in armed cars rule the roads. You are a brand new Autoduelest, starting in New York with little money and no fame, and it's your job to get a lot of both.
The driving element takes place inside arenas and outside of the cities. These aren't normal driving controls, just to warn you in advance. If you want to drive up, you push up. If you want to drive left, you push left. If you want to drive in reverse, you push in the opposite direction that you're facing. Yes, you can do U-turns and K-turns, but no wheelies. You fire the chosen weapon with the fire button, and change weapons with the keyboard. You can also get out of your vehicle and walk around, which really is only useful if you want to try to salvage things from vehicles you've just destroyed. The roads themselves aren't always in the greatest of conditions, as there's plenty of places to go driving off road if it suits you, and there's some places where you have to drive through forests or swamps to get to the next part of the highway.
There are several ways to get money. You can go to the casino in Atlantic City and play poker or blackjack. You can take courier missions from bars and the AADA (American Autoduel Association). Or you can go fight in the arena. The arena has several different types of events. Which ones you can participate in depend on your vehicle and on your prestige as well. There are championships with big prizes, and there's amature nights for those just starting off. If you go to an amature night, they'll give you a car for the fight. Missions are always of the delivery type, telling you to get to a certain building in a certain city by a certain date. And the best part is, it's completely non-linear. You'll get reminders from time to time if certain people want to see you to give you a special mission, but you can ignore those as long as you want.
When it comes time to build a car, there's a lot of details to pay attention to. Everything from chassis to suspension to armor to tires to weapons, you have a large number of selections to choose from. You can repair or store cars in garages, rearm or reload in weapon shops, or sell them off at salvage yards. There's also some other buildings, like truck stops to let you go from city to city without driving from place to place, and Gold Cross, which is the pumped-up version of the Red Cross. Not only can they heal you, but you can make a clone of yourself for the eventuality that you die, and create braintapes so that you can update your clone with your latest character improvements.
There's a large amount of weapons to choose from. Machine guns and recoilless rifles are the norm. There's flamethrowers for the pyros out there, mine droppers and spike droppers for running away, AT guns for the heavy hitters, oil sprayers, smoke screens, and paint sprayers for the non-lethal types. There's also lasers, which are very powerful, but draw from the car's battery instead of from ammo stores. It's a tradeoff, because you can't drive without battery power.
Autoduel isn't a game, it's an experience. There's nothing out there today that can compare to this. It's action and strategy blended into one. You'll need quite a bit of patience to finish this one out, as well as a healthy supply of coffee, but it's a game any C64 enthusiast has to make a part of his library.
|GRAPHICS - 8/10|
|Everything is done very well. Enemies can look harmless or imposing, the wilderness looks like the wilderness.|
|SOUND - 1/10|
|There's a few sound effects for combat and a regular chime effect, but that's it.|
|PLAYABILITY - 7/10|
|It takes a little while to get used to the driving and the combat.|
|OVERALL - 10/10|
|Get this game. Right now. It'll take a long time to beat, and the sooner you start, the better.|