On the wrong track

With car racing games essentially variations of the same theme, software producers have to find some gimmick to justify every new release.

car disk 88 (photo credit: )
car disk 88
(photo credit: )
OutRun 2006: Coast to Coast: a DVD-ROM in English by Sega, distributed with a 12-page Hebrew-language user's manual by Hed Artzi Multimedia, requires Windows XP and a 1.2 Ghz Pentium 4 PC or better, for ages three and above, NIS 219. - Rating: *** With car racing games essentially variations of the same theme, software producers have to find some gimmick to justify every new release. OutRun 2006, a ho-hum production based solely on Ferraris, offers the "Heart Attack" mode that has nothing to do with a coronary infarction: The male driver, trying to make an impression, accepts instructions on how to drive from his pony-tailed girlfriend, such as "I like to go fast!" or "Don't crash!" or "Pass the convoy!" If he does not carry them out, she pummels his head and tries to strangle him with her bare hands. You don't see their faces, and the images are not very graphic, which makes her reaction startling and then amusing the first time she does it. But as she continually repeats this odd behavior, it becomes plain boring. That's a good adjective to describe the whole game, which doesn't offer much that is new beyond its predecessor, OutRun 2. Aside from Heart Attack, there are the Time Attack (in which you compete against translucent "ghost cars" to finish first) and the OutRun modes (which is very similar except that the competing cars are not "ghosts" and are run by the game's artificial intelligence). From time to time, go into the "Showroom" to spend earned OutRun miles, but it doesn't have much to offer except the choice of a another Ferrari model, a different-colored paint job and more of the 30 available racetracks. Unlike Need for Speed and other superior racing games, this one puts no police on your tail and offers no ability to drive over barriers. When you smash into another car, yours emerges shiny and without even a dent on it, a fact that will not impress youngsters about the consequences of carelessness and lawbreaking - and there aren't even any seatbelts in view. You are, however, asked at the outset to select your astrological sign for insertion into your "driver's license." The environments, which range from American cityscapes to snow-covered mountains, are decent but not breathtaking, and the roads are dotted with billboards from real companies that undoubtedly paid to have them there. The game would have been much better if your coast-to-coast drive brought you to authentic and identifiable locations from California to New York, if the car models were not restricted to Ferraris and if you could dump that whining, neurotic girlfriend by pressing an eject button under her seat. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow, a DVD-ROM in English by Bethesda Softworks, distributed by Hed Artzi Multimedia, requires a Pentium 3 PC or better, for ages 12 and up, NIS 219. Rating: ** While many computer games are derived from movies, this is the first I can recall that was based on an amusement park ride. The lame slash-and-smash action game has very little to offer except the (rather uninspired) voice of actor Johnny Depp, who also plays in the no-less-lame film now showing in Israel that has little in common with the game. It begins with Captain Jack and pirate Will Turner, a former blacksmith, searching for a treasure hidden in a Spanish fortress, but they are tricked and captured and face the gallows, which they manage to escape by telling tales. The weak plot can be disregarded completely, as the only things to do are use your sharp saber against enemies, smash wooden barrels and other paraphernalia to release coins or health points and solve a few puzzles. Your enemies - pirates, skeletons, ghosts, monsters, samurai and other creatures - are not very good at combat, which means you don't have to try very hard to defeat them. Fortunately, once they hit the floor, their bodies disappear bloodlessly into thin air. The environments are limited, flat and grainy, the gameplay too easy and short and the good-guy characters lack charm. One wonders why both the movie and the game were released, except to try to make a buck.