We take Xpect’s post-apocalyptic racer for a spin in the dust, how does it perform…
It’s a strange name for racing game to be sure. 1977, in this game, is when the civilised world ended. Now, nomadic men roam the earth in souped-up cars and trucks, racing for food, fuel and ammo. It sounds similar in concept to parts of id’s upcoming RAGE for PC. That and a little MotorStorm for PS3 thrown in for good measure.
The game features two types of play. Quick race, which allows you to play through unlocked levels with unlocked cars, and Story mode, which puts you on a career of sorts. As you progress through races, and championships you unlock achievements, and, more importantly, new cars. Like most racers, the cars come in various setups, differing by acceleration, grip and speed. Much like MotorStorm you will really want that grip over speed any day of the week, though good acceleration out of corners can be useful.
Each track, due to the Apocalypse, is mainly dust, dirt and debris. So the cars don’t exactly stick well to the road. Whether you choose accelerometer or digital steering, you’ll find that much of your turning relies heavily on your handbrake to drift around corners. Don’t count on sticking to the road for long either, for if the tracks varied terrain doesn’t throw you summersaulting or spinning off, then the AI racers will. Careering into you with every chance they get.
Handling the cars, particularly in accelerometer mode, and with the sensitivity pushed all the way up, the cars feel a little unwieldy, but maybe that’s the point. However, I really dislike the auto-centering each car seems to perform when you ease off the steering. It can sometime cause you to unintentionally crash, which can be pretty frustrating when you lose the lead just at the last corner of the last lap.
Graphically it certainly looks the part, with detailed and varied environments. And the cars themselves have that Mad Max vibe going on. That detail does come with a heavy price however, with many of my play sessions exhibiting severe slowdown, at key points in a race (like before a jump or rounding a corner). Even on an iPhone 4 it was choppy. You can ramp the graphics settings down for a smoother experience, but really it should be optimised for a smooth ride by default.
The career mode, which takes you through four championships, each with five races to complete, sees you rising up the ranks, facing off against increasing AI skill levels.. The game promises 10 tracks, however this is a little bit of a white lie, as there are in fact only five tracks, but in the different championships you might be playing them backwards (making 10 overall). So, while things certainly get more challenging, you may experience severe deja-vu.
A huge oversight in my opinion is the lack of any multiplayer, not even over wifi or bluetooth. To me, any racing game worth its salt should include this option. Racing AI in career modes is all well and good, but nothing beats going head to head with your fellow man, and it extends the replay-ability by some margin.
Overall Race after 1977 is a solid enough racer. It’s certainly trying to go for the MotorStorm vibe. But, with a limited amount of tracks, things do begin to get a bit stale. The higher performance cars make things a little more interesting, but as I said, without some kind of multiplayer I doubt players will stick with it for long.