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Power Drive Rally Retro Review (Atari Jaguar)

Rally of power, too sweet to be sour!

 

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We should probably get this out the way first: Power Drive Rally for the Jaguar is not, as many people think, a Jaguar version of the popular 16-bit driving game of the same name (well almost anyway, as the “Rally” part was tacked on the end). Time Warner’s Power Drive Rally is a Jaguar exclusive and actually a sequel to the US Gold published Power Drive, with numerous upgrades over those versions. Programmed by Rage Software in the UK, who are probably most famous for the Striker games, it’s often quoted as being one of the best games on the Jaguar. So what makes this 2D drive-‘em-up so special, and is it as great as Jaguar owners say? Let’s find out!

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For those who don’t know Power Drive is overhead viewed rally/driving game that requires much more skill than many other games of its ilk, requiring you to also compete in several “driving tests” as well as different types of races to prove that you are up to it! Think of something like Gran Turismo on PS1 crossed with Gremlin’s classic Atari ST/Amiga game Supercars. The stages are set all over the world with different conditions and challenges associated with each one, so for example there are snowy stages in Scandinavia, rain in England (as always!) and dust filled deserts in Africa. The varying weather conditions all have an effect on how the car handles, so you will always have to adjust your driving style to suit each course. Some of these stages even take place at night, and require use of your headlights to see where you are going, which is a particularly nice touch. Power Drive also features different types of rallies – some are just a straight time trial while others actually see you racing head-to-head against a CPU controlled opponent.

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You start the game with either a dinky Mini Cooper or a less attractive Fiat Cinquecento. But as Power Drive goes on you can use the money you earn to not only upgrade and fix your current car, but also buy new ones including the Toyota Celica and the legendary Ford Escort Cosworth! You will also find money and power-ups littering the courses, as well as a few secrets and sneaky short cuts, if you can find them that is! As you learn the tracks in Power Drive its gets easier, but you will find that you will sometimes need to play certain stages several times before you manage to complete them. Thankfully there is also a save game facility with three separate slots, so if you do mess up you can simply reload the stage again without losing any of your valuable cash. The game is also much larger than many similar titles and will take you a while to complete, so being able to save progress is incredibly handy indeed. Another great feature of Power Drive that really adds to the realism is the addition of a co-driver who helps you navigate each stage by telling you what to expect at each turn.

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The graphics in Power Drive look fantastic with nicely rendered cars and beautifully drawn scenery throughout. There are also some superbly drawn cut scenes to break up the stages. All-in-all, Power Drive shows a real attention to detail. The sound consists of both music and the sage advice of your co-driver helping you along in the background. The speech is clear and concise and not drowned out by either the effects or the music – both of which can be adjusted from the pause menu like most Jaguar games anyway. Power Drive Rally is widely regarded as one of the best games on the machine, and it’s not hard to see why. Power Drive Rally is firing on all cylinders and plays like a dream. I can certainly see why this title is so highly regarded – it’s a must have title for Jaguar owners everywhere, and good reason to own the much-maligned console in the first place.

Final Verdict: 4.5/5

rate4.5

Available on: Atari Jaguar (Reviewed) ; Publisher: Time Warner Interactive ; Developer: Rage Software ; Players: 1-2 ; Released: 1995 ; ESRB: E For Everyone ; MSRP: N/A

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