4 Wheel Thunder Review

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TOMLEECEE's review of 4 Wheel Thunder

★★★★☆

“Following on from Midway's superb Hydro Thunder, 4...

Written on: 19/02/2006 by TOMLEECEE (121 reviews written)

Good Points
Outstanding graphics
24 tracks
Lots of options and longevity
Fun 2 player modes
Outdoor tracks are massive and detailed

Bad Points
Poor music
Heavy reliance on luck rather than skill to win
Gets annoyingly difficult
No 4 player mode
Indoor tracks are small and dull

General Comments
Following on from Midway's superb Hydro Thunder, 4 Wheel Thunder takes the arcade racing action off the water and on to terra-firma. If you've ever played Hydro Thunder, you should know what to expect here - it's more of the same over the top, no holds barred racing, but this time with a host of 4 wheel drive monster trucks at your disposal.



As the second game in the Thunder series, 4WT keeps to the familiar, no frills presentation, but ups the game play options considerably from the meagre single play mode found in Hydro Thunder. This time around you get to partake in various competitions and a proper championship mode, as well as having a single race, or practicing thrashing your monster truck around one of the unlocked circuits. The main game types come in 3 different flavours: an indoor arcade series, an outdoor arcade series, and a full on career type option simply called 'Championship'. The two arcade series' require you to race on 3 different tiers of track and finish first in every race to progress. They differ from each other, in that the outdoor series comprises solely of outdoor tracks; and the indoor series (as the name suggests) is made up of races that take place in roofed stadiums. In arcade mode, you also get to pick and choose which of the various off-road vehicles you will drive before each race.



The championship mode differs again, in that you cannot change the vehicle that you choose at the beginning - whatever you pick at the start of your journey, you are stuck with for the duration of the game. The good thing is that by racing well and finishing on the podium, you can earn cash to upgrade your rig; and unlike in arcade mode, you only have to finish in the top 4 to progress to the next race.



So, in terms of play modes at least, 4 Wheel Thunder urinates on Hydro Thunder from a great height. But how does it fare in other areas?



The handling of the trucks is quite nice, but you sometimes feel as if you aren't in full control as you bounce and career across the mud, tarmac or through the air with no real direction. The heavy insistence of using nitro boosts (that are picked up by driving through them) makes the game so fast in some areas, that it's virtually impossible to complete a lap without hitting the barriers constantly - this is a particular pain, because if you choose not to use the nitro boosts, you will never get to the front of the pack, let alone win a race.



Graphics are superb in 4WT! The vehicles are nicely modelled, and there is no scenery pop-up whatsoever - you can literally see for miles on some tracks, and everything is displayed in eye-splitting hi-resolution loveliness. No complaints here.



The tracks available are the usual collection of stereotypes - forests, deserts, ice kingdoms and the like, but are decidedly reserved when compared to Hydro Thunder's ridiculous fantasy environs (e.g. Post Apocalyptic New York). The indoor tracks are given names like 'Canada' or whatever, but because they all take place in identical looking arenas (just with different layouts) it's a bit pointless. The outdoor tracks are, on the whole, huge affairs and offer a massive amount of shortcuts and alternate routes, while the indoor tracks are usually quite small and twisty and are littered with traps like water, banked turns and trenches to get stuck in.



A special mention must also go to the multiplayer aspect of 4WT. While it doesn't offer either online play or a 4 player mode, you do get a wealth of 2 player games (well, four), and they do offer a pleasant break from single player gaming. The 2 player games range from straight racing to a Tag mode, and others such as racing to collect balloons and such like.



Sound, as ever in these kind of games is forgettable - the engine sound effects in particular are offensive to the ear, and the music is non-descript. Do yourself and anyone in earshot a favour and turn it down.



4 Wheel Thunder is a worthy addition to the 'Thunder' series - it trumps Hydro Thunder in terms of graphics and game play modes, but in terms of sheer adrenaline and bang for buck fun, Hydro just edges it. Still, if you were a fan of Hydro and need a new challenge, you could do much worse that this.

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