Set somewhat predictably in the future, Powerslide offers virtual racers the chance to compete offroad in low-slung buggy-type vehicles, chasing both the clock and computer opponents. Nine varied tracks provide scope for travelling through cityscapes, deserts, canyons and other environments.
All the cars on offer have varying attributes that influence their speed, traction and handling across diverse racing surfaces. Three race modes are available, which means that long after the one-off races have been mastered there's still fun to be had from the Championship mode and by competing for the best track times.
The game engine is outstanding - wonderfully smooth and impressively fast. And as the dividing line between the quality of arcade games and their PC equivalents blurs further, it's impressive to note the complete lack of glitching or pop-up. Even with a full field of eight racers, the frame rate is always maintained and the visuals impress throughout.
Utilising the in-car view provides a vomit-inducing sensation of speed, and there are many hours of fun to be had simply from trying to perfect your power-sliding technique. For the uninitiated, power-sliding involves the precise application of steering and speed while cornering. Done correctly, the result is as spectacular as it is time-saving. Push too hard on the accelerator, however, and you spin out uncontrollably and lose valuable time. Theoretically it's a simple manoeuvre; in practice it proves fiendishly difficult but superbly rewarding.
In most racing games, crashing or damaging the car would seriously reduce your chances of victory, but here it's just part of the fun because the cars are indestructible. If you manage to flip yourself over, you simply keep going, which provides ample scope for acrobatic antics, including death-defying leaps of faith, barrelrolling and even driving along tunnel walls.
Powerslide delivers a sound enough racing experience, but the game is let down by several glaring omissions: options to sustain damage - and perhaps even to have it affect performance - would have added to the drama; adjustable race lengths would have enhanced the longevity, especially if a 'last man standing' scenario was added to a Destruction Derby-type melee; and if ever there was a game screaming out for weapons, booby traps and sabotage, then this is it. As the game stands, coming first is ultimately unrewarding, because amassing points is the only incentive. Providing victors with a choice of customisable extras would have added a much needed degree of strategy to the proceedings.
If it sounds like we're moaning (It does - Ed), that's because the lack of imagination grates. With slightly more thought, Powerslide could have found itself vying for pole position in the PC racing game stakes. As it stands, it's fiendishly addictive, tough and, most importantly, fun. But it's also a 'by-numbers' clone of every other PC racer. It's a shallow and soul-less experience. Which is a shame, because the accurate physics ensure superb handling of the cars, and the 3D engine deserves a better showcase for its overtly superior talent.
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features: Single game mode
2019-01-06 Powerslide game added.
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