Written by: Stoo

Date posted: April 10, 2003

Racing cars? It’s been done, many times. Now, monster trucks, dune buggies and moon rovers, that’s a little more original. Though you might suspect that a game dealing in such things is not exactly concerned with ultra-realism.

Big Red Racing’s goals are clear from the start; with the ‘wacky’ style of the menu screens. It’s about cartoony fun, flogging chunky vehicles around colourful tracks. There are a number of races available around the globe, each based on a certain theme, and you have a choice of two vehicles relevant to that theme. For example, you can race round quarries in dumper trucks or excavators, or try river-based tracks in hovercrafts or inflatable boats. Cars aren’t completely abandoned though, as there are city races with minis and beetles.

Truck races are my favourite.

Once you’re behind the wheel, the handling of the vehicles is much more Mario Kart than TOCA. Which means even idiots like me can finish a race without spinning off at every other corner. What does appeal to me is the open nature of the environments within the game – thereare no barriers (invisible or otherwise) keeping you to the road for the entire race. This means you can happily trundle off a cliff, or attempt to go cross-country. Not that there’s usually any reason to do such things, I just find barriers along the road an annoying contrivance.

Of course, if you do hit a wall, come crashing down too steep a slope, or smash into another vehicle, you take damage. Obviously enough, a big lorry can withstand more punishment than a mini. There’s also the good-old arcade standby of nitro boosts to provide a limited number of extra bursts of speed, which is great providing you remember to point yourself along the road first.

As far as single player options go, there are single races or a tournament. These are quite fun for maybe an hour or so, but unless you’re the kind of person who obsessively played Mario Kart for days on end to rack up high scores, you’ll probably find that the novelty of simplistic comedy racing wears off quite quickly. It’s also probably a bit too easy; I’m guessing this just from the fact that I can win a lot of the time, and I’m usually terrible at racing games.

Boat race.

However, as you might expect for this kind of game, BRR comes into its own in the multiplayer. There are network and serial-cable options for those of you with access to such things, but if you don’t there’s always two-player Split-Screen. Once you have a someone to play against, the fun factor is cranked up far higher. It’s not something easily put into words, but I’m sure many readers will appreciate the hilarity in racing against friends. It’s quite easy to fall about laughing at each other as you go tumbling down a cliff or get brought to a dead stop by an inconveniently placed tree. In other words, even being inept is fun, which rarely applies to single-player in any game.

This has turned out to be a short review, but then there’s not a huge amount to say. If you’re stuck by yourself, you’ll probably have more fun devising fiendishly impossible tracks for Stunts and should probably knock half a point off the score below. If however you have access to friends (you know, those other people who sometimes inconsiderately drag you away from the computer and force you to socialise) then this could provide a good laugh.