Al Gore was right, and Climate Change hit the Earth. The massive climate shift leaves most of the world desolated, with mankind holed up in small pockets of habitable land. So, what do we do with a completely deserted continent? Let's race!
This game was produced in 2009 by Asobo Studio and published by Codemasters. It features a 5000 square mile map, of which you explore to find challenges and race on to gain Fuel, which you then trade in for better, faster, and stronger vehicles.
Oh, and while you race, you get to deal with rapidly changing weather, which can literally rain on your parade across the wilderness.
The game was not well-received due to some dubious handling models for the road cars in particular, as well as the fact that the giant map is procedurally-generated except for some key spots, meaning there is nothing but generic terrain and roads that look like one another as far as the eye can see.
- After the End: The world has been devastated by climate change, reducing humanity to tiny enclaves.
- All or Nothing: You have to get 1st Place to gain anything.
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: Winning some races gives you new clothes to dress yourself in.
- You can get new paint schemes for your car if you head out into the wilderness and drive for half an hour towards a car wreck.
- Artistic License Geography: what's with all the "rest area" signs on back roads?
- Character Customization: Not too extensive, but your clothing can be changed.
- Checkpoint: Obviously.
- Difficulty Levels: Which give you differing levels of FUEL for winning.
- Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud: Literally.
- Fake Difficulty: Vehicles with terrible steering response, invincible bushes, obstacles placed in the worst possible places...
- They're not placed at all. The entire map was randomly generated, then the designers went around it looking for nice places to race at. Only the basic race at each camp is manually created, which is why it is so small and higher quality than the rest.
- The road cars are intentionally hard to drive. Road bikes are much smoother, but the slightest contact with anything causes you to crash.
- In-Universe Game Clock: Racing or free roaming, you have a day/night cycle.
- Loading Screen: Appears when you crash due to the procedurally-generated world; the game has to go back and recalculate the road behind you. Oddly, the loading screen appears the instant you crash or roll over; you do not get to see your car actually wreck.
- Marathon Level: The last Challenge in the game, an Endurance Race on Mt. Rainier, takes one hour and ten minutes to complete, and that's with taking massive shortcuts!
- There are two achievements for driving from one corner of the map to the opposite corner. This is a distance of about 170 real life kilometres. Vehicles capable of going from A to B in a straight line usually won't go faster than about 100 kph; anything faster is confined to asphalt roads. As a result, you will be driving for at least an hour and a half, possibly longer if you get bogged down by unpassable cliffs and meandering dirt trails.
- Post-Processing Video Effects: Bloom Lighting.
- Procedural Generation: 14,000 square miles of terrain (about the size of Belgium), barring a few pre-defined landmarks.
- Schizophrenic Difficulty: Some levels are super easy and the AI never understand the easiest path, causing you to win by literally a mile, whereas other times the AI seem to take shortcuts that are impossible or drive at absurd speeds that are also not possible.
- Their shortcuts are always possible for players to take, even if it requires perfect aim. Schizophrenic Difficulty means you know where the shortcuts are on some tracks (and crucially where you cannot cut because there's a tree trunk or hill that's just barely too steep) and not on others. Basically if the cut is clean and you don't take it, you will lose. If there is an obstacle and you do take it, you will lose.
- On many of the longer point to point races, you can trivially win if you set course for the finish line and just plow straight across the terrain. If you get stuck between trees, restart and take a slightly different route. On the other hand, the developers must love dirt bikes and quads because any vehicle that's restricted to roads is barely faster than the offroad alternative and worse, wipes out badly as soon as you touch a dirt patch which makes them completely useless. Even races where you are forced to use a road car include dirt patches, including one notorious race where your view is also blocked by a sandstorm.
- There's one horrible race where you get to drive road bikes on a very tight track. The slightest contact with an opponent or wall kills you, and if you dare to accelerate for more than a split second you completely overshoot the next corner and plow into the wall.
- Scenery Porn: This was probably what the developers were going for with that huge map. It usually just results in generic hill upon generic burning forest, but the developers sought out the places where the random number generator did create an awesome view, and marked them with a "lookout point" sign on the map.
- Scripted Event: Riders of the Storm, Tornado Warning, Twisted Minds, Dark Dust, pretty much any "severe weather" race will have weather knocking obstacles onto the road for you to crash into.
- Shout-Out: A lot of the cars have names and designs designed to remind you of something...
- A muscle car named The Bullet
- Another named The Enforcer
- Yet another named General Custer
- A F1-like Buggy named Trackmaniac
- A most epic big rig called Thundertruck
- A big, military looking mashup SUV called Devastator
- As for random opponents' names, there's Alec Skid, as well as Sheldon Hofstadter.
- And a trophy/achievement called "Squadala, We're off!".
- There's also a Vista Point with the name of "Blue Hedgehog's Hill".
- Tech Demo Game: This game was mostly a showcase for how Procedural Generation technology could help to create full games. While the tech was a bit rough at this point, Asobo Studio would put the experience for good use in future projects, most notably Microsoft Flight Simulator.
- Time Trial: And these can be downright sadistic.
- The large circular track where you drive a rail dragster. If you drive perfectly, you finish with 0.05 seconds to spare.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Sometimes, the AI will fly past you like you are standing still, even though they have the same car as you and you are going top speed! And to make it one better, they seem to bypass the game's own convoluted physics, causing situations where an AI in a road car (which has little offroad grip and can't go faster than 30 MPH offroad) is bumped off a cliff and ends up flying back onto the road up the hill and gaining a position. If you try that in the same car as the AI, you only manage to fall down the entire mountain for ten minutes because it is too steep and you slide down.
- Variable Mix: Each game song has a beginning part, differing middle parts, and ending part, which play depending on your progress in the race.
- Violation of Common Sense: Racing during a Tornado Warning, dodging funnel clouds and debris on a narrow dirt path on a hill. You have to be titanium nuts to try this! And to go one better, you are dropped off at the start of the race from a Chinook Helicopter. Mere yards from the tornadoes!
- Wide Open Sandbox: A 14,000 square km map (which means 118 kilometers per side, that's a lot), featuring Mount Rainier... life sized and fully driveable.