Hi-Octane is another of those futuristic racers, where you pilot a ground-skimming hovercar around various tracks, trying to beat your opponents with a combination of speed and firepower. It pulls off this concept with some highs and lows.

Snap55First, the good points. For a time when 3D was still nascent technology, Hi-Octane looks great and runs fast. You really feel the track whiz past you as you kick in those turbo-boosters and hurtle past your competitors. The sensation of flying over the ground, of gravity’s pull as you kick your ship through a banked turn, is a delight all its own. You just know you’re going awfully damn fast — which makes it all the more exciting when a rival plants himself next to you, guns blazing, trying to edge you out of the next turn.

And that brings up another strong point: weaponry. Unlike Slipstream 5000, where nailing opponents meant only that you’d slowed them up a bit, Hi-Octane lets you blow the bejesus out of your foes, sending their collected ammo and fuel reserves spilling out all over the race track. They can re-enter the race, yes — but they’ll lose a lot of time and power. So blasting your foes means both a delay in their finish times, and an opportunity to stock up on goodies without having to detour through the fuel, ammo, or shield pit-stops arrayed around each track.

There are six ships to choose from, each with very distinctive speed, armament, and handling characteristics. My personal favorite was the Jugga, a big semi-truck looking thing with just the right balance of weapons and speed to mow down just about any vehicle on the field. There are also six tracks in the game, ranging from NASCAR-style ovals to tricky Grand Prix type urban affairs, with soaring jumps and alternate, off-road paths for the brave.

Snap40The problem with Hi-Octane, though, is that the game just ends, leaving you feeling rather cheated in the end. Win the championship, for example, and you just swing back to the start screen as though nothing happened. And although winning the championship on the toughest difficulty setting is no mean feat, it would still be nice if the challenge lasted through more than the six tracks included. The ride to the finish line might be a rewarding one, but with so little content, Hi-Octane can’t hope to seriously compete with its higher up racers.

System Requirements: Pentium 75 MHz, 16 MB RAM, DOS

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