King of Route 66


posted 4/2/2003 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: PS2
You’d hope that a sequel would clean up the problems fans and critics had with the original. And if it were a sequel to a game that was almost unanimously considered lack luster, you’d expect a much better second try, right?

Well, on the surface the King of Route 66 seems address many of the problems found in 18 Wheeler: All American Trucker. It has a two-player mode, bonus games, dozens of characters, and a wider range of levels. On paper it sounds like AM2 listened to our demands, and finally gave us what we wanted. But now that the game is here, we are left to ponder if we were clear enough in our critiques.

So this time I’m going to be extremely specific, in the hopes that AM2 will eventually get the series right. I have quite a lengthy list of issues pertaining to the King of Route 66, as well as 18 Wheeler, and knowing I have this opportunity to be heard, I’m not going to let it pass.

Of all the problems I have with this series, it’s the level designs that really get under my skin. Most racing games pride themselves on their strong courses and interesting backgrounds, but 18 Wheeler wasn’t like that. Instead the levels seemed like something of an afterthought. Even though you would be traveling from Miami to New York, in game time that was only a matter of minutes.

This was one of those problems I was hoping they would address, and I’m here to say they have. The problem is, they didn’t do a real good job of fixing the problem. Gone are the tracks that take you straight from one state to another in mere minutes, but they kept the deathly short levels intact.

Actually, I think the levels found in Route 66 are quite a bit shorter. They are slightly more varied, though. Instead of having one long circuit from one place to another, this game has cut each state up into various stops. You’d think that this would allow the designers a chance of showcase a lot of interesting backgrounds and monuments, but I’m sad to report that this is not the case. Whatever chance they had is wasted in generic cityscapes and dull Midwest themes. Even though each state is split up, there’s quite a bit of redundancy, and you’d never know they were separate.

The game is split into a couple of different kind of missions. There are the ones where you simply race another truck to the destination, and there are the ones where you have to deliver something, or simply run a course. In theory neither of these tasks seem too difficult, but the truth is, they are extremely challenging, even on the lowest difficulty setting.

The problem is not that the game is challenging, which it is, it’s that the game is extremely frustrating. No matter what difficulty you play this on, you will find yourself replaying the same levels time and time again because you missed the target by the slimmest of margins. And when you think it can’t get any more difficult, you realize that the game cheats. The rival you race against appears to have unlimited nitro, and has an uncanny way of always being on your tail. The game never gives you the chance of feeling like you are ahead, because no matter what skill level you are, you generally aren’t ahead.
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