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Publisher: Gathering of Developers    Genre: Sports
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3 @ 233 MHz    RAM: 32 MB    Hard Disk: 276 MB    8x CD-ROM

4x4 Evolution
December 8, 2000 | Michael Eilers

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Of all the neglected game genres on the Mac OS – and there are many of them – perhaps the most-ignored area has been the racing game. Heck, there are people out there still playing Al Unser Jr and Vette! out of sheer desperation. When IMG learned at this year’s E3 that off-road racing title 4x4 Evolution was coming to the Mac OS, we were ecstatic. Euphoric. Intoxicated.

We were psyched.

4x4 Evolution doesn’t just represent a rebirth of the racing genre on the Mac OS, it also provides a powerful, compelling vision of a platform-agnostic future. Out of the box this game can network with Mac, PC and Dreamcast console owners, and is playable with a 56k modem connection. It uses a universal chat room and game finder (GameSpy) that runs on all three platforms. It supports OpenGL and Glide, and will run in as little as 6 MB of VRAM. In terms of sheer technological innovation, 4x4 is an impressive title, and hopefully a glimpse of what is to come.

However, as I learned after playing beta, demo and final versions of this game, the cross-platform nature of the title also introduced some quirks that may not go over well with Mac gamers. As a game, and in terms of interface, 4x4 leans heavily towards the console (Dreamcast) style of design rather than towards ultra-accurate PC and Mac sims. The actual level of realism of the racing and vehicles might disturb those looking for a true ‘sim.’

However, the good news is that Terminal Reality turned up the fun factor big-time to make up for the lack of precise realism. Huge gonzo air off of giant cliffs is a pretty good trade-off for having no engine blowouts or broken axles. And absolutely no game I’ve played has captured the frantic, reckless mayhem of off-road driving so well.

Let me preface this review with the fact that I have driven SUVs off-road quite a bit here in Arizona, strictly as an amateur and not in a racing situation. I’ve spent enough time behind the wheel on rough terrain to have a good feel for what a vehicle can and can’t do, and I’ve driven several of the vehicles featured in 4x4 in off-road conditions. I mention this because the vehicle physics of 4x4 are actually uncannily accurate – to a certain limit – and overall 4x4 does authentically capture the feel of racing on a dirt surface.


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