LGR – Deathtrack – DOS PC Game Review

LGR – Deathtrack – DOS PC Game Review


[MIDI music plays] [typing] Sometimes, a guy just wants to engage
in some good old vehicular combat. I know, I know. There are plenty of nice current
games that let you do this, from Twisted Metal to Gas Guzzlers. But what if you’re a DOS geek like me and want to use a car to
shoot the crap out of other cars? May I present to you Deathtrack, developed by Dynamix and
published by Activision in 1989. I own Deathtrack as part of this Activision
Powerhits Sci-Fi compilation pack from 1994. I don’t have an original boxed copy because I’ve actually never once seen one for sale anywhere. I mean, this version is cool and all, and it at least has the documentation crammed into this deliciously beefy manual, but I’d love to have the original box with its awesome artwork and
vintage cardboard boxiness. As you might guess, Deathtrack
is an arcade combat racing game that uses a similar game engine
to other Dynamix titles of the time, like MechWarrior and Abrams Battle Tank. Mmm, yes, wonderful primitive 3D with filled polygons that you can count! I love you, simplistic 3D. I’d hug you but your edges
look sharp enough to cut, and I’m fond of keeping
my blood inside my body. No hugs for you. Deathtrack starts with some artwork and logos, as well as an ambiguously ominous
and constantly looping MIDI tune. [MIDI music plays] Deathtrack wants you! Apparently. So, let Deathtrack know that you want it back, so badly, by signing into the game and…going for it. You’re then given the choice of
three different cars to start out with, loosely based on real-life sports cars. The speedy Hellcat, the powerfully-weaponized Crusher, and the heavily-armored Pitbull. Essentially, you’re choosing your
beginning power-ups for your car, although you can upgrade these
stats later on if you get the cash. From the main menu, you
interact with a menu, mainly, race different races,
shop for parts and weapons, check the scores and opponents stats, change some difficulty and sound options, and even quit the game if you
need to get back to real life. But you don’t, so I’d recommend checking
out the opponents stats. These are mostly your typical
late-’80s, early-’90s-style opponents with cheesy mugshots and cocky attitudes. It’s not only amusing,
but it’s worth checking out what each vehicle looks like
because it’ll become important to quickly be able to
recognize them during races. And definitely check out the difficulty, too, as you can not only change the lap amount but the game can be pretty brutal, and starting out on
Warrior or Mega Destroyer will only cause unnecessary
anxiety and depression and possibly plantar warts. Those things are a pain to get rid of. The next step is to do some shopping. Even though the future is grim and violent, you’re still given $10,000 out of nowhere, automatically, to spend however you wish. Isn’t that nice of the post-apocalypse? You’ll be able to upgrade
car parts like engines, brakes, transmissions, tires,
airfoils and armor. I’d personally go with engine,
tire and armor upgrades early on, especially if you feel like winning. Winning is nice. And in the weapons shop, you
can choose from machine guns, missiles, lasers, particle beams, mines, caltrops, wheel spikes, ram spikes, and a bomb on wheels called a Terminator. I almost always go with
maxed-out ram spikes first because they’re extremely overpowered [chuckles]
and kind of like cheating. And some extra Terminators, mines and missiles are always good if you can afford them. But make sure to save a
little cash after this, if you can, because chances are you’re
going to need it pretty soon. Now one can just race a single race on a single track of your choosing, singly,
to get a feel for the game. But you’ll probably be fine
with jumping right into the career Full Circuit Run. In this, you’re given a random track to race from a selection of ten tracks located in one of ten cities. Probably a good idea to
save your game here, too, just in case things go really badly. The race loads up and you can either wait
for the light to turn green or just launch early and
smash stuff up instantly, putting those fancy new
ram spikes to good use. It’s pretty easy to get a kill or
two right off the bat doing this, which is kind of ridiculous,
but hey, it sure is fun. Otherwise, you’ll have to
wait a little ways into the lap before anyone’s other weapons are useable. Once the pack passes this point, all hell breaks loose. Lasers will fly. Missiles will launch. Terminators will ram you from behind, and it’s every goofy-looking, big-haired man and/or woman for themselves. Though oddly, even with all this carnage, you only get some chintzy
PC speaker noise for weapons, and some obnoxious music. You don’t even get any engine noise, which is kind of disconcerting. Maybe these are hybrids. Th-they’re not, though. Oh, well. The controls
are pretty straightforward. You just move…straight forward, choose a weapon and shoot
crap when the chance arises. Seriously, there isn’t even
much driving involved here. It honestly doesn’t even
feel like you’re driving a car. It’s more like you’re on a roller coaster with the possibility of
slight deviations left and right. It’s possible to run off the road
if you’re going stupidly fast, but most of the time
you’re just steering a little bit here and there to get a
better aim on your target. There’s even an autopilot option, which isn’t as fast as normal, but it’s good enough for a short break. The opponent intelligence
is also kind of dumb, so it’s not really a big deal to
maneuver around these guys, especially if you have a
decent engine and tire setup. It’s also important to keep an eye
on the damage meter in the top-left, ’cause dodging things like missiles
and mines can be quite the hassle, and it doesn’t take much to die. You die and you’re out of the race with a blown-up car and no cash awarded. And this is probably the biggest
problem I have with the game because it’s quite easy
to end up with no money and no way to repair your car. It’s a catch-22: you need
money for weapons and repairs, but you need weapons and repairs
to stand a chance of getting money. This is why it’s important
that you save before each race because you may end up screwed. Still, there are opportunities to
win money besides winning a race or being the last man standing. Captain Shady McDubious
here will often approach you, offering a cash reward if you destroy
a certain opponent during that race. A great way to earn an
extra chunk of change, even if you place last in the race. And lastly, there are a couple of other
things to worry about during races, especially the longer ones
with higher lap counts. The first is fuel, shown at
the top of your dashboard. You’ll start with a fair amount each race, and it will refill on its own
after a race is finished, but during a race, you may run out. So you’ll need to make a pit stop, indicated by a yellow X on the track map. Just pull over into Pit Lane and you’ll be able to
refuel, repair and reload, provided you have money, at least, which is a good reason why it’s
important to leave some before a race. And that’s Deathtrack. It’s a pretty freakin’
fantastic game, if you ask me, especially for 1989 on MS-DOS. It’s got awesome filled polygonal graphics, an enjoyable upgrade system, a variety of tracks and opponents, and some brutal destruction. Yes, the gameplay and music is repetitive, the dinky PC speaker sound effects suck, the opponent AI is a bit lacking, and the potential to totally screw yourself by being awful at the game is arguably too easy to do. But the game has an undeniable
charm about it that I just love. It’s a shame Deathtrack is so
freakin’ hard to find nowadays, but, still, if you do run
across a copy somehow, I’d say it’s totally worth it. It’s actually one of my
favorites from Dynamix, and that’s saying a lot. [MIDI music plays]

100 Replies to “LGR – Deathtrack – DOS PC Game Review”

  1. Screw slitting your wrist with razors, do it with some primitive 3D models with dithering. That's the true geek way out, or was that ODing on energy drink? I forget which.

  2. Holy crap! I'm only at 35 right now! About 15 of them are DOS games. About 5 of them are sealed, like Doom 2 Screen Saver. A few of them aren't actually games, like a VERY HEAVY and complete copy of Microsoft Word 2, and a complete copy of IBM MS-DOS version 3.30.

  3. There's actually a remake of this game on Steam, believe it or not.
    Titled Death Track: Resurrection.

  4. Sorry for the nit-picking, but MIDI itself doesn't have any particullar sound (I'm referring to calling music in this game midi-tune). It is just a protocol that informs synthesizer (software or hardware on sound card) which notes to play, on which channel etc. Again sorry for the nit-picking (and my awful english :D) but I saw on Your other videos that You're interested in technical side of lot of things so I decided to straighten some things up πŸ™‚

  5. I wasn't referring to a particular sound, I was referring to the fact that it uses MIDI to play music. Thus: MIDI music. That's not incorrect by any means.

  6. ok, my bad πŸ™‚ I wasn't trying to be mean or something, but sound synthesis is one of my main interests, and I'm kind of sensitive to such stuff πŸ˜€ On the other side, hope You can review "Dreams into Reality" sometime in the future. I have fond memories of this game and it had very interesting art design.

  7. Hey – I appreciate your desire to own Deathtrack. I've seen it only once for sale on eBay (sealed, even!) but lost out around the $120-mark. It gets hard to pay that much for cardboard πŸ˜‰

  8. Weird, the music that plays in the beginning of the game is the same music played in the beginning of Ghostbusters II, also from Activision and Dynamix.

  9. I used to play this game all the time when I was a kid XD. ha can't believe I just randomly ran into it on youtube. πŸ™‚ thnx for the trip to nostalgia!

  10. this to me seems like it inspired death rally. especially the shop / part where you can hire captain mcshady dubious

  11. Agreed. Love it so much I pulled the cutscenes and put them back together. I uploaded the full thing to my page.

  12. Man… this was one of my absolute FAVORITE games to play on my dads old 386 back in the day. I put hours into that game and got really freakin' good at it… most races I ended up the last car driving. Easiest way to get 1st place that way πŸ˜‰

  13. I have an irrational love of flat shade polygons, thank you for showing this game off. I'm working on a list of all the bare polygon games I can find, and this one is now added to my list.

  14. Holy….crap!Β  I bought the Power Hits Sci/Fi and Power Hits Movies box sets brand new back in the day.Β  Hard to believe that I've had them for 20 years.Β  Yep, still have 'em, now I'm going to have to load them up and play a bit.
    I played Death Track nearly to death on my Tandy 1000TX.Β  When I got a 486 the game ran too fast and the slowdown utilities messed with the gameplay.

    LGR, do you have the Power Hits Movies set?Β  Just in case you don't, it has:Β  The Rocketeer; Hare Raising Havoc (Roger Rabbit); Die Hard and Ghost Busters II.

  15. Please review Rock'nRoll Racing for the snes! It was my favorite game when I was young and liked playing nintendo, rather then anything else! :3

  16. Couldn't play this on my 486 slc-33Mhz… I really wanted to, the screenshots and the box captivated me. But it ran at 1500 miles an hour on my 486 and was totally unplayable. Finally I get to see what I missed.

  17. I still haven't seen you do a review of Interstate 76'. This absolutely blows my mind be-it I've seen it installed on some of your computers, seen the box on your shelf; and it's just an AWESOME GAME.

  18. I know you have reviewed Tongue of the Fatman, so any plans to review any of those other games in the pack?

  19. The graphics were pretty good, especially considering they are only EGA (but High resolution EGA)

    This game was years before its time. I wish I still had it. A remake is seriously needed for this

    In fact this was the first PC game that made we go WOW after I upgraded from my old C64 and Amiga days

  20. i dunno if Bulfrog was inspired by this game when they did Hi-Octane because its kinda the same thing only in Hi-Octane are better graphics and its kinda addictive XDD

  21. Oh god. Remember playing this as a 9 year old… Back then the tracks were too hard for me so I copied/overwrote easiest track file onto other track files and make all the tracks the same. (I think I used the oval shaped track similar to Indy500 track.)

    Even drew some Deathtrack fan comics on my notepad back then. haha πŸ™‚

  22. Played this a lot when I was a kid. Always bought 20 caltrops and deployed them zig-zag style. That way every opponent's car was slowed to a crouch and could destroy them all.

  23. Absolutely love this game. Used to play it with a Maxx yoke and pedals with Overkill's "Elimination" blaring instead of the MIDI music. Vastly improves the experience. πŸ˜€

  24. I remember around 1992 when I was a child, at school, I was looking at "elderly boys", (one of which was school director's son,) – playing that game and the Golden Axe on a 286 machine. They forget it, but I now collect and use vintage computers to enjoy gems like that sometimes)

  25. I had this on a laptop as a friend and I took turns driving across state. After a few rounds I realized he was activating commenting on my race while he was driving. LOL. We decided it was best not to play while driving and survived the trip.

  26. I remember playing this game on my parent's tandy 1000 ex computer back in 1990 and I thought it was fun back then but I was very young and it didn't take much for me to be impressed.

  27. Today, I would start a game on Mega Destroyer level. My fingers remember the tracks rather well.

    I don't know if it's a bug or a cheat but if you mark a weapon model you don't already have and try to buy it when it's off screen, you get money instead of spend money, with different weapons and models give different returns.

    Also, since you get some money back on your old weapon when you buy a new one, you can actually buy the fastest engine before running the first track, because every car has some powerful weapon you can downgrade, and earn the extra $1K you'll need for it. So if you're a good enough driver B-) you can easily win 1st place on the first few tracks, and then spend more money on upgrades.
    (good enough drivers also don't get hit as much, which saves on repairs)

    There is a slight difference between the vehicles: Acceleration.
    The Hellcat is very quick and the Pitbull is quite slow, even with all the upgrades.
    I usually pick the Crusher so I can sell its missiles to buy the engine, while keeping its more powerful laser. And I also like the spider hood ornament.

    Another Interesting bug I had in my copy, was an invisible time limit:
    7 laps was the longest race that was winnable, because any longer or even not finishing the 7 laps fast enough, meant ending up in last place. Even if you're the only vehicle left on the track.

    Great game.
    Spent hours mastering it.
    Still play it from time to time nowadays.

  28. I remember playing this way back as a kid with my dad's 286.
    There was one problem, for some reason the mouse wouldn't move to the right hand side of the display. That meant that buying armor repairs etc was not possible, adding extra difficulty πŸ™‚

  29. The Hellcat is pretty clearly a Lamborghini Diablo, and the Pitbull clearly a Jaguar XJ220, but I can't put my finger on the Crusher. It reminds me of some of the wedge supercars of the 70's, like the original Lotus Esprit or the DeTomaso Pantera, but neither one of those quite matches right.

  30. hey, I remember this game … played it when I was innocent child … I still don't understand what the goal of the game is … until now

  31. I've never played this game, but I would honestly like a remake of this game. I like some of the unique mechanics and it looks like it was a crapton of fun back in the day.

  32. This game was remade on the ps3 system i have it. its like a mix of burnout and twisted metal its an OK game well better than the one in the video the new game is called death track ressurection

  33. I remember playing this as a kid on a monochrome monitor. Gotta live orange! Awesome game at the time. When I look at it now it seems totally unplayable compared to my PC or ps4.

  34. My favorite Dos game. I used to play it on my Amstrad 1512 in the early 90s. The 512KB ram it had seems insane compared to my current PC which has 256MB cache just on one hdd.

  35. wow! haven't seen this game in quite a while. So cool! Thanks for this review!
    Do you know if there's any tandy sound support?

  36. Is this the guy from Spiderman, the one who's says, what, your the human spider? That sucks! Ladies and gentlemen,… it's the Amazing Spiderman!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *