Road Rash: review by Patrick B. Moynihan

Text by Patrick B. Moynihan <>

Well I have had Road Rash 3DO for about 6 hours now and thought I'd let you all know how it looks, etc.

BTW, I've got the capability to do screen shots and Quicktime or MPEG movies, if anyone would like to put them up on a WWW server or FTP site let me know and we can work something out.

First Impressions:

After loading the game up you are presented with a nice FMV intro. Basically a music video with great footage of a high-speed motorcycle chase, complete with combat and a rockin' soundtrack. The compression used for the FMV looks as good as or better than Shockwave's FMV. I am becoming more and more impressed with the advances in FMV compression on the 3DO; it's getting quite good. The audio is fairly high quality, although it stills sounds sub-sampled.

After the intro you can navigate through your options using a series of menus with great 24-bit color backgrounds. Making menu selections seems a little sluggish, probably because of all the true-color graphics.

There are basically two modes for play, which are comparable to Crash n' Burn's "Tournament" and "Rally" modes. You can choose to race on one of the 5 tracks with a stock bike, or begin a "big game" in which you race, earn money, buy better bikes, etc. If you choose the "big-game" mode you can select from several alter-egos, who each have different personalities, abilities, bikes, and starting cash.


The basic rendering engine for the game looks very similar to Crash n' Burn. It runs at about the same speed (maybe a little faster) but it has much more detail. There are lots of roadside objects that fly by (they are scaled sprites (or "cels" in 3DO language)) like trees and road signs. Also there appear to be small structures like houses and stuff that seem to be texture-mapped polygons. Getting close to these roadside objects causes some pixellation but during normal gameplay you don't get close enough to notice.

In addition there are areas in the game where you are driving through rural areas with buildings on either side of the road. They don't appear to be polygons, but look great. It is interesting the way the buildings follow the curvature (rise and fall) of the road.

There are also some nice tunnels but they're not as cool as Crash n' Burn's were (no curved surfaces).

Your racer and the other racers are digitized. They look pretty good, although small, and there are not very many frames of animation to them. But enough to make it look pretty darn good.

Sound: During the FMV sequences you hear Digitized music from the A&M label. It sounds sub-sampled from 44.1kHz but is pretty good.

During the Menu and info Screens you hear real music direct from the CD, more A&M music. Sounds great, and seems to play randomly so you get different music every time. Plus you get a second CD with nothing but music. No CD+G though.

During gameplay you hear music generated by the 3DO from sampled instruments. Sounds pretty good. Also there are digitized sound effects for crashes, squealing tires and combat. Even different sound effects for when you beat up on male vs. female opponents. The motorcycle engine sounds work well and sound good. There is also a police siren that, in my opinion, should have been programmed to sound like it comes from behind you (with the Dolby Surround) when the cop comes around. But on my Pro-Logic system I heard very few sound effects that used the rear channel capabilities.


CD access is minimized during the actual racing part of the game; the access light hardly ever comes on, and when it does there is no delay or lag. There are brief delays between menu and info screens, and the actual game.

The bike controls well with the 3DO controller. You will need to make sure your diagonals are fixed to get the best performance. For example, to do a backhand you hold up and the C button, then release the C button to initiate the move. Well, while you are holding up you are going to want to be able to steer, too, right? Well you can do it if your diagonals are fixed.

Collision detection with other objects and during combat works very well. Unlike ShockWave and TotalEclipse, you don't crash into something until it *looks* like you've crashed into it. Nice visual feedback.

I haven't had time to play through the entire tournament yet so I can't make any comments about long-term gameplay.

The FMV sequences (which are easy to abort) are a nice addition to the game. They add some humor (and some gore, too) to the gameplay. There seem to be multiple FMV segments for the same event, so you don't see the same thing each time.

The tracks are not too long, not too short, and you only do one "lap" (if you could call it that) per race (at least on level one).


I think I heard someone say the Road Rash is like Crash n' Burn on steroids. I'd have to agree with them. Road Rash reminds me a lot of Crash n' Burn. The visuals are similar (although more detailed) and the concept is almost the same. But Road Rash does more for me than C&B. It is a more polished product, which makes sense seeing as how CnB was the first one out there.

I haven't mastered the combat part of the game yet, and I haven't played long enough to know how much of the game is strategy. CnB kept my attention longer than any other 3DO game has, because you could always develop strategy. I hope that Road Rash lives up to this promise. Guess I'll have to go play some more!

Ratings: (IMHO)

Patrick B. Moynihan Application Arts, Incorporated