When the powers that be here at GiN first gave me Dukes of Hazzard: Racing for Home to review I thought that Christmas had arrived early. What red-blodded American male could resist finally being able to live out their boyhood dreams and play as Bo and Luke Duke driving around in the General Lee battling Boss Hogg and Roscoe? I’ve been told I said something like, "This is the happiest day of my life!" before racing off to the testing center.
Oh how wrong I was.
The crux of my review for Dukes of Hazzard lies in four words — great concept, poor execution. At the drawing board stage, this game is an absolute gold-mine. It’s the friggin’ Dukes of Hazzard for Pete sakes. It’s got action, nostalgia, racing, cops, Daisy Duke in her … well Daisy Dukes. I mean how could you go wrong with this one?
Well somehow, someway, somewhere in between the drawing board stage and the time it was placed in my ever wanting hand, something went horribly wrong.
First off, the game is so easy that to say a child with the mental capacity of a Caesar salad could complete it in one day’s time would be an understatement. Anyone with even the most remote experience with any type of racing game will laugh at the difficulty of the game.
The AI of the other cars is just atrocious. Instead of banging into the General Lee, they seem to do an awful lot of banging into trees, walls, barricades, and just about anything else besides you. Then to overcompensate, they magically appear in front of you or next to you. Boo! Hiss!
Secondly, the game’s first 10 missions all seem exactly the same! There is no difference whatsoever. Every mission is racing away from Roscoe or racing away from Roscoe while trying to pull another car over. Finally, when there is a marked change, you get to drive Cooter’s tow truck around a junk-yard trying not to get smashed. Whoopee!
Just when I felt like my cries of ‘My kingdom for some variety in this game’ would fall upon deaf ears, I go from racing in the General Lee as Bo and Luke to some sort of flashback sequence as a young Uncle Jesse. Huh?!?
What episode of the X-Files did I just fall into?
Talk about going on a tangent. I mean Uncle Jesse is cool and all, but come on, you’re playing this game to drive the damn General Lee as the Dukes.
The graphics in the game are adequate at best, although I should point out that the cut screens are great. The likeness to the characters in Dukes of Hazzard is incredible and having the actual voices from most of the original cast was a nice touch. The music throughout the game stays true to the series, with the opening playing the theme to the show and showing virtually the same scenes that ran on the TV show during the opening.
The nostalgia that was running wild then unfortunately gave way to the realization that this just isn’t a very good game.
If it wasn’t for the fact that this game is the Dukes of Hazzard, I may have given it just one GiN Gem or stretched the technical know-how of our crack graphics-making staff and tried for a half a GiN Gem (have we ever given any game 1/2 a GiN Gem?). But the Duke boys managed to yee-haw their way to 2 1/2 GiN Gems simply on the strength of their appeal. This is slightly below the average of 3 Gems, because Duke fans will think the game is cool no matter how bad it actually is, and more non-Duke fans won’t touch it anyway.
Rather than harp on my disappointment with this game, I propose to the game development teams at SouthPeak, and to developers around the world for that matter, two sure-fire games based on the Dukes premise that would make you very wealthy — CHIPS and the A-Team.
With all the crap that comes out on home console systems these days, surely you can see the wisdom in the making of games based on these two classics.
These games done right would be absolutely monstrous, and so would the Dukes of Hazzard game if it wasn’t such a bunch of repetitive easy levels.
Please! Don’t say ‘well Dukes did poorly so I guess making games out of old TV shows is a dumb idea’ because CHIPS and the A-Team as a mission-based driving or shooting game would be awesome. Get the original actors together for the voices (it’s not like Eric Estrada and Dirk Benedict couldn’t use the work) and you would be counting your money on the beaches of Aruba.
As Mr. T would say — ‘I pity the fool who don’t make a game out of the A-Team.’
[[Editor’s Note: Mr. T never actually said ‘I pity the fool’ on the A-Team. That quote was from Rocky III. But when Ken gets on a tangent, we would have to be as crazy as Murdock to try and stop him.]]