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The Dukes of Hazzard
Review By: Siou Choy
Developer:   Southpeak
Publisher:   Southpeak
# of Players:   1
Genre:   Driving
ESRB:   Everyone
Date Posted:   1-31-01

OK, folks, it's time again for yet another installment in my "licensed commodity tie-in" review series, and today we'll be covering a real gem: perennial 70's TV favorite, the Dukes of Hazzard. Yep, if you're a fan of the show (and I know there's a lot of you nostalgia buffs and rasslin' fans out there with a taste for car chases and cornpone), you're simply drooling over the chance to play as those "good ol' boys," Bo and Luke Duke of Hazzard County. And it goes without saying, that playing as the "good ol' boys" means you get to jump behind the driver's seat of the General Lee. And hell, we'll even throw in a bonus just 'cause we like your face: you'll also have the opportunity to drive Daisy's jeep, Boss Hogg's caddy, Cooter's tow truck, and Uncle Jesse's ol' pickup. And I reckon you'll be gettin' into a heap o' trouble just like those Duke boys always seem to be doin', too.

As you probably picked up from the title, if not from seeing more than one episode of the show, this game is all about car chases. There are twenty-seven stages that require you to do one of 4 basic tasks: reach a given destination within a certain time limit, avoid being caught, collect items, or pull over another car. Unfortunately, this gets a bit dull and repetitive after the 4th or 5th stage, particularly since the only car you tend to see on that endlessly recycled barren dirt road the game seems so fond of using is yourself (unless Roscoe's pulling up to cut you off, or you're trying to cut off whoever you're supposed to pull over).

There's also an issue with steering. Like a lot of strangely popular, yet unrealistic and essentially uncontrollable racing games out there these days, handling the General Lee has precious little to do with handling on an actual sports car. The controls are overly sensitive, causing an awful lot of unnecessary spinouts and flips. But the General Lee's not the worst of it: the hardest vehicle to control by far was Cooter's truck. I often found myself losing control on the straightway simply by driving too fast (much like my experience with a lot of today's overpriced, underperforming vehicular monstrosities). Not that they're being made any more, but one gets the distinct impression that game designers should actually attempt DRIVING a real sports car before making a game based on one. As an lifelong owner/operator of such vehicles myself, I can assure you, handling on a good majority of video racing games bears no semblance whatsoever to the reality of driving, speeding, braking, road grip, or cornering on a real one, at any given speed.

Throughout the course of the game, the General will receive some damage due to being hit by other cars, your hitting objects or scenery, or worse, the car getting flipped. If you receive too much damage, the mission ends and you have to start the level over again.

To aid you in your missions, various icons can be collected throughout the game: nitro (for an extra burst of speed), oil slick (to help you lose whomever is supposed to stop you from getting to your destination during the level in question), toolbox (to help fix the car, since it will get banged up quite a bit), and arrows (to shoot out tires on other cars). These items can be used at any point in the level (unless your car is reset) to outwit your opponents and succeed at the current mission.

All that being said, the real reason to purchase the Dukes of Hazzard: Racing For Home has nothing whatsoever to do with the admittedly tepid gameplay. Rather, it is the full motion videos that appear between (and offer an ostensible rationale for) each mission that make the game, taking an otherwise mediocre racing game and giving it the look and feel of an episode of the TV series. It's odd to note how many car chases actually take place in an episode of the Dukes of Hazzard. Having recently viewed a few episodes of the series, I find the game didn't exaggerate all that much in comparison to the TV show in regards to the number of chase scenes! As an added bonus, about half of the voices in the game are done by the original cast members (notably absent this time around are, though he does appear in the sequel, John ("Bo Duke") Schneider, Catherine ("Daisy Duke") Bach, and of course, the late Sorrell ("Boss Hogg") Booke.

Of course, you might find yourself wishing Tom Wopat sat this one out as well. Luke's one-note browbeating every time I made a mistake (generally involving hitting a corner too hard) became irritating very quickly - throughout most of the game, his lines here are restricted to your choice of "watch it, Bo" or "dang it, Bo", and Wopat's annoyance at being reduced to doing voiceovers for a video game, based on his only real career highlight and so many years after the show's cancellation, rings through a bit too loud and clear for comfort. By way of contrast, I found that I didn't mind the complaining of the no-name who does the part of Bo Duke even half as much, during the missions where Luke gets to drive.

And one note for all you horny guys out there who watched the show for one reason only: sorry, but you won't find much ogling time with Daisy in her famous cut-offs here.

There's also a Two-Player mode available, in which you and a friend can either take turns competing for the best time or go head to head against each other in a race. The only somewhat original game in two-player mode is called "Run the Jug." Here the player must attempt to keep possession of "the jug" (of moonshine, presumably) for as long as possible by avoiding your opponent, as you lose the jug every time you are "tagged" by (i.e., smack into) the other player's car. Unfortunately, while this concept may be a bit of a change from the usual racing game fare, "Run the Jug" turns out to be one of the worst modes in the game. Unless you like driving aimlessly around a junkyard trying to find (and hit) another General Lee, it's best to pretend this one doesn't exist.

HIGHS:

If you're a fan of the show, you'll love the game's cinemas, which are fairly well done and accurate, and which will bring back fond memories of Friday nights in front of the idiot box. The game is set up just like an episode of the show and makes you feel like you're taking part in it - every fan's dream. There's no shortage of missions, either (27 in all), which should provide you with several hours of gameplay.

LOWS:

If you're NOT a fan of the show, forget it. Without the FMVs and the appeal of driving the General Lee (something every Dukes fan dreams of), this is just another boring racing game, and a pretty below-average one at that. Missions tend to be repetitive, to say the least. The FMV, while fun for the fan, tend to look a little on the creepy side at times. I've had a few people mention how the rendered figures look weird, like slow moving wax dolls. Controls are overly sensitive; hitting a ramp at the wrong angle or being hit by another car will cause you to spin out, flip, and head in the wrong direction far too often during gameplay.

FINAL VERDICT:

Overall, the Dukes of Hazzard: Racing for Home is a well thought out and executed game - so far as the FMV's go. It stays true to the TV show, and that's what people who pick up the game will be looking for. The controls could use some work, but I've noticed a lot of racing games are a bit too sensitive insofar as steering, and completely unrealistic in regards to handling. The Dukes is no exception here, but it doesn't stand out from the crowd by virtue of its badness, either. Regardless of your feelings about the show, you should enjoy the cinemas in the game (even if they are a bit on the creepy side). A great game for the Dukes of Hazzard fan, but sure to leave the rest scratching their head in wonder over the continuing appeal of this hokey late 70's classic. As for me personally, I've always wanted to slide across the hood of the General Lee and climb in through the window - for those Dukes fans who've never gotten the chance to try something like that with their own hot car, this game should hold you over for now.

Overall Score: 7.0

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