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The Dukes of Hazzard: Return of the General Lee
Review By: Jared Black
 
Developer:  Ratbag
Publisher:  Ubisoft
# Of Players:  1-2
Genre:  Driving
ESRB:  Everyone
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card
Date Posted:  11-16-04

Given the synergizing society we live in, it only made sense to have a video game to launch not long after the release of The Dukes of Hazzard: The Complete First Season (and before the second season) on DVD.  And given the nature of the show and the popularity of games like Driv3r, it only made sense for that game to be a mission-based driving game.  Itíd be a perfect match if only the execution wasnít so mediocre.

Growing up in the South, I watched my fair share of The Dukes of Hazzard.  To the developerís credit, this game does a great job of capturing the campy feel of the original TV show.  All of the original actors with important parts reprise their roles, and the storyline is the typical Bo & Luke Duke vs. Boss Hogg setup complete with crazy hijinks and loads of breakiní the law (not meaning any harm of course).  Youíve got your running from the law, your causing general mayhem, and your scheming with Uncle Jesse & Daisy. 

Itís the gameplay around the storyline that disappoints.  Although you get to pull off all kinds of crazy jumps, they just never feel that thrilling.  The General Lee floats rather than soars, and the camera disconnects from the action by lingering high above the action after the car hits the ground.  Family Guyís parody of southern life managed to capture the thrill of a General Lee jump better than this game does.  Worse, although there are a number of different vehicles to drive there isnít a huge difference between them.  Yep, the General Lee doesnít really feel that much different than Enosí police car.  The controls are also a bit too touchy, although you get used to it eventually.

The missions are standard driving stuff; only this time the player is often left without a clue on how to complete them.  Even with the voiceovers providing clues, the player is frequently lost without constantly entering the pause menu to check the map (or playing a lot of the boring Free Roam mode first).  On-screen arrows occasionally provide guidance to the next destination, but only after the player has largely navigated the mission himself.  Also, some mission failures arenít explained.  For example, in one mission the Duke boys need to stir up a ruckus by knocking down trashcans in the town square.  However, leaving the square by even an inch before all cans are knocked down results in mission failure.  The first couple of times it happened I thought I had run out of time or something, only realizing after knocking all cans down that I was supposed to stay within the square until Enos started chasing me.  The A.I. is also merely average; in that same mission during one attempt Enos simply ran into a fence and started banging up against it repeatedly.

Thereís nothing spectacular going on here graphically.  Hazzard County is mostly woods and fields, with average looking rocks, trees, and foliage dotting the landscape.  When there are buildings, theyíre low-poly with some very basic textures.  Ditto for the cars and people, other than the star of the show (the General Lee of course).  While the framerate remains constant, thereís a significant amount of pop-up and seaming (those white lines where polygons donít quite connect) in the environment as well.

In fact, the high point of it all may just be the sound.  The music is old school banjo-playiní country, and while I donít like it personally it definitely fits the setting of the game.  As I mentioned before all of the major voice actors reprise their roles, and the dialogue is consistent with the personalities presented in the original show. 

HIGHS:

  • The voice acting is top notch.

  • The storyline, while cheesy, fits perfectly with the Hazzard County established in the TV show.

LOWS:

  • The graphics are pretty basic, with low polygon counts, pop-up and basic texturing.
  • Vague mission objectives.
  • Controlling the General Lee is a lot like controlling any other car in the game, which is just wrong.
  • The jumps are merely ďblehĒ, and the only stunt bonus awarded is when the player honks the horn at the right time.

FINAL VERDICT:

If youíre a big fan of the original show, the strength of the storyline and authentic feel of the game are probably enough to warrant a bargain bin purchase despite the mediocre gameplay.  For everyone else, there are much better mission-based driving games to choose from.

Overall Score: 4.7

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