When it comes to racing, there are very distinct sub-genres for very different types of people. Gearheads love the realistic simulations while silly fun-lovers love the mascot kart racer. What does it say about me that I prefer the absolute chaos of games like Fatal Racing?
This gem of an arcade racing game features some impressive tech upon release in 1996. Developed by Gremlin Interactive, it was one of the first titles to support the new 3DFX card. In fact, it came bundled with the expensive tech for a bit. Playing in this mode allowed for some impressively smooth visuals for the time (although it's unfortunately unsupported in the current version of DOSBox). Even without this expensive hardware, it supported nice looking SVGA graphics as well as the standard VGA. You can even remove a selection graphical flourishes to try and make it playable on your system. No matter what, your machine needed to be damn beefy to get it running smoothly - a fact that perhaps lead to its relative obscurity. Even the 3DFX bundle wasn't enough for it to become the success it needed to be. This is less of an issue for modern machines but DOSBox still takes a fair amount of tinkering to get it running nicely. Take all of this out of the equation and we're left with a game that truly stands the test of time.
The aim, naturally enough, is to finish first but there are many underhanded techniques which you can employ. One way is to simply get there before everyone else - the traditional way. The other, far more fun way is to attack each of your opponents to the death by unrelentessly crashing into them Destruction Derby style. It's a fun tactic that leads to some spectacular chaos on the road, succeeding at being both a standard racer and a car combat.
What makes this better than your average arcade racer is the personality of your AI opponents. Each have been christened with their own name and their own set of characteristics. For example, one car may try their best to race fairly normally, while others will use tactics to destroy everyone such as aggressive driving or blocking the pit-stop to prevent any repairs. You'll need these repairs too. If you're damaged enough to spout smoke from your engine, your a bump away from being a goner. It doesn't help that the smoke obstructs your view making for some edge of your seat driving.
And then there's Bob. Bob has the insane need to race the wrong way, colliding head-on with those unlucky enough to get in his way. He causes absolute chaos on the Million Plus track which is designed around his specific brand of craziness. Other tracks feature a rollercoaster thrill-ride of twists, turns, hoops and corkscrews making each race a fresh and surprising challenge. The controls do suffer a little when navigating over the more extreme twisty sections, especially when they lead directly into a jump, but overall they're pretty tight.
Fatal Racing (or Whiplash as it is also known) is one heck of a fun game. I would even go so far as it being the progenitor of such modern classics as Burnout or Tackmania. It's a shame that there was no sequel as it had the makings of a great franchise, but at least what we got was great.
To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses DOSBox to bring the game to modern systems. Manual included. Tested on Windows Windows 10.
Fatal Racing (Whiplash) is © Gremlin Interactive
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me