POD: Speedzone is a Dreamcast racer that's as rich in plot and storyline as your average adventure game. The POD is a mysterious deadly alien virus that mutates both organic and inorganic material into living, breathing alien entities that further spread the virus. You play as one of the laborers living in the mining colony Damethra on a distant planet. POD-infected mutant vehicles are roaming the colonies of the planet, spreading the infection among the populace, and, in order to save your planet, you have to outdrive them in a series of races.
POD: Speedzone is more than a simple racing game. It throws interactive paths, huge shortcuts, weapons, power-ups, and even enemies onto the track with you. You'll still be getting from one point to another as quickly as possible, but you'll be shooting alien vehicles, avoiding huge mutated beings, and finding some awesome shortcuts in the process. In all, there will be eight new vehicles racing on ten original tracks.
Because of the mutating nature of the POD, everything in POD: Speedzone has a distinct alien look, and nothing ever stays the same. All the vehicles, even your own, will eventually mutate into something different. With this mutation come new abilities and features, and also the horrible reminder that not even you are safe from the disease. Additionally, the tracks and the enemies on them are also constantly changing - offering a huge amount of interaction with the track itself.
The graphics in POD: Speedzone are sharp and pleasing. The game uses a lot of bright colors and textures for the tracks and cars, which successfully give the environment an otherworldly feel. But the best part of the game is just how fast it is - this game is flamingly fast. Mutated vehicles zoom and zip around corners and obstacles at a maddening, but silky smooth, frame rate. Since only pre-alpha sound effects were present in the early version we played, there isn't much to be said about the sound at this point.
Ubi Soft hasn't said much about the game's modes, except that the game will definitely offer online multiplayer modes. The game will support up to eight simultaneous players in its yet-to-be-revealed multiplayer modes. The PC version of POD, the original game, has plenty of internet modes. These range from simple racing to uploading and downloading original data such as cars and tracks. Hopefully, we'll see some of these options in the Dreamcast version of POD: Speedzone.
POD: Speedzone is mutating its way onto store shelves this November, and we should have a playable build of it long before that. If POD: Speedzone can fulfill all its aspirations, it could be one of the milestone Dreamcast racers of 2000. We'll just have to wait and see.