Vanishing Point Preview

Featuring a complex physics-engine that took three physics-experts over a year to develop, Clockwork hopes that their racing game offers the most realistic racing action yet.

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Acclaim has partnered with former Lemmings 3D and Rush Hour coders, Clockwork Games, to bring you a promising new road-racing game called Vanishing Point. First announced at the last ECTS, Vanishing Point had been in the works for the last 18 months, and totally development was self-funded until Acclaim stepped in to license this unique title. The game is unique because the engine was designed to extend out until the vanishing point on the horizon with absolutely no polygon draw-in. Although the game is only in alpha stage, it is already running very fast, with great-looking car models, that feature realistic specular highlighting. There is a selection of cars that, while not Gran Turismo big, feature a wide array of manufacturers that range from TVR, Aston-Martin, BMW, to Dodge Vipers, Shelby Cobras and even oil-tankers and European mini-coupes. Heck, you can even drive a flat-bed truck if you want. It's this strange array of vehicles that will keep more than just racing fiends occupied.

Featuring a complex physics-engine that took three physics-experts over a year to develop, Clockwork hopes that their racing game offers the most realistic racing action yet. Clockwork Games director Neil Casini says "We feel that Sega's racers traditionally offer the best racing games bar none. I still play the original Sega Rally for the Saturn quite a bit and we're hoping to model our game after games like Scud Racer , and Daytona. Those games offered great control and were never bettered by the likes of Ridge Racer or Gran Turismo. If we can do an approximation of a Sega racer on the PlayStation, then we'll have achieved our goal."

Despite being just eight members strong, Casini says that Acclaim has not only picked up the distribution rights to the PlayStation version, but that his team has already gotten a Dreamcast version running at 60 frames-per-second. According to Casini, the current rev they have running is a PlayStation port for demo purposes only, but when full development starts on the Dreamcast version, that it will be a brand-new engine, built from the ground up. "We're going straight to the hardware and bypassing Windows altogether," Neal says "It's the only way to program for the Dreamcast. It's an awesome machine and it's nice to finally have some power to work with when designing games."

As it stands, the PlayStation version is currently 50 percent complete, with basic track structures and vehicles implemented, although finalized licensing details and performance data has yet to make it to the developers hands. When the final car roster is complete, Clockwork will then add the physics to the already impressive car models, along with fine-tuning their stunt track, which functions like Gran Turismo's garage mode. You're able to tune your cars for maximum performance and Clockwork hopes to create a racer, that, no matter what your skill level, will always give you someone to race against. On a side note, the opening CG intoduction sequence is one of the most impressive FMV's we've ever seen. If you thought the opening movie to Ridge Racer Type 4 was incredible, Vanishing Point's is even better. The most amazing part about it, is that it was done entirely by one man, much like Silent Hill's FMV was a one-ma creation. Hopefully, the gameplay will emulate the white-knuckle nature of the intro. With a boat-load of features, Acclaim hopes to release a great PlayStation race that isn't built by Sony, EA or Namco. Scheduled to ship in May, if Vanishing Point lives up to its potential, we may have a new kid on the block.

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