This futuristic racer from Melbourne House follows a long line of like-minded games. While only a few of these have appeared on the PC (with Psygnosis' Wipeout XL being the most notable example), the formula is nothing new: Design some twisty tracks elevated high over a futuristic city, scatter some weapons and power-ups about, then illuminate the whole thing with a kaleidoscope of colored lighting. Dethkarz follows this formula exactly, without bringing any real personality of its own.
The tracks in Dethkarz are good-looking but not very inspired. There are four tracks to choose from, each with its own distinct look. The Pole, for instance, places you in a snowy tundra, while Red Planet has you zooming through a crimson city. Each track can be completed at three different lengths, bringing some variation to otherwise limited track selection. Most of the tracks simply consist of sharp turns that send you careening off to the city below if you aren't careful, though there are a few jumps and other, more exciting obstacles.
Dethkarz can be raced in four modes. There's your basic arcade mode, in which you must make it to each checkpoint in a certain amount of time in order to proceed. There's a championship mode, which has you following a linear career, racing each track at the different distances and opening new tracks and vehicles based on your performance. And there are time-trial modes and multiplayer games, the former of which has you racing against the clock and the latter of which has you racing against others over LAN or modem connection.
Weapons and power-ups are of the basic variety, though a few are quite cool. While the majority are simply your basic colored missiles (straight out of Wipeout), power-ups like the antimatter shield (that sends a charge of energy at any car that gets close to you) look great and add a bit of originality. You can also pick up power-ups that repair your car, give you a nitro boost, and cause you to become invisible to homing missiles.
Dethkarz features fairly good control, but the illusion of speed is a bit lacking, and the cars (and these are cars - not your standard futuristic hover vehicle) don't really appear to be riding on the track. As one GameSpot editor described it, "It looks like a bar of soap sliding along a bathtub."
Like its predecessors, Dethkarz features a generic techno soundtrack. In fact, there's very little that Dethkarz does that hasn't been done before and better. There are a good selection of vehicles and some interesting power-ups, but these are balanced out by the limited track selection and generally basic gameplay. This game's recommended only for those who simply can't get enough high-speed racing on the highways of the future, no matter how generic.