Radio Control Racers Deluxe: Traxxas Edition is an improved version of the popular 3D Ultra Radio Control Racers game that was released last March. The game is based on racing one of four types of radio-controlled cars around a variety of off-road tracks. The Traxxas Edition adds several new tracks to the previous game as well as two new R/C battle modes: soccer and battle ball.
The 14 racetracks included in the game are fun, and they emphasize the diminutive proportions of the cars. Races take place on traditional R/C off-road tracks as well as on a miniature golf course, in a haunted yard, at an Aztec temple, and in many other entertaining locations. The difficulty of the tracks varies; several of the more straightforward tracks have basic turns and jumps, while other tracks are filled with obstacles and traps. Power-ups are also scattered along the tracks. These power-ups can be items that increase the performance of your car, such as turbo boost or ghost drive, or they can be offensive items used to slow down other cars, such as bottle rockets, firecrackers, and oil slicks. Many of the tracks also contain humorous (and often frustrating) traps that can severely damage your lap time, although they do not permanently damage your car. For instance, the backyard track has a doghouse, and if your car drives too close while whipping around a hairpin turn, the dog will jump out and gnaw on your car for a couple of seconds. This delay can often mean the difference between coming in first or last place during a close race. The traps and power-ups can be turned off individually for a simplified racing experience.
The basic view in the game is a semi-isometric overhead perspective that remains centered on your car and pans (but doesn't rotate) across the track to show the surrounding area and upcoming turns. The graphics are adequate but a little disappointing; while you can customize the look of the cars using the custom paint-shop options, the cars themselves are so tiny during the races that the effect is almost imperceptible. Many of the 3D tracks also have corners that are difficult to judge because of the point of view.
The game includes a variety of typical sound effects, announcer dialogue, and musical tracks that are unique to the individual racecourses. The sound effects, music, and dialogue can all be adjusted or turned off individually. The musical tracks are fast paced and often fit the theme of the racecourse, whether it's a construction site or a frog pond. The R/C engine noise is an appropriately high-pitched whine, and all of the power-ups have suitable sound effects as well. The announcer gives lap-by-lap updates, congratulates you on winning, and chastises you for losing.
The game makes up for its average graphics and sound with enjoyable gameplay. It supports various game controllers, but the default keyboard commands work well. Simple arrow-key controls, along with two keys for boost and power-ups, let you negotiate your way around the tracks. Although the game has just two difficulty settings, it has enough other options to let you adjust the game to fit your preferences. The difficulty settings adjust the skill of the computer-controlled opponents as well as the handling of your car, which makes the racetracks far more difficult to negotiate on the harder settings. The basic always-on-the-gas style of driving that will lead you to victory in easy mode will lead you straight into a wall in hard mode.
One of the best features of the game is the circuit option. You can select the amateur or pro circuits or a custom circuit using your choice of tracks. There's a qualifying round before each race, and you are placed in the main event based on the results of the qualifying round. A good qualifying time will place you in a higher main event, which means more prize money. You can purchase upgrades to your cars with your winnings, such as better shocks, tires, or engines. As you purchase more upgrades, you will see a substantial improvement in your car's performance. In the circuit mode, there is also a wear-and-tear option, which reduces the effectiveness of your upgrades with each race, making it more difficult to maintain a high level of performance in your race car.
While the game does not include any kind of Internet multiplayer option, a two-player split-screen mode is available that lets you race head-to-head against a friend on the same computer. In addition, two sports games are included: an R/C car version of soccer and battle ball, a game in which you herd balls into a central goal by hitting them with the cars. While these alternate modes add some variety to the typical racing formula, they do not seriously increase the appeal of the game.
Radio Control Racers Deluxe: Traxxas Edition is a fun arcade-style racing game. It offers a large number of tracks and circuit options and enough difficulty to keep skilled racers challenged for many hours. While the graphics and sound could have been better, the fast-paced gameplay and circuit options make the game interesting and enjoyable.