Tyco RC: Assault with a Battery, when considered in concert with RC Revenge's relatively recent release and the eminent RC de GO, effectively creates a glut in the market for all interactive things RC. The fact that the game is competent, playable, and amusing is simply overshadowed by the fact that a strikingly similar title was released by Acclaim not much more than a month ago. That said, Tyco RC stacks up well against the competition, but doesn't add any major innovations to the formula established by RC Revenge.
As the title implies, Tyco RC incorporates many of the Tyco-brand toy racers into its design. Vehicles like the Fast Traxx, the Recoil, and the Hot Rocker - all modeled after their real-life counterparts - are present, and each one boasts unique racing characteristics and a token special move. These special moves mark Tyco RC's most significant addition to the genre, as each car momentarily adopts a new form or either a nifty offensive or a defensive pattern. The Recoil, for example, spins like an electrically charged cyclone as it maintains its speed, while the Speed Wrench benefits from a set of beefed-up tires.
While Tyco RC's tracks are often cleverly designed, some of the first ones you'll encounter in this game seem more replete with haphazard elements and, generally, an overall less-thoughtful design than those that follow. In truth, if you choose not to stick with Tyco RC and dismiss it out of hand, you will miss out on the overall experience of the game as the more cohesive and better-realized tracks appear later on.
In practice, the tracks make use of the genre's now-prevalent conventions, like energy-type weapons dispersed throughout, active obstacles at every corner, and a tight racing -dynamic, so you may often encounter many split-second position changes during a race. The tracks are markedly narrower than those found in RC Revenge, and obstacles are more tightly packed within them, which allows for more car-to-car contact during the races. Tyco RC's smaller tracks and high-density of obstacles (as opposed RC Revenge's sprawling tracks and track design-inherent obstacles) make for an aggressive, full-contact experience, which demands a more active, savage attitude from you as you race.
From a visual standpoint, Tyco RC shines quite admirably. The car models are robust, and their physical forms are very clear (about which Tyco is doubtlessly pleased). The various weapon effects are similarly impressive, often filling the screen with crackling energy and what have you. The action all moves at a nice, brisk pace and seldom exhibits a chop, even during the busiest, most effects-laden instances.
The physics model that the game uses is a bit more light and flighty than that of the competition. After particularly long jumps, the cars will remain airborne for longer than you'd expect, very deliberately make their way to the ground, land lightly, and lose nary a bit a speed in the process. Bumps and scrapes occur similarly - the vehicles seem to float for a moment before the laws of physics kick in. The general tone that the engine lends to the game fits it rather favorably, even though it is doubtful that Tyco RC will be sought after for its realistic approach to the pursuit of RC racing.
Due to bad timing on Mattel's part, it is doubtful that Tyco RC will get the credit that it probably deserves. With Acclaim having recently released a product that is superior in many ways, it is likely that only devout fans of RC racing will seriously look into Tyco RC. Casual fans of the genre will find RC Revenge a much more robust offering.