Last night, I finished the TRIP in I ’76 and when it was over, I couldn’t help but feel a little disheartened. Part of that may be because the journey was rather short this time around. When I first played the game back in ’97, I had to figure everything out – what worked, what didn’t, how to get through a level, etc. There was a lot of fun to be had just experimenting and playing with each weapon, wondering what the next one would do. That also led to a lot of trial and error, but at the same time, my skill was slowly increasing.
This time around, it’s like jumping back on the bicycle: just hop on and go. I can still remember most of the secrets and tricks to each level, and even the words to most of the cutscenes. Without having to figure it all out again, the game flew by. While it probably took me a good 20+ hours the first time I played it, if I hadn’t been writing a walkthrough (and dealing with persistent crashing), I probably could have made it through the game in a mere two.
But what’s really missing is online play. After finishing up the TRIP, it was time to take I ’76 online. Even though the game didn’t get the sales that Activision expected, there was still a loyal following and plenty of people on I76net and mercnet. Online, it was a different beast. Instead of being limited to just one car or just what weapons were salvaged, you could get a hold of almost whatever you wanted. And, of course, being a competitive game, people did what was effective (read: cheese) to get the most kills. At the same time though, this definitely elevated my level of playing and car design.
Now, I wouldn’t expect there to be a bustling I ’76 community ten years after it was released, but unfortunately, there’s not been a game that’s’ really filled the auto-combat hole. Activision attempted to console-ize I ’76 and spin it off into Vigilante 8, but it wasn’t nearly the same game. I ’82 was a real let down, and final nail in the series’ coffin. But even today, several games have had I ’76 mods made for them, showing that people still yearn for a good auto-combat sim.
If nothing else, it was fun while it lasted.
Pardon my rambling, and on to the point: More updates:
Heavy Gear Downloads – The 1.2 beta patch is up
Interstate ’76 Characters – All TRIP characters included
Interstate ’76 Downloads – SMK Player to view movies added
Interstate ’76 Walkthrough – Finished
Nitro Pack Downloads – Nitro beta patches added