The Last V8

Reviewed by Jim Short


Issue 22

Jul/Aug 86

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48K cassette 

1 Player 









Caught on the surface of a nuclear devastated planet you have seconds to return underground before your radiation shield decays. In any other car you would stand no chance - in the LAST V8 survival is possible ..... Maybe!

Okay, that takes care of the sales hype on the cassette inlay, now let's get down to facts. Despite Mastertronic's dynamic build-up which makes the LAST V-8 sound like an introduction to the latest Mad Max movie, it's actually another driving game (of sorts) similar to Adventure International's 'Rally Speedway'.

The screen view is a plan view looking down on the action from above and the general idea is to try and guide a tiny car along a narrow road, heading for base. The road starts off straight enough but, inevitably, begins to twist and turn in erratic fashion almost before you've managed to get the car into it's stride.

Time is the single most crucial aspect of this game. Like it says in the introduction - you have only seconds to reach your underground base before disaster strikes and, as you struggle violently to keep - the car on the track, the timer at the bottom of the screen ticks away at an alarming rate.

The control panel is a space-age art display in the form of a futuristic car dashboard and takes up almost three quarters of the screen. It shows all the required info relative to the game but there are also a host of other lights and dials which do absolutely nothing and are of ornamental value only. The flash drawing of the V-8 below the control panel is nice to look at but takes precious screen space away from the actual game. Speaking of drawings, a colourful hi-res title screen is incorporated into the Commodore & Amstrad versions of the game but, for reasons unknown, Mastertronic decided to give it a miss on the Atari version.

Scrolling is fast and smooth even by Atari standards, but the game is a bit of a pig to play. Car control is the main problem as the program is over-sensitive to joystick commands. A heavy touch in the wrong direction will send the car spinning out of control. Also, the track is far too narrow and it's easy to stray off and collide terminally with the trackside scenery - oh yes, and you only get one life. No second chances here!

Graphically, the game is a big improvement over their previous Atari effort - Clumsy Colin the Action Biker - but there is a distinct lack of any game sounds apart from the haunting theme music which plays away incessantly. I get the feeling I've heard this tune before, or something remarkably like it, on one of the Synapse games - Dimension X, I think?

So what happens when you eventually reach the underground base? Answers on a postcard please. So far I haven't even managed to negotiate the first U bend and it seems the inner delights of the LAST V-8 will forever remain a mystery to me.

Despite all this, it's far from the worst Atari game on the market and should appeal to anyone who likes a good challenge. At the asking price of 2.99 it must rate as quite a bargain.

One final point. Mastertronic claim the game features voice synthesis, but I never encountered any (it's almost as rare as Ocean's Atari software!). As far as I know, only the Commodore version has speech. Seems like Commodore owners get an even better deal for their 2.99.