Showing posts with label 4x4 Evolution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 4x4 Evolution. Show all posts

A Quick Look At 4x4 Evolution

There are quite a few off-road racing games on the Dreamcast, with rally and baja-style scrambling featured in the likes of Sega Rally 2, Buggy Heat and 4 Wheel Thunder. The one thing all of those games have in common though (apart from the hills and the mud), is that they're primarily arcade racers. Bright, brash and unashamedly unrealistic in terms of vehicle handling and physics, they present an idealised version of racing through the wilderness and power sliding through turns. One entry in the Dreamcast library goes in the complete opposite direction though, instead positioning itself as a more real-world approximation of the sport of ploughing huge vehicles through forests and across sand dunes: 4x4 Evolution.
4x4 Evolution (or 4x4 EVO as it sometimes refers to itself) is a racing game stuffed to the gills with real-world licensed trucks and SUVs from a plethora of manufacturers, all of which can be driven to the very limits through a range of different environments. Interestingly, it also represents one of the only games on the Dreamcast where online multiplayer races could be held between console and PC gamers. Indeed, in it's heyday 4x4 Evolution had a burgeoning online scene, and was one of the few Dreamcast games that was still played extensively online. Sadly, this is no longer the case and using this guide over at Dreamcast-Talk and the dial-up connection detailed in my recent article here, I was able to log on to the servers but there were no other players in any of the lobbies. In 2017, it doesn't appear that many people are still playing 4x4 Evolution online with their Dreamcasts, but that's not to say the game isn't worth playing offline - it totally is. Furthermore, there's a fantastic website dedicated to everything you could possibly want to know about the online side of 4x4 Evolution, so if this is your bag head over to the 4x4 Evolution Revival Project here.
Developed by Terminal Reality and released in October 2000, 4x4 Evolution is a US exclusive with an emphasis on big trucks being driven at speed through big environments. The fact that it was never released in other territories outside the USA is an interesting footnote, as the game was advertised as coming to PAL regions and was featured on 'coming soon' pamphlets inside other games. You can see an example of the PAL box art in this article at Sega Retro, so quite why the game wasn't localised is something of a mystery. In any case, the fact remains that 4x4 Evolution never saw a release outside of the US and due to this many people may never even have heard of it, which is a shame because it's probably one of the best Dreamcast racers you've never played...

All The Lights That Light The Way

Are blinding. There are many things that I would like like to play on my Dreamcast. But that's another story (morning glory). Where was I? Oh yes...Driving games! The Dreamcast has lots of them. Some of them are total shite, and some of them represent the very zenith of their respective sub-genres. Ferrari F355 Challenge and Le Mans 24hrs for example, are two of the most impressive track-based racers of their generation. But I'm not here to talk about the quality (or lack thereof in some cases) of the Dreamcast's racing stable. What I'm here to talk (write?) about is a minor part of some of the Dreamcast's racers that I find quite intriguing: headlights! More specifically: which Dreamcast racing game has the most impressive digital rendition of light particles being thrown out of the front of a vehicle as it careens around a course in the pitch black?

Why the Dreamcast still has what it takes

It was the night before Christmas... actually it wasn't. It was about a week before Christmas. I was playing CoD: World at War on my XBOX 360 and I realised I was bored. Really, really fucking bored; Run. Shoot (using crappy WWII guns). Run. Shoot. Grenade. Die. Run. Die. I was beginning to wish I was hurling the grenades at SEGA, angry at them for buggering up the 32X, Mega CD, Saturn and Dreamcast. For selling games on Sony's Gaystation. So much rage, so much hate. So I turned it off, headed down to Entertainment Exchange ( and got £33 for my annoying, boring FPS. Sure, I am dissing CoD a bit too much - it's an OK game. I preferred CoD4 massively though. This is not the point though. The point is... what did I do next?

I booted up my Dreamcast. Yes, it's 2009. Yes, that makes the DC 10 (as we all know), but the point is that the Dreamcast is still a console that, with a bit of time and effort, can take centre stage once again. And here's why:


Arguably the Dreamcast's biggest selling point (or resale point) is that it has some of the best games ever made for a home console. Yes, the Mega Drive, NES etc all have great games, as does the Saturn... but it's the Dreamcast that has the top tens (as seen on our very own DCJY) which are constantly argued over. I could like a top 20. Easily. Top 30? No problem. This console has so many great games that keep your coming back for more.

The VMU is another added bonus. I'm lucky enough that I don't give a crap about what people think about me to be looking after my Chao whilst walking through the Arndale shopping centre. There are so many top - notch titles that are so different in every way that the Dreamcast will always stay.


OK, so the XBOX 360 and PS3 have HD graphics that display 1080i no problem and lifelike... bla bla... People are calling the Wii 'revolutionary'. Sure, it has a neat controller, but it's graphics are very close to the Dreamcast's graphics (I think that if SEGA were still developing DC it could match it), which shows why the DC can still live on strong today. The Wii not revolutionary. The Dreamcast had a fishing controller and maracas that are actually better than the control system in the Wii version of Samba. Look and Shenmue and Virtua Tennis. Gorgeous. Not impressed? Get a VGA box. Still not impressed? Sod off.


It's 10 years old for God's sake. 10 years old. The community is huge and people love this system. It's going to stick around for a long time. It's been noted that Sony et al. think that this generation (current) of consoles will last longer than any other post 1990. With that in mind, I think the Dreamcast community will also live long and prosper.


4 built-in control ports. Powerstone 2. Endless party fun.

Many racing games also support this, as do some of the FPS games. This really is a great console for people with friends that want to play games. Being as people have started playing Wii's after dinner parties thesedays, I say "bring out your Dreamcast".

Online connectivity

Back in '98 when the DC was released in Japan, the internet was not used by most people. Broadband didn't exist in the UK and people had only dreamt (no pun intended) of playing against or with people that weren't in the same room. Anyway, the DC has a built in 33k/56k modem which would make dialup calls and connect to SEGAs servers.

I didn't play much online back in the day because of the dial-up costs and subsequent lack of useable phoneline once you're in. Anyway, the Dreamcast can still connect to the internet. You can either use dial-up or your Broadband Adaptor (left in pic) to connect to the internet to browse or, more importantly, play online. The games that currently work online are:

  • Phantasy Star Online
  • 4x4 Evolution
  • Sega Swirl
  • Quake 3

Getting these games to play online using custom servers isn't the easiest thing in the world to do, but if you need a hand, I might be able to help. I played PSO for the first time yesterday and I loved it. I met a couple of German guys in the DC-Talk/Schthack lobby that helped me get started as I had no idea what to do in the game. When I levelled up they both congratulated me! It was great. I kind of see why all those people like WoW now... the community spririt on PSO is great. What's more, you're playing with people on a 10 year old console, when we could all be playing some HD games instead. This brings us full circle.

The Dreamcast is getting older and some of the games are starting to look a little dated, though there are many games full of eye candy. There are games that will keep you hooked for weeks and others that you'll only play for an hour or so, just to beat a lap time or high score. There are innovative games like Samba de Amigo that will have people asking you why your Wii is a funny shape and says SEGA on it.

Educate them. The Dreamcast lives on.

Rough with the Smooth

Fuck sake. Had to get my car MOT-ed yesterday, which for our non-UK readers means that I had to take it to a local garage for it's annual check-up. As predicted, the piece of shite failed the test and I had to shell out 400 quid for some grease-monkey with no neck to tighten a few screws and scratch his arse. As you can probably guess, this left me in a mood that could be described (quite accurately) as the exact opposite to 'euphoric.' Moral of the story? Never buy a Ford Mondeo that smells like a chicken shed off a Farmer. Rather, contact a man called Gary and spend your money on Dreamcast games instead - definitely an activity more associated with happiness than getting your jalopy fixed.

You may remember the enigmatic Gary from sporadic posts here at the 'Yard over the last couple of years. We first encountered him through his enormous DC collection, and then again when we managed to prise a copy of DC Half-Life from his grip several months later. Now, he's only gone and dumped a fucking lorry load of even more amazing stuff through my letterbox...

Granted, all of the following games are CD-Rs, but for the average non-importer like me, this is probably the only way I would ever get a chance to sample the delights of the following gems without paying an arm and a leg for them on eBay:

4x4 Evolution
A favourite of online gaming community UK-Rockers, 4x4 Evolution is an off-road racer that eschews the arcade stupidity of 4 Wheel Thunder in favour of a more realistic SUVs-racing around-the-countryside setting. Posh twats in tweed and carrying shotguns are, however, thankfully absent. The sheer number of real-life vehicles on offer is mind-boggling, with nearly every major 4x4 manufacturer represented by their most popular gas guzzlers. So, you get Nissans, Mitsubishis and the like jostling for position, rather than made-up monster trucks and buggies. Sweet. The game itself offers a multitude of play modes (single race, time trial etc), but the main meat of the 4x4 Evolution experience is to be found in the Career mode in which you start out with a limited bank balance (a bit like mine after that fucking MOT) and must buy a vehicle, kit it out and then enter championships.

Just like in Sega GT, you can only enter certain championships with certain vehicle classes so this means you need to juggle which trucks you buy and upgrade. The actual gameplay is also about as far removed from 4 Wheel Thunder as you could possibly get - there are no nitro boosts or time limits here, instead the majority of the races are of the point-to-point variety and set on large open plan circuits where you have to follow an arrow to the next checkpoint. Because of this open-plan nature, it isn't always essential that you stick to the beaten track, indeed the AI vehicles usually don't and this leads to some great races through wooded areas and through rivers etc.
Graphically, Evo's vehicle models are pretty sweet although the environments can feel a little sparse at times and the game engine shudders occasionally. This minor niggle aside, 4x4 Evo is a solid racer and the fact that it never got an official PAL release remains something of a mystery to me.

Project Justice: Rival Schools 2
Project Justice is a game I actually owned in it's official guise many moons ago when the DC still had a pulse. I got it from Gamestation for about a tenner and boy, do I wish I'd held on to it now - it regularly appears on eBay for upwards of £100. Alas, my copy went when I (somewhat foolishly, with hindsight) traded in my DC set-up for a PS2 and a copy of NHL 2001. For shame. Getting hold of this replacement copy through Gary then, was like welcoming back an old friend. Project Justice is a 3D beat 'em up by those masters of the 2D genre - Capcom, and rather ingeniously features a storyline like something out of an episode of Saved by the Bell.

Yep, the game features characters who are all pupils at different schools and throws them all together for one almightly playground scrap, although these fights are nothing like the ones we had at my school - there are no endless headlocks or rolling around on the football pitch here, people. No, instead the kids from Justice High are all masters of kung-fu and have the ability to throw balls of fire with their eyes - a skill that would undoubtedly have resulted in multiple detentions when I were a lad. The fights are similar to those in Marvel Versus Capcom 2 in that they allow multiple characters to be called upon to lend a hand should you find your ass being handed to you, and so you choose a team of 3 fighters to wade into battle with and can use them to gang up on an adversary depending on whether or not you have the required power in your little whup-ass meter.

Nicely, the characters all represent various (Jap & US) student-themed stereotypes such as sporty jocks and science geeks etc (if it were based on UK themes, they'd all be drunk chavs and pregnant 14-year-old slags, no doubt), whilst the battle stages are all similarly school related in some way e.g. classrooms, gyms, playgrounds etc. Project Justice is very easy to pick up and play, so if your beat 'em skillz consist simply of mashing all the buttons with sausage fingers (like mine) you can get just as much enjoyment out of it as an expert. Aesthetically, it's not as good as Dead or Alive 2 (what is?!), but the variety and creativity of the stages and characters, coupled with the outlandishness of the special moves on offer more than make up for it.

Tokyo Extreme Racer 2
The original Tokyo Extreme Racer is a bit of a mixed bag really. Whilst the graphics are fairly decent, the gameplay was as deep as a puddle on Mercury: Race around one dull highway challenging boy racers to a duel. Repeat to fade. Enter Tokyo Extreme Racer 2, a game that offers more of the same, only with vastly improved graphics, more cars, and a slightly bigger stretch of highway. Like Project Justice, Extreme Racer 2 is a game that occasionally pops up in it's PAL guise on eBay for a hideous amount of money and is also a game I've owned previously in it's official form. The basic premise of Tokyo Extreme Racer 2, much like it's prequel, is to drive along the highways and byways of a neon-lit Tokyo searching for 'rivals' to race against.

When you eventually find someone willing to chuck their copy of the highway code out of the window, you drive up behind them and flick the high beams at them. This initiates the actual race, where two power bars appear at the top of the screen and whoever gets the furthest ahead has the least damage done to their bar. If your opponent gets too far ahead of you - you lose, and likewise if you leave the slow old twat in your dust you get the spoils of victory. As with most racers, the career or 'Quest' mode in Extreme Racer rewards your wins with credits with which you can upgrade your vehicle with body parts or engine/handling improvements. I suppose this game is pretty unique in the way that it pits racers against each other in a way that most other racers don't, but the repetitive nature of the tracks and the virtually non-existent music slightly let it down. Where it definitely shines though, is in the graphics department. The car models are some of the best on the DC - and while the cars aren't officially licensed you can generally tell what it is you're driving simply because the models are so authentic-looking.

Sadly, there are no damage models, but for a game with this degree of arcade slant, realistic damage would probably been more of a detraction than a bonus. In a nutshell, Extreme Racer 2 is an original and awesome looking game that is let down slightly by sub-par sound and some simplistic gameplay aspects - but overall, a decent little racer.

And so concludes part two of the documenting of my recent games haul. There's much more to come, dear enlightened reader, so keep checking for updates - and in the mean time, if you want to get in touch with Gary and take advantage of his massive stock of games for sale, email him at for a full list of titles.