In mid-1998, the first part of autobahn raser appeared in german stores. With a low retail price, a catchy name, and easy accessibility, davilex had been able to win over many customers despite mixed opinions from gaming magazines. Although the cars were spongy to control and the physics were absolutely lousy, beginners in particular had a lot of fun with the manageable game mechanics.
just over a year later davilex released the sequel, autobahn raser II, which has some similarities to its predecessor on the cover, but feels like a completely different game at the core.
The intro of autobahn raser II already suggests a lot to the player: a more extensive vehicle selection, larger areas, everything wider, more open, and of course more police. Most importantly, you will get an impression of the new engine that will be used in the game. This is very different from the previous one. While it’s not enough for eye candy, everything has become less angular and a bit sharper and more detailed. After a spectacular fast run through the tracks included in the game, a small smart car bypasses its opponents, who are stopped at a police blockade, and calmly trundles through the Brandenburg Gate. Obviously an indication that sometimes less is more. Of course, the explicit notice that this is just a game and that what you do in the game is illegal is not missing.
After entering your name, you are thrown into the chic, abstract-looking menu. Big emphasis, of course, on the championship, where you can fight your way through groups A, B and C. Each completed group unlocks a car and a new track. In addition, there is a time race for record hunters and a single race mode called "sunday cup" for casual players. the individual modes also allow you to deactivate damage, police and traffic.
The cars are now also divided into groups: group A includes the small cars such as mini, smart or trabant, of which the davilex pedant called “krokant” is even the most powerful vehicle, even if a “clever” (that’s the name of the smart in the game) can boast more horsepower. In group B, the middle class is allowed to spread out, with opel astra, VW golf and VW new beetle, of course, each in the “I-can”t-own-a-license”-variant. Last but not least, there is group C with the sports cars porsche 911, a jaguar XR and an audi TT. All vehicles have two paint finishes, which is also new. A bonus car can also be unlocked in each group by playing through the respective group in the championship.
On the cheap, get set, go
in the championship, you start small – in seventh place, in dark dortmund and in a red mini. The race doesn"t start spectacularly like in the first part; only accompanied by boring announcements, the race starts with squeaking tires. At least in autobahn raser II there are finally reasonable stereo environmental noises and not only sound-technically strangely positioned engine noises of the AI.
No sooner do you start driving than you are chased by moving polygon blocks in the form of VW T4s in police colors, whose wheels don’t turn a bit when driving. The police, however, are relatively harmless; they only become dangerous when they get too close or when they drive in front of you. Unlike in the first part, you don’t get a ticket right away, but you get a chance to avoid it. If you don’t use this chance, the police car gets in the way and with a bit of bad luck you get a warning. After three warnings the race is over and you can start again from the beginning. Also part of the game are radar traps, which are much smaller and more detailed in autobahn raser II. However, you realize quite late, how much money you have lost by a speed camera, but it is also no problem to drive around them (sometimes in rather strange places, for example on an outer left lane of the freeway).
And the opponent AI? Well, they also try to push you away, if you get too close. Otherwise they drive their route relatively fast, but sometimes they get stuck at some places. In dortmund, for example, you drive through the main train station (literally) and the entrance is quite narrow. This would be such a place. At least the AI tries to get out of the misery by driving backwards. But often it remains with the attempt. Even on a relatively narrow road on the "frankfurt" track, where it likes to get stuck at a traffic light, the AI usually fails to find its way back into the race by driving backwards forever.
Tracks are a good keyword: although the cover says "race at full throttle over original german tracks", the game is still a bit of a challenge!"which is true for the most part, after all, you drive through cities like dortmund, frankfurt, munich, hamburg and berlin, but who knows how the austrian capital vienna managed to sneak in?. At least all the routes have recognition value, the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, for example, cannot be missing. But the tracks are by no means faithfully reproduced, the routing is more from the imagination of the developers. With its numerous wide straights, the "vienna" stretch is probably the most relaxed of all stretches, even if it can get a bit stressful through the narrow park.
We still have the title of the game in mind though: AUTOBAHN raser. Where have these autobahns gone? On the one hand, davilex describes the two-lane roads in the cities as freeways, but there are only three real freeway stretches in total. This makes the naming seem discreetly obsolete.
But the tracks are always adventurous, which is also due to the fact that they do not lead over wide or narrow streets like in any other racing game, but also through parks, alleys, shopping arcades or, in the case of Dortmund, even through a train station. You can take the opportunity to knock over objects like benches or trash cans, but this is only possible once; after that the collision detection disappears as if by magic.
Trouble there, trouble away
there are hardly any bigger annoyances in autobahn raser II. Only some track sections have nasty invisible walls, which only become noticeable with a loud bang and great damage. Sometimes incomprehensible is also the fact that some large objects such as street lights can be avoided without loss of speed and without taking damage, whereas a large traffic light has a harder type of collision detection.
there is no real damage model in the game, it has even been simplified compared to the predecessor: a bar should symbolize the damage, otherwise the car drives as if it had not been scratched. Only when the bar is full, the game catapults you to the failed racing ending. In the first part, high damage was at least audibly noticeable and when the car was completely broken, the road patrol came and repaired the damage.
The biggest nonsense of the predecessor was not taken over, thank god: the refueling. because no matter which car you had, all of them swallowed the same amount of gasoline and coincidentally had to fill up at exactly the same places. Instead, there are now useful quick-service stations that repair the damage and recharge the turbo, which is also back as a tuning part. As usual you can upgrade the engine, put on better tires, improve the gearbox or strengthen the brakes. those who put on better tires clearly improve the spongy handling of the cars, which otherwise would have appeared as a huge weak point. Nevertheless, one should be careful at high speeds, because even after tuning, the vehicles are still not completely cleanly maneuverable.
Even then, autobahn raser II couldn’t keep up with the strong competition. need for speed: burning asphalt" was at the top, and even its predecessor ("need for speed III: hot pursuit") could easily beat autobahn raser II. davilex’s game could not be seen at the top, but at least it was better than the first part. The engine was improved, the number of cars increased and the tracks became much more varied. Although you have seen everything after four hours of playing and the replay value is relatively low, what is offered is a surprisingly good product, especially for a notorious maker of rather below-average games.
Except for the german locations, which are still quite rare in racing games, autobahn raser II offers no real highlights. It is a solid racing game on the whole, which is very beginner-friendly and can offer families a few hours of entertainment. racing game pros are mainly bothered by the lack of small details and killer features that would keep them busy beyond the "you-have-everything-you-want" status. despite all this, you can take a look at autobahn raser II and find out what the germans loved so much about this game.
Kevin puschak is 23 and lives in duisburg. On his youtube channel kepu94, he has been exploring the world of pc technology and video games of yesteryear since 2010.