Game Over Online ~ Expresso Run

GameOver Game Reviews - Expresso Run (c) ZioSoft, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Expresso Run (c) ZioSoft
System Requirements Pocket PC, Windows CE 3.x, 4.4MB Free Space
Overall Rating 76%
Date Published Wednesday, March 27th, 2002 at 07:49 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

Expresso Run is a light-hearted racing game where you assume the role of a Java Jockey and you are tasked to deliver coffee beans to various destinations in the 23rd century. Racing games have so far come in two flavors. The first example pertains to getting from point A to point B in the fastest time. Most recently, titles like Project Gotham Racing have illustrated how a racing game can be more about flare and style than actual racing times; a sort of combination of things found in Tony Hawk or Jet Set Radio. Expresso Run is clearly a descendant of the former kind, replete with the same goals and objectives.

Luckily, the developers opted not to inherit the 'unlocking' phenomenon found in most racing titles. These are the ones where you have to perform such-and-such objectives to attain new cars or new tracks. Out of the box, Expresso Run lets you race in all three of its terrain including a desert scheme, a fauna rich vegetation planet as well as an arctic tundra. Although this gives the developers rationale to use an array of colors, the end result tends to show a propensity to the sparse side due to the lack of any ornaments and the loose-run track style. Expresso Run is one of those titles where the levels are constructed such that there are many wide and diverse avenues to get to your ultimate destination, but unlike titles that use this device, there isn't much to see along the way. There is the odd terrain feature of a stone or a tree lying around, but many of the tracks are quite bland, especially in the beginning of the game when you do not encounter any aliens.

Indigenous lifeform and obstacles will try to either delay you or knock your cargo off prematurely. Score is awarded for fast completion times and the amount of crates you are carrying. Top the preset score and you will progress to the next track. The crates have an ancillary effect on your races. The more crates you choose, the heavier your attached trolley will be. Heavy cargo loads will result in decreased steering but because the trolley and your truck are two separate identities, you can pull things off like powerslides to maintain a forward-moving momentum when getting around obstacles; Newtonian inertia at its best. Accidentally hitting your cargo on to an obstacle or letting an indigenous lifeform pilfer your cargo will result in your coffee being spilt on the ground and you can choose whether or not to double-back to retrieve it. The controls to pull these moves off are neither too loose nor tight on both the stylus and handheld keys. Camera control is equally unflinching.

There is only one mode of play for Expresso Run. You can customize the races and these have detrimental effects to how you plan on racing ergo the fact that you can choose what type of coffee you will carry as well as how much. Obviously, if you are choosing to do a coffee-laden run, you'll run into more indigenous lifeforms. Thus, you would hope that the extra crate/coffee bonus will make up for the lost time. Pack lightly and you're undoubtedly heading for a more traditional speed race to the finish line. There are also different types of coffee: regular, mocha, espresso and decaf, all of which contribute to how the indigenous lifeforms will react.

The only real weakness in the title is the lack of artificial intelligence racers to compete with. As such, the only goal is to beat a score, which gets repetitive after awhile. The fact that all three environs are open to you at once helps offset some of this repetition, although I still think the environments lean towards the sparse side. There are no monuments or interesting locales to blaze by; like say with the pod racing Star Wars ones. Moreover, there isn't any progression in enhancing your hover truck and multiplayer does not appear to be too much of a stretch for this title.

Expresso Run is fairly hefty on older generation Pocket PC devices, but its simplicity ensures it has wide support for both Palm and Pocket PC platforms. It has a charming soundtrack to it but it doesn't clearly define its raison d'etre. Consequently, I wasn't sure what it was trying to be. Is it a mixed obstacle-adventure game? Its landscapes are a bit too bland to measure up to other titles like the 3D version of Pac-Man or Centipede. Is it a pure racing game? Its emphasis on merely beating time/score to advance becomes monotonous without the presence of human or computer drivers. Is it an arcade game? It runs too slowly to be a wholly simplistic arcade title like Wipeout. Thus, the result is rather schizoid even though holistically speaking, it gets the job done with style.

[07/10] Addictiveness
[14/20] Gameplay
[12/15] Graphics
[07/10] Interface/controls
[07/10] Program Size
[03/05] Sound
[03/05] Discreetness
[15/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer


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