The Dukes of Hazzard: Return of General Lee
Another television series that made the Dodge Charger the legend it is today. Actually, I am not so sure about its contributing to the creating-a-hero part but it did made the car become known around the world. It has always been a dream of mine to drive such an old, muscled, American automobile so I figured this was an ideal opportunity to come close to something of a replacement. Besides, I tend to like most games based on television licences too so I figured this would be a great game.
It had the potential to be so but there are a few elements that completely screw things up. Let’s start with the driving part which is pretty important as that is all you have to do. The more powerful Chargers do nought to sixty in 6.4 seconds which is made possible because of the powerful V8 engine that produces up to 500 break horse power. I didn’t notice much of that power in the game, the car lifts of easily but the sense of acceleration is lacking. Another thing that is far from genuine: handling. This car is so big it wouldn’t fit in today’s garages and is made to drive straight on wide and extremely long American roads so it simply doesn’t turn easily. Within the game however, you cannot touch the wheel without causing the car to slide so much that it swings around in the other direction. Hell, the only thing you need to do in order to start a donut is keep turning and hit the gas! They didn’t mess everything up though. As told before, nought to sixty isn’t a problem but as what sixty to nought is concerned … indeed the four wheeler in the game doesn’t know how brake either.
Unfortunately, that only makes things worse because combined with the lousy camera, which in addition is limited to one trailing and one road angle, and the restricted viewing distance, the crappy driving control reduces the fun of taking your precious means of transport out for a drive in the free roam mode to nill.
So will the created Hazard city by the way. It is small and looks very much alike wherever you go if you at least have the patience to get where you want to be because a mile seems to take as long as a light-year to cover. Besides those issues, the graphical engine makes two major mistakes: somebody must have never heard of ANTI-aliasing and sometimes the landscape isn’t generated in time so you see bizarre green walls and then suddenly trees and fences popup.
It isn’t all bad because the menu’s are completely in true Dukes’ style and also the car looks quite alright but what I find at least equally important is that the car should sound like a Charger too. The old engine makes a low, heavy sound and the relatively small tyres screech how they are supposed to. The country music really rocks too and at least does some effort to make you feel good while driving.
The best aspects are probably the story and the cut scenes in which it is told. You really feel as if in an episode from the renowned series and yes, that is a good thing for people who buy this game! Professional TV-writers constructed the plot which definitely creates the proper effect. The only problem is that you don’t have enough influence in it which results in a lot of boredom between the short movies. After each piece of narration you will have to drive General Lee (the name of the car you drive) to some godforsaken and butt-ugly location marked with a circle of stars. Sometimes, you have to pick up or deliver something within a certain time limit without crashing too often but you never know how much damage is already done or how much your car can still handle which feels very amateuristic. Other times you just drive to one’s residence and talk to the inhabitant so the actual action starts or you have to escape from the police, who are even dumber than the stereotypic cops in the series.
I bet someone programmed the entire A.I. on his own in a few days because it really, really goofs hard. The racing opponents aren’t special and behave quite superficially but at least they don’t act like complete morons. Something in which the police units excels. Result: they get stuck everywhere (even on a wide road), they are completely unable to chase you decently not to mention their ramming abilities, they drive up walls and of bridges, etc. If you want to do me a favour, play NFS:HP1 (a game that is already a few years old) again and confirm that its A.I. is still outstanding compared with the one from Return Of General Lee.
It seems to be the problem of most games I test: great and original idea’s, concepts and stories. The gameplay however sucks harder than fifty horny prostitutes ever would or could.
If you like the series you could buy the game for the amazing story, funny cut scenes and bonus material you can unlock like interviews and movies. However, do realise that driving isn’t nifty at all and that all the missions are completely alike which will definitely get to you once you are over thirty percent.
On the other hand, I do feel that you definitely get a lot while paying only twenty euros or twenty-seven dollars for this ps2 game but if you have no special need for a connection with the Dukes’ licence you might want to go for Stuntman for example which is about equally expensive by now and provides decent, comparable gameplay.