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Dark Future: Blood Red States

Posted by GG Goblin On May - 28 - 2019

Don’t say Car Wars. Well, you can if you like.

For those of you who have been around for a while and have been drawn into the world of tabletop games, you might remember Steve Jackson’s Car Wars, a cool little game which involved moving small cardboard pieces with cars, and other vehicles, printed on along a paper strip of road. The vehicles also had guns and weapons mounted on them, which is where all of the fun came in. It proved quite popular, which is probably why Games Workshop created their own version of the game in the form of Battlecars, again with little bits of cardboard. Things evolved though and, quite happy to drop little plastic models everywhere, Games Workshop updated Battlecars and released it with plastic cars rather than cardboard, adding a more 3D feel to the game. And thus Dark Future was born.

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While Dark Future wasn’t as popular as Games Workshop’s other games, it still managed to create a decent fan base. Jump forward to 2019, some 30 years later, and with every one of Games Workshop’s titles getting a digital version in one form or another, it is quite amazing that we have had to wait so long for a Dark Future game. However, after a while in development, Auroch Digital’s Dark Future: Blood Red States has now launched for PC, providing single-player real-time tactical gameplay and cars with guns. Could you want any more?

This is where things get a little bit different. Had this title offered up some Twisted Metal style vehicular combat in the Dark Future setting, which was originally set in the post-apocalyptic wastelands of 1995, I would have said “okay, but it’s been done many times before”. The key is that Dark Future: Blood Red States is a real-time strategy game. The player still has a car that drives along the road, but has limited control over that car. They can speed up and slow down, even reverse, but when it comes to steering, it is just a matter of switching lanes. Going off road tends to be the result of attacks from other cars, and is not a good thing. However, issuing orders to your car while it is hurtling along a highway would not be that easy, and so players are able to slow down time when they choose, giving them time to strategise and plan.

When it comes to being on the road, the action is pretty impressive. The weapons mounted on the players vehicle have different capabilities, such as front mounted guns only shooting forwards, and so the player has to think about their own position on the road. This also applies to enemy vehicles, with the player only having limited shields on the different sides of their car, and so trying to avoid taking too much damage as shield repairs are not possible mid-mission. Once the shields are down, the car becomes very vulnerable.

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The missions themselves are quite limited at the moment, something that will hopefully change over time. From simply shooting enemy vehicles or escorting and protecting a vehicle, to taking down a boss, running blockades or staying close to a truck to download data, the small selection of different mission types are all nicely done, but once the player has tried each a couple of times, there is little else to see. Sure, the enemies will change, as will the location, and other modifiers may be present to beef things up a bit, but they will still be the same missions, which is where the games weakness lies. It really does need more of everything.

Including visuals. The game looks nice, and the vehicles are very cool in their grungy post-apocalyptic vibe, but there are only a few different settings, and they are all pretty bleak. Okay, this is a post-apocalyptic wasteland, but there could have been a little bit more to see. Instead, the player will have to make their own decorations, usually by making big, impressive explosions from the other cars.

Times are tight in the Dark Future, which is the primary loop of the game. Players will need to head out and do missions, to earn money for not just upgrades, but also fuel, in order to go out and complete more missions. It’s a good loop and it works really well, with the player able to purchase all manner of upgrades and new weapons for their vehicle, while unlocking new drivers with their own stories and new vehicles. Players are able to choose which mission to attempt from a small selection, giving them the chance to take on easier missions to earn the cash to upgrade ready for the more tricky jobs. Repetition is a problem, but overall it is quite compelling, especially as the missions don’t take too long.

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I have to say that I never tried Games Workshop’s Dark Future, but I did spend more than a few hours with Car Wars and Auroch Digital’s Dark Future: Blood Red States does a great job of bringing that tabletop feel to the PC. While it may need more content and more variation to keep the repetition at bay, it is a pretty unique game that will thrill anyone who remembers Dark Future or Car Wars, and will certainly intrigue those who like real-time strategy and cars with guns on. Dark Future: Blood Red States gives players the joy of the open road, and adds explosions, which makes it worth checking out.




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