Vette! for DOS

Title Screen

Title Screen

Vette! is an open world racing game released by Spectrum Holobyte back in 1989. It was one of 4 games we got in a simulation pack that included Silent Service II and F117a. Vette! was the first Racing game we had ever played, and would be the only one for quite some time. It was ahead of its time in many ways being one of the first to be open world, have multi-player support via serial or modem, and had some of the earlier successful 3d graphics. The city of San Francisco was used as the basis for the game world.

Choosing a Car

Choosing a Car

You are of course driving one of 4 different corvettes and have to race against one of 4 different opponent cars that were competitors to the corvette at the time. There are 4 different courses you can race, the 4th one being a combination of the first three into one long course. You have to navigate around the city to find the shortest route, races are simply from one point to another, fortunately there is a map in one of the many views to assist you. There are some free way segments you can use, they start at on ramps located around the city and play more like games such as outrun. The main ones link to and from the two major bridges in the city, the golden gate and the bay bridge. You can also use open spaces with out roads as short cuts, driving through the middle of a park.

Map and helicopter view

Map and helicopter view

There is a realistic damage model on the harder difficulty modes which makes things more interesting. You can damage all the major parts of your car. If you damage your engine or transmission obviously you aren’t going to be going anywhere fast. Damaging your wheels or steering can make your car pull to the left or right and basically make your car uncontrollable. If you get damaged but can still drive you can get repaired at gas stations located around the map.

Passing a Bus

Passing a Bus

There are police in game which will chase you if they think you’re doing something wrong. They are more alert based on the difficulty level you select. You can get pulled over for any number of offences. Once caught you have the option of giving the officer an excuse, and sometimes they will let you off without a ticket. If you’ve done something really bad like run someone over or just gotten way to many offences you will be hauled off to jail and won’t get to complete the race. On the lowest difficulty setting the police hardly bother you at all.

Begining to cross the Golden Gate Bridge

Begining to cross the Golden Gate Bridge

Whilst the game is centred around racing there isn’t any reason you have to. You can drive anywhere around the city and basically go on a tour if you like. There isn’t a whole lot to do however apart from just going to see the various landmarks in the city.

The graphics were in EGA and were drawn using flat shaded polygons. EGA cards were slower than VGA ones in addition to being harder to program. So it’s quite impressive they managed to make such a large and detailed world! It is also one of the few games to take advantage of the higher resolution EGA modes (640×200).

At a Landmark

At a Landmark

There is a surprising amount of detail in the world around you, traffic and pedestrians roam the city as obstacles. Many of the cities landmarks are in game and look quite reasonable given the capabilities of machines at the time. The game doesn’t look as nice on a LCD today as it does on an old school CRT so if you have an old machine with a CRT that will give you the best experience.

Sound is unfortunately only on PC speaker, and the engine sounds are quite annoying. Fortunately you can turn them off. Considering that by 1989 the Adlib sound card was quite common I hoped that there would be some support for it.

Losing to the Porsche

Losing to the Porsche

Me and my brothers had tons of fun with Vette! on our old 386. We often drove around the city as well as doing the races. Playing it recently I still had a lot of fun doing the same things, but it’s not a game I play on a regular basis as it can be repetitive. The graphics are a bit dated now, even though they are impressive for EGA, so this isn’t going to be a game for everyone.

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