Thursday, January 28, 2010

Breakneck / N.I.C.E.2 / Excessive Speed on Linux (PART 1)

"Breakneck" (also known as "N.I.C.E. 2" and "Excessive Speed" in some markets) is an old racing game from the late 1990s. Originally from a German company called "Synetic" it was sold worldwide under the other names via local distributors (in the US it was marketed by "SouthPeak Interactive").

What made this game so kick ass? Well, it had a TON of options. The base game comes with:
10 Track Locations, with multiple variations of most tracks (24 total)
9 Car Classes containing at total of 43 vehicles with 8 possible "Sponsor" graphics/colors.

There are also multiple ways to play the game:
Single Race (my favorite)
Arcade Game (a "First Person Shooter" with armed cars)
Time Attack - Best Race
Time Attack - Best Lap
Multiplayer Mode (create a driver profile, mod your car, find a sponsor, win races for $$)

And we haven't even GOT to the "Options" option on the main menu yet! Here you can set everything from reflections to collisions with trees to enemy skill and gravity. You can also decide whether the cars "deform" or not. In some other racing games the cars don't dent, which is mostly because they use actual makes and models and the manufacturers don't particularly want their vehicles all banged up in the game, and there's also the issue of morons who might think the damage is based on real-world crash data. Wow, are they in for a surprise when they rear-end another car at 180 MPH and can't just drive away from it!

BreakNeck uses "fake" cars. They have bogus names and manufacturers, but if you ignore the obvious alterations to grills and lights you can usually figure out what they're actually supposed to be. Sometimes it's fun to just race the wrong way on the track and see how long you can go before your car is so smashed up it's done. Not the point of the game, but a great way to blow off some steam for sure!

Another thing that made the game great was the availability of fan-made content. There are car editors, texture editors, and track editors for this game and some people spent a LOT of time creating extra cars, crazy paint jobs, and new variations of the tracks. The editors and extras can be nearly impossible to find now because the game is so old, so I was glad I'd archived mine to a CD-ROM (except for the car editor, which I can't locate).

My game, then, is pimped out with 67 additional tracks (including two new locations - Canada and Italy - which weren't available in the US release); 21 additional cars (some of which are based on actual models). I actually used to have another disc full of even more cars (such as the "Fifth Element" taxi and the "Batmobile") but I lost it. :( The new cars don't necessarily use the boring "sponsor" graphics either.

So, now you may understand why I want to get this old game going again. Actually I have it running on my WinXP machine, but I just set up a Home Theater PC that uses Linux and thought it would be cool to set it up so I could play this game on the TV screen.

"Part 2" of this post has the technical stuff.

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