Delta V
for PC (DOS)

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Mr Creosote:
Company: Bethesda Softworks
Year: 1994
Genre: Action
Theme: Business / Flight / Science Fiction
Language: English
Licence: Commercial
Views: 277
Review by Mr Creosote (2022-11-12)
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There are only so many possible excuses to race a flying vehicle through a futuristic trench. Unless you have access to the Star Wars licence, that is. Bethesda chose to apply this motif as a rather far-fetched representation of breaking into computer networks. Though then, there is a certain history of weird-ass, inappropriate gameplay choices for this theme. What it boils down to in Delta V is, in any case, Gibson'esque fluff about evil, rival megacorps ruling a bleak world between the actual missions which is finally of no relevance.

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Interesting shapes following no function

What the game actually consists of in gameplay terms could be classified as an ancestor of wipEout, minus all the things which made that game such a hit. You know, the marketing machine, the zeitgeist soundtrack, the exact, reactive controls, the interesting courses and so on…

The task here is always to traverse an interchangeable course, racing purely against the clock. Obstacles of different kinds and shapes are all around, some quite imaginative. The ship automatically accelerates, even more so when staying close to the ground. This, on the other hand, heats up the engine to the point where it does damage to the ship. So do collisions, though generally, it is built quite sturdily.

It all leaves a good impression for the first couple of races. Finding the good places to go up where there is less danger of being shot down by defensive installations, developing strategies to pass through the common obstacles is motivating at the beginning.

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No textures outside the trench

That is, until you realize there is no variety to it, ever. The same building blocks make each and every course. Only the colour palette changes per level. The small pseudo objectives, such as to shoot down particular, trivial targets on the path, do nothing.

On top of that, the 3D engine performance is scaling strangely. On machines where the game is running very smoothly, roughly starting with a 486DX2/66, things are much too fast. Reacting to approaching obstacles or trying to catch those power-ups turns impossible at times, translating directly into player frustration. Below, it's more playable, but somewhat jerky.

Putting things into perspective, back in 1994, we should have been grateful that Delta V wasn't a rail shooter. That genre was still in full swing at the time, and admittedly, the best of those are probably more entertaining than this. Nevertheless, it was high time to put that restrictive concept to rest. Delta V for sure is not a hugely successful game in any regard, but for sure, it was a relevant step to move on. In this way, it is historically interesting. On the other hand, it is not worth playing beyond a quick look.

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