3D shooters and so-called real-time strategy already well established, console style racing games were the up and coming genre of the mid 1990s. No reason why it shouldn't happen on the PC as well. The developers even went for console style controls, in spite of never porting their game to such systems. Why, of all things, the makers risked the association with a flopped movie is up for speculation.
Slipstream 5000 tries to set itself apart by not being car-based, but rather using futuristic gliders for its competition. At 600 km/h, these vehicles speed through trenches and tunnels, elegantly nudging each other off the main trajectory or (literally) taking out the big guns to blast the competition off the track. Unloading whatever they bought between those races.
Production is slick throughout. Worldwide tracks feature well-known landmarks and sights in the background for recognition. They are introduced by a non-interactive run-through shown from a TV camera perspective, with an off commentator describing each curve, each specifity. The latter being narrow spots, particularly tight curves and, of course, alternative paths which can be selected representing the usual “safer” and “quicker” paths.
It helps further that each track has its own graphical style even beyond the background wallpapers. In spite of sporting standard VGA resolution, they avoided any issues of signs not being clear etc. which had plagued the genre in previous years. The jungle setting maybe being the sole exception towards the negative, as the trees and leaves don't make it entirely visible what goes where at times.
Competing drivers all have their own picture and their own voice with appropriately horrible fake accents reflecting their own cliché personality. Their banter during the races, plus the music make for some entertainment, even if completely pointless. Until they keep repeating endlessly, that is.
So far, so good. Slipstream 5000 could use some more courses, but it's not a huge deal. But beyond that, it hasn't aged all that well, either. These days, the graphics do appear rather blocky and washed out. Certainly no incentive anymore to ever watch the full race replay with all its (essentially nice) camera angles. Where strangely, from outside, the gliders are seen to be rather tiny compared to the tunnels they race through. Though from cockpit view and controlling them live, it all feels rather cramped, actually.
Perhaps most importantly, although the speedometer clearly indicates 600 km/h, and in spite of being graphically smooth, there is never the impression of getting even anywhere close to such speed. Which helps keeping the gliders under control, but nevertheless feels wrong given the setting and the promise the game makes to its players.
Make no mistake; there is fundamentally broken about Slipstream 5000. In many ways, it was ahead of the competition at its time. But it was a time of fast technological development. As such, the game was quickly surpassed again. While it may have deserved a bigger market success and while it may still be good for a race or two, it's not a must-play these days.
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