Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 03/28/03 | Genre: Action
Bandits is the game where the Dukes of Hazard meet Mad Max. It is set in a crazy drought ridden future where you live by your skills as a driver and scavenger. Basically, the player builds a car from the ground up at which they can drive through 22 different missions or at each other in decent multi-player mode. Bandits: Phoenix Rising follows Rewdalf and Fennec as they wind their way through semi-arcade craziness. You follow their adventures as you scour the lands around Jericho City.
The first thing that grabbed my attention was the ability for the player to customize their unique vehicle over the course of the game. That is always fun, and reminds me of the good times I had with games like the original Privateer. I did find some game balancing issue with some weapons. The most expensive weapons do not always work out the best, especially if the weapon does not suite your style of play. Games balancing is always a difficult issue as it requires the player to have experience with what weapon will work best for them, and not try to make the game too over balanced, thus not rewarding players for original thinking. You start out with a Badger, which is an elaborate dune buggy. This over modified car is quite a nice and quick car to start out with. After a few missions you have stolen and earned enough to start looking at new cars (like the Ogre) and switching out weapons (like the machine gun, or cannon).
The missions do get a little specific in some places. It can take some time to get used to the procedures that must be followed in order to complete the mission successfully. For example, in a mission where you are escorting a convoy across the desert event triggers do not fire in certain order. This prevents the mission from being completed without following the right procedure. The mission scripting for this will be fixed in the next US/UK patch though.
There is a vast wasteland around the only real civilization at Jericho City. The action happens outside the walls as you and other bandits compete for limited resources. Everyone wants access to the "vast" riches of Jericho City and is constantly scheming to get it (including the main characters). With the "Flaming Pumpkins" around, there are plenty of rivals to meet on the open wasteland. The graphics and the 3-D environments are very enjoyable. The video requirements for the program are definitely felt. It is nothing unreasonable, but you will need a more modern 3-d card to enjoy to full effect of Bandits. Exploding cars and missiles can be quite graphics intensive. The sound is well done as well. There is nothing ground breaking here, but you get the friendly banter of your gunner and exploding shells in good order.
Tearing over the sandy hills in a well armed dune buggy is a level of fun all its own. At the end of the day, Bandit: Phoenix Rising is just its own breed of entertainment. The multi-player mode is quite enthralling. It grabs your attention for all the same reasons the single player mode does, but you get to blast your buddies instead of mindless computer bots. It is not some deep thinking gaming experience, but has all the fun we look for when we sit down to play a computer game. It has some minor problems, but most of this you don't worry about and just have fun.