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Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing (2003)

This series of articles is about looking back at some of the more interesting, strange or otherwise unusual games from the past. I’m not going so far back this time; just a mere 10 years, to Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing. It’s become well known for one reason: many people consider it to be the worst game ever made. That alone makes it interesting enough to include here. It’s time to see why the game is considered so bad. And to do that, I think we need to start with a video, since if you don’t already know about the game then it’s unlikely anyone would believe it if they didn’t see it for themselves.

That’s an indication of what we’re up against here. Opponent cars that sit there with no AI, a track selection where one of the tracks doesn’t even work, no collision detection, infinite speed in reverse, and that’s only touching on the things the game gets wrong. You may have noticed that there’s no background sound in the video. That’s not because I removed the sound, but rather because the game doesn’t have any sound. None at all. No music, no sound effects, nothing. It’s unbelievable that a game could be released in such a state.

Big Rigs
Appearances can be deceptive. For instance, even though the game looks bad in this picture, it doesn't indicate the true awfulness of Big Rigs.

Another thing that happened with this game when I unfortunately wasn’t recording it was that I clicked on a track and it came up with the message telling me “You’re winner” the instant the race began. Apparently I’d won without even touching a key. Another time I started a race and completed it properly, only to find the progress tracker wasn’t working and the race wouldn’t finish at all. (And all races are only one lap, since there are no options for this.) The only choice was to press escape and select the “Exit to Windows” option, which actually exits to the main menu instead.

The whole thing is blatantly unfinished. In fact, that’s overselling it. The game is barely even started. It’s quite easy to look at now and laugh at how such a ridiculously awful game could be released. Then you remember that this wasn’t just some rushed piece of freeware on the internet but a game sold in shops, for real money. It’s an absolute disgrace that a game could be released in such an awful state as this. I’ve played games that seemed to have endings that were rushed to get the game out, but never something so broken as Big Rigs. It must have been infuriating to get home from buying this game at full price, install it and then find out you’d just spent your money on this. Even at the miniscule amount it cost me I feel ripped off.

The story doesn’t end there though! A patch was released for the game shortly after the game came out, but in keeping with the quality of everything else, it only half fixed a few things. After installing the game, it’s noticeable instantly on starting the race that there’s now sound! One sound. You can hear the engines running in your own lorry but there’s still no soundtrack or any other audio. There’s still no collision detection. They’ve half fixed the AI, since the opponent car will now move but will stop at the finish line and wait for you to go past and win the race, so you still can’t lose. The Nightride track which did nothing but crash the game before now works, but it’s just a mirrored version of one of the other four tracks. It’s still a completely broken game, just broken in very slightly different ways to how it was before.

Big Rigs You're Winner
This message really makes playing the game worthwhile.

It’s hard to see how this game could have been made interesting in the way it’s been made, even without all the game breaking bugs. The back of the box does talk about police roadblocks and 1000s of miles of roads to drive on, so it was clearly intended to be far more ambitious than this, so it really does look like this was barely more than an unfinished alpha demo version.

Yet there’s still more to this. Unbelievably, the same company released another racing game the following year, named Midnight Race Club: Supercharged! I haven’t played this one myself, but there are videos available of it online along with general information. And it’s virtually the same game again. This time you have a choice of three types of vehicle, including motorbikes, though there’s a big empty space where it looks like the Big Rigs should have gone before they ripped it out early and sold it as a separate game.  The menus themselves are identical, the five tracks are identical. They’ve now added collisions, though it makes the exact same crash sound no matter what you hit or how hard you hit it, and your car simply comes to a complete halt on impact. That is, unless you collide with the opponent car, where you just stop without a sound, while the other car carries on as if nothing had happened. Oh, and the AI still stops before the finish line to let you win, though they’ve at least fixed the grammar to “You win!” Funniest of all is that the tail lights at the back of the car seem to be the same ones from Big Rigs, meaning they just float along behind the much smaller cars here. On bikes, they seem to be about a foot away from the actual bike, and way over to the sides, just floating in the air. And while you now can’t drive up mountains at full speed like you could before, this only applies when going forwards. The reversing is just as broken as before with its infinite speed.

Stellar Stone, the company that developed these games, didn’t last much longer. For once, I certainly don’t mourn the loss.

If you want to see a review of the game in the style of the game itself, it can be found here.

Have you suffered the horror of actually playing this game? Join the support group over on the forum!