PC/Mac/Linux
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Game Info:

GearGrinder
Published by: HeadUp Games
Released: September 2009
Available on: PC
Rated for Teen (16)
Single and up to 8 LAN players
Price: $19.95

System Requirements
Processor: Pentium 2.5 GHz Single-Core
RAM: 512 MB (Microsoft Vista: 768 MB)
Graphics adapter supporting PixelShader 2.0 and 128 MB RAM
Soundcard
2 GB free disk space

GearGrinder is a semi truck racing game with guns, mines, and pointless violence. The game starts off with the main character, Jack, being sentenced to death and presumably executed. He awakens in a truck and is given orders to take certain people out. Being the bad boy he is, Jack doesn’t like to take orders from anybody and wants his freedom back. When he’s told there’s a bomb implanted into his brain, he doesn’t care and runs into oncoming traffic to get attention from the local gangs.

To get the gangs to notice you, some levels have you smash into and shoot down any and all oncoming traffic. In this mode you start off with roughly thirty seconds and you are rewarded with time for killing people, presumably your enemies. Your goal is to reach one or more check points before running out of time. There’s a rage meter that is filled up by destroying other vehicles. When the meter is full, your weapons have more power and if your truck is in its racing form, you can boost your rocket engines. In many levels you can convert your truck into a war machine or stream-line it for racing.
Highlights:

Strong Points: Unique racing and mini game modes.
Weak Points: No online multiplayer
Moral Warnings: Lots of swearing and excessive violence.

There are various racing modes and mini games to keep things interesting. I found the racing levels to be the easiest. Some of the races are high stakes where the trucks are fitted with bombs and the last place racers are detonated at set intervals. Slalom is a racing style that usually requires you to hit targets to extend your time and collect bonus rings for extra points. One race was an exception where you actually got penalized for hitting oncoming traffic. There are some modes where you have to guide an explosive RC car or missile to take out specific targets. The bowling for cars levels are unique. In that mode, you have to plunge your massive semi into conveniently parked cars to take as many out as possible. The survival levels are fun where you are trapped in a parking lot and have to survive and fight against an onslaught of cop cars; you just have to try and just stay alive for as long as possible.

Some of the levels are just plain annoying; so annoying that I grabbed a cheat/hacked game save allowing me to bypass them. One of the levels gives you roughly 20 seconds to inflict at least 75% damage to an enemy boss building area. You have to drive your semi into people, road cones, cars, anything and everything before your time runs out. Another aggravating level was the turret defense scenes. I like the concept but the controls and camera angling were just awful. I was glad that my joystick was supported and the truck controls were fairly straight forward other than the turret nonsense.
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 74%
Game Play: 14/20
Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 7/10
Controls: 4/5
Stability: 5/5

Morality Score - 54%
Violence: 4/10
Language: 1/10
Sexual Content: 6.5/10
Occult References: 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical: 5.5/10

Graphically this game is decent, they are 3D but a bit dated and bland. After being spoiled by Dirt 2, this game is far from cutting edge. The cut scenes have an interlaced look with lines going across the screen. This gives it a bit of a retro console/arcade/old TV feel that I don’t particularly care for. The explosions look nice but the world and texture detail is a bit lacking. I thought it was funny that sometimes when the camera would pan in on the truck that there was no driver inside and at other times there was. You can change the camera view to be third or person view.

The game ran pretty stable and even alt-tabbed nicely. I haven’t come across any show stopping glitches. I thought it was funny that the boss character has his name spelled two different ways in the game text (Jorge vs. Horhe).

The audio isn’t bad; to be honest I don’t remember the background music but I’m sure it was fitting at the time…just forgettable. The voice acting is decent and I like how you can turn off or adjust the frequency of Jack’s comments. Even when it’s off, some comments still slip through.

Other than the senseless violence my biggest complaint about this game is the language. Pretty much every word but the f-bomb is used. There’s a scene where Jack’s friend is shot dead in his truck and Jack blasphemes. Lastly there’s a bikini girl poster in one of the cut scenes. The language alone is a major downer and makes this game not suitable for children.

There’s not much when it comes to re-playability. In the single player mode you can try to prefect your maps to get gold and unlock the best stuff for your truck. There is a multiplayer LAN mode that can support up to eight players. With the Sec-U ROM DRM in place, I could not test this mode out.

GearGrinders is a unique racing game. While I enjoyed the bomb threat races, I could have done without the senseless cop/oncoming traffic killing. The cut-scenes have an old school arcade feel to it but with the language I doubt it would have been appropriate for the arcade. The story isn’t all that hot and the audio won’t blow you away. The only positive thing I can say is that this game will be good for stress relief as long as you don’t get stuck on a level.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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