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Xbox Review - 'Dukes of Hazzard: Return of the General Lee'

by Nathan Mourfield on Oct. 18, 2004 @ 12:59 a.m. PDT

Step into the shoes of Bo and Luke Duke as they race to win prize money in order to save the local orphanage from Boss Hogg's latest crooked scheme. With the help of the ever-popular Daisy Duke, Uncle Jesse and Cooter, the good ol' boys go up against the villainous Boss Hogg, his bumbling cohorts Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane and Deputy Enos in order to win the Hazzard County Derby.

Genre : Racing
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ratbag
Release Date: September 28, 2004

Being of significant age, I grew up watching the Dukes of Hazzard while living in the South. Each of the episodes covered aspects of southern living in an way that was appealing to a large section of my friends and family. If the writers could not get a good storyline, they always could have Roscoe P. Coltrane do some goofy antic involving Boss Hogg for a few episodes, so all in all, it was great fun for an 8-year-old to watch.

The Dukes of Hazzard: Return of the General Lee is a lot like the show in that regard, if the storyline were taken out and just had the silly antics in it. It was disappointing for me to play this game once I realized that it would reflect few good characteristics of the show. The developers made a driving game with a Dodge Charger that looks like the Lee and had the ‘Dixie’ horn in it.

I have always been of the belief that the project to make a game that is based off a cult icon must be done by a fanatic to the cause. Without that understanding of what made a show or movie great, all that is left is a game with disappointing content and a few catch phrases.

As for the game itself, it is a standard racing/derby game with a free drive mode. The player drives around the county in the General, Daisy’s Jeep, or even Skeeter’s Wrecker. Cross the Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane, have a stunt show, or get involved in a crash derby.

The controls follow the standard controls pattern that shows up in an Xbox driving game. If the player is familiar with such games as Test Drive: Eve of Destruction, then there will be no learning curve to trudge through. There is no real need for sensitivity or nuanced driving, so there is no problem if you put the pedal to the metal throughout the game. The only issue with the controls is that they are so forgiving, they will hurt a player’s skills in a game that would take finer thumbstick control, like MechAssault or Halo. Fable did the same to me, but with adequate awareness, usually the handicap is overcome in a game or two online.

The General Lee is a decent car to handle in this game, which is to be expected because it's a Charger. Some of the cornering is sluggish, but that is to be expected. By chance, I have driven a heavily modified Charger before, and they tend to turn like a bus, especially compared to the four-bangers that kids drive today. The General can run anything out in a straightaway and is constructed like a brick house. Dodge made this vehicle before Iacocca took over the company and started pushing out the K series of cars, so the Charger was made in a time when automobiles were made of steel and could take and give punishment.

Daisy’s Jeep is a whole other beast entirely. I am so glad I have never had to drive a jeep. They tend to be squirrelly on the road, and the game is accurate in that respect. It does not have the acceleration that the General has, but that was certainly to be expected.

I think the game did very well representing the characteristics of the cars, which is to be expected from titles nowadays, but I cannot praise a game which just meets the expected requirements of today’s standards.

Graphically, the game is middle of the road. I admit that the models of the actors are amazing; Daisy Duke looks outstanding in her tight little shorts. The voice acting is also well done, but this was because they used some of the original actors from the series.

Sounds were something of a mixed bag. In an era of popular bands and familiar classics, the soundtrack for this game was quite forgettable. I would have loved to hear some Alabama or Oakridge Boys, something that fit with the times, but it was apparently not meant to be. Sound effects, on the other hand, were a strong point to the game; it was great to hear the roar of the General and hear the ‘Dixie’ horn again. I always thought it was such a wonderful hook, and since I spent most of my childhood in the South, I grew up listening to that horn during a good portion of my years.

I have my standard complaint about a game not being Xbox Live Aware. Online gameplay is nice, but I believe that it is a minimal requirement to have a game that will allow all the people on one's friends list know that they can reach the player for a game or chat. If anything, it can be considered free advertising for a game since Xbox Live lets everyone know what game that person is playing.

I found the Return of the General Lee to be a great disappointment. I should not have been surprised, since every game based off of a show or a movie in recent memory, besides Riddick, has not fared so well. I find myself greatly upset due to the fact that they turned my beloved childhood memories into a steaming bowl of horse hockey, but I am not bitter.

Not only did this title have mediocre gameplay, but it also stomped upon my fond memories of a beloved childhood show. Normally, I would have given a score of 4.5 out of 10, but I did read the review of the PS2 version prior to completing this. Since this is the Xbox version of this game, which makes it intrinsically better than the PS2 version, I give it 5 out of 10. Keep 'em between the ditches and come back now, y’all.

Score : 5.0/10

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