Race After 1977 is a post-apocalyptic game, so it’s set in a brown, ugly, broken-down world. But it’s also a racing game, which means that the people who survived the nuclear winter are still capable of having fun. It goes to show that civilization can crumble and a large percentage of the world population can be wiped out, but as long as some people are around, there will always be sport. It’s reassuring. We’re reassured, anyway.
But underneath the apocalyptic dressing, Race After 1977 is a pretty standard racing game. You pick a car and play through increasingly challenging tiers of races. As you progress, you unlock new cars that have different attributes like acceleration, grip, and suspension. Any car or track you’ve unlocked in the campaign mode becomes usable in one-off races in quick-play mode.
Aside from the Mad Max setting, the best thing about the game is the track variety. There are 10 tracks in total, some of which are composed of wide-open sprawling areas, full of alternate routes, while others are more pinched in and corridor-like. Most of them have a number of jumps and tight turns as well. The levels feel very dynamic, which is fitting for the busted-up setting.
But controls are a key aspect of any racing game, and that’s where Race After 1977 starts to stumble. The default control method is tilt– as it should be, since that’s what feels most comfortable on iOS devices– but the tilt controls here feel sloppy. Slight turns don’t seem to register, so it feels very all-or-nothing when going around corners. The touch control options fare better, but they still feel looser than they should.
A burned-out cityscape.
Possibly on account of the controls, the difficulty levels feel out of whack as well. We found Medium to be several notches too difficult to start on, but Easy was a breeze. Also, you win money from placing in the races, but you can’t ever spend it, which seems like a missed opportunity. It would have been cool if you could spec out your attributes, or at least buy new cars with your winnings. Instead, new cars unlock automatically as you progress through the campaign. Also disappointing is that there’s no multiplayer mode in the game.
Race After 1977 has a great setting, but the control issues and feature omissions keep it from blasting past cream-of-the-crop racers like Real Racing 2 and Need For Speed Shift. With some updates and tweaks it could potentially be a contender, but for now you’ll probably want to hold off.