Budget Day 2015 - The Last V8 (Commodore 64)

by Paul Morrison


AAAAAARRRRGGGHHHHHH!!!!  GNNNNNNNGGGGGHHHHH!!!  RAAAAWWWWRRRRRR!!!

And other exclamations of annoyance and frustration.  I've just been playing The Last V8.  If you've ever played The Last V8, I'm sure you've made noises a lot like that yourself.

For those that haven't, The Last V8 sees you behind the wheel of an experimental sports car, racing against time to get to the safety of an underground base before a nuclear bomb drops and wipes you out.  Unfortunately, your base is in the middle of the countryside, which means you have to negotiate tight, twisty lanes adorned with trees, bushes and hedges.  Why wouldn't you build your base on some salt flats, or something?

Just what you want to see when you're racing against a nuclear bomb. Could they not have made it a hairpin?

Just what you want to see when you're racing against a nuclear bomb. Could they not have made it a hairpin?

The "unusual" control method makes this one of the hardest tasks in all of gaming.  You'll hear the pounding drums of the "Game Over" music kicking in far more times than is healthy for an individual.  You'll curse it and hate it.

And yet...

When you think about it, if you were chucking a V8 around country lanes at breakneck speeds, it would be uncontrollable.  In actual fact, The Last V8 nails that feeling of tension perfectly.  You have almost no time at all to get to the base before the bomb drops and wipes you out.  You have to go fast, or you're dead.  You have a pounding Rob Hubbard soundtrack, urging you to go faster all the time.  But you know you can't, because if you do, you'll crash.

The Last V8 is about learning how hard you can push yourself, and when.  It's about picking your moment, figuring out when you can floor it and when you need to throttle back and restrain yourself.  It's about memorising the levels, then testing your memory to its fullest.  There is almost no margin for error.  Get it right and you're safe.  Get it wrong just once, or be too slow... well, you weren't good enough.  It's natural selection time, and you weren't of the quality needed to take the human race forward.

Dammit. I thought I had a straight shot home.

Dammit. I thought I had a straight shot home.

I can't really argue that The Last V8 is a great game.  It has far too many flaws.  Once you've learned the two levels in the game, you can complete in about two minutes.  But that's not to say you will, because it stays hard, every time.  It has synthesised speech, which is of poor quality.  The playing area is tiny, but still manages to have an irritating graphical glitch flickering away the whole time.  Games often last less than fifteen seconds, but it takes almost that long to start a new game.

Despite all that, once you start playing, there's a maddeningly addictive quality to it.  It probably stems from pig-headedness and a stubborn refusal to let the game beat you, or at least to get further than the first bloody hedge.  From that regard, it makes an ideal budget game, but if you never bought it or haven't played it, I'd bet your blood pressure level is lower than mine.