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AM Show: Hummer Impressions

Sega's latest driving title is a must-play.

 

The girls Sega had operating the two Hummer machines at its AM Show booth today were either totally loving life, or totally hating it. If it were me, it would probably be the former, although I can imaging getting headaches after a few hours of sitting through play sessions in Hummer's moving cabinet.

This newest Sega driving game sports an official GM license for that gas guzzling status symbol, the Hummer. Expectedly, the cabinet is designed to look like a Hummer vehicle. The deluxe two-seat unit features a 62 inch monitor that moves along as the unit jolts and tilts with every turn, bump, breaking and acceleration.

We're talking some serious movement here. The movement is strong enough that the title should draw in on-lookers from afar even before they notice the stylish looks of the cabinet itself. Upon getting in the driver's seat, I was surprised with how much the vehicle moves, and I'm usually disappointed with the subdued feel of motion-based arcade games. You'll definitely need to strap on the seat belts for this one.

Once you see this thing move, you'll definitely want to give it a try.

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Despite the replication of the Hummer's outsides and the motion cabinet, you'll be disappointed if you're expecting a realistic replication of driving a Hummer. Sega is in full arcade mode with this title. Your vehicle pulls off wild jumps and manages to climb terrain that almost seems vertical at times.

There's a reason why this is a two seater. Hummer makes use of a new gameplay system called the Driver Change System, which requires that both players cooperate to finish the race. The cabinet includes separate steering wheel, break, and accelerator sets for each seat. Every now and then, the game calls out "Driver Change," and the controls switch over to the alternate player.

There are a couple of conditions to determine when the switch happens. It automatically takes place at every check point. You can also trigger it on your own by running into a wall or hitting a rival vehicle. While this will likely happen accidentally when the action gets too tough to handle, I imagine some players using this strategically to force their rivals to play through tough spots.

Clear the race, and both players are given information about how much they contributed to your point total. The game also gives you a percentage indicating your level of teamwork, although I'm not sure how it comes to this figure.

The impression I got through a single race next to one of Sega's cutest was that this system is not just a gimmick. You'll end up switching off dozens of times through the course of a race.

While running into walls will trigger the driver change, you can get away with running into obstacles like crates, barrels, and fences. Every time you hit items, your boost meter rises, and when it reaches max, you can pound a boost button (located centrally on the dash, so your partner can activate for you too) to get a burst of speed.

Even with the boost in full effect, Hummer feels a bit on the slow side. This might be intentional -- we're not riding Harley Davidson's here after all (the awesome Harley game was located elsewhere in the Sega booth... impressions coming soon!).

The game is still intense, however, thanks to the 19 opponent racers on the track with you and the wide array of twists and turns. The boost system, which makes you pick up items, and the drive change system, which makes you avoid crashing into walls, will have you taking some insane turns, which combines with the moving cabinet to make for digital driving heaven.

Two colors were available at the AM Show. Orange and blue varieties will also be available. Four units can be linked up for competitive play.

Hummer appears to be close to completion. The AM Show rev included full track and car selection screens. Each vehicle comes with preset tuning options, so you can select your preference for sports or rally style racing. Tracks come in four varieties: Bluster Canyon, Isolated Jungle, Calibou Valley, and Industrial Hill. These are listed in order of difficulty. I played Calibou Valley and found it to be pretty easy, although Sega presumably adjusted the time limits to let the AM Show showgoers get through a full race.

Despite the slow driving model, the moving cabinet and unique drive change system should spell instant hit for this. If you hear that Hummer is available in your part of the world, do not hesitate to give it a try.

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