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Overview

Developed and released by Activision in 1997, Interstate '76 is a vehicular combat simulation that takes place in 1976, or rather in a fictionalized version of 1976 where the oil crisis of '73 has led to widespread chaos and economic instability. Seeking to exploit the situation for their own benefit, bands of auto-criminals roam the highways in order to control the country's limited supply of gasoline. With so much of the country gripped by uncertainty, only small groups of auto-vigilantes oppose them, and the game casts the player as one of their number, Groove Champion, as he attempts to avenge the death of his sister and put an end to her killer's plot to deepen the oil crisis.

Coming not long after Activision's previous success with the MechWarrior series, Interstate '76 applies many of the gameplay mechanics seen in these previous 'Mech-based games to car combat, with the similarities being most evident in the game's detailed car customization and damage modeling. Within Interstate '76's main campaign mode (called T.R.I.P), the player is able to customize a single vehicle over time as they tackle a series of missions, and in the game's multiplayer and instant action modes, proper equipping of one's vehicle is also vitally important. Missions can incorporate a variety of objectives, from racing, to protecting a target, with car-to-car combat being the one unifying element.

Plot

Interstate '76 evokes the style and atmosphere of a 1970s television serial.

The Interstate '76 introductory cinematic portrays an event that happens shortly before those depicted in the game's main story, T.R.I.P., while also providing the main impetus for the player character Groove Champion's introduction into the world of auto-vigilantism. Within it, Groove's sister Jade is seen as she is gunned down by the shadowy Antonio Malochio; learning of his sister's double life only after her death, Groove is reluctantly inducted (as is, by extension, the player) into the world of heavily armed cars by way of Taurus, Jade's partner. After being left with his sister's Picard Piranha, Taurus insists that Groove must take her place, explaining that the dramatic rise in auto-criminality of late has left law enforcement entirely in the hands of men such as them who take to the roads in order to uphold justice. He further entices Groove with the possibility of revenge against his sister's killer, and after his initial resistance Groove finds himself drawn into the pursuit of Malochio along with Taurus and Skeeter, their mechanic.

Before long, it becomes apparent to the trio that Malochio and his thugs (known as "creepers") are interested in far more than simply controlling the limited supply of gasoline that has been a source of anxiety throughout the country. Rather, Malochio, who is secretly under the employ of OPEC, plans to deepen the oil crisis by destroying the West Texas Fedaral Stock, thereby eliminating the largest oil reserve on the continent and paving the way for Malochio and his allies to take control of the entire country. Groove and company are unable to prevent Malochio from obtaining the hydrogen bomb he needed to eliminate the oil reserve, and are later captured as they attempt to confront him in the process of arming the device at Fort Davis. Rather than accept defeat, Groove goads Malochio into a duel, defeating him in vehicular combat before shooting him several times and disarming his hydrogen bomb.

Gameplay

Combat

Groove encounters a creeper near the Bar-D.

Though the primary activity in Interstate '76 is driving, only on very rare occasion is the player made to engage in traditional races. The majority of the game is focused on encounters between a variety of lethally modified muscle cars. Being based upon the same engine that powered MechWarrior 2: 31st Century Combat and MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries, Interstate '76 uses a similarly complex system for calculating damage. Vehicles take damage based upon where they were hit, with general damage being further subdivided into damage to either the body or chassis. Furthermore, any of a car's major components, be they wheels, suspension, brakes, engine, or weapons, can be damaged and potentially destroyed as well.

Aside from an increasing risk that a vehicle will fail to operate or even explode, taking hits can result in a number of other undesirable outcomes, such as permanent loss of a weapon or severely reduced handling due to, for example, a blown tire. This location-based damage system is present for all vehicles within the game, so while the player must always be aware of the direction from which incoming fire is launched, it is also quite possible (and required, in some cases) to use the game's damage modeling to one's advantage in order to take out enemy creepers in specific ways.

Customization

T.R.I.P.'s Salvage Screen

Complimenting Interstate '76's damage system is a vehicle customization system which again takes after previous Activision MechWarrior titles. Each vehicle has a fixed number of adjustable front and rear hardpoints that can be modified to deliver payloads from an array of armaments, including ballistic weapons, missiles, landmines, and even turrets. In addition, players can upgrade more traditional car parts like wheels and engines, and armor distribution can be adjusted to give more protection to certain parts of a car depending upon a particular play style or the requirements of a given mission.

T.R.I.P. mode implements a part salvage system reminiscent of MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries in which new components must be gathered from the field and repaired if damaged, while in other modes the player can make and save car presets without restrictions. In either case, these choices have a significant impact on in-game events as they unfold, as not only is handling affected by the car's components, but also the game's location-specific damage system makes armor composition and weapon selection vitally important. These factors combine to make the action of Interstate '76 decidedly more tactical than that of more arcade-like car combat games such as Twisted Metal.

Modes

The game has two main modes, T.R.I.P. and Melee. T.R.I.P., or "Total Recreational Interactive Production," is the game's story mode, whereas Melee provides access to various skirmish, multiplayer, and individual scenario options. T.R.I.P. mode also contains a brief contextualized tutorial scenario in which Groove learns the ropes from his late sister by way of audio tapes which she prerecorded.

T.R.I.P.

The game's single-player campaign mode, T.R.I.P. follows the exploits of Groove Champion as he traverses the Southwest in search of his sister's killer. Unlike Melee mode, T.R.I.P. limits the player to a single vehicle, the Picard Piranha, though it can be heavily customized over the course of the game. Weapons and upgrades are gathered and added to the car between missions courtesy of Skeeter, Groove's mechanic, and long-term considerations such as repairs must be taken into account since the player cannot switch vehicles.

Melee

This mode is subdivided into Auto Melee and Multi Melee. Being further divided into Instant Melee and Scenario, Auto Melee is a single-player mode outside of the game's main story. Instant Melee is essentially a skirmish mode that allows players to choose from a selection of cars, facing off against a specified number of A.I.-controlled drivers. Scenario mode offers preset missions that differ from T.R.I.P. mode in one crucial area: the player is free to choose any vehicle they like. Finally, Multi Melee is the game's multiplayer mode, allowing online grudge matches against live opponents.

Characters

Interstate '76 is set in the style of a '70s era television series, complete with fictitious actor names for all of the game's main characters. This connection to serials is primarily reinforced through cutscenes, which frequently use shots reminiscent of popular programs like Dukes of Hazard. Each mission begins with an expository scene that sets the stage for the coming mission, and it is through these and through CB radio banter during the missions themselves that the character's personalities are conveyed. The cast is represented as rudimentary low-polygon models without textures, lending them an abstracted appearance which was likely meant to compliment the game's throwback premise.

Groove Champion

  • In-Game Actor: Everett Mann
  • CB Handle: Swinger
A dirt track racer who reluctantly follows in his sister's vigilante footsteps, Groove Champion inherits Jade's Picard Piranha after her death, and with it begins a quest to track down her killer. To this end he is aided by his late sister's partners in illicit crime-fighting, Taurus and Skeeter, and together they set out to find Antonio Malochio and ultimately discover the extent of his crimes.

Taurus

  • In-Game Actor: James W. Styles
  • CB Handle: Stampede
A self-styled warrior-poet, Taurus was Jade Champion's closest confidant, and takes up the mantle of Groove's mentor in his quest to find Antonio Malochio. He is a constant source of guidance, and will accompany the player personally on some missions. He is also more than happy to read his poetry over the CB if prompted. Taurus' signature vehicle is a souped-up Jefferson Sovereign named "Eloise".

Skeeter

  • In-Game Actor: Willard Dicot III
  • CB Handle: Monkey Wrench
An incredible mechanic and loyal friend, Skeeter upgrades and maintains the player's ride between missions, augmenting it with parts and weapons salvaged from the vehicles his compatriots have destroyed. Though talented with a wrench, Skeeter is less skilled behind the wheel, and usually tries to stay clear of the action once it starts. When required, Skeeter drives an inauspicious Street Van.

Jade Champion

  • In-Game Actress: Katherine Knolls
  • CB Handle: Vixen
Groove's sister Jade led a double life, being not only a racer, but also an auto-vigilante. Together with Taurus and Skeeter, she worked for years to bring an end to the illegal activities the authorities turn a blind eye toward. Perhaps to protect them, her vigilantism was kept secret from her family, and it was not until her untimely death that her brother Groove learns of her activities. She was the original owner of Groove's Picard Piranha.

Antonio Malochio

  • In-Game Actor: Carlo DeFungi
  • CB Handle: Giotto
A Vietnam veteran rumored to have had dealings with Pol Pot, Malochio is a businessman of dubious integrity that seeks to take full advantage of the oil shortage that has crippled the country. The specifics of how he plans to do this are unclear, however, and revealing his true intentions is the secondary motivation of the game's main character, after avenging his sister's death. Malochio drives a heavily modified Courcheval Manta in combat.

Vehicles

Being set in an alternate timeline, the names and manufacturers of all vehicles in Interstate '76 are fictitious. Nevertheless, they draw clear inspiration from actual cars, in many cases even having similar names. In addition to different top speeds and acceleration, all cars have set hardpoints to take into consideration, meaning that the number of forward and rear mounted weapon slots for each vehicle is predetermined.

For information regarding vehicles that appear only in the Nitro Pack, see Interstate '76: Nitro Pack.

VehicleReal-World InspirationTop Speed (mph)Seconds to 60Forward MountsRear Mounts
1970 ABX AMZ
  • AMC AMX
  • 130
  • 6.5
  • 1 Top
  • 1 Rear
  • 1 Drop
1976 ABX Leprechaun
  • AMC Gremlin
  • 96
  • 12.3
  • 1 Top
  • 1 Drop
1976 ABX Strider
  • Dune Buggy
  • 103
  • 14.9
  • 1 Top
  • 1 Drop
1969 Courcheval Cavera
  • Chevrolet Camero
  • 135
  • 6.7
  • 2 Top
  • 1 Rear
1970 Courcheval Courchelle
  • Chevrolet Chevelle
  • 157
  • 5.5
  • 1 Top
  • 1 Side
  • 1 Rear
  • 1 Drop
1969 Courcheval Manta
  • Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
  • 145
  • 5.9
  • 2 Top
  • 2 Front
  • 1 Drop
1976 Courcheval Royale Special
  • Chevrolet Caprice / Dodge Monaco
  • 120
  • 9.0
  • 3 Front
  • 1 Drop
1976 Courcheval Royale Police Cruiser
  • Chevrolet Caprice / Dodge Monaco
  • 135
  • 8.0
  • 1 Top
  • 1 Front
  • 1 Drop
1968 Dover-Picard Corporation Lightning VX
  • Dodge Challenger
  • 150
  • 6.9
  • 2 Top
  • 1 Rear
  • 1 Drop
1970 Dover-Picard Corporation Stag Pickup
  • Dodge D Series
  • 112
  • 8.9
  • 2 Top
  • 2 Side
  • 1 Drop
1969 Dover-Picard Corporation Jackrabbit Banshee
  • Plymouth Road Runner Superbird
  • 160
  • 6.7
  • 1 Top
  • 1 Side
  • 2 Drop
1971 Dover-Picard Corporation Piranha
  • Plymouth Barracuda
  • 140
  • 6.3
  • 2 Top
  • 1 Rear
  • 1 Drop
1973 Glenn, Inc. Bushmaster
  • Jeep CJ-5
  • 94
  • 12.2
  • 2 Front
  • 1 Side
  • 2 Drop
1969 Jefferson Motors Sovereign
  • Lincoln Continental
  • 150
  • 8.5
  • 1 Top
  • 3 Front
  • None
1972 Moth Truck
  • Mack R-600
  • 100
  • 20.0
  • 1 Top
  • 2 Side
  • 2 Drop
1970 Phaedra Motor Company Clydesdale
  • Ford Bronco
  • 105
  • 10.9
  • 2 Top
  • 1 Front
  • 1 Rear
  • 1 Drop
1932 Phaedra Motor Company Coupe
  • Ford Model B Coupe
  • 130
  • 4.8
  • 1 Top
  • 1 Side
  • None
1967 Phaedra Motor Company Findley Rattler Taladega
  • Shelby AC Cobra
  • 148
  • 4.9
  • 2 Top
  • None
1970 Phaedra Motor Company Palomino
  • Ford Mustang
  • 135
  • 6.5
  • 2 Front
  • 1 Drop
1976 Phaedra Motor Company Pony SS
  • Ford Pinto
  • 102
  • 11.0
  • 1 Top
  • 1 Rear
1973 Vikea International 420LG Wagon
  • Volvo 240 Estate
  • 120
  • 7.0
  • 1 Top
  • 2 Drop
1970 School Bus
  • Blue Bird All American
  • 85
  • 25.0
  • 1 Top
  • 1 Side
  • 1 Rear
  • 2 Drop
1971 Street Van
  • Dodge Ram Van
  • 107
  • 10.0
  • 1 Top
  • 2 Side
  • 2 Drop

Weaponry

The arsenal of Interstate '76 is broken into five categories, with weapons of each type serving the same general role. With the exception of dropped weapons, which for obvious reasons can only be fired toward the rear, most weapons can be mounted to fire in either a forward or backward direction. In addition to the weapons listed below, the player also has a 45 caliber handgun that can be fired out of either the driver or passenger side window. While a poor way of damaging a well-armored car, the handgun can kill the driver of a badly damaged vehicle without blowing it up, thus allowing a greater amount of salvage.

For information regarding weapons that appear only in the Nitro Pack, see Interstate '76: Nitro Pack.

Slug Throwers

Consisting of machine guns and cannons, this weapon class is made up of good all-purpose ballistic weapons that have decent stopping power, good range, and (in most cases) a fair amount of ammunition. Machine guns fire a steady stream of deadly gunfire, while cannons trade rate of fire and ammo capacity for sheer power. All slug throwers can be turret mounted, further increasing their utility.

WeaponRounds per MinuteRange in MetersVelocity (mps)Weight in lbs.Ammo Capacity
30cal Machine Gun
  • 600
  • 150
  • 900
  • 32
  • 2000
50cal Machine Gun
  • 400
  • 300
  • 1200
  • 47
  • 2000
7.62mm Machine Gun
  • 200
  • 500
  • 1500
  • 91
  • 4000
20mm Cannon
  • 60
  • 150
  • 400
  • 69
  • 350
25mm Cannon
  • 50
  • 300
  • 600
  • 89
  • 300
30mm Cannon
  • 45
  • 500
  • 800
  • 150
  • 250
HADES Cannon
  • 38
  • 600
  • 600
  • 160
  • 200

SPP Pods

Missile launchers are definitely a step up from slug throwers in terms of damage per round, but their limited ammo capacity means that they require much more selective use. FireRite Rockets have by far the largest number of rounds, but are also the only missiles that are completely unguided, requiring more skill on the user's part. Like slug throwers, all missile types can be turret mounted.

WeaponRounds per MinuteRange in MetersVelocity (mps)Weight in lbs.Ammo Capacity
FireRite Rocket
  • 120
  • 1000
  • 300
  • 94
  • 60
AIM-Nein Missile
  • 30
  • 2000
  • 900
  • 169
  • 15
DrRadar Missile
  • 12
  • 3000
  • 200
  • 208
  • 10
Cherub Missile
  • 12
  • 4000
  • 200
  • 217
  • 2

Flamethrowers

Though the most limited weapon class in terms of range, flamethrowers are exceedingly powerful. Even the weakest type is capable of destroying any vehicle in the game with less than four seconds of sustained fire. Getting close enough to use it without taking damage may be difficult, though the results can be worth it, as opponents must think quickly or face certain fiery death. Flamethrowers can be turret mounted, which is especially useful in limiting foes escape options.

WeaponRounds per MinuteRange in MetersVelocity (mps)Weight in lbs.Ammo Capacity
Flamethrower
  • N/A
  • 40
  • N/A
  • 40
  • 800
Gas Launcher
  • N/A
  • 35
  • N/A
  • 60
  • 700
Napalm Hose
  • N/A
  • 30
  • N/A
  • 102
  • 600
Pyro-Tomic
  • N/A
  • 30
  • N/A
  • 120
  • 500

Mortars

Mortars are concussive weapons that fly in an arc as opposed to the direct fire method of missiles. They are fairly short range, and cannot be turret mounted, meaning players must be careful not to end up in their own blast radius, especially when dealing with the Cluster Bomb. Several linked mortars are capable of taking out a vehicle instantaneously.

WeaponRounds per MinuteRange in MetersVelocity (mps)Weight in lbs.Ammo Capacity
HE Mortar
  • 60
  • 100
  • 20
  • 70
  • 80
WP Mortar
  • 50
  • 100
  • 20
  • 89
  • 70
Cluster Bomb
  • 40
  • 100
  • 20
  • 109
  • 30
EZKill Mortar
  • 30
  • 100
  • 20
  • 123
  • 40

Droppers

Being a general term for any type of weapon that is dropped, droppers vary in effect from disorientation to complete destruction of pursuing cars. Of particular note is the Fire Dropper, which causes rapid sustained damage to any car that drives over it.

WeaponRounds per MinuteRange in MetersVelocity (mps)Weight in lbs.Ammo Capacity
Oil Slick
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • 46
  • 2000
Fire Dropper
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • 70
  • 2000
Land Mines
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • 60
  • 25
Blox Dropper
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • 139
  • 10
Car-E-Racer
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • 80
  • 5

Soundtrack

To compliment its '70s setting, Interstate '76 comes with a period-appropriate funk soundtrack composed by Arion Salazar (of Third Eye Blind fame), and was performed by Salazar, Bryan Mantia, Tom Coaster, Les Harris, and David Shul, among others, under the band name Bullmark. Activision released the official soundtrack separately, which came complete with unused studio recordings and non-musical audio tracks.

  • Track 1: Interstate '76 Theme
  • Track 2: In The Junkyard
  • Track 3: Revenge Rocco Style
  • Track 4: Think About It
  • Track 5: Pimp Like Me
  • Track 6: The Cake
  • Track 7: Vigilante Shuffle
  • Track 8: Code Six Pack
  • Track 9: Mission Code: B.F.A.M.
  • Track 10: Speed Is Your Salvation
  • Track 11: They Call Me Swinger
  • Track 12: Bring'em Back Alive
  • Track 13: Skeeter Gettin' Medieval
  • Track 14: Desert Sky Groove
  • Track 15: Roswell
  • Track 16: Jackin' For Good
  • Track 17: Parlay'in
  • Track 18: Helicopter Fuzz
  • Track 19: The T'aint
  • Track 20: Stampede
  • Track 21: Spineless Funk
  • Track 22: Little Daffodil Gas Parade
  • Track 23: Jade'll Get You Thru
  • Track 24: Tulip Waltz
  • Track 25: Ass Retreat
  • Track 26: Payback Recon
  • Track 27: Fort Davis
  • Track 28: Never Get Outta The Car
  • Track 29: Malochio Down
  • Track 30: Reggae Fusion
  • Track 31: Macadamia Medley
  • Track 32: Unknown, Mega Mix

Further Titles

Interstate '76 was received well enough to spawn a number of follow-ups and spin-offs. The first was the Interstate '76: Nitro Pack, which acted as a prequel to the events of the original game, depicting the exploits of Groove's older sister Jade as she becomes an auto-vigilante. This was followed by a direct sequel, Interstate '82, which picks up six years after the first game, and stars many of the same characters, with the addition of Groove's little sister, Skye Champion. Lastly, the success of Interstate '76 led to a console-based spin-off series called Vigilante 8, which reused the vehicles and timeline of the Interstate '76 series with a different cast of characters.

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