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The Far Side(kick) ff23

Published on September 5th, 2013 | by PJ Montgomery

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Freeway Fighter – A Fighting Fantasy Flashback part 2

Wizard Books cover, by Jim BurnsYesterday, we witnessed my quest to reach the oil refinery town of San Anglo in a post apocalyptic wasteland come to the most pathetic end in a Fighting Fantasy book ever, when I… Um… Ran out of petrol. Will I do any better on my second attempt?

Attempt 2

Skill: 12

Stamina: 32

Luck: 11

Firepower: 12

Armour: 33

Those stats are slightly better than the last lot, then. Figuring that the only thing I’d done wrong last time was not get fuel after I refilled when I left Rockville, I approach the beginning of my journey in the exact same way as last time, not deviating until I rescue Sinclair and leave Rockville (well, except for ignoring the crossbow booby trap. Be a bit silly to trigger that again), at which point I head west instead of east. Once more, I soon turn south towards San Anglo, then refuel my car.

Once again, I start to get sleepy, but this time I decide to try and find a building to spend the night in. Because some buildings have fuel in them. I find an abandoned café, and decide to rest before exploring, but figure the bedroom above the café is too obvious a place to get trapped. Instead I spend the night in a nearby outhouse where, for some reason, I have to test my luck during the night, with my lucky roll meaning, I guess, that my night is uneventful. Woohoo!

The next morning I search the café, finding nothing of use. Unfortunately, leaving my car unguarded proves to have been a bad idea on my part, as when I return to it, I find a crazy, babbling lunatic dressed in white robes emptying a can of petrol over it. Two things occur to me. First, I could really have done with that petrol. And second, he’s just lit a match and is going to burn my car to a crisp. I leap for him, hoping to knock the match out of his hand (and away from the car, obviously). Thankfully, my skill holds, and the man is knocked to the ground. He runs away, cursing me as he goes, and I quickly take my leave of the café in case he comes back with friends.

However, in my haste to get away from crazy people, I drive into a minefield. Oops. Apparently, some bandits use mines now. Luckily, I manage to get through the minefield without setting any off. Apparently, I’m completely unaware that I was even driving through them. I continue south a ways until I arrive at another junction, at which I decide to stay on my current southerly course. I am, however, intrigued by what appear to be fresh tyre tracks heading down a nearby trail, and head off the road to follow them.

I arrive at a gate covered with barbed wire, atop which sits a tattooed fellow pointing a gun at me. He asks me which gang I’m from, and I quickly invent the Black Rats. Tattoo says he hasn’t heard of them, but his people will race against anyone. He points me down a road to a burned out house, where I meet four people with their own customised cars. They tell me that I can enter a Blitz Race with one of them if I put up two hundred credits. If I win, I’ll get a can of petrol. How can I refuse?

Apparently, I’m to take on a scarred fellow in a yellow Ford. We’re to race eight kilometres down a dirt road to a farm house, turn around and head back. It seems that anything goes, except bullets and rockets. Works for me! My opponent and I line up, and have us a frought, action packed race in which we ram each other, I drop some spikes, and find that my car is fastest. Yes, thanks to some awesome driving, and a little luck, I prevail. I get my can of petrol, but decline an invitation from the other drivers to join them for a sit down, saying I need to be on my way.

However, as I try to leave, my tattooed friend from earlier angrily demands that I tell him again which gang I’m from. Because I’m not an idiot, I tell him again that it’s the Black Rats. This placates him, as he hopes that all the Black Rats aren’t as good at racing as me, then goes to join the others. I take my leave of the makeshift track and turn back south towards San Anglo.

I next arrive at a workshop with a sign proclaiming it as “Spark Plug Pete’s”. A mechanic (Spark Plug Pete, I presume. Well, he was always going to end up a mechanic with that name) approaches me and offers to modify my engine for me, in exchange for a hundred credits, and two medkits. I have enough to spare, so agree to his price, and find my engine has been supercharged. Nice.

I drive away from Spark Plug Pete’s (at speed), and continue heading south, ignoring a west turn at the next junction. I now find myself in familiar territory, as I come across the overturned car from my last trip. Still figuring the plastic tubing could come in handy, I brave the rattlesnake encounter, with the subsequent stamina and skill losses it brings, and blow up the motorbike which attacks from behind. This is followed by me not running out of petrol. Hooray! But apparently I still don’t have enough petrol to reach San Anglo. Boo!

The Gladiator, by Kevin BulmerI spot an abandoned policecar at the side of the road, but my distinct lack of a crowbar means it’s mysteries must remain just that for now. I’m next attacked by a pick up truck which has been converted into some kind of chariot, but I make short work of the idiot who thinks himself Ben Hur, and continue on my journey. I spot a sign which reads “Engine and Body Repairs” and points to the east, so decide to head that way. A man offers to repair my car for two hundred credits, but I’ve taken minimal damage and figure I can get by, so decline his offer. I was hoping for some petrol.

Continuing east for a while, I drive through a pass between some hills, arriving at a tunnel which is blocked by a bus. A masked man leaps out of the bus and demands two hundred credits, or a pistol duel if I want to pass. I’ll take the duel, thanks. The duel involves one attack round using firearm combat, which I win because I’m so skillfull. The man lets me go on my way, advising me to watch out for landslides on the other side of the tunnel. Sure enough, I come out of the tunnel and encounter, yes, a landslide. Thankfully, it doesn’t block the whole road, and I’m able to pick my way through.

Unfortunately, I’m then stopped by a blockade of cars. The only way passed is to win a drag race against a man named Leonardi in an E-type Jaguar. Joke’s on him. My engine has been supercharged! I win the drag race with ease, and don’t stop at the end, preferring to just drive off and not have to deal further with Leonardi and his friends.

Further on up the road I spot a truck parked at the side of the road. Trucks carry useful things! I’ll investigate. There’s nothing in the cabin, but the fuel tank is full! As we all saw coming, the plastic tubing now makes itself useful, and I siphon enough fuel from the truck to fill a canister. No running out of petrol for me! Hopefully.

As I continue south, I refill the petrol tank, then notice that the Interceptor is looking a little the worse for wear. I decide to stop and carry out some repairs, fixing… various car bits. I finish up my repairs, and head south again. I figure I must be close to San Anglo now, and start to worry when I see some black smoke on the horizon, but thankfully the smoke turns out to be coming from a burning corvette. There is a woman stood a short distance away from the wreck, who asks me to take her south. I say I’m headed that way anyway, and tell her about my mission. The woman, who tells me her name is Amber, says she was one of a number of patrols sent out to look for me. It seems that San Anglo has been under attack for the last two days from a large gang called the Doom Dogs, who are led by a man who calls himself Animal. Unfortunately, he’s not the drummer from Electric Mayhem. It is impossible to get to San Anglo without the Doom Dogs attacking, so we absolutely have to sneak into their camp and sabotage their vehicles. Of course we do.

We drive towards San Anglo, turning off the road and parking the car. We’re going to walk to the Doom Dogs camp. This feels silly to me, as my car has rockets and machine guns, but what do I know? Amber gives me some energy pills, and we set off. After walking for an hour or so, we arrive at the fence surrounding the Doom Dogs camp, and thanks to stealth (and a successful luck test) we make it inside. We find a set of vehicles, also fenced off, but my wire-cutters make short work of that, and we attach a bunch of mines to the vehicles. We then back up, and make an explosion. Unfortunately, one of the mines fails to go off, and the Doom Dogs are soon giving chase in their one remaining vehicle.

The Doom Dogs armoured station-wagon, by Kevin BulmerWe make it to the Interceptor (we outran a vehicle on a journey that took us an hour to walk. Who needs a car?), and start her up just as the Doom Dogs arrive in their armoured station-wagon. A vehicle battle begins, but after three attack rounds, the Dogs move to ram us. I manage to turn and avoid a head on collision, but the station-wagon smashes into the side of the Interceptor, and gets stuck. I’m forced to leave the car and engage Animal in a fight, but he lets me choose whether it’s hand-to-hand or gun-to-gun. I want to end things quickly, and opt for the gun battle.

Unfortunately, Animal doesn’t battle himself, rather, he sends four Doom Dogs to do it for him. Amber and I take two each, and triumph admirably. I only get shot once! I’m the hardy sort who doesn’t notice that type of thing. Unfortunately, once the other Dogs are defeated, Animal himself attacks. He manages to grab me, and begins crushing me in a bearhug, but thankfully, Amber smacks him one with a spanner, knocking him unconscious. We tie up Animal, free the Interceptor, and drive off.

We arrive at San Anglo, where the residents treat me like a hero. As they should. I am a hero. Says so right there on the book cover. Regardless, my skill and stamina are both healed as I sleep in the most comfortable cabin San Anglo has to offer. Unfortunately, I’m woken in the morning by the sound of gunfire. Turns out, the remnants of the Doom Dogs have attacked the town. I manage to take command of the panicking San Anglo citizens, and we fight off the Doom Dogs. I personally prevent one of their number from stealing the tanker full of petrol which I’m due to drive back to New Hope. Just the kind of guy I am.

The battle done, I wave goodbye to San Anglo, and begin the drive back home in my tanker. The tanker may be bigger than my car, which I’ve left behind (obviously), but it’s not nearly so armoured or weaponed, though it does have a machine gun on the top. As such, I feel the need to protect it at all times, so overnight, instead of venturing into a nearby abandoned motel, I sleep in the tanker’s cabin.

The night passes uneventfully, and the following morning, I’m back on the road. Of course, a tanker full of petrol was always going to attract attention, and it isn’t long before I’m attacked by some bikers. I use my machine gun to take out one bike, but the rider manages to puncture one of my tyres with a crossbow bolt. He still dies, but his friend demands I leave the tanker cabin. I decline, so he challenges me to a duel, winner takes all. Being a dab hand at duels, I accept. And shoot him dead.

I continue back to New Hope without incident and, because I wasn’t bitten by a rat (no idea, it’s what the book asks) I am victorious!

Success!

Leonardi, by Kevin BulmerConclusion

I’ll be honest with you, as a child, I wasn’t keen on Freeway Fighter. I don’t know if it was the setting or the vehicle combat, but I just didn’t find it that interesting. However, grown up me, who has experienced Mad Max 2 and loves a good post apocalyptic road adventure, thinks it’s a brilliant book. It’s just so much fun, and Livingstone’s writing really brings the world to life. It feels like he had as much fun writing the adventure as I had playing it. The car battles are fun, and the blitz race in particular feels exciting and, crucially, fast. It’s amazing how well Livingstone gets the feeling that you’re actually racing a car around a dirt track across when in fact you’re sat on a sofa rolling some dice. Probably. If anything lets Freeway Fighter down it’s that some of the art for the book feels a little rushed (which it allegedly was, with Kevin Bulmer reportedly having very little time to complete the illustrations). Overall, of the books we’ve covered so far in this series, I wouldn’t say Freeway Fighter is my overall favourite, but I don’t think I can deny that it’s the book I’ve had the most fun with. Though, that said, running out of petrol is a really frustrating way to fail an FF book.

 

Coming soon: Temple of Terror

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About the Author

Writer of various things, lover of comics, films, books and computer games, loveable rogue and proud Sidekick.



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