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url:No link!
download page:No link!
genre:Racing Games
developer:Code Factory
features:sound, visuals
last edit by:Richard


Though the company Code Factory still exist, their games have not been sold for several years and their status is not known.

KM2000 is a racing game, which features an audio interface as well as graphics. The description of the game is impressive: you can race on icy roads in Sweden, through the unexplored Amazon Forest and even through the scorching desert in Dakar. You have 25 different race courses to choose from and 25 more which can be downloaded (for free!) from the developers website.

On the website it says "You'll have to be a very skilled driver to reach the finishing line in every race course and get your name up there with the record-breakers". They couldn't have been more right: this game is very, very hard to play! This is mainly because of the combination of a bad auditory interface and difficult car handling.

The player has to listen to the sound of the engine to steer the car. Steering is done with the left and right cursor keys. You have to steer your car on the road which is surrounded by walls. You can't leave the road because if you do, you'll immediately crash into a wall.
Other audio racing games (such as Mach1 Car Racing and Playing in the Dark Racing Game) also feature an interface in which you have to follow the sound of your car and steer with the cursorkeys. However, there's one big difference. The car handling in these last two games can be compared to Sega's racing classic Outrun. The player uses the left and right cursor key to move left and right on the road. But you can't turn your vehicle around on the road. If you go too far to the left (by pressing the left cursor key) you simply end up on the curb.

In KM2000 you CAN turn your car around, 360 degrees to be exact. This might seem like a great feature but it is not. You simply don't know how far you are turning your vehicle around. The keys are quite sensitive. If you press the left cursorkey a little bit you are almost immediately turning your car around 90 degrees to the left, which is probably where the wall is.
So driving around in KM2000 consists of moving very slowly and being very carefull in case you run into a wall. This of course does not give you the sense of speed you want when playing a racing game!

Unfortunately the audio interface isn't helping. At some points on the road, mostly just before the curves, a guiding voice says "left" or "right". If you react you'll mostly end up in a wall since you don't know how much you have to steer to the right or when to start steering.

I've seen a lot of children try the game with no luck. It has to be said that with enough practice it is possible to finish tracks. But only if you drive 10 mph.
The sound is very minimal (only the sound of your engine) and there's no difference in audio between the levels.

The main reason that KM2000 is a bad design in my opinion (as an audio designer as well as game audio designer), is because the designers used the *wrong* perspective in the game. While most racing games for the blind use a 1st or 3rd person view (like Outrun; almost every video racing game uses this perspective), the developers chose to use a Top Down perspective (like the early Grant Theft Auto games). The problem with a Top Down perspective in a racing game is that *the choice almost automatically leads to the conclusion that the car should be able to turn around 360 degrees*. 

However, this Top Down perspective is not expressed in sound *at all*. Not only is it very hard to do a Top Down perspective in sound, but it is even harder to do in a game for the blind, where the only feedback is sound (for the blind player, that is).  For all a blind person knows, he could be driving in a 1st person perspective. So what you get then is a racing game with Top Down controls (cursorkey-left acts as a "turn around" instead of a "move car left") with a First Person "feel". If the designers would have used a 1st/3rd person perspective for this game, then the game would have certainly be a lot better!

It has to be said that KM2000 is probably the FIRST commercial racing game for the blind EVER. Therefore you should read my comments on the game in this context.

KM2000 logo

Screenshot of the main menu of KM2000

Screenshot of the Track Selection screen, which features a map of the world.

Screenshot of the gameplay. A small red car is seen from above. The car seems to be inside a tunnel (which actually is the road surrounded by walls). At the bottom of the screen is a dashboard displaying the speed meters.


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Updates: entry 2 Feb 22 and description 2 Feb 22

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