Interstate '76 is a vehicular combat driving game developed by LTI Gray Matter and published by Activision. It was first released on March 28, 1997, for Windows PC. The game introduces the player into a world of funk music, muscle cars, and automatic weapons. In short, 3D automotive combat with a 70's vibe. It is set in an alternate version of 1976. The Federal U.S. Government has faltered and the world suffers from the effects of an oil crisis. Armed gangs in modified cars terrorize the roads of the American South West.
A prequel to the game was released in 1998. Originally an expansion pack called Nitro Pack, this title was later released in a stand-alone format as Interstate '76: Nitro Riders. The Gold Edition of Interstate '76 was later bundled with the Nitro Pack expansion as The Interstate '76 Arsenal. This version was re-released as a direct download on February 18, 2010, on Good Old Games (GOG).
The economy is in the throes of a deep recession.
Flames of riot rule the cities.
Gas is expensive and scarce.
Crime is rampant.
No one seems to care.
This is a time for vigilantes.
Prologue EditOn July 3rd, 1976, a calm desert night is suddenly disturbed by the sound of loud engines, screeching tires, and gunfire. A woman is being chased through the night by an unknown assailant on a desert road outside of Lubbock, Texas. Both cars have been modified to carry and operate an arsenal of weapons. While desperately trying to dodge round after round from the chase car, the woman tries to contact her ally: "Stampede, this is Vixen. Code Six Pack. Repeat: Code Six Pack. Off I82, East of Lubbock. Pursuer: Modified '73 Courcheval Manta. Creeper's heavily armed. Will seek mode four rendez-vous. Repeat: mode four rendez-vous." To which a reply comes over the CB: "I copy you, Vixen. Hang tight, baby. I'm on my way." Moments later she finally loses control over the car. It veirs off the road and crashes into a junkyard. Then, the desert night goes quiet again. Only the soft hiss of a boiling engine can be heard over the sound of chirping crickets in the background. There is no sign of her pursuer as Vixen gets out of the car. But she knows the chase isn't over and arms herself with an automatic pistol. A sound catches her off guard, leading her straight into a trap. Almost instantly after realizing this, she is shot from behind by a man in a suit. The man walks up to where his prey is lying to finish the job. But, before he can pull the trigger once more, he looks up and to his left. The headlights of a car reflect in his sunglasses as it comes crashing through the gates of the yard. Its driver, Stampede, sliding it sideways to open fire from his side window. This scares the man in the suit enough for him to disappear into the night. Now, only two people are left at the scene. And one of them is dying. In the arms of Stampede the woman makes her final request: "Find my brother. Tell him."
The T.R.I.P. Edit
Stampede is also known in the game as Taurus. He and Jade 'Vixen' Champion are auto-vigilantes, automotive warriors. Or, as Taurus states: "She and I and a handful of others are the closest thing to law around here." A powerful but mysterious figure is recruiting auto-villains from around the country. These creepers are meant to serve in a secret private army. Taurus and Jade were investigating the movements of this army when Jade was murdered in the junkyard, leaving Taurus out to get revenge and seek truth. In the aftermath, he grants her final request.
He hooks up with her brother, Groove Champion, the protagonist of the story. They meet up at a Gas 4 Cash fuel station somewhere in the Southwest. Groove has no automotive combat experience, but he is a skilled dirt track racer. Killing people isn't exactly his idea of a good time on the road. But, after some hesitation, they set out on the T.R.I.P. (an acronym for Total Recreational Interactive Production). With Groove operating Jade's heavily armed Picard Piranha, and Taurus driving his loaded Jefferson Sovereign, nicknamed Eloise. In which he occasionally reads poems over the CB.
They are accompanied by Skeeter, also known as Monkeywrench. He is Jade's old mechanic. Skeeter performs maintenance and carries out repairs for the team. He also collects salvaged parts from the field and keeps them in his Street Van GrooVan.
The first stop on the T.R.I.P. is in Seagraves. En route, Taurus lets Groove do some trials to get familiar with the car's handling. In Seagraves, Groove blows up a Fireworks stand used by the creepers in the area, to get a feel of the weapon systems. A distress call from the Wagon Wheel diner near Wellman is heard over the CB and the two cars make their way to it. Stampede thinks the creepers are the guys he's looking for. It is here where Groove Champion finds out what it really takes to be an auto-vigilante. The team gets rid of the creepers surrounding the diner and leave before the cops arrive. Taurus states: "They just don't seem to dig the vigilante thing".Groove has the need to clear his head. He never killed anyone in his life before joining the team. Now, he has killed several people in one day. Stampede thinks a cruise will do the trick and they go out driving. They end up on a dirt road where Taurus starts a race. Groove beats Taurus and the two rendez-vous on the other side of the shortcut. It earns Groove the nickname Swinger. A school in Leveland radioes in. It's under siege from the Lead Sled Gang. Swinger makes his way to the school but finds out his back-up is gone. It's his first real test, alone with the car. Still, he annihalates the Lead Sled Gang before the school goes up in flames. Over the CB, Taurus claims he had 'radio trouble' when the distress call came in.
At basecamp, the team intercepts a radio call from Disco Cat. He is talking to a creeper named Playboy, who is staying at the Bar-D tavern. A few other creepers are to rendez-vous with him there. Playboy has to hang tight until they arrive. Stampede and Swinger decide to check the place out. When they arrive, the patrolling creepers open fire. The vigilantes ice all of them and level the tavern. In the wreckage of the Bar-D, Stampede finds a suitcase with a large amount of money and a blueprint for a complex device. Stampede decides to drive to a safehouse in Odessa to store the cash.
That day, Groove falls asleep in his car. He goes racing against Jade's old foes in a dream. A creeper named Patriot has seen Vixen's car at the Wagon Wheel and thinks she's back from the dead. He wants to settle up the score and proposes to race her at a local dirt track. When Swinger arrives, he sees that Patriot has brought two friends: Road Knight ("Hello Vixen. This is Road Knight. The pleasure's mine.") and Gas Bandit ("Vixen, I can smell you..."). They race for pink slips. The Swinger wins, but the creepers don't honor their side of the deal. Instead, they open fire. Groove goes after them, and makes sure it's the last race they've driven.
He is awoken by a distress call from Taurus: "...Skeeter, Groove! Code Six Pack! Code Six Pack! I'm in Tahoka, I87 South. Need assistance, multiple enemies, multiple-." The man in the suit has found Stampede on his way to the safehouse, and he and his goons have totalled Eloise. Taurus is left for dead in the driver's seat while the man retrieves the suitcase from the trunk. Meanwhile, Skeeter's van has been spotted. Disco Cat orders Ballrog, a creeper in a helicopter, to take it out. Groove finds Eloise and takes Stampede back to the van. The team escapes just in time for the chopper to arrive on the scene. Later, Skeeter treats Stampede's injuries. With Eloise a wreck, he spends the rest of the T.R.I.P. riding with Skeeter in the van. This forces Swinger to take point and head out on missions on his own.
One night, while stopping for gas in Brownfield, Groove is attacked by several creepers who want to blow up the gas station. Swinger takes care of them. He receives help from Inferno. She is an old friend of Jade and tells Groove about a man named Cloaker. He and his crew are hitting up all the gas stations in the area. Meanwhile, Skeeter deciphers the blueprint to be that of a hydrogen bomb. The mysterious man is trying to buy a hydrogen bomb with the money in the suitcase. The deal is going down in a warehouse in Plains, Texas. The address was scrolled on the bottom of the blueprint. The team thinks that if they find the warehouse, they find Cloaker. They suspect he is the man in the suit.
The chase is on as Groove races towards Plains. En route to the warehouse, he runs into an abandoned road block. As soon as he reaches the second one, he realizes a trap has sprung. The fuzz were awaiting his arrival. A helicopter is on the way to attack from above. They have strict orders to kill the man in the red Piranha, and have been paid accordingly to do so. Their Royale Police Cruisers have been upgraded to match the firepower of other automotive warriors. Soon, the officers realize nothing is going to stop this vigilante, and the road block is hastily opened. The team rendez-vous just outside Plains.
As soon as Swinger reaches the warehouse, a helicopter takes off in the distance and flies away. A couple of creepers are inbound to level the place. Groove fights them off and investigates the warehouse. It's empty. There isn't a clue to be found. The team thinks they've reached a dead end. While using his binoculars to find a new lead, Stampede spots a creeper who is watching them. Swinger catches him as he tries to get away. The driver's name is Calisto. He is brought back to the van where Monkeywrench uses some jumpers to make him talk. He says the bomb assembly site is in Roswell, a place called V&N Pneumatics, and that the cops in the area are in on it.
The team then heads to the town of Tatum. Groove takes point. Soon, he is greeted by gunfire and missiles. The cops are back in force. Two police Groundhogs now protect a road block along with several Cruisers. Groove takes care of them, then shoots his way through the tanks. The van follows in the wake of the carnage. They pass another abandoned road block and a few more Cruisers pop up on the radar. Once they are dealt with, the road is clear all the way up to the destination. Tatum is reached at sunset. On the next day, Swinger is ambushed while taking a shortcut through the dried up riverbed of the Pecos River. The maze ultimately leads him to the van and they continue their way to Roswell.
On the evening when Groove approaches Roswell, he is witness to a weird scene. "Wow," he says to himself as he slows down to look at an unidentified flying object falling from the sky. Its passengers can be heard over the CB, in panic, as it crashes into a canyon. Stampede comes on the radio. "What was that?!"' - "Flying saucer." - "Oh." And the Swinger carries on.
In the calm desert night that follows, Groove is asleep in his car on the side of the road a few miles from Roswell. A Phaedra Coupe passes him. Taurus comes on the CB to tell Groove to follow it. The creeper, who goes by the name Oktoberfest, is headed for a compound called Autowerks Industrial Complex. Groove hears Oktoberfest say the password to open the gate: "It's unseasonably warm." Nostromo, the guard at the gate, replies with: "The unicorn offers tranquility." The gate is opened. Groove, Grover, gets in using the same line that Oktoberfest used. Once he's in, he spots the chopper he saw in Plains and blows it up. V&N Pneumatics is located here and it is also destroyed. A milk truck then leaves the compound and the sites' turrets are engaged. Creepers pop up on the radar, including one named Disco Cat. They are turned into burning wrecks. Meanwhile, the gate has closed and Swinger is locked-in. He uses a leveled building as a ramp out of the compound. However, the jump leads straight into a ditch and he is knocked unconscious. When he wakes up, it's daylight and Skeeter and Stampede are at the crash site. The Piranha's engine died as a result of the crash. So, Monkeywrench put the van engine in. Taurus sends Groove in pursuit of the tanker truck while the others find a spot to work on the van.
The team rolls into Spanner's truck stop. It is surrounded by creepers. Their targets are the vigilantes and the truck stop. Groove clears out the area and later stops some kamikaze creepers from crashing into the building. With Skeeter working on the van, Taurus overhears someone at the stop who knows where the creepers are headed. It seems they are headed for a town called Fort Davis in the West Texas Badlands. The van's engine has a flooded carburator and won't start easily. Monkeywrench is trying to fix it when the fuzz come rolling over the hill. Once again, it is up to the Swinger to fend off the attack until she starts. With the cop cars in pieces, the teams starts driving toward the county line and into a safer area. At night, they make a stop at a gas station. There, Skeeter stares in fascination at what seems to be the world's largest robot.
In the early hours of the morning, Groove reaches a landslide covering the I285 to Fort Davis. He decides to take the dirt road that seems to lead him around it and back to the interstate. Instead, it splits up into a another maze and leads into the Mesa area where creepers and turrets await. The Piranha has now been heavily modified with racing parts. It also carries military grade armor and weapons. Swinger manages to shake off most creepers and blows up the others. Finally, he spots a road out of the maze and to Fort Davis.
At dawn, Groove lookes out over the desert with his binoculars. He spots a strange site when Stampede comes on the CB: "Fort Davis is not a town. It's an old fort." - "Yes. Yes, it is." Taurus goes on by saying it's located on top of the West Texas Federal Stock - the largest oil reserve in North America. The team meets up one final time. Skeeter gets out his tools and starts working on the car. Taurus walks up to Groove and asks about his plan. "I don't know. I guess I gotta get inside" - "Jade built a good car. She'll get you through." - "Jade, or the car?" - "Yes." Monkeywrench finishes up on the 'Ranha when the van's radar starts bleeping. Incoming bandits. The team scrambles. The van is headed to safer ground, while Swinger is headed the other way to the final destination, Fort Davis.
Soon after heading out again, the two creepers on the radar appear in the car's sights. A chopper is flying overhead. They never reach the van, but end up one more burning obstacle en route to the fort. Swinger knows it's not going to be easy to get into the complex, but his heart sinks when he sees two army tanks guarding it. Still, he finds a way to outmanoeuvre them and uses the nearby water tower as an improvised ramp to jump into Fort Davis...
It works. He crashes through the wall in the dining room, sees the man in the suit, then passes out. He's found the hideout of the man who murdered his sister. When he awakes, Taurus and Skeeter are there. And the man in the suit, Antonio 'Giotto' Malochio, starts to speak:
"Hello friend, they came to rescue you! Such loyalty. Oddly, I find myself moved. But in a handful of hours, their loyalty, along with most of their physical being, will be but vapor and memory." - "Why?" - "Money. They pay me well, young Champion... But it's a shame I don't have time to chat." - "A challenge." - "I'm sorry." - "A duel." - "You couldn't possibly in your condition... Besides, you don't even have a car." - "Give me a bicycle." - "Oh, I'm touched, young Champion." - "I don't know, I'd hate to think that... what if Jade was in her car? I mean, you know, she died on foot." - "She woulda died anyway. Car, or no car." - "Prove it." - "Alright, alright. Go on outside. Pick a car. I'd be happy to hasten your reunion with your sister by a few hours. But hurry, please. We do not have much time."
Taurus and Skeeter have come back, but were not succesful. They are tied to a chair in the same room where the 'Ranha came blasting through the wall, and where the H-bomb is set to detonate. The goal is to destroy the oil reserve. If Antonio succeeds, the gas crisis would become a gas panic, leading to anarchy, during which time Malochio and his army of auto-villains (secretly backed by OPEC) would seize power.
The final battle begins in the desert surrounding the fort. Malochio speeds off into the desert in his green Manta. Cloaker, one of Malochio's lieutenants, pops up on the radar along with two other goons. They are the last hurdle between Groove and the leader of the auto-villains. The Swinger needs to use all of the skills he learned on the T.R.I.P. to defeat the creepers, because he is not familiar with the vehicle from the Fort. It also has much less armor, fewer weapons, and very limited ammunition compared to Jade's old car. With the vehicle on its last legs, he catches up with Malochio, and disables his car. Then, he walks up to the smoldering Manta to confront Jade's killer. He points his gun at the man in the suit, who lies wounded in the driver's seat.
"Money? You wan't money? I'll give ya money." - "Don't want money." - "Well, what do you want? Tell me. Come on, I can give it to ya."
Groove lowers his gun at the sight of Jade, standing there in the desert. Watching. He nods, then the image is gone.
"Oh, for God's sake, please! Please, help me out of this car."
Groove points the gun up again.
"Never get out of the car."
And he opens fire.
There are four modes of gameplay available in the game. The campaign mode, which centers around the game's main roadtrip, is called the 'T.R.I.P.'. 'Scenarios' are the free-standing single-player missions. 'Auto Melee' is a offline deathmatch mode in which the player has to take on an endless number of computer-driven cars. 'Multi Melee' is its online counterpart.
The main difference between the Scenarios and the T.R.I.P., length of play aside, is that the player has a much broader choice of vehicles in the scenario mode, while the player is limited to only one car during most of the T.R.I.P. mode. Also, all upgrades are unlocked and can be used for each mission.
Movie adaptation Edit
The film rights to the game were acquired in March 1998 by 20th Century Fox and Davis Entertainment with Todd Smith and Danny Simonds producing. There have been no reports since then and the project has likely been permanently consigned to development hell.
Sequels and spin-offs Edit
In 1999, a sequel to the game was released, entitled Interstate '82. A spin-off called Vigilante 8 was released one year earlier, in 1998. In a move that angered many loyal fans of the original game, Interstate '82 and Vigilante 8 were designed more like the simplistic Twisted Metal series. Most importantly, the sophisticated damage model of Interstate '76 wherein armor on different sides of the vehicle and components within the vehicle were damaged based on which direction damage came from (the classic Car Wars model) was abandoned. Instead, cars in the sequels had only a simple damage meter. Without the conundrums of vulnerable facings and damaged weapons, many of the interesting tactical decisions of the original game were absent in the successors.
MOD projects Edit
Fans of the original game have created MODs of the game in other games.