Demian's Gamebook Web Page

Item - Freeway Fighter

(Original edition)
(Dragon logo edition)
(American edition)

Combined Summary

Series: Fighting Fantasy (1982-1995, Puffin) — no. 13
Fighting Fantasy (2002-2007, Wizard Books Series 1) — no. 23
Contained In: Adventure Gamebox - A Thrilling Fighting Fantasy Collection (Collection)
Translated Into: Az országút harcosa (Hungarian)
Boets na kolela (Bulgarian)
Le Combattant de l'autoroute (French)
Fantom ulice (Czech)
Furiiuei no senshi [フリーウェイの戦士] (Japanese)
Guerreiro das Estradas (Portuguese)
O guerreiro das estradas (Portuguese)
El guerrero de la autopista (Spanish)
Author: Livingstone, Ian
Illustrators: Burns, Jim (cover)
Bulmer, Kevin (interior)
Dates: March, 1985 (Original edition)
January, 1986 (American edition)
September, 2005 (Wizard Books edition)
ISBNs: 0140317104 / 9780140317107 (Original edition, Dragon logo edition)
0440927153 / 9780440927150 (American edition)
1840465654 / 9781840465655 (Wizard Books edition)
Length: 380 sections
Number of Endings: 26 instant failures, 1 victory, plus death by Stamina loss
User Summary: Civilization has been wiped out by a disease; you are a member of a surviving settlement, and you must travel through lawless lands to retrieve a petrol supply.
Demian's Thoughts:

I have mixed feelings about "post-apocalypse stories" as a genre. If defined broadly, I find them very interesting -- Day of the Triffids made a big impression on me at an early age, and I'm a sucker for a good zombie movie. These kinds of stories can be interesting studies of human behavior under stress, creative solutions to impossible problems, and the structures of human society. The problem is that the genre is usually defined much more narrowly as "rip-offs of Mad Max involving fast cars and unmotivated violence." These, I find more tedious than nearly anything else I can think of.

The interesting sort of post-apocalypse story is ideal for the gamebook format... but, alas, Freeway Fighter is not the interesting sort of post-apocalypse story. It's a rip-off of Mad Max (or possibly Terry Nation's Survivors, given the setup) involving fast cars and unmotivated violence. There is a mission, of course, but the plot is so thin that it barely matters, and the majority of encounters in between are repetitive and uninteresting. There is almost no sense of a believable post-apocalyptic world; it's just a bunch of weirdos who want to kill you for no reason.

Of course, gamebook storylines don't tend to be the main selling point, especially in this series... but the gameplay here does nothing to improve upon the non-existent plot. Where The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is about turning left or right in an atmospheric dungeon and occasionally opening doors, Freeway Fighter is about turning east or west on a bland roadway and occasionally investigating abandoned vehicles. Almost none of the choices are interesting or strategic, but many of them lead to sudden death. There are quite a few mandatory SKILL and LUCK checks, many of which also lead to sudden death. The geography of the adventure is not conducive to mapping, but the path to victory is narrow enough that drawing a flowchart is essential -- a tedious chore rather than an experience of discovery. Most of the combats are not especially difficult, but high STAMINA and ARMOUR scores mean that they go on forever -- more tedium. And, in true Ian Livingstone fashion, victory depends on a specific item that's hidden away in a place where you will not want to look -- on an early play-through, I actually wrote myself a note to avoid the area that turned out to be critical to my eventual success.

There are a few small positive notes. I appreciated the inclusion of a limited supply of rockets which automatically win vehicular battles; these make it possible to avoid many of the aforementioned tedious combats, making the process of replaying with expendable characters to complete the flowchart much quicker (without simply cheating). There are a couple of set pieces (most notably a racing sequence) which stand out from the general tedium (but not all that much, and not without including some of the problematic arbitrary choices and mandatory attribute checks that frustrate rather than challenge).

As is often the case in this series, as I approached the successful conclusion, I didn't feel rising excitement so much as a sense of increasing desperation that this exercise in boredom would just end. And speaking of the successful ending, it comes with one final sting: a mention of a side quest that, if missed, means that your victory is incomplete. I can only imagine how irritated I would have been if I had not already found the optimal path by this point. I'm also a little surprised that a book containing fewer than the series' standard 400 paragraphs couldn't be bothered to include an actual separate ending for the partial victory scenario.

Obviously, your mileage may vary -- noonxnoon's earlier review of this book is incredibly positive, so at least one person actually enjoyed this thing... but I really can't see how. My advice is to stay well away from this and, if you have an urge to play in this genre, skip to the similar but superior Freeway Warrior series.

More reviews by Demian

noonxnoon's Thoughts:

I'll say it right off the bat... this book was quite fun!

It felt a mix of Mad Max, Road Warrior and Wasteland (the PC game).

You create your own stats as well as the stats for your car when vehicle combat would come into play... but to be honest... you could think of the car as a 'buddy' that fights some battles for you... but the design & concept was well done.

While you have one main mission, there is a side mission that develops as well, but if you chose to go another route early in the game, the secondary mission is not possible to complete.

The various car racing challenges were enjoyable. The smash-up race provided you a chance if you got bad skill or luck rolls... and another race gave you a sporting chance with die rolling for yourself and your competitor to make it to the finish. How the book designed the two different races made it fun to go through multiple times (due to restarting from the beginning).

There were plenty of interesting 'random' encounters... while stereotypical for the most part... I felt it was somewhat realistic for a post-apocalyptic type world of anarchy.

While you can avoid most combat, fighting various people or searching various areas might yield you something that could provide you an edge later in the book. Not mandatory items, as you still can get by if you didn't get them.

The helicopter might be a bit of a stretch, but hey... it was fun in the book... plus a clever way to get you to 'weaken' yourself!

Fighting 'Animal' was a big challenge... and it was gratifying to finally defeat him.

I spent about an hour during the weekday driving about exploring and mapping. I soon found out that fuel management was the key... such as mapping where all the refueling spots occurred, and then figuring out where I could possibly find fuel or equipment to be able to extract fuel elsewhere.

It was a fun puzzle in that aspect... but I have to admit... I had overlooked one fuel location and discovered it after looking at a walk-through map of the game.

The combat was decent with either hand to hand, weapon or vehicle combat.

This was my second Fighting Fantasy book, the first being House of Hell/Hades, and I recommend it to anyone interested in this type of story.

I found it to be colorful and imaginative. While I think Freeway Fighter has a relatively small amount of text, I can't think of how to expand upon the book without the reader feeling it was just padding.

More reviews by noonxnoon

Special Thanks:Thanks to Nicholas Campbell for the jagged-logo British cover scan.
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Users Who Want This Item: CSquared, Cyan, dave2002a, domchamon, exaquint, Ffghtermedic, gryff, Househeart, iguanaditty (any edition), MasterChief, Mr ?, mrwalker, NEMO (original &american cover), SonicBlaze, ThisIslandEarth, twar, umbra682000, Uraniborg, Von Scotty, Waluigi Freak 99, yermither
Users with Extra Copies: Cyan
devilsboy
eadric
jr - Dragon Cover
kinderstef
Sir Olli
snakefire77 - cover with gold printing, no writing inside, good condition
strawberry_brite
twar - (UK) Second cover edition with yellow dagger logo. Basically mint copy. Old owner penned name on inside of front cover.
Wardog
Yalius

Known Editions

American edition
Dragon logo edition
Original edition
Wizard Books edition

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