Back of the Box:
"When Highways Become Battlefields....
In the year 2000, bacteriological warfare has ripped apart the very fabric of American civilization. Cities have turned into gangland prices; the highways, into battlefields."
Turn based strategy game from SSI taking their (at the time) well established tactical and strategic war gaming formulas into the genre of Mad Max. Players lead a road gang around a map of the United States searching for scientists who can bring an end to the plague attack. Players loot cities and towns for supplies and vehicles, search for new gang members and helpful specialists, and fight other armed gangs.
Game play took place on a map of the United States. Turns were usually in one or two hour blocks of time in an eight to ten hour day, but bad weather would cause time to pass more quickly. No travel or road combat took place at night, but night brought the threat of mutant attack.
When road combat occurred, the game switched to a tactical combat mode where the player moved around vehicles on a map of the terrain (highway, town, countryside, etc.) with men ("Crew") acting more or less as both hit points and gun emplacements. Cars could be destroyed by killing all of the enemy crew, by ramming and destroying them with larger and/or better reinforced vehicles, or they could be made to crash by blasting out the tires. Your topside crew could also board enemy vehicles and commandeer them, which was very difficult to pull off.
Enemies came in three flavors: groups on foot encountered in cities, including the folks who controlled the city, road gangs like the players' own, and the plague infected mutants who roamed the night. Enemy road gangs usually had colorful names ("Hot Rod Lincolns," "Mother Truckers" etc). Foot groups included mercenaries, street gangs, the Mob, Invaders (the game assumes a germ warfare attack was followed by a ground invasion), Satanists, cannibals, the homeless, and others.
When scouting out foot groups, players could also encounter specialists who would offer to join the gang. The specialists could be encountered in different places depending on their specialty. Doctors could be found at clinics or hospitals, or special locations like the Mayo Clinic. They reduced casualties during combat and reduced the risk of plague infection. Politicians could be encountered in Washington DC or among the homeless; they improved other groups attitudes towards you and made scouting less dangerous. Drill Instructors reduced combat losses, made your gang members better at combat, and sped the rate at which your men improved; they could be found at military bases or special locations like Colorado Springs.
Roadwar 2000 was a rather unforgiving game, befitting the genre. The game randomly resets itself whenever a new session begins, so nuclear blast sites and ownership of cities is always different (New York City could be occupied by Invaders one session, and owned by no one in the next one) and sometimes cruel. Players can expect to be wiped out many times before falling into a groove. Bad luck during starting placement could kill a players' gang very quickly - for example, starting off in a town next to a nuclear blast site (e.g. - starting in Baltimore when Washington DC has been destroyed) almost guaranteed being killed at night by mutants. Nevertheless, it was addicting.
By Jeff Johnson