Ferrari Challenge Review
Racing games are great fun, there’s no questioning that. We have the Gran Turismo series, Project Gotham Racing series, Forza series, and most recently Codemasters released Race Driver: GRID. Each of these games have different manufacturers, giving you a mixed experience of the cars on offer, from Audi to BMW while titles such as Project Gotham Racing 4 go that step further by including motorbikes. But what do you do when a game’s released based on one manufacturer for a RRP of £40? Do you buy it if you’re an enthusiast? Do you look at it and think it’s a waste of money? Well, earlier this month we’ve seen the release of Ferrari Challenge on the PlayStation 3, and isn’t it a mixed game.
Although you’d expect Ferrari Challenge to be an arcade title, you’ll be sadly mistaken, as it’s more of a simulation. When you see Ferrari’s on the street, or just see them showing off and not racing, you’ll undoubtedly see people showing off how they can do 360 degree spins. In Ferrari Challenge though the control of the Ferrari’s are quite heavy.
Before you throw yourself into the main game, you should go to the Tutorial in which you’re assessed and told what to do from the most very basic of racing tips, such as, accelerate when the racing line is green and braking when the racing line turns red. This is very novice information you’re being told, but it’s handy to get to grips with the Ferrari F340 – which is your main car. Commentary comes from Tiff Needell who tells you what to do and criticises you if you go off the track in onto the grass, or get caught in a gravel pit.
After the Tutorial, it’s time to go and enter the Ferrari Challenge. You and fifteen opponents spread over 14 of the worlds tracks (plus an additional 2 to be unlocked), must battle it out over three locations: Europe, North America and Italy (I know, Italy is in Europe). In each location you have seven races that are split into weekends. Over a weekend you have two races and the aim is to get enough points in each weekend to be the overall winner in that specific territory.
The actual races can be quite difficult if you don’t qualify in a reasonable position. Races range from 5-15 minutes – 5 minutes for the skilled drivers who can work their way up the pack if they don’t qualify, or 15 minutes for the more hardcore gamer who wants to get their moneys worth. The cars are all equal as they’re all F340’s which evens the competition, making it easier to crawl up the grid. The best way to do it is to go around the opponents on bends – but be careful not to get stuck in a gravel pit in the follow through. While the races can become quite easy when the timer is longer, it’s still a challenge if you start from the back of the track. When the timer runs out, that’s not it, as you have to finish your lap; so no putting the controller down thinking you’ve won it when the timer stops, finish the lap and get those valuable points.
While the gameplay and handling in Ferrari Challenge isn’t up there with racing simulators such as Gran Turismo, I was expecting (as it is a one manufacturer game) some damage… and there is. There’s damage in Ferrari Challenge, but not in the way you’d expect it. I’ve smashed into other vehicles, hit the barriers and caused chaos and all the cars damage. While they damage, it’s only externally they are affected. The internal areas such as the engine are not effected, which was quite disappointing. Ferrari Challenge would have been more interesting if there was internal damage, as this would make you more cautious when over taking or cutting corners to get past your opponents.
Other modes included in Ferrari Challenge are Time Trial, Quick Race, Arcade and Trophy mode. The Trophy mode allows you to race cars that you have purchased with the credits you’ve earned from the Challenge mode. Along with the cars you’ve got, you can adjust the settings on the car, from dampers to anti-roll bars. Although not a mode as such, Ferrari Challenge has a “Top Trumps” style card game that puts you up against the computer. Using either a full deck or half deck of cards, you’ve got to pick a specific area you think your selected Ferrari will beat the computer’s. From age to weight or price to BHP, it’s not only the biggest numbers, the smaller numbers count too, especially for the weight. It’s nothing big, but a little addition to get to know more about the Ferrari’s both past and present.
Graphically Ferrari Challenge is quite impressive, especially on the car models. One annoyance is the poor damage modeling to the exterior. The locations aren’t quite up to standard seen in other games of the racing genre. It’s not a big thing, but as I said, it’s only 16 tracks and one manufacturer, surely there could’ve been some improvement. Nothing can be said about the audio other than the sound of the engines are well executed – you can clearly hear how much Italian horsepower is in those engines.
Ferrari Challenge is not a great game, nor is it very good, it’s more of your average racer. However, Ferrari enthusiasts will undoubtedly get more out of this game, but the more serious racer who wants more cars and tracks should opt for Gran Turismo 5: Prologue or Race Driver: GRID. With its fast, dodgy handling and a mixed bag of visuals, Ferrari Challenge is more your family motor than a luxury one in the gaming world.