Ok, as I mentioned on the front page, I did manage to get a chance to play Infogrames Melbourne House's Grand Prix Challenge!! GPC is out already in Europe, and I think it comes out in Australia in March 2003.
First off, I had a fair few races in the 'quick race' mode, so unfortunately I can't tell you anything about the career or other game play modes (so yes, this can be hardly called a 'review' of what the game has to offer..). 'Quick race' lets you jump right into the game, and since I didn't want to totally get left behind by the AI drivers, I chose to play as a beginner as well. With these options chosen, I can bump off walls/other vehicles and not get any damage. [:)]
I played a fair few of the tracks (around half of them are locked), and if I were a grand prix freak, I would be able to vouch for their authenticity in terms of looks etc, but I can't because I'm not.. [:)] The first thing that struck me were the formula 1 vehicle models - they looked *GREAT*!!.. The GPC website mention that there are "more than 17,000 polygons per car", and seeing how rounded, smooth, and detailed they looked, it's hard to imagine if they would look any better if another 1000 polygons were available. There sure were a lot of them on screen at tims as well... the website also has the blurb which says "Uparalleled next-generation graphics running 22 cars at a constant 60 frames per second.", and I can certainly vouch for that. There were no slow downs at all, even when things were pretty hectic with the number of cars on screen, with rain, and on some of the more detailed tracks.
Ok, on my first turn, I went in too fast, and slided in the grass. (I come from a history of 8-bit and 16 bit racing games like Pitstop, and Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge, and Arcade games like Outrun, where game usually lets you do the turn without braking [:)]). After a fair few goes of some serious sliding and wall crashing, I got the hang of how to handle the car, and yes, once you get used to it, the game is extremely fun to play [:)].. I did think that the analog joystick option was too senstive (I'm not sure if you can change this in the settings or not), so I prefered to control the car with the buttons instead. Eventually, I won a few of the races and managed to unlock a few tracks, like Monaco..
Now, I wanted to tell you about Monaco. It's a street track with the city of Monaco as the backdrop, and it looks damn nice too. It's a very impressive looking track, with lots and lots of buildings and details, with no noticable slow downs either.
Overall, I thought the art in Grand Prix Challenge was very good. I know there are two other Grand Prix type games on the market - Geoff Crammond's Grand Prix 4, and Electronic Art's F1 2002... Graphically, GPC floors F1 2002, and is up there or even better than Grand Prix 4 in terms of looks. There are few screenshots of the infamous Monaco u-turn from F1 2002 here... http://www.gamespy.com/asp/image.asp?platform=PC&genre=sports&image=/re… .. I'd love to find a screen shot of Melbourne House's game at the exact same turn so you can compare it, but I can tell you now that GPC looks a hundred times better. Incidently, for the rest of the screenshots and article on F1 2002, go here http://www.gamespy.com/reviews/december02/f12002pc/index2.shtml .
Oh, one final thing I can comment about were the rain effects.. GPC does them nicely. You get the barrage of rain falling on the track of course, and also rain drops appearing on your screen. It would have been nicer if the rain drops dripped down or something similar to Metal Gear Solid 2 where Snake submerges from water, but I guess you DO want to see where you're going. [;)] The vehicles bring up a spray of water, although someone mentioned they looked a bit too much like white clouds. Also when the cars are reflected on the road, it was also noted that sometimes the reflection seemed a bit lower than it should be - giving the impression that the car was floating a little.
When it isn't raining however, the road lightens upon reflection of the sun which most of you would have seen from games like Gran Turismo.. it's a nice effect.
Because I played only in beginners mode, I can't say anything about the AI (although I did manage to crash into a wall, with the other cars getting stuck into me from behind, so I was neither able to drive forward and out of the crash, or go in reverse), and I'm not sure what else to add, other than the art was very nice, and the game was very enjoyable to play.. I had fun! [:I]