By Philip Dunkley
So we’ve had a massive uptake in the vehicle simulator market over the last few years, and it seems that more and more people are becoming petrol heads, or literally have petrol flowing through their veins. Either way, when a developer, know for titles like Big Mutha Truckers and Pimp my Ride decides to release a racing simulator as the official product for one of the worlds most recognized and drooled over brands, you have to at least have a slight sense of nervousness in the back of your mind.
Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli is a game that you will either love, or think is mildly entertaining, as it’s inherently not a bad game at all, in fact, with a few extra changes here and there, it could have actually been a great title.
Instead of giving you a story background, as there is none, let me give you an insight into the world of a Ferrari fan. They are relentless at getting there point across, have an undying faithfulness to the brand, and will swear black is blue (Or rather Red) over any point against their love. Now we have a huge Ferrari fan on our team, namely Nick, and I didn’t even tell him I had this game for review, purely because I know he would end up stealing my PS3 and Game, just to get a chance to play it. I also had a chance to go to the Ferrari day at Kyalami recently, and I can actually understand the passion these people have for these fine machines.
Now Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli plays like a true simulator, so if you are looking for an arcade racing experience, you can stop reading right now. It’s a technical racer through and through, with tweaks and tuning galore, and an unforgiving engine that will frustrate you as often as it will reward you for good driving. It has you starting on Ferrari’s test track, with commentator and Test Driver Tiff Needell guiding you through the basics of racing lines and braking curves around the track, until the game reckons you are good enough for a race or two.
As I said earlier, the game is very unforgiving, and one little mistake is going to cost you, but the moment you get it, it gets easier and easier, with no real ramp up in the difficulty throughout the game. You are able to turn the driver assists on and off, so at least there is some scope here, and this will make the experience a little more challenging. The format of the races are standard Ferrari vs Ferrari showdowns, on different tracks with different classes and models of vehicle, and at first I thought this was very limited, but hell, this is what the game is designed to do.
And on the subject of models of vehicles, here is one section of the game nobody can have any real gripes with. The vehicles are modeled really well, with each different iteration created in perfect likeness to its real life counterpart. They look fantastic, and drive differently, so you can see the time has been put into the graphic department. But that’s where it seems to come to a standstill on the graphic front. It gives you the impression that all the time was spent on the cars only, and the scenery and tracks were bolted on at the very end. Now don’t get me wrong here, it does not look bad, but if you compare it to titles like GT5 and Grid, the scenery is lacking.
From a sound point of view, the game is well adapted here, with each of the vehicles sounding true to life, and after my little outing to the track the other day, I can see that they have sampled these noises very accurately. The overall sound and ambient music is very generic, so don’t expect any awards here, but still captures the moment particularly well.
But once again the crash dynamics let this game down a bit, as in almost all licensed car games, because while they do add some cosmetic vehicle damage, it does nothing to the drivability of the vehicle. This takes away from the risk factor, as you can make that daring pass without suffering any kind of repercussion, and this takes away from the experience. But, I don’t expect this to change to often in licensed games, so we just have to live with it.
Overall, Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli is a capable game, above average to say the least, and it plays true to the style of a true simulation game. If you are a Ferrari fan, you will enjoy this game, but it’s not going to convert anyone from some of the better titles if they don’t have the passion for the brand. I enjoyed it, but found myself returning to other titles frequently. One thing to note here is the following, Eutechnyx, the developer of this title, seems to be on the up here, so lets see if they can get even better over time.
Gameplay: 7/10 [Let down by lack of Crash Physics]
Presentation: 7.5/10 [Cars great, Scenery not so much]
Sound: 7/10 [Capable]
Value: 7/10 [Could be different for a Ferrari fan]
Overall: 7/10 [Above average, but could have been better]
Last Updated: August 19, 2008