PS2 Reviews: Grand Prix Challenge
Grand Prix Challenge screenshots
The Final Say!
Grand Prix Challenge - reviewed by Andrew B
Review Date: 7 April 2003
Review Score 9.0/10
Distributed By: Infogrames
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"It's official and it's Australian!"
Grand Prix Challenge is the latest Formula One game to hit the PlayStation 2 and it was exclusively designed in Australia at Melbourne House for publishers Infogrames. Before alarm bells start ringing about an Australian made game, let me just say that this is probably one of the best if not THE best, Formula One games around.
Grand Prix Challenge features all the official cars, drivers and tracks from the 2002 Formula One World Championship season and contains a bevy of features that will please both novice and expert gamers around. The game contains 6 different gaming modes that include quick race, time trial, championship and a two-player split screen mode to name a few of the options. As the game is based for a variety of different gamers, players can select from beginner to expert, depending on how apt they are with racing games.
The beginniner setting is basically a tutorial for gamers or players who are not familiar with Formula One Racing as the PlayStation 2 handles the more important aspects of driving such as automatic braking and traction control to prevent the player from crashing or sliding from the track if they go around corners too fast. The game truly shines when you select expert and it's probably the most realistic fun you can have without being in a Formula One car. The only problem with this setting is that one mistake will cost you the race.
The control system of Formula One is easy to learn and hard to master, especially if you are playing on an expert setting. The DualShock controller responds well to the gaming engine and you really get a sense of speed as you are racing. The game also contains a variety of different adjustable settings such as tweaking your cars or making your car indestructible. Finally, the game abides by the official FIA 2002 rules that means you will get penalised for dangerous driving or for ignoring flags.
Graphically, Grand Prix Challenge is up there with the rest of the "best" car games on the PlayStation 2 such as Grand Turismo Concept and WRC2. Apart from the impressive menu system of the game, the in game graphics feature a variety of special effects such as reflective surfaces, different road surfaces, amazing weather effects that when replayed, it looks like you are watching the Grand Prix on television. Melbourne House has also gone to extreme lengths to make the tracks identical replicas from their real world counterparts. So when you race in Melbourne, you actually see all the landmarks, trees and stands that were featured at Albert Park in 2002.
The stands also feature quite a bit of detail that include different crowd movements, flares and spectators waving official team flags around. Grand Prix Challenge also has one of the most realistic weather effects and you can actually see droplets of rain before the downpour starts.
The car models are perfect and contain a fairly high polygon count for some amazing realism. Besides having all the official cars in the game, the texture detail on the cars contain the right colours and advertising that you would expect to see in real life. The designers have also done a great job at recreating the little things in Formula One that many developers take for granted. For instance, if you run off the road and go into the infamous "kitty" litter, you actually see the sand on your tyres at you drive off that eventually fades away. This also happens when you "accidentally" drive on the grass. The formula one tracks are also littered with rubber from the tyres as you progress through the course or brake too hard. Probably one of the best things about Grand Prix Challenge is that the game runs at a beautiful 60 frames per second that guarantees you some of the best racing fun possible on the PlayStation 2.
The audio of Grand Prix Challenge features all the realistic sounds that you would expect to hear at the Formula One. From the powerful whines of the Formula One engines, to the dozens of cars leaving rubber on the track, everything has been incorporated into the game professionally. The crowd sound effects are truly spectacular and although it seems as if they are at a Soccer game, they respond to how well or badly you play with a variety of different types of atmosphere that makes you feel like you are part of the game. The commentary is extremely professional and the in game menus features a very authentic Australian accent, it's not bad but it does take some time getting use to as you don't generally hear an Australian accent on a game. The only downside to the games audio that I found was the techno music that played in the menu system, I prefer when games use real bands to help with the soundtrack of racing games as this techno music is a little too computer generated for me.
In conclusion, Grand Prix Challenge is a must own game for fans of the Formula One and I would also recommend this game to people who are looking for a good racing car game because not only does it feature some great gameplay but also some amazing graphics and brilliant sound effects. Melbourne House have succeeded where many game developers have failed and I would highly recommend Grand Prix Challenge to all!
- Andrew B
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