Flag to Flag
I am not a fan of auto racing of any form, but I still enjoy racing games. I prefer racing games that venture off-road or have a more arcade feel to them, but the occasional racing simulation is a nice change of pace. Flag to Flag is based off CART racing and is a true racing sim. It has been a while since I have played a true racing sim so I decided, why not give it a whirl? All in all, this is not a bad game and fans of CART racing should be satisfied.
Flag to Flag is officially licensed by CART racing; that means you get 27 authentic drivers with their actual cars and racing teams, 19 real CART tracks and pit crews. There are plenty of options available and after tweaking a few settings, this game can be tailored to your style of gameplay. So hop in, start your engines and get ready for a decent ride.
As I mentioned above, I am not a fan of real life auto racing so I can only judge the realism based on what I would expect this type of racing to be like, pieced together with a few minor expectations derived from Sports Center highlights. With that in mind, the control and physics in this game seemed to be pretty accurate. The more I play Dreamcast games, the more I like the way the controller is laid out, especially on racing games. The controller makes accelerating, braking, and turning easy and responsive. I will go into more depth on the minor nuances that make these controls work so well in a bit.
First, I would like to talk about the options available in this game -- you can set the game up in any number of ways. Since I don't watch racing, I am not really familiar with all the specific rules but I do have somewhat of an idea. It really would have been nice if the game defaulted to be as close to the actual rules as possible. Instead, you have to go in and change options to make it more realistic. For example, you can set the weather to actual, which makes the weather exactly as it was during that race in 1998. Unfortunately, the default is sunny, so if you want it realistic, you have to go change the option. Little things like this that seem fairly obvious would have helped this game out.
Aside from the fact that the options don't default to realistic conditions, you still have a bevy of choices and options you can tweak. It took me a few races before I settled on a configuration that really fit my style of racing. I ended up setting my car damage to arcade instead of realistic because I just couldn't avoid making contact with the other racers. When I played realistic, I ended up in the pits almost every lap and I was just not having much fun. On arcade, I was able to make it a few laps before I had to pit. Speaking of pits, there was also an option for full-course caution. I never really understood what this meant. It said that the race is started over on a full-course caution but all that I noticed was that I would automatically end up in the pits and everyone would be ahead of me. Oh well, this was one of the options that I chose to keep turned off.
I mentioned the controls earlier but I wanted to come back to something. They did a really good job of making damage affect the control of your vehicle. See, if you smash into the wall or bump another opponent, a little pit icon will start to flash alerting you to pit because you have sustained damage to your vehicle. When this happens, your vehicle becomes very difficult to control. Cornering becomes very limited and steering is limited as well. The cool part about it is that you are not required to pit, but if you choose to continue racing it will be much more difficult. I would usually pit depending on the number of laps left in the race. If I was playing a 50-lap race and I was on lap 12, I would pit because I knew that there would be plenty of time to make up ground. If I was on lap 47 of 50, I would try to brave it out to the end.
My only real complaint with the game was the lack of crashes. As I said, my knowledge of this type of racing is limited to Sports Center highlights so I may be off base here a little, but it seems to me that the cars either spin out or crash pretty well. In Flag to Flag, there were no cool crashes. I wanted to see tires flying, cars spinning and other exciting things that make car racing so dangerous. Maybe I was missing something but I never saw an accident more severe than an engine smoking. This was disappointing to me.
The graphics in this game were pretty decent but they were not anything overly amazing. The strange thing is that I normally can't play racing games from the driver’s perspective, but I could only play this game from it. I normally like to be zoomed back out behind my car, but for some reason the zoomed-back view seemed really slow to me. The cars look pretty good, but it would have been nice to see some cool accidents. All in all, the graphics are nothing spectacular for the Dreamcast, but they get the job done just fine.
Fans of CART racing should not be disappointed in this game. Non-fans may find some enjoyment, but I really did not think there was anything revolutionary in this game. It played and controlled solidly, but there will not be anything that really blows you away. Overall, it is still a solid effort.
Download Flag to Flag
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP