Grand Prix Legends
Once upon a time, auto racing consisted of just that -- no beer commercials, no corporate sponsors, no aerodynamics -- just hard, fast, dangerous driving. Take a trip down memory lane to 1967, one of the most, if not the most, exciting years in racing history. Sierra Sports has teamed up with Papyrus (developers of NASCAR 2 and Indianapolis 500) to bring us their new historic racing simulation, Grand Prix Legends.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
I’m not sure whether to classify this as a video game or a professional practice simulator. Given that there is no longer any professional racing of this caliber, I’d have to say it is a game. This is a very realistic simulation, from being able to clutch your roadster right down to the time you’ll have to practice before the big race itself. The controls are pretty simple and don’t take long to learn -- they do, however, take a while to master. You have your standard steering, gas, and brakes and in addition you also have a clutch (which isn’t required to shift, but a nice touch). I had a bit of trouble calibrating my Sidewinder 3D Pro and getting the appropriate controls configured properly. Force feedback is not supported in this game. The interface is fairly straightforward and simple to move about in, for the most part. The only slightly confusing part of the interface was the "OK" and "Cancel" buttons being represented by a small green or red flag, respectively, in opposite bottom corners. If I had first read the manual before playing, this wouldn’t have been an issue. There are different options available to help the novice driver get up to speed (no pun intended -- okay, perhaps there was) such as automatic shifting, acceleration help, and braking help. You have the option of choosing which racing team you’d like to race for, and can specify your name, country, and helmet color. Not sure who you want to race for? Then check out the team information section. It’ll give you all you need to know including pictures of the original racers. Once you’re ready to roll, there are four different styles of races possible: Training, Single Race, World Championship, and Multiplayer. When you play a Single Race or World Championship race, you’ll have a specified amount of time to practice and configure your vehicle before the real thing. Keep track of the clock -- when time runs out, it will move to the next session whether you’re ready or not. Multiplayer will allow up to 20 players to compete over a modem, network, or TCP/IP connection.
The natively supported 3D devices are 3Dfx and Rendition Verite chipsets. I played this with my Orchid Righteous 3D (3Dfx) and it looked wonderful. I must say that I liked not seeing billboards and banners all over the road, but nice-looking countryside, trees and cheering fans. I especially liked how you can see the shocks and car bouncing when you drive over something uneven (which you WILL do until you get the hang of this). My favorite thing of all, though, was the cockpit of the car. From the first person view, you can see the driver’s arms doing what you are doing. If you steer, he steers; if you shift, he shifts; if you raise your arm in victory, he’ll raise his arm in victory. Okay, so you have to push a button to do that last one, but I thought it was a great addition anyway. You can even look left and right while in the cockpit too. I did notice, however, that some terrains in certain areas, such as grass and water, didn’t seem to have any detail. This is compensated for by the beautiful photo-realistic backgrounds -- specifically when racing in Monaco. Features and quality can be toggled for what is shown in both the surrounding environment and the rearview mirrors. I also played this on a 300 MHz system where 3D acceleration was not present and the game still looked pretty good. More importantly, it ran nice and smooth.
Engines revving, crowds cheering, tires squealing, and cars crashing (which I’ve heard a bit too much, unfortunately). The echo of the announcer over the public address system is very nice too. There are settings for volume and maximum number of sounds. Overall, you certainly won’t be disappointed, but there is nothing groundbreaking here.
Minimum: Pentium 166, 32 MB RAM, 2 MB Windows compliant video card, 2X CD-ROM, mouse
Recommended: PII 266, 64 MB RAM, 3Dfx Voodoo or Rendition v2x00 series video card, joystick or steering wheel and foot pedals, Windows compliant sound card
Reviewed on: Pentium 233MMX, Orchid Righteous 3D (with 3Dfx Voodoo chipset), 64 MB RAM, Sidewinder 3D Pro Joystick
While the game’s interface doesn’t require you to read the forty-nine page manual in order to play effectively, I would certainly recommend it. The manual is well-written, and there is good information explaining features you may have missed and general racing tips. I especially liked how the introduction compared virtual racing to the real thing.
With so many racing simulations out there, it is nice to see a historical theme in one. While the cars may have been simpler than what exists today, the racing certainly wasn't. This game requires a good level of patience and skill, and will reward you well when these are achieved. The superior graphics add a lot to the amount of realism you’ll encounter. Aside from the bit of trouble calibrating and assigning controls to my joystick, this game is quite solid and a lot of fun to play, which is why I gave it a score of 85.