GT 64: Championship Edition
GT 64 Championship Edition is bringing authentic, high-speed touring-car racing to the N64. Choosing from 14 cars and six international tracks, one or two players will hit the gas in three modes: Championship, Time Trial, and head-to-head Battle mode. Catering to dedicated racing enthusiasts, GT 64 lets you adjust eight factors, including suspension, transmission, and tires. In addition to plenty of Rumble Pak responsiveness from the diverse terrain, hands-on gameplay demonstrated a sensitive touch that'll take practice to master. The detailed 3D environments flashed by fluidly, and formidable CPU opponents were extremely aggressive. If Ocean puts on the right finishing touches in the garage, GT 64 promises lightning-fast touring-car fun.
Download GT 64: Championship Edition
This sounds lame but if you liked Ocean's other N64 racing game, Multi-Racing Championship, then you'll probably like what 6T64 has to offer. Even if you didn't like MRC you should check out GT64, but I'll preface that statement by promising you that it's not going to blow you away. Yeah it's better than MRC--sharper graphics, deeper gameplay and a much more competitive racing engine but my contention is this: It's hard for me to go busting my appendix over a racing game that's programmed for the most powerful system out there, yet it doesn't look or play a whole lot better than even Sega Rally! I'm not condemning GT64--I'm just bummed that a game made four years ago is still a benchmark sim. Granted the cartridge limitations have a lot to do with that, but it still bothers me. OK, back to Earth. GT64 has all the fundamentals in place--most importantly, good competitive gameplay. It's similar to NASCAR in that way. It keeps drawing you back in for the next race, and the next, etc. The vehicles drive a bit stiff, even with adjustments, but frankly, you won't notice too much. This is more of a "driver's" game anyway. Hot-heads who power-slide every corner will never win a race in GT64--it's more about careful braking and accelerating and all that. Personal rants , aside, I can still recommend GT64.
If you're expecting Gran Turismo for the N64, forget it. This, I'll have you know, is yet another middle-of-the-road racing game that will stand alongside the swelling ranks of similar titles on the N64. The graphics are adequate, but suffer some weird texture popup. The sound is pathetic (the music especially), and the opposition's Al is predictable and unexciting. GT64's saving grace is the car handling...it's surprisingly realistic.
Racing games and the Nintendo 64 seem to go hand-in-hand. Great N64 racing games, however, seem to be a rarity. GT64 is not a bad game by any means. The game gives you several different cars to choose from, and they all handle extremely well. I also like the simple format used to customize vehicles. But the lack of tracks (only three and their long versions) and choppy frame-rate bring the score right back down.
So do we finally have a good racer on the N64? Not here we don't. 6T 64 simply adds to the long list of average and below average racers on the system. GT has klunky graphics and a choppy frame-rate, the sound and music are annoying, and the control is too loose. GT may have a decent number of cars and options, but that's about it. If you're looking for more realistic racing, I would recommend NASCAR or F-1 WGP.
Gran Turismo's hyper-realistic, stat-heavy, visually stunning racing was a PlayStation autophile's oily dream. Ocean's hoping GT 64 can spark that lightning on the N64 but this pedal has no mettle.
In GT 64, you control one of 15 cars on three tracks (each with long and short versions) in Time Attack, Championship, or Head-to-Head modes. You can customize your auto to suit each course with tire, gear ratio, suspension, or spoiler modifications...but no mods will save you from your car's constant, aggravating skidding. The slightest turn will send your vehicle careening helplessly--even on the easy level, you'll find this game has a harsh learning curve.
As for gameplay, GT 64 doesn't contain enough hardcore elements to be a serious racing sim, nor does it offer enough arcade action to satisfy speed-hungry racers. Visually and aurally, GT also fails to compete with the tops in its genre, sporting moderate detail, repetitive textures, and a fair amount of pop-up or fog (depending on the weather setting), as well as sparse sound effects and music tracks. These flaws keep GT from a respectable qualifying position, even when compared with the N64's weakest competition.
GT 64 Championship Edition doesn't cut it as a realistic racer and falls behind Top Gear Rally and SF Rush for sheer gameplay. This one could have used another lube job before hitting the streets.
- If your performance deteriorates, hit a pit stop--but know what you want before you arrive.
- Stay directly behind cars to take advantage of their wind shear, then catapult out for a quick lead.
- Turn against a skid and ease off the gas. Once your tires grab the road again, put the pedal to the metal.
The high speed and intense sensations of road racing--up to the feel of actual surface traction-- are reproduced in GT 64 Championship Edition, whose screens exhibit exciting-looking tracks that often wind you through densely populated city-scapes. GT 64 features three modes of play for one or two players--Time Trial, Championship, and Battle--and it offers a choice of three courses, each available in short and long circuits.
You'll be able to pick from 12 high-performance vehicles, which may be customized for specific course and weather conditions. Moreover, the Rumble Pak will provide you with multiple camera angles, real-time weather changes, mirror courses, and replay options. If GT lives up to its championship title, there could be some serious screechin' this summer!
GT64 is the second N64 racing title to be released by the folks at Ocean.
The publishers of Multi-Racing Championship have taken their talents as racing sim publishers and ushered out a solid-looking grand-touring title. Loaded with real drivers and cars, expandable tracks and slick powerslide fortified gameplay, GT64 could be the N64's newest racing darling.
Based on popular GT-style racing in which high-revving modified sports cars compete on street and rural courses, GT strives to capture the same excitement by providing 12 licensed vehicles plus two bonus Imagineer cars. The teams of Nissan, Acura, Toyota and others are represented by their respective drivers and co-drivers. The vehicles range in power from the mild 1950 CC cars of Toyota to the wild 6000 cc Imagineer bonus car. Players may modify vehicles by means of air foils, tire compound, transmission, steering and so on. The actual tracks are few (only three--Japan, Europe, USA), but each are expandable a la Rage Racer. Of the three, the U.S. and Japanese tracks are city-based while the European course is more rural and rally-like.
As far as gameplay goes, the stiff and limited handling of the vehicles in MRC has thankfully not been re-created here. It seems the developers have improved the game physics considerably, thus creating cars that actually handle like their real-life counterparts. While the speeds aren't wildly impressive, the controlled power-sliding capabilities are a lot of fun. Still, cutting loose the tires too often can sacrifice speed not to mention the tread. So all in all, improved physics means more driving skill is required and thus the game has more depth and replay value. It's all good.
Are we witnessing the next wave of racing games for the N64? You know, the ones that take better advantage of the system's processing power? We think so. With the soon-to-be-released F1 World Grand Prix as well as GT64, things are looking up for Nintendo owners who love to race. Let's hope even better sims are to follow.
- MANUFACTURER - Imagineer
- THEME - Racing
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1 or 2
Being the avid racing fan that I am, I have to say that I have been pretty disappointed with the majority of racing games that have been released on the N64 to date. I continue to hold out a small glimmer of hope that the next racing game will finally be the one that combines speed, great gameplay, awesome tracks and most importantly fun. Well, the next N64 racer is here in GT 64 Racing. Have my racing prayers finally been answered? Let's just say that my glimmer of hope is getting even dimmer because it looks like the great N64 racer will never come.
GT 64 Racing sticks you behind the wheel of re-engineered passenger cars and lets you race around the streets of Japan, Europe and USA. They claim that the cars are modeled after the actual physics making your racing experience as real as if you were actually there. All of the usual game modes are here including a two player split screen battle mode. There was plenty of reason to be excited for this game.
Racing games on the N64 seem to have gotten stuck in a rut. They really do not have anything that makes them stand out from the others on the market. Basically, if you own one, you are really not missing out on much by not buying the others. Unfortunately, GT 64 Racing falls right in the middle of this pack. It has all of the things that are pretty standard in racing games and has a few neat little specifics but it just does not have what it takes to break away and really make a statement as a great racing game.
The first thing that I am going to do is go through the options and highlight some of the things that I think the game does decently. Then I am going to go through and point out what I did not like about the game and you can make your own decision from there. Sound good?
Here we go. This game really has three major modes of gameplay that you will spend your time in. The first is the Time Trial. This mode is just like every other Time Trial mode in every other racing game. It is basically a race to get the fastest lap time, nothing too special here. The second mode is the Battle Mode. This is where you can race one on one against either the computer or an opponent via split screen. This mode was not bad as far as split screens go but I always have a problem seeing in the distance when I race on split screens. The third mode, and the most played, was the Championship Mode. This is where you will compete against a field of other racers across the different tracks. You will receive points depending on your finish position. After all of the races are complete, the person with the most points wins the championship. This was by far the most entertaining.
One of the things that makes the Championship Mode more entertaining than the others is that you really have control over the length of the races. You can select a short three lap race all the way up to a very long 24 lap race which the manual calls the TRUE CHALLENGE. In the 24 lap race, you will have to make pit stops and endure long races. 24 laps may not sound like much but when you are racing, it feels like it's never going to end. For game players who enjoy the strategies involved with managing their cars instead of just blasting to the finish line, this mode will be very satisfying. For the gamer who likes a happy medium, you may be disappointed because the pit stops are only active on the 24 lap races.
To be quite blunt about it, some people are really going to hate the way that the cars are controlled. First off, I did not notice much difference in the control of any of the cars and only minimal difference when I tweaked the settings. On one hand, the developers are saying that this game follows true car physics. On the other hand, the cars are constantly power sliding around corners like an arcade style game. If this is the way that these cars handle in real life, I think I would want no part of driving one. I personally had mixed feelings about the control. It was fun sliding around corners but it was also difficult to win races because I was constantly sliding off the road. Like I said, some people are really going to hate this and some people may find it mildly entertaining but I think in the end, everyone will find it a bit on the out of control side.
As far as complaints go, I would have to start with the pit stop system. First, I wish you could set the game to let you pit on some of the lesser lap races. It would have been cool if they handicapped you by only letting you start with half a tank of gas or something that forced you to pit. As it stands, you only pit on the 24 lap race. Along these same lines, the biggest problem is that you never get any indication of when you need to pit. You will just keep driving. You don't have a visual of your tire conditions or even a gas gauge so you pretty much have to take your best guess on when to pit. You will start to notice a lack of speed or handling on your car when it is time to pit but it really would have been nice to have more of an indication.
The second complaint I had about the game, and probably the biggest, is that the game is just, well, average. I really never got sucked into the excitement because there wasn't any. After racing about two of the six races on 24 lap mode, I did not want to play any longer. The game just lacked the extra something that would keep my interest. I was never really able to put my finger on what exactly the problem was but I think it may have been a combination of the dull sounds (every car sounded like a turbine engine) and the lack of competition. It seemed like I would either beat the crap out of everyone or they would beat me. There were not very many times that I was actually racing neck and neck with someone either. It seemed like I would always blow past the other racers or they would just blow past me. I guess I just felt like I was racing alone most of the time.
I almost forgot one of my other complaints with the game. It only has six tracks. Actually, it only has three tracks with three more that are just extensions of the first batch. This is not nearly enough tracks. In this day and age, I think you should have a minimum of six totally different tracks. Not only were there not enough tracks, the tracks that were there were not overly exciting either. I just think that there was not enough of a variety to hold my interest.
Have I mentioned the word average yet in this review? That is the best word to describe the graphics in this game. There was nothing offensive yet there was nothing spectacular either. I really would have liked to see the graphics in a bit higher resolution because this machine is supposed to have the power to pull it off. The N64 has been out for two years now so you can no longer justify average or poor graphics by saying the programmers are still learning. Sure they are always learning but I still think they should be able to do something a bit more inspired.
If I could sum this game up in one word, what word do you think I would choose? If you guessed average, you are wrong. I think that I would have to sum it up as disappointing. Since everything was so average in the game it ended up being letting me down. I think that with a little more time and some refinement this game could have been a lot better. I am still holding out hope that a great racing game will finally find its way on to this system. Until this day comes I think I will pop in a CD of a game with the same initials as GT 64 Racing.
Second-rate bash at a saloon car racing game, with few tracks, sparse visuals, low frame rate and completely nightmarish controls.
Handles reasonably well, but it's slow, ugly and there's far too much pop-up. Not what we were hoping for. Nice initials, mind you.
Ah, now we know why they've been so quiet. A year on from Top Gear Rally, there's been few signs that the team behind the N64's first truly excellent arcade racer were busy working on a follow-up. The reason? Technically, they weren't.
Instead, the TGR team at Boss spent half a year trying to figure out what made PlayStation racer Gran Turismo so good and then the next six months formulating a response on the N64. And, after rebuilding the Top Gear Rally engine from scratch, the result is this.
GT World Tour is team-based racing - like GT 64 - but with the emphasis - like Gran Turismo - on real-life cars. The fact that you're hammering around in BMWs, Dodge Vipers, Porsche 944s and Jaguar XJR15s (recently called "the worst handling car of all time" on Top Gear so, you know, don't expect too much from that one) is. far and away, the most Important thing as far as the game is concerned. Each car is specially souped-up for the GT contest and each wiH handle differently and exactly like its real-life equivalent Presumably, then, the XJR15 wiH be like driving a sizeable brick.
The number of vehicles is certain to rise from the four we've seen so far - expect a Nissan Skyine (among others) to be added to the roster - and, once you've chosen your racing team, you can also begin to choose the sponsors and individual decals of the car. Nice.
Tracks-wise, things aren't too shabby either. There'll be ten licensed tracks to choose from - locations, as yet, unspecified - scattered around the world (instead of centralised entirely in Japan, like GT 64). So far, we've seen the snowy backgrounds of an Alpine-style village, the neon glitter of a city and the windmills of mid-America. There will, however, be a healthy spadeful of the more standart track-based courses found in Gran Turismo as well as a secret selection of both tracks and cars to race around them in. Lamborghinis, anyone?
Technically, the game is nothing short of astonishing. A version currently running at Boss has eight cars on screen at the same time (with no drop in frame rate at all) and, although they claim not to have even seen a 4Mb Expansion Pak, the game does still boast a high-res mode, which, at the moment, only runs in letterbox format.
However, Boss admitted to N64 that they are definitely considering the possibility of making the game pak-compatible. Which would obviously help the tracks no end, as well as the lighting, which already includes some brilliant features, including super-detailed car reflections.
With F1 World GP and V-Rally already doing the business with some aplomb and Snowblind's Top Gear Overdrive coming along nicely, the addition of the potentially staggering GT World Tour should finally ensure some firm competition for places. Oh, it's exciting...
To date, if you want a really amazing and realistic racing game, the sad truth is that you'll also need a PlayStation to run it on. Where Sony's box boasts world-class wheel action from the likes of Gran Turismo, Rage Racer, TOCA Touring Car, F1 '97 and V-Rally, N64 owners have been I subjected to the rather less awesome F1 Pole Position, Multi Racing Championship, Automobili Lamborghini and - ack! spit! - Cruis' n USA. Even the better Nintendo driving games like Top Gear Rally aren't really Moet sprayers.
GT 64 Championship Edition is Ocean's second attempt at an N64 racer, the first being the dreary and ditchwater-dull MRC. Coming from Imagineer, who also produced MRC,
I wasn't expecting that much from it, especially after playing the game at E3 in May (see last issue) and being distinctly unimpressed.
In fact, after the E3 experience, I fully expected to hate GT64. As it turns out, I didn't. The only problem was, I didn't love it either. In fact, I didn't feel anything for it at all.
I'm A Freelance Scientist
As the annoying tosser in the Metz adverts says, "Gentlemen, let me explain," GT 64 is based on the lapanese Grand Touring championship, where instead of the poxy Vectras and Mondeos that get slammed around in similar events in Blighty, top-spec sports cars like Skylines, Supras, NSXs and even the odd Lamborghini are thrashed until they beg for mercy. Sounds like fun!
That's the theory. However, what makes this kind of racing a crowd-pleaser when compared to the current McLaren-led procession that is Formula 1, are things like close-quarter battles between the drivers, loads of overtaking in evenly-matched cars, tight courses where a mistake results in a wipeout and, of course, the expectation of seeing expensive pieces of machinery reduced to their component parts in as spectacular a manner as possible. Be honest, now. People don't watch motor racing for displays of precise cornering and good old-fashioned sportsmanship. They want to see stuff break and drivers chinning each other with long metal poles.
GT 64 manages to deliver the tight courses part of this equation, but falls short on the others. This originally being a Japanese game, the cars are set up to favour the Nipponese penchant for powersliding. At first, the cars seem all but impossible to get around the corners, bringing up Vietnam-style flashbacks of San Francisco Rush and its incredible jelly steering. Make a turn and your car sails gracefully sideways into the nearest crash barrier. Practice for a while, though, and before long you get the hang of when to turn, when to brake and when to pour on the power to make some smart edge-of-adhesion fast exits from hairpins. You'll still sail gracefully sideways into the barrier, but at least it won't happen nearly as often.
You can make things easier on yourself by toying with the car setup screen before the race starts.
Selecting the 'auto' option gives a basic setup that will get you around the course, but you can adjust tyre compounds, suspension stiffness, spoilers and gearing to suit your preferences and the needs of the track. Street circuits, with their tight corners, need more downforce, but more open tracks (Lake Fuji in the Japanese version, a generic 'Europe' in the West) give you more leeway on the turns so you can go all-out for speed. Tracks Of My Fears
Actually, that should really be 'more open track', singular. One of GT64's early problems is the puny selection of courses - a mere three. Ocean have tried to camouflage this by offering short and long versions of each course, and there's also a secret American track which becomes available if you win the championship game, but really you're faced with just three circuits.
This wouldn't be so bad if the three courses were something special (Ridge Racer got away with just having the one), but they're all rather bland, with not much of interest to look at. You might argue that since the courses are based on real tracks, they may actually be accurate. Well, aren't you the little smartarse? The thing is, if a game's trying to be realistic, it should exaggerate reality, not just mimic it. Real life is full of boring bits and annoying stuff you could do without. /55 wouldn't be half as much fun if you had to sit through a simulated coach journey to the ground before you could play, would it?
Given that GT64 is apparently a 128M cartridge, and therefore rather more hefty than MRC, you'd expect a lot more variety in the tracks - in fact, a lot more tracks full stop. Where the hell has all that memory gone? It hasn't been put to use on tracks, super-realistic car handling, amazing amounts of detail or hours of sampled commentary. Putting things into perspective, Banjo-Kazooie (also reviewed this issue) is the same size as GT 64. One of them has nine large worlds packed with detail, music, cool visual effects, precise control and lashings of imagination. The other is GT64. Maybe all those rather grainy digitised pictures of real cars occupy 32 megabits, but I doubt it.
Another major failing of GT64 comes from the opposition, made up of a bunch of robot Michael Schumachers who cruise around the course on the perfect racing line and never, ever make a mistake. More to the point, they don' I powerslide. For you to get into the lead, you have to master the art of braking late, whipping the back end out and slamming on the power as you try to duck through on the inside. Not so if you're lucky enough to be a computer-controlled drone - you get to corner like a Rothmans-sponsored tram. While human players are skipping inexorably sideways into a pile of tyres, the N6Vs boyz are flicking V signs through the windows and squeezing the bulbs of their Seymour Butts stick-on window toys.
This perfect cornering is there simply to compensate for the CPU racers having no brains whatsoever. Why spend valuable time and effort trying to program complicated stuff like driver intelligence and car physics when you can just make them whip around corners like something at Chessington World of Adventures? Rubbing salt into the wound was the fact that while I was playing GT 64, the PlayStation mob were sitting six feet away wetting themselves over the rather good Colin McRae Rally, and then deliberately putting on Gran Turismo Just to really annoy me.
Not even the two-player game, which can normally add some excitement to a game, served to increase my heart rate. While it at least spares players the indignity ofMRCs microscopic split screens, the frame rate is massively reduced, which makes controlling the cars around the corners all the more difficult. It does sharpen your competitive edge -there's a race to see who can be first to stick Goldeneye in the cart slot instead.
The biggest disappointment about GT 64 is the fact that it had the potential to be something really amazing, but blew it. The game plunges into the deep chasm between full-on simulation and all-out action without touching either side on the way down. Some things are simulated fairly well, like the powersliding, but other things are completely ignored. You can't spin out the cars properly or go doughnutting, you can't roll them or even get them to leave the ground on a hump and despite the claims of the advertising, I didn't manage to damage them, no matter how hard I tried. (And I tried, believe me.)
On the other hand, the action isn't exciting or involving enough for GT64 to work as an arcade racer either. Even though it moves at a reasonable pace, you never end up with sweaty palms after barely making it through a series of tight corners. (Unless you're Roy, whose Nixon-style palmic perspiration is both legendary and gross...)
GT 64 commits the ultimate sin for any racing game. It's boring. You could play it all day, and it still wouldn't be able to coax the tiniest drop of adrenaline from your glands. Compared to even the three year old Ridge Racer on PlayStation it's badly lacking in fun and thrills, and up against the likes of Gran Turismo, GT 64 is a joke. The N64 can kick the competition's ass in so many game genres, so why the hell can't it scrape up just one world-class racer?