Spirit of Speed 1937
|a game by||Broadsword Interactive Limited|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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Tedious. That's the most fitting description of modem motor racing. After various safety bodies, pressure groups and regulatory associations have had their say, you've got grooves in your tyres, a plank on your sump, corks stuffed up your inlet manifold and chicanes halfway down the back straight. Put that lot together and you'll find yourself outpaced by the average funeral cortege. The way things are going, each 'race' car will soon be restricted to three wheels, 70mph and no driver. Spectators will be forced to watch the event from a neighbouring town and circuit surfaces will be painted with Savlon just in case anyone grazes their knee.
Back before the war, things were heaps different. It was perhaps the most adventurous, daring, exciting and plain idiotic era of motorsport. Teams and drivers were obsessed with lap times, so cars and tracks were built for speed - safety was of no concern whatsoever. Comers were raised and cambered so drivers could squeal round without lifting off the throttle. Brakes? Brakes were for sissies and losers. So was protective clothing - nobody wore a helmet or a fireproof vest. The only thing between you and the tarmac was a silk balaclava, despite the fact that silk is the very last material you would want on your face in the event of a blaze.
Names from the era paint a more romantic picture: Bugatti, Napier, Auto Union, Bentley, ERA and Mercedes. TWelve feature in Spirit Of Speed, Hasbro's upcoming simulation, with nine tracks across the world, ranging from Brooklands and Tripoli to the Roosevelt Raceway and Monza (now redesigned after too many fatalities).
Each racer has its own handling characteristics, along with deadly quirks and foibles. The suspension set-up is unique to each car, and the physics model, able to accurately reproduce the feel of a 24,000cc iron bathtub, is supposedly as good as it gets. Collisions are shown with real crumples on your bodywork.
Broadsword, the Aberystwyth-based developers, have taken every step possible to ensure total authenticity, from the hideous wooden dashboards to the basso profundo hullabaloo of the engines and exhausts (any racing sim that makes the cars sound like real cars and not like mosquitoes certainly gets our vote).
Winning a race won't involve planting your foot on the gas and holding it there all the way to the chequered flag. You'll need to keep a close eye on your gauges - oil, water and petrol - and get your pit timing just right. You'll also need to know how to treat your tyres in order to get round in one piece.
The five different modes of play -Arcade, Practice, Single Race, and Championship Season 1937 - all help you get the most from the game, and multiplayer over a LAN lets you practise those four-wheel drifts with real opponents.
With a 1930s soundtrack and realistic newspaper scoops spinning on to die screen, the game should evoke all the right emotions (and for some, memories) of the period.