World Driver Championship

a game by Midway, and Boss Game Studios Inc.
Genre: Racing
Platform: Nintendo 64Nintendo 64
Editor Rating: 7/10, based on 5 reviews
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World Driver Championship
World Driver Championship
World Driver Championship
World Driver Championship

I am a sucker for a good racing game. Sit me down in front of any system and give me one type of game to choose from and without hesitation I will chose racing. So needless to say when I heard World Driver Championship was coming out for N64, I was pretty excited. Sure, the N64 has a pretty bad reputation when it comes to "me too" racing games. There are plenty of racers out there but none of them really seem to have what it takes to get over the proverbial hump. Is World Driver the first to do it? Pretty close.

Ever since Sony released the awesome Gran Turismo, every racing game on any console is compared to it. Don't worry, I will let you know how it compares as well but first let me tell you what it has to offer. A comprehensive career mode that allows you develop your ranking while constantly making decisions about various job offers from other racing teams is the highlight of the game. Throw in 10 tracks located on various spots around the world, over 30 cars, split screen racing and great replays of your races and what you have is one of the better racers on the N64 to date.

Gameplay

Okay, I will get it out in the open now. This game is not as fun as Gran Turismo. Keep in mind, this is the highest bar so it would be very difficult to reach the status of Turismo. I will say that World Driver does a good job of adding some of simulation aspects of Turismo but what is completely absent is the ability to make any sort of adjustments to your car. This is what make Turismo the great game that it is. You can play for weeks and weeks just tweaking the different cars. So there you have it. People always ask if a racing game is as cool as Turismo so now you have your answer.

Now that we have that out of the way, World Driver is not a bad game in its own right. I will caution you right now that if you are the type of gamer who gets frustrated if you can't pick up a controller and start kicking ass, stay away. The control in this game is a lot different from the majority of racers out there so you will really have to untrain yourself from the old go-as-fast-as-you-can mentality. These cars have brakes and you damn well better get used to using them or else you won't make it past the first corner on most tracks. Since racing games are my favorite, I like to think I am pretty good at them. I can usually pick up a controller and halfway through the first lap, I have a good handle on the control. Not the case here. Let's just say that there were a few controller-tossing episodes while I was working on getting the control down

It is not entirely to control of the car that is to blame for my frustrations in the beginning. It had a lot to do with my racing mentality. See, I am used to going all out and the brakes are just a novelty added to make you think it was a real car but they were rarely used. I think the developers did a great job of making this game feel as if you are driving a real car when it comes to cornering. You just can't haul-ass up to the corner and whip around like in other racers. You really have to anticipate the corner and brake well in advance. With that being said, I was really baffled by the squirrelly feel of the cars on normal driving conditions or on gradual corners. It seemed like I would break traction and slide on the slightest of corners. This also took a lot of getting used to. In fact, I was never really able to completely compensate for this.

So that is how it drives but I have not answered the question of what you will be driving. This game does not have any licensed cars so you will be driving cars that are fictitious. Okay, that is not entirely true. You will recognize all of the cars in the game, just the names are fictitious. This really got me to thinking about what a joke official licenses are when it comes to racing games.World Driver uses cars that are identical to real cars but calls them by a different name and it is okay? Stupid. Anyway, a few of the cars that you will get to drive (by their real names) are the Mustang, Porsche, Viper, Corvette and Lamborghini. There are more cars but I will let you discover them on your own.

So now you know how it drives and some of the cars that you will be able to drive so let's talk about where you will drive them. One of the better parts of this game is the varied track designs. The tracks are located in Hawaii, Black Forest, Las Vegas, Kyto, New Zealand, Les Gets, Sydney, Zurich, Lisbon and Rome. Each track presents a different set of challenges and skills to be mastered. For example, one track has you negotiating a set of 90 degree turns while others have gradual turns and are based more around speed. On thing can be said for all of the tracks; you will need to be on top of the controls of the cars or else you will not stand a chance in any of the races. As a quick side note, this game is very unforgiving if you leave the tracks. You hit the sand and you will find yourself spinning in endless circles. Brush against a wall or guard rail and you can expect the competition to fly past you.

The real meat and potatoes of the game is in the Championship mode. You will start the game out with two teams willing to hire you as a driver of their cars. You can pick from the team that sports the Mustang or the team that offers the Porsche 911. After you make your choice, you pick one of two available cups to compete for. After you select your cup, you have the option of running practice laps of the track, qualifying or going straight to the race. I did not really understand the qualifying since you really do not have to qualify -- this was just for setting your starting position. I can handle that but what I did not get was where they came up with the times for the other cars. Hell, I was never even close to beating any of the others. I always started in last place. I finally got to the point where I would just skip the qualifying and go straight to the race.

The championship uses a point system depending on your finishing position. Obviously the higher you finished, the more points you would receive. At the end of the cup, the racer with the most points won the gold cup. The racer with the second most points won the silver cup and the person with the third most points won the bronze cup. As you start to win the cups, other racing teams will come knocking on your door looking to hire the hot young driver. It is up to you to decide to stay with your current team or move on. Also, as you win more races, you will open up cars within your team that were previously unavailable. This will keep you playing just to try to get the fastest car available.

Graphics

On the surface, this is one sweet looking game. The cars, tracks and replays are all very detailed and for the most part everything looks great. Unfortunately, this does not hold out through the entire race. It is not uncommon to have the frame you slow down considerable in the middle of a race. There seemed to be two consistent causes of the slow down. The first is if there are too many cars going around a corner at the same time. For some reason, it just could not keep up with all of the cars, drawing the corner and drawing the distance out of the corner. The second cause was if you spin out in the sand. It seemed like the sand particles that were kicked up just ate up the processor speed. The really strange thing is that the game has a high-resolution letterbox mode which is even worse. For some reason, they opted not to use the RAM Pak either. I am no expert on these things but I thought that the RAM Pak was a guaranteed fix for these types of problems. I would have rather waited another month or two for this game with RAM Pak support than have a drop in the frame rate like it has.

Bottom Line

Even with the frame rate issues, this is still one of the better racers on the N64 to date. Once you get used to the different controls and physics of the cars, you will find this to be a pretty enjoyable game. I really wish they had taken a little extra time and programmed for the RAM Pak though. I think you will get your money's worth out of the game but remember, take some time, slow down, and use your damn brakes.

Download World Driver Championship

Game Reviews

Up until now,N64 racing's been about gonzo arcade action or high-end FI sims. World Driver Championship, however, peels out with high-quality sim-style racing that will appeal to a broad range of race fans.

Cool Career

WDC's unique career mode is definitely the game's highlight Instead of the usual formula of wins earning cash, the game puts you in the role of a rookie in a racing league. Victories help you rack up career points, thus improving your rank and earning you offers from different race teams. Because each team has its own stable of cars that handle differently, you can take a job with a different team whose car might perform better in the game's long series of cup-based races. This fresh, original take on racing is matched by good two-player split-screen action, 10 tracks (each with multiple branches that open or close in different cups), and a helpful training mode.

The gameplay delivers a fun, challenging ride with a nice balance between fun and realism. Smart braking and powersliding, tight lines through corners, and the guts to trade paint with the pack are all keys to success. But the cars never take damage and never wreck, so the game's not a hardcore sim. Through it all, the strong controls respond well, but they definitely require practice--mistakes lead to spin-outs in a hurry. At the finish, WDC's packed with depth, delivering an intriguing racing experience with definite staying power.

Slow Lane

The big problem with WDC, though, is its sensation of speed. While these cars hardly move in slo-mo, the difference between 90 mph and 150 mph isn't as huge as it should be, and races lack a glorious highspeed feel. Visually, the tracks and cars look fairly sharp, but they're not as colorful and detailed as those in Beetle Adventure Racing. WDC's letterbox-style hires mode helps some, but many gamers won't tolerate trading screen real estate for better detail. Why didn't the game just support the Expansion Pak?

As far as sounds go, you'll turn off the annoying music, but the engine and tire effects play a big part in the action. They're remarkably informative about how your car's performing and about how well your opponents are doing.

Good Finish

If you can forgive World Driver Championship's speed problems, you'll find a deep, addictive racing experience. It's not nearly as polished as the PlayStation's racing gem, Gran Turismo, but it's as close as N64 owners can get without buying a PlayStation.

ProTips:

  • Listen for approaching cars-if you hear one gaining on you, tap bottom-C to look back and box them out.
  • Don't stray off-road Into dirt or sand-your car will spin out before you can react.
  • The cars of the Reeds team perform very well on the GT2 circuit. When they open up, accept their offer and stick with them until you earn a loyalty bonus.
  • One of th? best ways to pass your opponents Is to outbrake them in the turns. By braking later at the entrance to the turn, you can rip past them on the inside line and swing out wide through the turn's exit.
  • If you have the Inside line on a turn, slide sideways into your opponent and use them as a cushion to keep you on a good line. You'll often wreck them out, too.
  • Don't ram other cars from behind on straightaways-you'll only transfer your speed to them. Instead, rear-end them in turns, which usually wipes them out.

Graphics

WDC's sluggish sensation of speed dampens the high-octane thrill of racing. Also, the decent tracks and car models would've really been spruced up by Expansion Pak support.

Sound

The repetitive music's weak, but WDC gets the important sounds of racing right with engine and tire effects that keep you in the action.

Control

The realistic, unforgiving controls mean you'll have to spend some time learning how to powerslide, when to brake, and so on. Once you get it, though, you'll never look back.

Fun Factor

WDC should find an interested audience from N64 race fans looking for a Gran Turismo-style ride. Even though it has a few serious flaws, WDC is still worth revving up.

World Driver Championship (formerly titled Boss Rally World Tour) is Midway's second "serious" racing game (following Top Gear Rally), featuring authentic cars and more realistic physics than its previous arcade-port titles (such as San Francisco Rush and California Speed). This World is loaded: 15 cars with varying classes, 10 tracks, 10 play modes, and two-player head-to-head competition. Instead of earning money to upgrade or buy a new car, however, players can join different racing teams; the more races you win, the more teams you can join--and ultimately the better cars you can drive.

Visually, World's graphics are smooth and, for the most part, almost free of draw-in or pop-up. The widescreen mode is one of World s more arresting features: The screen is filled by a panoramic view of the road, and the graphic resolution is slightly improved--which is especially effective for the two-player split-screen races (in which you race side-by-side instead of on top of each other).

In the preview version, the controls were tight and responsive, emphasizing powersliding over lead-foot corner-taking. If World stays on its current development track, it could be a Nintendo 64 racing champ.

People say:

8.0

The N64 really needs a game like this. Clearly aimed at the Gran Turismo style of racer. World Driver unfortunately fails to deliver any "real" cars. This isn't that big of a deal though, as each of the numerous models on offer are so blatantly based on production models, you'd be pretty safe if you want just about any performance beast you can think of. There are a lot of cars here, and a lot of tracks--and everything is opened up very much like you'd find in Namco's R4 for the PS. Join a team to start a career, take their basic car and run it through the novice tracks. Win some races, get a souped-up car, take it back to the same courses with extra sections opened up. Repeat to fade. It has a lot to offer, especially in the presentation department, but I think the way the cars handle is the crowning joy here (others here disagree with me though). Coming very much from the Sega Rally/Need For Speed school with heavy-feeling controls, you can really sense that these are big, powerful rear-wheel drive cars. Power-sliding around a long, fast bend and getting it just right is a really rewarding experience. Complaints? The wanky guitar soundtrack is a bit of a turn-off and needs switching off so you can hear the cool engine sounds, and you need a full 123 pages of Controller Pak to save a game, which is a bit unreasonable.

6.5

Boss should pat themselves on the back for World Driver Championship's graphics engine. This game is absolutely gorgeous. But we all know looks aren't everything. For one thing, you never really get a sense of speed with WDC. The speedometer reads 120 mph but feels more like 65. While powersliding is an important part of the winning strategy, it feels too sluggish to give you any sort of rush. Tighter controls would have made all the difference.

7.0

If I was to score WDC based on its graphics atone, it'd get a 10--they're simply incredible, even with a sluggish frame-rate at times. The rest of the game is good, mind you, but not amazing. The control is slippery and is difficult to get used to (it feels as if you're driving around on wet pavement most of the time), and the Championship Mode just doesn't have enough meat to it, for as realistic a game as this is supposed to be. Rent it first to be safe.

7.5

Calling World Oriver the Gran Turismo of the N64 is real stretch. I can't warm up to the "riding on ice sensation that dominates the handling. For a game that strives for realism, I can't believe real cars would slide that much. That said, once you get acclimated, it really grows on you. lumping from team to team is interesting, especially since it negates the need to modify your vehicle constantly. The Al keeps the races very competitive; I definitely dig that.

Gran Turismo? Aaaaarse. It's time to silence those sneering PlayStation owners once and for all with our own world-class racing game.

World Driver Championship comes from Boss Game Studio, the creators of Top Gear Rally. Even though the game is still a couple of months from completion, it already looks as though it can blow anything else into the ditch. Claudia Schiffer can advertise the Citroen Xsara all she likes, but World Driver Championship has the looks and the performance!

There are ten international tracks on which to race, all of them having alternate routes (three per track) to choose from as well as a mirror mode that effectively doubles the number of circuits by reversing. As you can see from the screenshots, the courses have plenty of detail.

It's the cars that are the stars, though! With at least thirty different motors to choose from, which will all have realistic handling, there should be plenty of opportunity to get to grips with your favourite car. At the start of the game you have to choose a team to race with, so each car has a choice of different paint jobs depending on who you drive for.

Visually, World Driver Championship has the potential to be the best-looking console racer around. The cars all have glossy highlights that change as it moves as well as reflections of the scenery mapped onto the windows, and with interactive lighting for night races it'll be the next best thing to strapping yourself onto the front bumper of a Porsche in terms of realism. Best of all, there will be a hi-res mode -- and you won't even need the Expansion Pak!

As you can see, World Driver Championship's hi-res mode runs in widescreen, so if you've got one of those big-ass 16:9 TV sets you can blow the image up and race in Cinemascope! At the moment. Boss is still deciding whether or not to add a full-screen mode that uses the Expansion Pak, but whatever they end up doing, it's still going to look spectacular.

World Driver Championship was originally planned for a UK release in the first quarter of the year, but with the American release now put back until June it's unlikely we'll see it before the summer. It does look like it'll be worth the wait, though!

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