There have been some amazingly realistic race track games in the arcades. Newcomers to the personal computer are probably most bitterly disappointed when they see the state of the art in the computer car racing.
We've always noticed that any program which promises a race track like Turbo Driver, Race Fun or even Ultimate's Tranz-AM, always sells well. Obviously these games are popular and everyone's searching for the one that will look like the arcade versions. Of course the limitations of the Spectrum prevents any serious comparison being made, but the art of programing is improving enormously and perhaps it won't be too long before someone really does approximate the arcade.
Meanwhile, we'll have to make do with what we 've got! And after that preamble on to Grand Prix Driver. This is the first program to have a serious go at giving a real 3D effect of the road winding about and with a moving horizon. It isn't in the solid, glowing colour of the arcade original, rather more the coloured outline drawing of, say 3D Combat Zone - well a little bit more filled in than that.
You're controlling a formula 1 racing car against 30 other cars, controlled by the computer. Naturally the idea is to overtake and avoid crashing with the other cars and be the first one to cross the finishing line. To make life more difficult there are oil patches dotted about on the road. If you manage to pass the 30 cars and remain in one piece a little man appears waving a chequered flag.
As our reviewers soon found, there are some idiosyncracies in the game which rather spoil its attempts at realism, and while they all found the program to be interesting in itself, they agreed that once mastered it loses much of its point.
'The keyboard positions are sensibly laid out, the colour is well used and the 3D effect of the road is good. I thought the sound was poor - only engine noises. The only trouble is that once mastered there seems to be little point in playing the game again.'
'I found the overtaking was rather difficult because the other cars are unpredictable. There is some form of indication at the bottom of the screen which tells you which way a , particular coloured car is likely to veer, but it's obscure and I found it unreliable. In fact overtaking can only be done by slowing right down (honest). If you do crash (I did often) the explosion seems to go on forever. The game has a danger of becoming quickly repetitive and loses interest a bit.
It seems a pity that a fast racing game has to be brought to a near standstill every time you want to passe car. That tends to spoil the fun, skill and ruin the sense of realism which is otherwise very good. I got the feeling that this programmer has another and much better game up his sleeve. In the meantime, it 's still the best looking road race game I've seen.'
: Caps Shift/Z left/right, Symbol shift/space brake/accelerate. Quite well laid out.Joystick options
: Kempston, Sinclair Interface 2.Keyboard play
: responsiveUse of colour
: good, slightly shaky on character scrollingSound
: mixed feelings from poor to good (!)Skill levels
: tourGeneral Rating:
Fair to average.
Burn rubber and become a GRAND PRIX DRIVER.