The next 16 bit owner to walk up to me and say that the Spectrum is a dying machine, I'm going to kick his teeth in or I'll do the next best thing, I'll grab him by the lapels and drag him over to a Speccy, and then put on WEC Le Mans, the latest in a long line of racing conversions. Up until now, I always thought of Super Hang On as the ultimate in Spectrum racing. Le Mans looks at SHO, says "I can do that," makes the graphic bigger, moves more items around, does it faster, makes the tea, puts the kids to sleep and then takes you out for a meal afterwards. Now that's what I call programming.
The WEC Le Mans race itself is a 24 hr continuous race around some racetrack somewhere or other (probably Le Mans - GT).
You start under starters orders in the front of the grid. It's right from this point that you notice the acute resemblance to the coin-op's graphics. It's when the whole caboodle starts moving that the game really starts to impress.
The amount of things moving about on screen at once is probably one of the most impressive feats of programming since the rainbow processor. Either side of the road is filled with a series of light and dark bands. These scroll towards you very smoothly. The horizon lifts and falls as you climb and descend the hills. There are dozens of objects lining either side of the road at once, signs, adverts etc, as well as anything to half a dozen opposing cars on screen as well. What's more, it all moves faster than Super Hang On.
The game has a memory for the opposing cars, which makes the game that tad more realistic. What I mean is, that the computer remembers where all the cars are at any time. If you should pass three cars, and then slow down, three cars will overtake you. Similarly should two cars appear on the horizon. Stop for a few seconds, accelerate into top speed and, sure enough, after a couple of seconds, those same two cars will make an appearance.
It plays similarly to the coin-op, and is about as difficult as well. The steering wheel of the original has been replaced by a progressive steering system whereby the longer you hold the joystick in the required direction, the more obtuse your turning angle.
Sound is fairly restricted, unfortunately. The same boppy tune appears on both 48 and 128 version, but the 128 is the only machine with in-game effects, which consist of nothing more than a loud farting noise.
Ocean prove yet again that they are THE software house for 89. Roll on Chase HQ.
Reviewer: Tony Dillon
Absolutely berilliant racing game.