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GRAND TOUR RACING
S.SHOT
Developer Eutechnyx Options
Distributer Activision Memory Card
Game Type Racing 1-2 Player (Split Screen)
Review Date October 97 1-4 Player (Link cable)
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SCENE
GENRE
GRAPHICS
SOUND
PLAYABILITY
VALUE
OPINION
 
 
REVIEW INDEX
Setting the Scene
Car & Driver Present's Grand Tour Racing '98 (let's just call it GTR for the remainder of this review), is an arcade style driving tour de force that attempts to cross or cover several genres of racing in one package.

To bring all of this together, you have your choice of selecting from eight international teams, 40 different vehicles and three styles of racing (Rally, Sports and Buggy) across six obstacle-filled environmentally realistic worlds. Each of these six locations has secret paths and additional roadways that are unlocked as players win a race on the courses.

What this amounts to is roughly 36 tracks to race on!

So buckle-up, start your engines and get ready to experience a world of driving unlike anything before!

Genre
GTR is an arcade racer that gives players the opportunity to experience many different types of racing environments with appropriate vehicles to navigate your way through them.

Graphics
GTR uses a very sophisticated 3-D graphics engine that takes gamers through a wonderfully depicted graphical environment. After having already previewed this game a little ways back, I was looking forward to the completed version to see just how far Eutechnyx would fine-tune their baby. The preview was nice… the completed version is just plain awesome. Here are some of the "eye-candy" highlights you can expect to witness from the game:

- There is virtually no pop-up to be found anywhere in this game. Backgrounds are pre-plotted flawlessly and never blink in and out of existence. Everything appears as it should and about the only distractions players can expect to be sidetracked with while driving is all of the beautiful scenery flying past you.

- Special effects include liberal use of light-sourcing while driving at night or in the fog; rain, complete with water splashing off of the car tires, incredible snow effects blanketing the scenery all around your car and, dust and sand being kicked up everywhere while traversing the desert locales. The effect's are all quite well done and add a great deal of realism to the game. Oh, there are also streams that you drive throw, kicking up water and slowing your car down when you go throw them. The effect is very reminiscent of Rally Cross.

- Background objects that move about the scenery like a helicopter flying around the track area and an enclosed gondola drifting along the mountain side to name a few.

The frame rate is fast and furious at the later levels of the game with no slow-down at all. Even in the two-player split screen mode, there is no loss of frame rate or graphic detail. The 3-D engine performs flawlessly.

The tracks in the game are graphically diverse and supposedly accurate to their real-life environments. It becomes quite obvious that a great amount of care was taken to present the lush scenery of each and every track.

The only minus I could come up with on the graphic side is the occasional polygon clipping that rears it's ugly head every so often. This happens rarely, so it really isn't much of a problem and doesn't hinder game-play in the least.

Sounds and Effects
Right from the first menu screen you a presented with a solid, driving, bottom end heavy rock & roll sound track. The musical score accents the racing theme perfectly and gets your blood appropriately pumped.

The sound effects are all very nicely reproduced as well. Each style car has a suitable engine sound that's raises in pitch as your speedometer climbs. Good scraping sounds as you rub against another car or a wall and nice skidding sounds as you wipe out the car.

It should be mentioned that the sound effects and music could be individually adjusted to suit your preference. The only thing I found wrong here was that even with the music turned almost all the way down, the sound effects were still not as prominent as I would have liked. They always seemed to kind of hang in the background for some reason. Oh, and one other thing…I sure wish game designers would consistently include Dolby Surround in their games. This game gives you the choice of stereo or mono. I want Dolby!!!

Playability
I was surprised when I had noticed several reviews circulating around the net indicating that this game should have focused on just one style of racing, because it did a bad job covering them all. I find this to be far from the truth. Hey, if you are looking for an accurate, "down to the tire pressure" simulation style game then don't get this one…it's an arcade racer, plain and simple! With that off my chest, I'll now tell you my impressions of the game.

First things first...GTR makes excellent use of the new Sony analog controller. There are four configuration options, all using both of the analog thumb pads. Not only do the thumb pads control braking, acceleration and steering, but also a simple press of one pad yields a hand brake and the other your cars horn. The hand brake is especially useful in tight corners and is easy to use in this configuration.

Okay, this game offers you the choice of eight official Car & Driver racing teams. Each team has five cars in their stable for a total of forty cars. Quite a nice selection. Each team has their own strengths and weaknesses. It's pretty much up to you to discover which one works best for each particular track. The supplied manual provides some helpful tips in this area.

The five cars that are used by each team are the Buggy class, the Dakar class, the Rally class, the Sport car class and the Indy class. You are given the performance specs for each car prior to the start of the race. Depending on what track you select to race on, the appropriate style car is automatically picked for you. Too bad, it would have been neat to try out a Buggy class car through the streets of Moscow. Oh well, guess I can't have everything. Each car handles very differently as well. I found the Rally class to be one of the more difficult cars to control. With the extremely sensitive analog control that this game provides, I was often swerving out of control smacking back and forth into the lovely walls. After a bit of practice you begin to compensate and it's off you go!

The six main racecourses you have to choose from have been modeled from locations around the world. There is Moscow - a track that features some nice long straight-aways. Scotland - with its pain-in-the-neck twisty, winding bends. Egypt - complete with sandy dunes and hairpin turns. Hong Kong - another high speed course that really roakcs with the Indy cars. Switzerland - provides the gamer with treacherous snow filled roads, and finally Easter Island - a beautiful course set in the South Pacific.

As you win each course, another section or sections of track is opened for the player. In some instances the tracks are also driven in reverse. Oh, the designers didn't stop there either...various obstacles are also strewn about the road to really test your driving prowess. After spending a good deal of time trying to beat the 1st Scotland track (for some reason this track drove me insane), the next variation has you driving in mirror mode. No problem I figured...heck I had the track memorized down to the last pixel at this point, all I have to do is drive it backwards. Well, after barreling around a blind turn that I knew like the back of my hand I found myself confronted with a pile of boulders that were conveniently added for track #2. Ahhh!...All said and done, there are six variations for every location, each offering varying weather conditions depending on which track you are driving on. This comes out to a total of 36 tracks...not too shabby!

While all of this may sound great to you, it doesn't mean squat if the game-play isn't there. Well, good news...the game plays great! The AI of the other cars is just plain brutal. Not only do the cars try to block your passage, but in a lot of instances they wait for you to come up along side of them and then proceed to bash you into a wall or off of the course entirely. Which brings up my next point. If you happen to driven into deep waters, lava, off a cliff, etc...you die! Yep, game over...how's that for realism. To make matters worse (or better if you like this kind of stuff), on some of the later tracks, guardrails on tight mountainous turns are removed making it even harder to complete the course. By the later levels on some tracks, most of the environment is open to explore...leaving it up to you to either find a shortcut or go plummeting down a ravine.

The sense of speed on some of the earlier courses is somewhat of a let down but as you progress, especially in the Indy Class, the swiftness rises to almost insanity levels. This is one of the few racing games that I actually had to train myself to use the brakes!

The tracks are quite long (multiple laps) so the game also does a nice job of keeping you in the race for the most part unless you really can't control the car, or veer way off course. The screen displays the amount of time the nearest car behind you is as well as the car in front you...something this reviewer never had to worry about (yeah, right!). It ends up being one of those rare racers where if you lose a race, you know it was your own fault and you know what needs to be corrected next time to win...so it keeps you picking up the controller for just one more stab at first place.

You can also play the game against a friend in split-screen mode or race head-to-head as each person starts the race heading in the opposite direction from their opponent. The only problem, as in so many other racers is that the rest of the pack is gone. I guess the other cars need to be eliminated to keep the frame rate up in the split screen mode. Too bad. There is also a link options enabling four players to race!

Overall, this is a very competent arcade racer that will keep you coming back for more. I highly recommend this one.

Value for Money
With 40 cars and 36 tracks to experiment with here, you won't run out of action too quickly with this one. There is also a time trial mode that let's you try to beat the best track times, just for kicks. The game is also a blast in two-player split-screen or four player linked modes. For a racer, it offers a great deal of variety and flavor.

Opinion
TOM
GRAPHICS: Very Good Personally, I thought it was a very good idea to try and blend various genres of racing. Each car has it's own unique handling characteristics that must be mastered to win each race. The track designs are a work of art and provide just the proper touch of challenge and variety. In my opinion it's easily one of the best overall racers available right now for the Playstation or any other console for that matter. Check it out and see for yourself!
SOUND: Average
PLAYABILITY: Brilliant
VALUE: Very Good
OVERALL 8.7/10
MARTIN
GRAPHICS: Brilliant It has been a long time coming but the finished product was well worth the wait. I played this racer some six months ago at Eutechnyx studios and the improvements are remarkable. The graphics have been tightened up and now reach a standard that equals, if not betters, V-Rally. You can see far into the distance with no redraw whatsoever. Controlling your car will take a little practice since you must combine the directional pad with the shoulder buttons but this soon becomes natural and actually makes it easier to handle the cars. However, the Analog pad is a little over-sensitive and will take days to master. I loved the idea of uncovering the secret tracks by driving off the race track, into the woods and through a glowing warp. Very Novel. If you own a link cable then GTR becomes a 'must buy' as the four player, split-screen, link up will knock your socks off.
SOUND: Good
PLAYABILITY: Brilliant
VALUE: Brilliant
OVERALL 9/10

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