|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
|A.P.I Review:||NEWMAN HAAS RACING|
No.1 No.2 No.3
|Game Type:||Racing||Memory Card|
|Review Date:||April 1998||Analog Compatible|
Setting the Scene
I have lost count with the number of racing games presently available on the Playstation, but if you care to list your personal Top 5 'quality' titles then I am sure Psygnosis' efforts would feature predominantly in the roster. Two Formula 1's, a pair of Wipeout's and a brace of Destruction Derby's. So just what may we expect to roll out of the Liverpool developers studio next? IndyCar, that's what. Newman-Haas Racing has been developed with the support of the Newman Haas Team which will bring to the table their world famous drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Michael Andretti. Other drivers include Alex Zanardi the 1997 CART World Champion. Former IRL driver and the 1997 Indy 500 winner Arie Luyndyk. Former F1 driver Mauritzio Gugelmin. CART 1997 Runner up and Former 96 Champion Jimmy Vasser. The very popular young driver Scott Pruett. The British former F1 driver who won most of the last few races after an engineer change and is a potential for the World Championship 1998, Mark Blundell. The most famous NASCAR driver who may move to CART in 1998, Robby Gordon. Former F1 driver Gils de Ferran. Other top names include Roberto Moreno, Boesel, Herta, Fernandez, Ribero and Carpentier.
Developed in association with the Newman-Haas racing team, this fast moving racing game brings the thrills and spills of Indy car racing to your screen. It features 16 top class IndyCar drivers and 11 tracks to test your reactionary skills to the limit.
The hi resolution 512x256 graphics run at 30fps while the game engine has been based on the one used for Formula 1 and Formula 1 '97. In other words it all looks very similar to both of those games, which is no bad deal. While the cars do not appear as detailed as Psygnosis' past efforts, they do seem a lot more solid having lost that slight grainy look. The circuits are impressive being precise replicas of the actual race tracks although I would say that they look a little less sharp and defined as the F1 tracks. I quite liked the motion captured polygon pit crews who set to work on your car when you call in for a quick tyre change and fuel top up, giving you someone to blame when a pit stop goes drastically wrong. Talking about when things go wrong, your car reacts and responds very realistically when colliding with either the barriers or another vehicle. Things tend to drop off. First it's your nose cone, followed quickly by various sections of the bodywork. Too many collisions and your vehicle smokes and spits out a trail of sparks before grinding slowly to a halt. There is also the welcome return of the TV camera replays that were sadly missing from F1 '97. The five viewing angles used have now become standard among the more classy racing games which range from high above and behind the car to a rather neat in-car view where the dashboard panel contains a digitized readout of your speed, turbo, gear, race position, fuel, lap time and engine temperature. The best viewing angle is reserved for the smash ups when the camera zooms high above to give the player a perspective of where they are on the track in relation to other cars. Psygnosis have decided to stick with the 2 Player split-screen mode rather than go for the more daring link-up option which is a shame in my book.
Sounds and Effects
The dual commentary features famous US commentators Danny Sullivan and Bobby Varsha who I have renamed the Gruesome Twosome. Do they ever get anything right. "He's really accelerating now!" This after I had just crumpled up my car on a barrier and was lucky if my maximum speed would rise above 60mph. A few seconds after I crossed the winning line they reported that: "He's still defending that winning position". At one stage Bobby chirps in with "Would you like a sandwich, Danny?" At which point I thought to myself, "please take it Danny, it may shut you up for a few minutes". The racing car engine sounds are as good as it gets and I would even go to say that there is a slight improvement over the recent Formula 1 '97, which was developed by the very same team.
Following the tasty intro you are thrust straight into the main options screen where ten sections of the game may be tinkered with. First you must select your driver from the sixteen real names that are listed at the head of this feature. Inner options allow you to adjust sound, screen and configure the joypad. The analog controller is supported and for once uses both sticks, although I still find it a little difficult to brake correctly when the face buttons are not in use. Get this. In the race set up screen you decide on the length of each race which can be as low as a paltry two laps to a mind boggling, endurance sapping, finger blistering TWO HUNDRED. Yellow flags and damage may be switched on for further realism and crash spins have three different settings from low to high. From this point you can go directly for a free practice at the Firebird East Test Track in Phoenix, Arizona. Further adjustments may be made in the car setup screen which allows you to switch on the fuel, tyre wear, turbo boost, steer and brake assist while the front and rear downforce each have five settings. There are four difficulty settings which range from amateur to superstar. Should you decide on a single race then Newman Haas Racing includes a wide range of testing circuits. There are 11 licensed tracks spread over 2 ovals, 5 permanent road and 4 temporary street. Houston Grand Prix is the new circuit for the 1998 Cart Season. It was developed from plans and computer simulation. There's the Milwaukee Mile, Emmerson Fittipaldi Speedway in Rio de Janeiro, Road America in Elkhart Lake, Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey California, Portland Raceway in Oregon, MidOhio 200 and the Australian Surfers Paradise. It's off the Canada for the Toronto race and then back to Long Beach before concluding on the famous test track Firebird, which has never before appeared in a computer racing game. A further 4 fantasy tracks are to be revealed as the game is played. Apart from a single race, gameplay modes include a full blown Championship and a Challenge mode. There is also the option to play in two player split screen mode. Finally should you require further detail a trip around the History archives should answer most of your questions as this includes an in-depth profile of each driver, racing circuit and even the games sponsors, Newman Haas. I selected the main man Andretti, opted for the Challenge mode (Arcade), boosted the difficulty up to pro and headed off to the Milwaukee Mile for my first encounter of Newman Haas Racing. With a rolling start from pole position I had little problems controlling the vehicle. A slight skid on the first corner of this massive oval quickly taught me to tap the directional pad when turning rather than firmly pressing down. It was all over in a matter of minutes and I won by a mile. I hoped the next event was more of a challenge. Next up it was the Laguna Sega circuit and surprise, surprise Andretti was on pole once again. The opening section of this track is more like a slalom course as I weaved left, right, left before entering my first really tight corner. CRASH! Straight into the barriers. Breaking seems a little on the unresponsive side but generally the controls feel quite smooth, in fact a little too smooth. The following up hill gradually rising straight had a nasty surprise just over the summit - another tricky corner. CRUNCH! Strangely enough I was still in first position when I returned to the track - perhaps there was no-one there? "Race on! The gaps getting smaller." claimed the Gruesome Twosome. But they were wrong, I was pulling away and heading for my second easy victory. The following two races of the first challenge were slightly more demanding but I held on to win them both. Seeming as the opposition were not putting up much of a fight I messed around with the in-game options and found a rather nice map selection screen that allowed me to adjust the angle of the on-screen map. You could zoom in, out or even rotate it into the direction you are travelling. What am I doing in here? Am I getting bored? I remember when first playing Formula 1. I was so captivated that I didn't tamper with the in-game options for weeks. Challenge 2 began. What's this? I'm not in pole position. Ah, I see, a gradual increase in the difficulty. Okay, I'm up for that. I still won the second series but at least the other drivers now seemed up for it and battled hard to overtake. Challenge 3 increases the pace by moving your starting position further down the grid, switching tyre wear on and reducing the steering and brake assist. Actually it's a good idea and allows you to learn the circuits little by little before entering the final challenge where every option is switched on and then racing is down to pure skill. Once familiar with the circuits you are about ready to take part in a grueling full blown Championship where 200 laps of the oval are up for grabs if you decide on a 100% event. For each venue you are allowed a free practice session and a qualifying session to determine your grid position before the action really heats up the main race. During each session you can issue your pit orders by entering the in-game menu and adjusting your car set up. Springs, stagger, gearing, fuel load, front and rear downforce, tyre pressure and compound may all be adjusted while a wibbly aerial may be fitted (whatever that may be). Championship mode is more of a simulation mode and the cars react accordingly fighting their ground for every inch of space, so don't expect any favors in this mode. The competition follows the usual route of points being awarded for the position you finish a race which are totted up into a league table. I decided on only a 25% race lengths and I can tell you, forty odd laps on an oval can make you feel quite nauseous. I led for the majority of the race but with two laps to go a slight loss of concentration saw my car slammed from the rear and then smack into the barrier. In a split second I was in fourth position and with a final flurry I finished in second place. The remainder of the season was an enjoyable experience and one that I would return to once more, only next time it would be on Amateur setting.
Value for Money
Enjoy Formula 1? Slightly disappointed that Formula 1 '97 only had a couple of new tracks? Then this is the racing title for you. Much more of the same but with 11 new tracks to learn and conquer.
|GRAPHICS:||18/20||I was expecting Newman Haas Racing to be a watered down version of Formula 1 but in fact it is way up their with both of Psygnosis' excellent Grand Prix games. I wouldn't say that it was better than either of them because basically the same game engine has been used. Surprisingly even the ovals were a pleasure to race and not the usual boring trip around the block. If I was to pick a fault with the game it would be the lack of Link-up mode and perhaps a few more options to adjust the car settings would be welcome. Overall, another splendid title from the lads from Liverpool.|