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Jarrett & Labonte Stock Car Racing is the second in a series of motor racing simulations from Codemasters that features some of the most powerful production cars competing on many of the worlds top circuits.
So how does it look.
While Jarrett & Labonte Stock Car Racing looks far better than most of the racing games out there, its only fair to say that games such as Gran Turismo 2 and Ridge Racer 4 all have a definite edge over this game in the overall visual department. However, with memorable inclusions such as fully animated drivers visible inside each car, shattering glass, body panels that distort and hang off after impact, cars that flip over and billow with black smoke when they get into trouble, break disks that glow red when used excessively and of course the fact that there are TWELVE cars on track in each race...This game beats them all in many, many ways.
The addition of a dynamically rotating track map that sits in the bottom left corner of the screen during each race allows you to judge the severity of approaching corners and vastly improves how quickly you learn the circuits. Another nice new touch is the big red overtaking arrow that appears behind your car when someone is trying to get past you (cleverly indicating both where and how close they are), allowing you to defend your position with ease.
Being a racing game the sounds are pretty much limited to engine, tire and of course impact noises. All in all they are of mixed quality with some of the cars sounding great and some pretty lame. The commentary seems to have been thrown together in a hurry, with the announcer and pit crew often sounding disjointed and amateurish.
When it comes to the actual gameplay I feel its only fair to tell all those owners of Touring Car Challenge are in for a mighty big shock as the game plays VERY differently from the first game, thanks to the car handling routines being completely re-written from scratch. So if you enjoyed getting to grips with the 'on-the-edge' twitchy nature of the cars, or loved the challenge of mastering unforgiving tracks then you may well be a little disappointed when first playing JLSCR as these aspects of the game have been greatly dampened down to the point where it now feels far more pick up and play (or dare I say Arcade-like) than those before it.
Thankfully, what saves this from becoming a kids game is the truly wonderful RACING action its-self that overshadows Gran Turismo 2, Ridge Racer 4 and F1 2000 by quite a margin. The tracks are mostly narrow and there are enough cars on the grid to make sure that on virtually every lap of every race you will be either fighting to overtake or swerving to defend your current position. Add to that the fact that contact between cars is inevitable (maybe even encourageable), with them blocking and barging you off the track (and even taking themselves off) and you can hopefully see how much more FUN this game is with the cars a little easier to drive, allowing you to stay in amongst the action rather than avoiding it for fear of losing control.
The championship mode is the jewel in this games crown, taking you all over the world. You must first qualify to join a national league with a test drive and once you are accepted you will be given a specific target for the season that must be accomplished to avoid being fired. These vary from simply getting above a specific points total to finishing ahead of a rival team in each race. Winning is rewarded with career points that are used to unlock new cars and special cheat modes.
· 23 Real Tracks from all over the world
· Over 40 of the worlds most desirable cars to race
· Real time damage effects
· Night racing and multiple weather conditions
· 2 player split screen racing with a full grid of opponents
· 4 player split screen option
· Pit lane support, telemetry info and multiple car setup options
Number of Disks: 1
Number of blocks used on Memory card per save: 1
Maximum number of Players (without a multi-tap): 2
Multi-tap compatible (max players): Yes (4)
Link-cable compatible (max players): No
Split screen multi-player option (max players): Yes (4)
Other accessories: MadCatz wheel and NeGcon
Dual Shock Pad Digital Button compatible: Yes
Dual Shock Pad Analog Stick compatible: Yes
Dual Shock Pad Vibration compatible: Yes