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SCENE
GENRE
GRAPHICS
SOUND
PLAYABILITY
VALUE
OPINION



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PORSCHE CHALLENGE

Developer

Options

Distributer

Sony

1-2 Player

Game Type

Racing

Mem. Card

Review Date

April 1997

Setting the Scene

Sony are out to prove that they can outshine Namco and Psygnosis when it comes to programming the perfect arcade racing game. They have chosen one of the worlds most admired car manufacturers for the subject of their latest offering. Porsche are respected throughout the world as a company who produce cars that look stunning and perform even better. The Boxster is their latest creation and is also the subject used within the game.

So what's all the fuss about, surely the Boxster is just another racing car? Not really, the Boxster is the first new design from Porsche in almost 20 years and combines the Box-er engine with the cabriolet Speed-sters of the past. The new two seater sports car is an open topped dream machine that was designed with the classic 550 Spyder in mind. Under the hood is a brand new 6 cylinder, water-cooled engine with 24 valves and twin overhead camshafts, which is spread evenly across the front and rear wheels to increase response and stability, while the custom built suspension allows the car to firmly grip the road at full speed. The car can accelerate from 0 to 60 in a stunning 6.9 seconds, which is unbelievably close to the time it takes a man to reach the toilet after a Vindaloo Curry.

Let's be honest about this. If the price tag doesn't put you off then the waiting list, which is longer than the pit stop queue in F1, surely will. So this will probably be your only chance to get behind the wheel of a vehicle that will feature heavily in many a man's wet dreams.

Genre

Porsche Challenge is a racing game that allows you to take the German manufacturers dream machine for a spin around 24 formidable tracks set over four racing circuits. The object of the game is to complete each race in first place to proceed onto the next track while maintaining your decorum and elegance.

The Team chosen to write the game are the same bunch of people who brought us Total NBA (NBA Shootout) and is a result of an exclusive licencing agreement between Sony and Porsche.

Graphics

There is no opening intro as such, but you may load in the 'View Boxster' option, which is in essence is an advertising feature from Porsche, not a very good one at that. Designer, Grant Larson, mumbles on and on, as he draws a sketch of the new car before we finally get a quick glimpse of some hazy footage of the Boxster. Come on Porsche, I could have drawn a better car with an Etch-a-sketch.

Fortunately the in-game graphics are superb. Where can I start? The cars were constructed using over 300 texture mapped polygons and I have yet to see a more accurate representation of a vehicle on the PlayStation. The Boxster looks too good to drive, you just want to reach out and touch the car, have your photograph taken posing alongside it, Godam, anything but the responsibility of escorting it around a racing circuit at break-neck speeds. It's sleek. It's cool. It's beautiful.

Fortunately there are six motion captured, polygon yuppies that will willingly race your Porsche for you, therefore if there is any damage what-so-ever, you can point a finger in their direction. Each character is animated to perfection, and what's more, they react in real time to every touch of the joypad. So if you decide to partake in a slalom run through the traffic cones you will see their arms working overtime on the steering wheel, while a handbrake turn will see your polygon driver thrown in the direction of your turn with the G-force. The guys look tough, cool and rich while the girls brush their fingers through their hair while hitting 240 km/h.

There are seven different colored cars available for selection, with one of them being a secret bonus car that is received when each circuit has been mastered. As each vehicle is a Porsche Boxster, then the emphasis is placed on the different characters, that drive the identical cars, to use their individual styles to win the race.

The race begins with a rolling start. The camera angle swings around and finally settles in a position which allows you to see the road far ahead into the distance. It is at this point that you notice that not only are the cars beautiful, but the scenery is also visually stunning.

There are three views available, in car, above car and behind the vehicle. If you select one of the out of car views then you will notice the tremendous light sourcing that reflects from the Boxster's paintwork. On the USA circuit the sun beams down on the highly waxed surface broken only by casting shadows from buildings and bridges, while the neon lit, night track of Japan provides a realistic rippling effect as the car races through tunnels and under bypasses.

Although the cars cannot be damaged, the track can certainly be ripped up. Severe acceleration and braking will leave tyre marks on the track while loose chippings that line the road side will be churned up on contact. Various obstacles litter the route which can be sent flying on contact while a collision with the moving trams, trains and trucks will severely lengthen your lap times.

Sounds and Effects

Each of the racing characters have their own distinctive voices. If you collide with their prize possessions you hear screams of - 'hey, my Boxster' and 'ooh la la' from the blond bimbo Nikita (who seems to loose concentration when checking her hair in the rear view mirror), while the guys prefer to remain butch with their 'hey's', 'ho's' and 'too bad's'.

The sound of the 204bhp engine has been well captured and I would not be surprised if it is a recording the actual Porsche motor. Each vehicle has a horn fitted that can be blasted at will, although most of the drivers will give you a curtesy toot to warn you they are about to attempt an overtaking manoeuvre.

Each course has it's own music track and the CD will probably come free when you purchase a Porsche Boxster motor car. It is suitable background music for a driving game.

Playability

The game offers you three difficulty modes easy, regular or evil (that's medium and hard to the paupers). Increased difficulty means there is less time between the checkpoints, plus increased slow down when the kirb is hit. A quick word of warning - don't bother to play this game on the easy setting. I can only think that Sony have created this setting for very young players because its far too easy. Play on this level and you will quickly spoil the game for yourself!

Next you must choose your race type from Championship, Practice or T.T. Practice allows you to race each of the available circuits individually, Time Trial offers the opportunity to reduce your lap times against the ghost car of your fastest lap, but the real game that we turned up for is the Championship. Choose your driver, select arcade or simulation, then off we go.

Next you must choose your race type from Championship, Practice or T.T. Practice allows you to race each of the available circuits individually, Time Trial offers the opportunity to reduce your lap times against the ghost car of your fastest lap, but the real game that we turned up for is the Championship. Choose your driver, select arcade or simulation, then off we go.

Stuttgart is the legendary Porsche testing circuit that has many long straights which allows you to experience the Boxster at maximum speed. The shortened track is a straight forward circuit which, with correct line, allows you to race flat out from start to finish. The long track features a few tight corners and hairpin bends that will have you reaching for your handbrake.

The USA circuit starts off from the desolate city outskirts before entering the town centre where there are moving trams to avoid. As the track opens up you will enter suburbia where there are trees growing from a strategically placed central reservation. There is a neat short cut that opens up, taking you into into a drainage system (similar to Terminator 2), then out the other end to rejoin the track considerably further down the road.

The Alpine circuit takes you up into the snowy hillsides where the wintry conditions continually change throughout the race. You must put your foot down in order to beat the train over the level crossing or else it's the long way around for you. A snow plough will clear a massive short cut that will cut the race track in two but you will need to stay alert to spot the opening.

The Japanese circuit, with it's night setting will provide your toughest challenge. Narrow winding roads that open to become wide snaking highways with sudden dead ends and chicanes to negotiate. During interactive mode you must beware of the drivers worst nightmare, the dreaded roadworks.

The two player mode allows you to race against a mate in a split-screen, one on one single race or Championship over the four short tracks. Catch up may be used or better still, they haver included a handicap system which allows you to give your opponent a head start of up to 15 seconds. The split-screen mode has been optimized to such a degree, that at times you would swear that it moves even faster than the 1-player mode!

Porsche Challenge offers the choice to use a standard joypad, NeGcon, PSX steering wheel or Sony's latest peripheral, the double analogue joypad. The car handles well with the control pad offering an accelerator, brake, handbrake and reverse button, although Sony have set the horn on the up directional button resulting in it sounding off every time you turn a corner to great annoyance.

Value for Money

Porsche Challenge looks absolutely stunning with it's high resolution polygon cars and drivers to match. The circuits are a pleasure to behold and would be a challenge to any other car on the road, but the Boxster is a high performance sports car with a road holding like no other vehicle and the game car replicates it a little too well resulting in the car handling corners with ease, even at top speeds. Once mirror mode is accessed the introduction of a mystery driver provides a stern challenge. This is a high quality arcade racing game for those who enjoy gameplay similar to Ridge Racer.

Opinion

MARTIN

GRAPHICS:

Brilliant

I suppose Sony must be complemented on producing a driving game that does the Porsche justice, but I began to wish that I could try out the tracks using a Ford Escort rather than a top of the range sports car just to see how demanding the circuits really are. This is a tremendous advert for the cars manufacturers as the Boxster handles the corners so well but this unfortunately slightly reduces the skill aspect of the game. Put it this way, if you found Wipeout a walkover then you should progress through this at ease, but if you struggled to complete Ridge Racer Revolution then this will be right down your street.

SOUND:

Good

PLAYABILITY:

Good

VALUE:

Good

OVERALL
8.5/10

JIM

GRAPHICS:

Brilliant

I got the same feeling of total amazement playing this game as I did when I played my very first PlayStation game. How Sony have managed to get this game to look this good and still move at speed is anyone's guess. The whole game is in high resolution mode (Check out the screenshots below and keep telling yourself that they are "in-game" shots rather than intro shots!)
The game plays so well with a steering wheel that its worth considering purchasing one with the game. The two player split screen option is great fun and will keep you playing for a long long time.
The handicap option is a brilliant idea, allowing both young and old to challenge each other.
Don't listen to anyone who says its too slow, or there aren't enough cars to race against - as long as you stay away from the "easy" difficulty setting, then this is a damn good racer that takes the PlayStation to a brand new level of graphical excellence!

SOUND:

Good

PLAYABILITY:

Brilliant

VALUE:

Brilliant

OVERALL
9/10

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