Ferrari 355 Challenge
“Yu Suzuki” Prestige,
Legacy and Pride. This is where it all began…and no, I’m not talking
about the latest Dreamcast RPG! This is Yu Suzuki’s tribute to his
favourite car manufacturer, Ferrari.
Yu Suzuki (or God as he is more commonly known amongst Sega gamers) has always had a thing for Ferrari’s, even way back in 1986 with the hit arcade game Out Run, you always drove a digital Ferrari, against rival Porsche’s and the such like. He loves Ferrari’s so much that he even has a Ferrari 355 of his very own; which would probably explain why he chose to dedicate an entire game to this particular model
Pick a car, any car!
Okay. Lets get one thing
straight! You can have any car, so long as it’s an F355. There are NO
other cars what so ever! F355…or nothing! But then again, although many
may view this as a downfall, it’s also a strong point!
Now that at first may seem outrageous, but trust me, it makes the game heaven-like. With Gran Turismo and Metropolis Street Racer, you have all the cars you could ever hope for, and while all the physics are fairly accurate, they are far from perfect. Whereas in F355 Challenge, Ferrari themselves say the physics are 99.7% accurate, so this game offers almost perfect representation of the real beasts.
Just remember though,
this isn’t Gran Turismo (or Sega GT for that matter) nor does it try to
be. It is an amazingly accurate racing game.
Ferrari 355 is for real. Not only do you have to contend with “usual” game physics, you’ve got the real stuff to contend with too. Accelerate from 0-60 in a meagre 4 seconds and watch your baby’s wheels spin. Come into a corner at the wrong angle and watch your brakes lock. Take a corner downhill too fast and watch your car struggle against Newton’s very own forces. Acceleration and handling is effected by the inclines on the track. You really won’t have tried anything as accurate or realistic unless you’ve actually driven a real F355!
That’s right. This game isn’t a ride in your Metro, you’d be foolish not to take a spin around the track with a driving instructor first. Learn the layout of the courses, braking point, what gear to change where, and generally, everything a real racer would have to learn before hitting it against the real players. In training mode the tracks have a red line running through them showing the fastest possible driving lines. You are told when to brake, when to accelerate and when to “move your ass!” (It is a racing game after all!).
You call that driving?
Due to the realistic nature of the game, you’re gonna need all the help you can get. F355 has 4 assists for you to make your experience a little more easier and pleasant which can be turned on or off as desired in game. Those 4 being: 1. Steering control; to stop your car over or under steering around corners. 2. Traction control; to stop your wheels spinning whenever you accelerate too hard. 3. ABS; for those of you who are blissfully unaware of what ‘Anti-locking braking system’ does, it stops your wheels locking when you apply the brakes. Finally 4. Intelligent Braking System; (IBS) the lazy mans way out! Even braking at the right times can be difficult in F355, so with IBS your car will automatically brake for the corners. You’ll want to take this off when you advance your driving skills, as it later becomes a limiting factor for race times.
Practice makes perfect!
If you’re after a
classy no frills arcade racer that you can win every race in the first go
on, then I’m sorry, but you’ve come to the wrong place.
F355 Challenge is extremely time-consuming, but put the time in,
and you’ll be rewarded with an exhilarating experience unmatched.
Just don’t expect to finish above 5th place until you’ve had a fair bit of training, as the computer AI in this game is so sophisticated and realistic, that you not only have to fight to get into higher positions, you also have to fight to stay in them, which means constantly looking into the rear mirror, the only problem being, concentrate too much on what the racer behind you is doing (whether it be trying to sneak up the inside, or nudge you out of the way) and you will end up completely missing the next corner straight into the sand trap!
Is it on PlayStation 2?
The graphics on F355 are in a word, simply amazing! The detail in the cars (granted, they only needed 1 model) is immense, there is virtually zero pop up, apart from the odd building in the very distant horizon. The tracks are instantly recognisable, for instance Suzuka has the landmark Ferris Wheel and Roller Coaster (I swear almost ever Sega arcade racer had that on!) which is clearly visible from anywhere on the track.
This is all before I even mention the amazing Sunsets that have been added, along with the appropriate lighting on the tracks, the backgrounds are awesome, and are all that MSR had missing, from beautiful sunsets. To clear blue skies, and then to grey (typical English style) skylines, in fact the only criticisms I have of the graphics are, that the courses seem a bit too sparse at times, and the crowds are very poor, and look more suited to a Saturn or Playstation title. Well that and that some of the textures and backgrounds have glitches in them, but they are barely noticeable.
Tweak to your hearts content!
Now, for the petrol heads amongst you, F355 allows you to adjust the height of the wings, play around with the suspension and basically everything about the car. The only problem I noticed was that if you don’t have a clue what effect that 0.1 mm adjustment of the rear wing will do (and quite frankly I still don’t) then you are a bit messed up as these “tweaks” (and this game shows the true meaning of tweak with the ridiculously minute adjustments you can make) are necessary to perfect your car for the individual tracks, to help squeeze that extra 3mph out of the car going around the final bend onto the home straight to pass into the lead inches before the finish.
Beat the French!
The game, despite already feeling like a complete package, also manages to cram on a time trial style network race, where you and up to 7 other people from all around the world can drive around a track in the fastest time you can. It’s extremely satisfying to win a network race, especially beating those Japanese who have had the game since summer (a hex on them!)…Well at least I assume it is, as I have never been in the position where I have won a network race. After a network race you can see a beautiful replay of the race, brilliant.
While we’re still on the subject of replays, this is the best time to point out that every replay in the game looks fantastic so long as you can stay on the track for the majority of the race. The camera angles are perfect, camera tricks with the camera zooming out but the background zooming in looking extremely stylish, and I’d go as far as saying that the replays are the best I have ever seen; even when comparing them to the latest PlayStation 2 titles, nothing compares! It’s just a shame they had to plague the off line replays with a cheesy track of music that sounds like the end of a chick flick!
Is Mr. Suzuki Deaf?
Now this is probably the worst part of the entire game, and it has to be said, the sound on F355 basically sucks, BIG TIME! Now while there has been far worse as far as in game music goes, F355’s certainly is the weakest part of the package and after the music Yu Suzuki gave us with Out Run, you’d really expect more. But worse still is how the cars themselves sound! I think they went into a Hoover factory and just recorded the noise of one of them rather than tried out the Ferrari sounds and revs, although they are nice and loud, which is just how you’d like.
The overall package!Now, if you put the time and effort in, F355 could well prove for you to be the most rewarding racing game on the Dreamcast. It’s a generally well rounded off package, decent selection of varied tracks (a total of 11 including Suzuka, Laguna Seca, and Long Beach) a nice variation of cars (well colours and numbers), the petrol heads dream as far as tweaking goes, and the best graphics of all the Dreamcast racing games. In fact, there is so much right, that this is probably the reason the audio stands out like a sore thumb on the game. It’s not bad, but it really isn’t good either.
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