I never thought that racing for 10th place would be fun, much less rewarding, but Ferrari Challenge changes everything. Ok, maybe not everything, but the game is about the best racing game that I have played in recent memory. For this gamer, Ferrari Challenge has three things going for it. First, the game offers realistic racing physics; or at least believable, immersive gaming engine. Second, Ferrari Challenge offers an appropriate level of difficulty, with an enjoyable learning curve. Finally, the game is fun, which is the reason we play games in the first place.
Ferrari Challenge offers a realistic experience; at least it does to a certain point. Maybe I should rephrase this as the game offers up a semi-realistic experience. Since I have never driven a Ferrari, much less any other sort of racing car, it is hard for me to genuinely reflect on a game as realistic. With that said, from my vantage point, the Ferrari F430 behaves as I would expect one to behave. Is the actual racing realistic? Probably not but more on that later. From a balls out racing standpoint, I think Ferrari Challenge gets the job done. More often than not, I find myself at the front of the pack, challenging for a podium finish, only to make a mistake, which forces me to double my concentration as I go into an all out recovery mode racing for 10th place.
Ferrari Challenge offers an approachable challenge. I hate games where the CPU does things that are seemingly out of my reach, but so far I do not think this is the case. As long as I do my part, and hold to the line, which is easier said than done, my lap times continue to improve, which is extremely rewarding. If I were fast right out of the game, of if I never showed signs of improvement, what would be the point? The challenge may have something to do with the Dynamic racing AI; I have not played around with the other modes (i.e. easy, hard, whatever).
The final point in Ferrari Challenge’s favor is that the game offers a certain difficult to describe quality called fun factor. Now this is where reviewers tend to get into trouble. If you are looking for an arcade style racer, despite the arcade mode included in Ferrari Challenge, this game is just not going to be your cup of tea. Arcade fans typically want over the top physics, quick pick-up-and-playability, and tons of cars and options. This is not Ferrari Challenge. If you suppose that simulation fans shy away from console games, because they stick to PC simulations, then Ferrari Challenge may fall squarely into a hybrid racer that leans more towards simulation than fantasy style racing. For me, spending 15 minutes racing at Monza, always on the edge is almost the stuff of wet dreams.
No game is perfect …
Let’s don’t get too crazy. The game is not perfect. You can ram into the CPU cars with little to no consequences. When cars do trade paint, the physics get fairly squirrely. For every negative, I can think of another positive. I suppose that has something to do with my love for the game, but that is what keeps me coming back for more.
Monza in the wet
I am racing around Monza, in the wet. From the cockpit view, the wipers are doing a poor job of giving me better visibility. That and the three lead cars in front of me are spraying the crap out of my windshield. The conditions are treacherous at best; thank goodness I opted to stick with some drivers aids. The wet conditions require a tremendous amount of concentration, but I continue to gain on the car in front of me. Do I really have a shot at a podium finish? I am 13 minutes into the race, so I know that I am on the penultimate lap.
I find myself in a position to challenge for a clean pass, but I enter a turn to aggressively, misjudging the wet weather brake point, which is clearly different than a dry track would dictate. Son of a … ! I am off and just lost all chances for a podium because of a boneheaded mistake.
As I attempt to recover my composure I find myself in sixth place. It has a hell of a last lap doing everything I could to finish a respectable fifth place. Sure, it was not a podium finish, but it was fifth at Monza. In the wet. If I would have done my part, there would have been a happier finish, but as it stands, I am satisfied knowing that I should have done better.