Sometimes a more arcade-styled
approach to an established racing game sub-genre can be a breath of
fresh air, taking us away from the stringent rules and car handling of
the dedicated simulations. Unfortunately
GTC Africa is not one such instance, as it comes off as a ho-hum
excursion into the world of Rally Car racing.
Poor graphics, limited car selection, and arbitrary track design
mar the experience greatly, which is quite frustrating when there are
some very nice qualities present in the game as well.
second the first race loaded up it was easy to see what the game has in
store. The visuals are
somewhat stale when compared to the competition.
There just isnít much texturing, reflection and lighting look
like a last minute afterthought, and there is just a general lack of
detail present in the car models. The
environments fair somewhat better, but itís still hit and miss there
too. On the one hand there
are some mountain and jungle terrain that actually looks quite pretty,
and when the cars kick up dust on the dry dirt tracks they do a good job
of obscuring the playerís view of the track.
Other times the environments look they were slapped together in a
few minutes as a haphazard attempt to lengthen the game.
At least no problems arise in terms of frame rate (which is
actually quite good), a definite must in a racing game, but other than
that the visuals just fall flat. Iím
all for a strong sense of speed and a rock solid frame rate, but if the
result is the overall quality of the graphics taking this significant of
a hit, maybe itís best to reconsider the whole approach to the visuals
in the game. Making the
whole aesthetic of GTC Africa even worse is that the sound is no better.
The cars sound stale, and the music may as well not even be there
it is so ineffectual at pulling the player deeper into the game.
The main problem with this game, though, is the track design. Every once in a while a nice course comes along in GTC Africa that has the twists and turns lined up in logical, organic style, but a lot of the time the tracks are setup in an entirely too arcade-like fashion. Turns are seemingly thrown in with little to no thought as to them all working to form some sort of overall scheme. In most other Rally racers on the market thereís a method to the madness and the hard turns and
flow into one another with purpose
so players can get into a groove and the whole experience is that much
more enjoyable. Here the
tracks are about as logical as a lot of what could be found in a 16-bit
kart racer, just without the cutesy super deformed characters.
it isnít all doom and gloom here, as there are two areas that stand
out for their quality in GTC Africa.
Firstly there is the car physics. All
of the different vehicles do a good job of providing that barely in
control feeling that is essential in any good Rally racer.
Itís easy to whip the back end of a car around when going into
a tight turn and with some practice hitting the gas just right as you
exit it results in cutting some precious fractions of a second off your
time with relative ease. This
combined with the tight controls of the game make maneuvering the cars
an easy, satisfying affair. Be
warned though, because the physics can come back to bite you on the
behind since your speed will tank if you swerve to far off the track and
hit the extremely rough shoulders.
other strong point in the game is the AI, as the computer-controlled
opponents are absolutely relentless in trying to beat you.
What was particularly nice to see was that there is more than one
car at any time trying to overtake the player.
GTC Africa is not like other racers where only one car presents a
challenge, while the rest are nothing more than a large place holding
wolf pack. If you are in
first place and the car behind you gets by there are still plenty more
cars behind you that are more than happy to push you even further into
the back of the pack.
the end, though, what weíre left with is a title that had a lot of
potential, but some core flaws really brought down the whole experience.
However, the game does only retail for about $30US, and for a
relatively new PS2 game you canít beat that price with a bag of
hammers. So, if you have
more money than you know what to do with, this may be a worthwhile
impulse buy. However, if
you have to be careful of where every penny you have goes when it comes
to game purchases, youíd be better off looking elsewhere for your fix
of Rally Sport.
- Mr. Nash
(September 4, 2002)
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