Eeeeeeeeoooooooowwwwwwwwwww!!! Could this be the best car racing game yet? Matt Bielby gets his crankshaft (fnar) in gear to find out.
It's not much fun being a Le Mans 24 hour racing driver. First you get strapped to the front of a giant petrol tank containing a trillion gallons of highly dangerous fluid. Eeek! That's enough to put most people off for a start.
Then they send you off around a twisty, turny, treacherous track at 200 miles an hour, with 30 or more totally mad people to join you. And that's not the worst!
The worst is that they make you do it for 24 (24!!) hours non stop (well, actually, that's a bit of a lie) and feed you full of coffee to keep you awake. All very well, but what they haven't thought of is providing any way to, erm, 'do your business,' without stopping and losing the race. Ouch! Maybe a full bladder is an added incentive to winning and getting first in the queue to the little drivers room.
But in Ocean's new game WEC Le Mans you can stop playing at your convenience to use the, er, convenience. And there are so many other good things about WEC Le Mans I don't know where to start.
This is possibly the best Speccy race game we've seen since Enduro Racer, knocking OutRun and the rest into the pits. Indeed, though the graphics and animation are perhaps not quite up to Enduro standard, WEC Le Mans manages to remember where the other cars are meant to be in relation to you rather better, so it's a real race against other cars instead of just the clock.
WEC Le Mans has lovely large car sprites, a challengingly curvey track and a smooth set of acceleration/braking/gear change controls. However, there are no surprises at all in the gameplay: bonus points and extra time are given if you manage to make each successive time checkpoint and you spin off if you hit the trees, barriers or other cars.
This total lack of anything unexpected is perhaps the game's weakest feature. For example: the game is based on the one famous race course so each lap is exactly the same as the last, which may help it become a good simulation of the repetitiveness of an actual race but is not exactly a selling point.
Get far enough and the course switches to night for a bit, where it all gets a bit more difficult 'cos you can't see a thing except headlights!!
So, a rather fine racing game that works exactly as it's meant to but is very hard to write much about because it's so simple. With two of the best racing games (Enduro Racer and Super Hang On) being about bikes, WEC perhaps gets 'best car race' by default. We're impressed with it - but we wouldn't buy the company. (Oh I don't know! Ed)
Aha! This is the driving game that's my barg of the month, if not the year. Like most coin-ops, it's simpler than Simple Simon's simple brother - just complete 4 laps of a course without running out of time between the checkpoints. But, it's the kind of game that once loaded is harder to get off your Speccy than fluff stuck under the ENTER key! Unusually for the Ocean conglomerate, the 128K sound is rather (hem hem) 'dubious', though the graphics are top-notch. The road has more twists and dips than a '50's dance craze! The other cars progress from puttering L-plate drivers to speed maniacs who hog the inside lane of vicious curves before ganging up to box you in! The clock never reaches zero unless the checkpoint is just too far away, and the playability leaps so far off the top of the scale that you could give it a brush and get it to paint the ceiling! My only quibblette is that, no matter how slow you're going, whenever you hit something you skid to a complete halt. WEC regains some brownie points by politely stopping the clock as it scrolls you back onto the road.
What else can I say? It's better than Chase HQ. (Blimey! A complete barg - and some controversy thrown in for free. Service or what?!)
Don't get put off by the horribly boxy graphics - beneath 'em there's a formidably playable racer struggling to get out. Simply a case of driving around a set of courses very quickly, WEC scores over the opposition with some commendably generous time limits. Um, that's it really. A doozy!
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