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Grand Prix 2

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:Geoff Crammond

GAME DEVELOPER:MicroProse

GAME PUBLISHER:MicroProse

Copyright 1996, Geoff Crammond

A worthy successor to Geoff Crammond’s classic World Circuit (a.k.a. F1 Grand Prix, Grand Prix 2 is a rare sequel that manages to surpass its predecessor in every respect. Racing game guru Ben Chiu said it all in his thorough review for Strategy Plus:

“Thanks to a licensing agreement with the Federation Internationionale de l’Automobile (FIA – F1′s governing body), MicroProse’s follow-up to the immensely popular World Circuit now gives you the privilege to race against Formula 1 superstars like Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill, Gerhard Berger, Jean Alesi, and Mikka Hakkinen (on a computer of course, but in reality, the closest the vast majority of us F1 fans will ever get). The simulation pits you against a re- creation of the 1994 F1 season. Rather than having to rewrite the drivers and team names and drive generic, plain colored cars as you did in the previous title, here the software accurately (and beautifully) reproduces all of the F1 sponsors, cars, and drivers, right down to their helmets. The design also depicts the rule changes ? such as the banning of traction control and the addition of downforce reducing planks ? implemented around the time of the Ayrton Senna tragedy.

When you first start driving laps, the car modeling in the design isn’t readily apparent. This is mainly because you are only given a generic car setup to start with, and naturally, how it feels is highly dependent on your setup. However, make no mistake about it, working on your car here actually does something useful, and is ultimately the only way to go fast. The attention to the real world racing detail is unparalleled; more than that ? it’s awesome. In addition to having control over the usual brake bias, gear ratios, wings, and sway bars, in this incarnation you can adjust packers, springs and damper (shocks) valving! This means you have control over both bump and rebound velocity sensitive dampening. If you have no idea what this means, don’t worry; you have the option of learning and adjusting things in levels, so you can leave them alone until you’re ready. When you want to delve into the next steps, the included manual does a very good job of explaining F1 car dynamics; there’s also a data recorder that charts your car’s performance, to help you along. While this is all cutting edge, state of the art stuff, it’s unusual that one of the simplest auto racing setup tricks hasn’t been included: taking tire temps.

The enhancements to Grand Prix 2 don’t stop there. There are really too many to list, but here are a few of my favorites: you can leave the ground if you touch wheels with another car or launch it over a curb; if you cut the track, you will be black flagged and forced to slow down; the gravel trap run-off areas kick up gravel when you drive into them, and you can hear the gravel hit your car; the sounds are also very realistic, and add favorably to the immersion effect; and you can “smoke” your tires and watch it in the rear view mirrors. Best of all, you now have more pit strategy considerations and mechanical failures to deal with. All of the above add greatly to the simulation, both for feel and gameplay.

Unfortunately, no sim is perfect, and this one also has a down side. While the rather silly but sometimes handy two player-single machine “round robin” mode found in World Circuit also returns, so do the multi-player modem and serial modes. However, modem play is rather sluggish even with all graphic details turned off (it’s highly affected by the slowest machine, something technically referred to as “frame lock”). We haven’t tried serial connection (yet!), but it should work better. Finally, the menu structure is a bit chaotic, but it was just about the same in World Circuit; we all learned to live with it.

To sum up, Grand Prix 2 sets a new standard, just like its predecessor, but in a very flashy package. Although the graphic enhancements are the most noticeable surface changes, there is a lot more meat to this simulation if you want it. If you’re into racing sims, you’ll be playing this one for years. If you like IndyCar Racing 2, you’ll also like Grand Prix 2; if you liked World Circuit, you’ll love Grand Prix 2! Unless you hate driving, or don’t have fairly good hardware or controllers, you’ll be sorry if you miss this one. Except for the modem play, Grand Prix 2 blows the doors off anything else on the track.” An over-qualified addition into our Hall of Belated Fame, and a must-have for racing fans everywhere.



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