Gamestyle Archive intro: back to September 2001 with this open wheel racer that I cannot remember anything about!
Taking a break from the endless supply of Formula One licensed games was an attractive proposition, more so than Jennifer Lopez by herself in a hotel room. The game is based upon the American sport known as Championship Auto Racing Teams – also known as CART. Of course living over in Europe I was never aware of American racing (apart from those awful Nascar games which EA constantly releases which no one here really cares about) and the annual Indianapolis 500 race.
As you would expect from an official license the game comes with all the teams from the series and their respective drivers, names like Christian Fittipaldi, Michael Andretti and Mark Blundell – reads like a list of Formula One rejects. In total there are ten drivers from the series with another five hidden away for you to reveal. Midway even though having access to the license have chosen not to go down the predictable route every other licensed game takes these days. Instead they have taken the opportunity to restore the fun element into racing rather than realism because this is a game, and therefore it should be enjoyable! How many official Formula One games are ruined by the over-emphasis on realistic handling and physics? Just one wheel on the grass, a bad corner or poor overtaking manoeuvre and its race over or at least no points. Fun? Not really.
It may be morbid to confess but some of the most enjoyable and stunning aspects of any type of motorised race are the crashes and crazy overtaking; something this game offers in abundance. The game offers seven real life tracks (Long Beach, Surfers Paradise) and eleven fantasy tracks for you to enjoy such as Airway Raceway or the fantastic Skyway. There are five different modes available; simulation, arcade, season, Driving 101 and Sub-games. However the arcade nature of the game is prevalent throughout and makes for a more fun experience than Gran Turismo 3 ever has. This is very much a foot down, no brakes – flat out burn type of racer with oval and street tracks.
The inclusion of a boost feature just goes to show how detached from reality this can be; a super boost results in a trail of flames being left by your car as you race along the track. The boosts are available in all modes except simulation and must be mastered if you wish to finish in the top 3. Instead the simulation mode offers a variety of car customisation modes so you can tinker to your hearts content. The game moves at a constant and quick rate, I do feel that many of the backgrounds seemed flat looking; harking back to older consoles in order to keep the frame rate high. When the carnage and traffic on screen increases the frame rate will noticeably shudder, which is unfortunate to say the least.
The emphasis is very much focused on what is happening on the track, so you won’t really have the opportunity to enjoy the scenery as in other games. Yet the PS2 as its already shown is capable of much more even if there are 24 other cars on the track; mostly being destroyed. The crashes themselves are spectacular at first with cars breaking up in front of you but soon become routine as you try to avoid them. Even though the handling isn’t what it should be (your car feels jerky and unresponsive at times) your opponents will only really provide a challenge when they become debris on the track. The little challenge offered from your opponents does reduce the lastability of the simulation mode, however to Midway’s credit they have added replay value through the form of several hidden extras and a solid enough multi-player mode. Some of extras you can unlock excluding drivers and tracks are the death car & wall, fog, night drive and many more besides.
The AI of your opponents is increased due to the nature of the difficulty setting; increasing the difficulty does not affect their performance only your own car. A different approach certainly, but it does not work here. The presentation of the game is basic to say the least, cheesy photographs of women in team uniforms appear everywhere. The static nature of the front end does not create a good impression and should have been improved greatly before release. The sound also is a let down with generic music and terrible sound effects affecting your enjoyment. Everything is very much over the top and is instantly forgettable which is why this paragraph is so short. Cart Fury Championship racer is a solid enough racing game which is above average in certain areas but let down badly in others. With a bit more care and attention it could have been far better however as a fun licensed racing game it’s a welcome relief.
Gamestyle Score: 5/10