This second shot could use a double shot of espresso.
I admit it - I'm an addict. I just can't help myself. The DARE program failed and Berkeley has waaay too many pushers. But before you get scared off, know that I'm talking about good ol' caffeine! When the fluoride in the tap water just isn't enough.
Caffeine runs through the veins of every final-exam crammer, every nine-to-fiver, and I'll bet, every Le Mans racecar driver. Well, at least I hope those Le Mans guys can stay awake. The idea of sleep-deprived racers undergoing this grueling 24 hour European race is more than a little unnerving.
Your chances of actually taking part in the Le Mans are next to nil, unless you've got a Daddy named Mr. Porsche, so let me introduce you to the low budget alternative. Get yourself hopped up on Espresso and jitter your way through Le Mans 24 Hours, a port of the Dreamcast's Test Drive Le Mans. It's just like the real thing'only not.
Before getting started in the main Le Mans mode, there are few adjustments you can make to your car. Your options include fuel level, tire type and downforce. Less fuel and less weight means more speed. Nothing severely advanced, but the workshop items do add a touch more realism to the game.
The basics are the same as the Dreamcast version. You're still in a 24 hour race for supremacy that can be compressed all the way down to ten minutes. If you still want to run the full 24, you can with the help of the nifty pit stop save.
In addition to the Le Mans racetrack, there are Quick Race modes (I doubt it will be quick, considering the load times), a Championship mode that will take you through other European tracks, Time Trials, and a little One-on-One multiplayer action.
The graphics in this version of Le Mans are sick with a case of the jaggies. Yep, anti-aliasing problems abound. The Dreamcast textures simply have a fuller, more photo-realistic feel. While the framerate is okay and doesn't chug or anything, the whole look is dated and just not up to snuff.
The Dreamcast version also comes out ahead when it comes to the little details that round out the look: shadows, lights, reflections. These details are much more important than a pit crew, yet seem lost on the PS2. The shimmering lights in the dead of light look subtle and soft on the Dreamcast. These same lights look like perpetual flashbulbs on the PS2. At least the PS2 has some decent smoke clouds when you spin out in the dirt.
The game still controls beautifully, with the Amateur setting giving you some brake and handling assists. Even with the simulation nature of Le Mans, there is still a little fun arcadiness to it. Ramming other cars into the side rails is a blast. Sometimes, the computer will aggressively ram right back.
As a Dreamcast port, Le Mans 24 Hours fights the same uphill battle as Crazy Taxi. Both games come cheaper and better on the Dreamcast. Unlike Crazy Taxi, though, there's a little more to the Le Mans port. They've added the Petit Le Mans race, America's counterpart to the European Le Mans, as well as a host of unlockable cars from the Le Mans 2000 including the Asahi Team Dragon Panoz LMP-1 Roadster S.
Also new is an animated pit crew. Now you can watch your boys as they tune up your car. It's a little detail that helps to immerse you in the world of Le Mans. Unfortunately, there is a much more glaring problem.
Despite all these minor additions, they've missed out on perhaps the most important feature in a racing game: polish. PS2's Le Mans just doesn't look or sound as good as the original. Plus, the PS2 Le Mans takes practically twice as long to load as the Dreamcast version. It's like waiting in line longer, only to be punched in the eye by the cashier.
The original Le Mans had charge and energy. This Le Mans is more like coming down from a caffeine binge than the exciting beginning, especially when there are fresher drugs, err" games, like Gran Turismo 3 just waiting to be played. At least the gameplay is still there. But in contrast to the alternatives on the market, I'm let down. To fans of Le Mans, I suggest taking a hit of the original. Nn..now back to mm..my infusion of cc..caffiene"