Highway to the dangerzone.
Racing games on the Dreamcast have come a dime a dozen lately. DC owners have
seen it all, ranging from the really good to the really bad. With so much to choose
from, race fans have been in heaven. One very popular sports car, however, has
eluded any appearances on our little magic box o' fun. That is, until today. Ferrari
not only makes its Dreamcast debut with Acclaim's latest racing title, it owns
the name on the box.
Unlike many other racing sims, F355 Challenge goes above and beyond
the call of duty to bring you the real deal feel of driving your own Ferrari.
There will be none of that top speed cornering or pick up and play action for
rookies here. All you'll find is a serious, no-nonsense Ferrari simulator that
will blow you away.
The first thing you'll notice is the beautiful graphics work that Acclaim
put in this game. Each car is highly detailed, showing of the sleek stylishness
of the Ferrari line right down to the trademark emblem. The tracks also look
great and even the passing clouds in the sky look real. To top it all off, the
game blazes along at a perfect 60 FPS with no slowdown. And as good as the actual
race looks, you won't get the full effect of the in-game graphics until you
witness the replay. Here, the graphics really shine and you'll get to see everything
from an outside perspective.
Unfortunately, the limited replay (showing "highlights" rather than the entire
race) is the only time you'll be able to have an outside perspective. In keeping
with its ultra-simulation qualities, F355 only has one in-game view.
You guessed it - first person. Most gamers tend to stick with the third person
view that accompanies the majority of race titles, mainly to get a better view
of what is going on around them. F355's first person cam narrows your
field of vision so much that it is quite difficult to get a lock on your surroundings.
It's almost like being a racehorse with blinders on.
The narrow view is especially troubling when a car is trying to pass. The
minimal defenses in your arsenal include a rearview mirror and the small radar
that picks up cars in your immediate vicinity.
F355's high level of difficulty is addressed through a pair of tutorial
modes that take you by the hand and show you exactly what to do. This sort of
ruins the surprise of the track, but most drivers won't get very far without
it. You start off with the "Training" mode, which lays out the driving line
and provides you with audible driving tips, such as when to speed up or slow
down. The next step up before the actual race is the "Driving" mode, which gives
you a chance to practice the track without any interference from any other cars.
These two modes are great training wheels to get you ready to race all by yourself.
have been a speed bump in the road to success for racing titles and F355
is no different. While the driving physics feel very realistic, it begins to
break down when you start crashing into things. Bumping into objects keeps your
car running much smoother than it should. Even smashing head on into a wall
is only a minimal disaster, resulting only in a free spin and some deceleration.
The sound for F355 is a mixed bag. On one hand you've got some pretty
decent engine sound effects and tire squeals. On the other hand, you've got
some of the cheesiest mood music ever to grace a racing simulation. Think Top
Gun with a side of Judas Priest. It just doesn't get any cheesier than this.
F355's two-person multi-player mode gets a bit messy because of the
strictly the first-person camera. The rearview mirror is lost and all you have
to help negotiate your big blind spots is the little radar. On top of that,
your forward view is narrower than before in order to accommodate the split
Like some of the Dreamcast's newer racing titles, F355 allows you to
go online and download other player's ghost cars to race against. It's no online
play, but this is a nice little touch for those of you that are connected.
While the single car concept isn't as bad as you might think, not having too
many options is a definite letdown. Cars can't be tuned much and there are no
new performance parts to be gained.
Another little fly in F355's soup is the limited amount of tracks.
While you'll spend most of your time conquering the game's six initial courses,
it just seems as though there needs to be more places to go.
F355 turns out to be a really good Ferrari simulator, but just an average
game. All of the control nuances are there, though the move from arcades to
the console is not an easy one. Some extra options for the cars, a few more
tracks and a third-person view would improve this game by leaps and bounds.
If Ferrari is your passion, this game is not one to miss, but other drivers
with a taste for customization may want to look elsewhere before picking up
the keys to the F355.