Previews

Supercar Challenge

Preview: System 3 scores some new cars

Ferrari Challenge - pretty good game that. One problem though - where were all the Pegani Zondas, Aston Martins and Lamborghinis? Oh, there weren't any.

It's the one problem you have to live with when you make an official racing game for any one manufacturer - your limited choice of cars.

We mean, you could only use ONE car in the game's Challenge mode (the F430). Now, it doesn't matter how good the handling is, if there are games out there like Gran Turismo, GRID and Project Gotham Racing that are allowing to get behind the wheel of all sorts of four-wheeled beasts, it can't possibly compete.

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System 3 is clearly itching to spread its wings this time though, because, with that minor change in title comes a massive wave freedom to put in just about any bloody car it wants. So long as it's super, which means you won't be forced to razz around in a shitty Mk.1 VW Golf for the first two hours of the game.

Here, it's straight into the fast lane. The selection of over 40 cars ranges from Lamborghini Mercielagos to McLaren F1s and, of course, Ferraris. Now, sure 40's not that big a number, but System 3 tells us that DLC is "planned", so we'd expect more cars to be among the post-release offerings.

The new cars aren't the only significant changes System 3 is making. Ferrari Challenge's handling was pretty damn good - the feeling of weight and power in the wheels was there. You could feel the car's momentum, twitchiness and weight displacement going into and pulling out of corners, feel it respond to changing grip levels, surface water and even the white lines in the road.

But that was all a little too hardcore for some, and even though you could turn on a bunch of driving assists, the chances are if you weren't hardcore enough to appreciate the realism, you probably weren't hardcore enough to know what the ABS (anti-lock braking system), SCA (stability control assist) and TCA (traction control assist) options were.

Supercar Challenge gets over this by introducing three new gameplay-changing options that effect the way the game feels altogether. The Arcade mode tightens up the braking so you can blast into corners, break way too late and still slow down enough for the bend. It's also stops the car from skidding around, you won't lose all your speed or spin on grass.

Not easy enough? An Assist Mode will do all that, plus take over all braking for you as well, so all you have to do is hold that accelerator down and steer.

Of course if you want to race for real the Simulation mode gives you full control over your motor, which will behave far more realistically.

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In our hands-on, we blasted around in an Aston Martin DB9, and although it was clear that development was still early, the game handled solidly and ran smoothly. A good start.

Not surprisingly, as it runs on the same tech, it felt pretty similar to Ferrari Challenge, with a great sense of speed and weight, and that satisfying engine sound that roars as you power out of bends. The rain still looks great, too.

The overall presentation of the game will need some real spit and shine to be up there with Gran Turismo at 1080p, but with the new cars in there and, hopefully, a re-thought championship mode, Supercar Challenge should have the extra oomph that Ferrari Challenge lacked.

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