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D1 Grand Prix

The high-speed, high-precision sport of automotive drift racing is starting to catch on in the US, and D1 Grand Prix is ready to cash in. Due out in mid-July, the game realistically simulates the finer points of skidding sideways across racetracks and ruining your tires.

It sounds simple, but after sitting down and playing the game for ourselves, we know better. The real-life sport of drifting takes incredible precision and skill, and D1 Grand Prix is no different, with its drifts requiring careful timing and complex combinations of braking and acceleration.

Interestingly, the goal here isn't really to cross the finish line first (although there is a "normal" race mode, for those who prefer direct competition), but to score as many points as possible for perfect, sustained sideways drifts. The longer you drift and the more dust you kick up, the higher your score. And to eliminate any doubt about how well you're doing, an onscreen drift indicator will burst into flames if you're in a good-looking drift or freeze over if you suck.

It's actually pretty intimidating, and the game even goes so far as to yell at poor players for being stupid. Newbies will probably want to push through the training mode (consisting of 12 challenges that you need to pass before starting the central D1 Series mode), which is fairly grueling, but still a big help when it comes to figuring out how to skid continuously around all the wide turns you'll hit. The game also divides its cars into three classes - Pro (actual, logo-covered race cars from real-life teams), Expert (fine-tuned and tricked out) and Beginner (boring-looking stock models), which helps ease the learning curve a little.

Once we got through the training and learned how to drift semi-competently through the Time Attack races (which pit you against a "ghost" image of your last lap), the Battle and Survival modes put us to shame all over again. Here, we competed against another racer, first starting behind them, then in front of them. Again, the goal here is to rack up points rather than finish first, preferably while sticking as close to your opponent as possible. Smack into him, though, and you'll lose all your points. On top of that, your bumper will fly off.

 

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