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If you were to experience Supercar Challenge in isolation from other racers, you’d find many reasons to be impressed. With a roster of high-end vehicles like the Bugatti Veyron, Maserati MC12 and Aston Martin DB9R, 20 real-life circuits from favourites like Monza, Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps as well as the option to turn handling realism up to ‘blink and you’re in a hedge’, Supercar Challenge is, in several respects, a purists choice.
Games such as Need For Speed: Shift and Colin McRae: DiRT 2 are being injected with head-spinning levels of razzmatazz; Supercar Challenge is as austere as a Cambridge headmaster. It just gets down to business.
Business, however, is occasionally iffy. Driving fast isn’t a problem – it’s slowing down (in Sim mode) we have issues with. Anything below 80mph feels so vague, getting the entry speed to corners right becomes guesswork. From the impression of speed the game gives you, you either enter corners 20mph faster than you should and simply understeer into the gravel. Or, you jam on the brakes so much AI cars pile into the back of you. This, in turn, highlights other problems; one, the AI is dense (as in driving randomly into walls or causing 15-car pile-ups dense). Two, the damage model is underwhelming; and three, any impacts sound like a tennis ball thrown at a shed.
Online, against smarter humans, Supercar Challenge is a reasonable stop-gap to help speed up the countdown to GT5 and you can readjust your skills to cater to the substantial challenges it presents. But in a genre offering us such visceral, thrilling, varied and gorgeous-looking racers, Supercar Challenge misses out on a podium finish.
Sep 10, 2009