For all its efforts to simulate every aspect of throwing a Ferrari around a track, it seems that a few thrills and some sense of danger has gone. That’s not to criticize the driving model, because it is very good, but it does feel sterile. Take the rolling start. You’re thundering over the start line at 150mph with 15 other monsters and you hit the infamous first turn at Monza. There’s tire smoke and screeching brakes, but none of the flying bodywork or spinning cars you’d expect to see in such a race. The AI-controlled cars seem too cautious. Maybe they’re worried about incurring one of the game’s speed penalties.
Like the real thing, Challenge Mode is split into three regions: Italy, Europe and the USA. It’s not difficult, but it is fun, thanks mainly to your Ferrari’s sense of weight and momentum. At first your car feels like a heavy lump of metal that’s prone to kicking out at corners and is drawn to gravel traps. But after training yourself to brake really, really early you’ll soon be leading the field home by some way. It’s a satisfying drive sitting behind the wheel of your F430.
Once you’ve turned the driving aids off, you can experience every twitch and engine bellow, and the act of driving becomes rewarding. There even comes a point where you hit the brakes just before a sweeping bend and find you barely need to touch the wheel to get around it; the velocity and balance of the car carries you forwards effortlessly. You’ve got to be slavish in your love for Ferraris to really enjoy this. We were dying to climb behind the wheel of something else after a couple of hours. It’s an accomplished racer, but we were expecting the prancing horse to give us more kick.
Aug 26, 2008