With the enormous number of racing games available for the PC, it's not a surprise that a game has been developed around Ford-produced automobiles. In fact, the only surprise may have been that it took so long. The idea behind Ford Racing is quite simple -- you choose one of the included Ford cars or trucks to compete against similar types of Ford produced automobiles. Unfortunately, although the graphics in Ford Racing are tremendous, the playability is below average, as are most of the other aspects of the game.
When you start the game, you are presented with some amazing graphics that rival anything on the market. Unfortunately, the graphics may be the only strong point of the game, as the playability leaves a lot to be desired. Billed as a racing simulation rather than arcade racer, Ford Racing was supposed to be about realistic physics and car handling, but the game falters terribly in this respect.
You begin the game with a KA and can progress to other types of automobiles like the F-150 truck and cars like the Escort, Explorer, Fiesta, Focus, Mustang, Puma, Taurus and even concept cars such as the GT90. When you begin, you have to race in non-championship races before you can move on to others. There are eight versions of each vehicle with two models for every year from 1997 to 2000. It's a good selection of vehicles, offering a variety of cars and trucks that handle differently. The vehicles are nicely done and the ten tracks that are available look good as well. The settings are imaginary locations, although this has no real effect on the game itself.
Once you get past the flashy graphics, it doesn't take long before the many problems take center stage. In each race, you are competing with similarly designed and built cars. As a result, you would assume that your car would perform as well as the CPU controlled cars. However, something is amiss in this area as CPU controlled cars are faster and can turn corners much better. Not to mention that they also brake better and rarely, if ever, make a mistake when driving.
Ford Racing's physics model is interesting, albeit not perfect. The handling and speed at which the many vehicles operate is very different. This would seem to be a plus, but you soon realize that it only severs to magnify the limitations you have to work with, while the CPU operated cars seem to operate without restrictions. For instance, if you are traveling over 40 mph, any braking action will cause you to spin out. CPU cars don't have this restriction and can brake at any speed. They also have a turning radius that is so unrealistic, it looks as if the car is floating in air for a short period of time.
Collisions are another area that needs improvement. If a CPU-controlled car collides with you, they will always gain speed, while you will lose speed. Other collisions are much more realistic, but again, they magnify the restrictions imposed on player-controlled cars. For instance, if your car hits an embankment, you can safely assume that you are already out of the race. By the time you reach a reasonable speed, the CPU cars have left you in their virtual dust.
Unless you are a fan of Ford, you're probably better off waiting for future releases. If the gameplay were up to par with the graphics, this would be an amazing simulation. It's a good first step, and if improvements are made in respect to physics and general playability, Ford Racing will become a must have.
Graphics: The visuals are the best part of the game. The cars are realistically modelled and the tracks are very detailed.
Sound: The music is very repetitive and becomes mundane the second time you play the game. Fortunately, you can turn it off.
Enjoyment: It's not a terrible game, and the graphis are nice to look at, but you'll probably only play it a few times.
Replay Value: It's nearly impossible to win, which becomes very frustrating. You probably won't have a desire to play it more than once or twice.
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