Aah yes. The thrill of the race, the heart-pounding rush as you take a competitor on the inside of the chicane, the grim determination clouding your face as you zoom up the straight. We are in the motor racing world, and I love it. Now, I will have to admit right away that I do not know a lot about this sport, but maybe there is not that much to know. I mean, isn't it just a load of people who like to drive cars very fast getting together and, er, trying to drive faster than each other? I mean, that is right, isn't it?
The game bears Nigel Mansell's name, and it is going to be popular because he is. It has got his picture on the front and everything. But a lot of people have been waiting to see what the game is like. Thus starts the controversy, because most people in the office who copped a look while I was playing expressed disappointment, some quite violently, and came out with some very valid reasons why it is not worth downloading. Somebody chucked a copy of Vroom at me to prove the point, and it all started to look a bit inevitable. But then comes the big question - why did I have so much fun playing it? Why is it that I am going to sneak it out of the office so that I can play it at home? These questions need to be answered.
All right, let us talk about the game. It is a bit of a halfway house, being a cross between a simulator and an arcade game. You play Nigel Mansell, although you can change your name if you want, and you take part in the full 1992 Grand Prix season. As well as going for the full season you can also choose to race one circuit, from any of the Grand Prix tracks, in a one-off. If you are new to all this, like me, then you get a chance to practice a course without the hindrance of other cars, and there is also an option to improve your driving with Nigel himself. Unfortunately, this is a bit crap. You go round the track and a picture of Nigel appears on the screen to tell you what you are doing wrong. There is a track line to give you an indication of where you should be on the road, which is very handy, but Nigel's comments are mainly restricted to completely obvious things like "keep on the road" and "go on, speed up". Thanks, Nigel.
This aside, you really want to get stuck into the races and start enjoying the game itself. If you are doing a single track race, you are given a choice of where you want to race first of all. The tracks are not completely accurate representations of the real thing (for some reason the Silverstone is two years out of date, so I am reliably told), but they are fun anyway and they all vary in difficulty and require different driving skills. The weather conditions during the race depend on where you are racing (obviously, it is not going to be anything but sunny in Mexico). Sometimes there might me some rain or threatening clouds, and all this combines to give you a lot of variety in the races you will be running.
THE HITS KEEP ON COMING
Before you start you can set up your car using the Tuning Your Car option. Here you can choose what type of tires you want to use - hard, soft, wet (that is worth an 'ooer', I think). Obviously, if it is raining you want to choose wet, but if the rein stops you might want to go into the pits and change them, as they wear out quicker. Soft tires improve the grip and make cornering easier, but need changing more often (maybe twice in the race). In this section you also choose your gear ratio between low, medium and high - low gives you good acceleration but reduces the top speed, medium has a balance of speed and acceleration and high gives top speed with less acceleration. You pays your money, you makes your choice. You can choose between automatic and manual gears, but I prefer auto because you do not really want to be bothered changing gears while you are roaring round a track. But you do get more control with manual gears.
OZONE FRIENDLY AEROFOIL
Finally you can choose how your aerofoil is positioned, which affects cornering and all that stuff. I left all these setting on default, except when the weather conditions looked a bit menacing.
Before racing you can also change the control method between mouse, joystick or keyboard. Go for the joystick, it is more exciting. While we are on control, you can also use the FreeWheel joystick. This looks like a steering wheel (actually I suppose it is a steering wheel) and you hold it in mid air and steer it to control your car. It is not supplied with the game, so I did not have a chance to use it, but it undoubtedly makes you look a complete floppy brain while you are playing.
You can go straight to the race, but you won't be positioned very well on the starting grid. Instead, you can choose to qualify, where you have to do one lap and the time you take determines where you are on the grid. There are a couple of other cars which you have to avoid, but you are not actually competing against them. Once this lap is done, you are ready to go. The first thing you notice is that the graphics are rather smart. The backdrops look attractive and atmospheric, and the cars themselves are impressive. The sound effects are a bit weak though - acceleration sounds more like an electric shaver. Still. You get used to it quickly and it is good to have the sounds to give you some impression of being on the circuit. And the racing itself? Very exciting. I got completely hooked on this, mainly because after a few races you really start getting the hang of the controls and actually doing well. It is not as smooth as Vroom, but it looks a lot nicer, and there is more excitement generated by the Grand Prix atmosphere and the fact that you are Nigel Mansell. It is not as thorough a simulator as F1GP but its arcade feel makes this unimportant. It is how much fun you have while playing a game that really counts and I had loads. If you have got Formula One Grand Prix or Vroom and you are happy with those thank you very much, then you probably won't need this. But if you are looking for your first racing game, and you fancy soaking up the atmosphere of the Grand Prix, then you won't be disappointed with this game.
People who downloaded Nigel Mansell's World Championship have also downloaded:
Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge 3, Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge 2, North & South, Out Run, Micro Machines, Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge, Mortal Kombat 2, Formula One Grand Prix (Microprose)
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