Ferrari Challenge

Posted on 22 April 2010 by Fahad Majidi

This will be the first time in really eight years that Ferrari has lent its name to an actual game title. Even though it will pretty much whore out the car likeness to just about anyone who happens to be releasing a racing game; Ferrari making ubiquitous appearances in everything from Gran Turismo to PGR. We know that you are thinking; if you’re not a lunatic Italian Ferrari fanboy. Why should you invest any excitement in a game where you’ll be limited to driving only one brand?

The point is, there’s no way getting around the branding, and System 3, as well as Ferrari itself, is doing everything in its power to crowbar that fact irrevocably into your cranium. This product’s marketing machine has almost taken the whole thing too far, though. For starters, F2 driver Bruno Senna, nephew of the late great Ayrton, has been roped in to test all of the cars and provide feedback on their handling characteristics, and drove the System 3 sponsored Ferrari F430 Challenge race car in its own Brazilian livery at Ferrari’s Racing Days Spectacular in June.

Massimo Fideli, the head of Ferrari UK is apparently “very excited”, and Mark Cale, CEO of System 3 has been a “valued customer” of Ferrari for over 20 years. Lucky him. Importantly though, none if this hype and back-slappage make a bit of difference in the end; all want to know is how the game actually plays. We’d like to point out that we have an almost unhealthy lust for racing games; some even going as for as to categories their own time into two distinct partitions: time spent playing a racing game, and time spent waiting for the next one to land on their desk.

Having been ushered into our F430 Challenge racing car, we were off. While being treated to an electric mix of Jazz, Nu Metal and various types of Electronica, some licensed, and some composed in-house, it was pretty clear from the start that on the simulation versus arcade swing-o-meter, Ferrari Challenge leans pretty heavily towards the former. Pretty clear, that is, from the moment we overshot the first corner and hit the barrier doing about…erm..we’re not sure; how fast to do you need to be going to need facial reconstructive surgery?

We were assumed that there was still plenty of detail to be added to the tracks that we played (Monza and Silverstone), but even without whatever was missing from the tracks, the sensation of speed along with the handling mechanics were enough to manifest that inimitable driving feeling whereby you are essentially sitting on a razor-wire fence somewhere between hitting the brakes and shifting yourself.

Something else that cropped up from our crash was that there appears to be some damage modeling going on. Fish tailing our way back onto the track and switching to an out-of-car view showed us that we’d lost our bonnet and our wing mirrors – how careless. Given Ferrari’s past reticence to see its beloved cars damaged in a way, their comes as a nice change and although we were told at the time that it would, for the remainder of our hand-on time, have zero effect on the handling, there will be an option to have it do exactly that – good news for those of us who enjoy torturing ourselves with harder difficulty settings. That’s us.

We were also introduced to racing in the wet (at Silverstone, of course), which, as well as looking lovely, also has a noticeable effect on the handling physics of whichever car you’re driving at the time. Weirdly, it was actually a little less scary flying along in a downpour. Maybe because of our natural propensity to go slower in the wet? Either that or because the visibility had dropped to a level at which we could no longer see our oncoming death. What you can’t see hurt you.

The full game promises every Ferrari model since 1947, which to those who aren’t in the know is a lot Okay, we don’t know the exact number, but what we do know is that the game will have 30 Ferrari models and 13 tracks. The spin here is that the intervening time will be used to hone each model to perfection, but that doesn’t really wash and, even it it’s the truth, will still come across as a cynical marketing ploy to get more cash from the game’s fan. Shameless. Let’ hope the game turns out to be good enough to justify it.

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