Squadra Corse Alfa Romeo

Format: PC
Black Bean

8 011642 129181
Age Restrictions: 3+
10 June 2005

This racing game with a difference sees players improve their skills as drivers instead of modifying their cars, making the ability to match a set of skills to the different requirements of each competition making it an important part of winning the race. Another unique skill is the Tiger Effect, which gives drivers the ability to turn back time and correct any potentially dangerous mistakes...

SCAR's opening titles are quite impressive with a very nice understated dance song, though one I didn't recognise. Straight after the start up screen you have a choice of five different European languages to choose from, I went for English, well that's bad schooling for you. From there you go into the Profile Management screen where the various parameters of both your driver and your car can be tweaked to your hearts content.

Once you're into the game you start on the Laguna Seca Mazda Raceway. Whilst there a number of other European tracks on offer these were all locked out, with no indication as to whether they could be played if I just stopped being so pants at driving games or whether this was a peculiarity of the review copy is never really explained in the game. The only real choice here is if, as a nubie, you want to go through one or nine laps of personal humiliation. Now before I started the race I was aware of my own short comings. In fact I'm really naff at these sorts of games and most probably explains why no one in their right mind would lend me a car, most look nervous enough when I'm a passenger.

So the first thing to do is reconfigure the controls as the default controls are not great unless you want to develop a wrist complaint in the near future. A further exploration of the setting gives the impression that the game is best played with one of those controllers that looks like its been stolen from a Playstation, as the game supports force feedback which whilst impressive would be more than a little unnerving coming from your keyboard. There is also an option for steering assistance which I turned on, hoping that it would mean there would be a driver in the car. No such luck. There are also a lot of driving assistance - I turned all of them on but still no driver appeared. I was on my own behind the wheel of an Alfa 147.

Graphically the game is much of a muchness. The cars seen from the rear seem a little chunky, but to be honest I got so caught up in the game that this really wasn't a problem. There are some nice touches, the bollards stay down when you run them over. And I should know - I think I hit every one. The sunlight reflecting on the tarmac, whilst not a necessary enhancement, gave a greater feeling of being there and my favourite one is the skid marks on the track, they became a permanent reminder for me of where id been and with a little practice where I didn't want to go again. I'm sure they just put all those brightly coloured walls up to give you something to crash into. The one thing the game does not do well is crashing. If it was there, I crashed into it, but neither my car nor any of the others appeared to sustain any damage, which was a shame.

After the race it shows you a replay of your car going round the track. I presume that this is the same regardless how well you drive as in the replay I stayed on the track; it was just like in my dreams.

Though, the game is not going to start any revolutions in the driving genre, I have to admit that I was more than a little hooked. A little more carnage would have been nice as would an idiot mode where everyone drove as badly as me. The game also supports both multiplayer and online modes, but there is a limit to the humiliation that I will expose myself to. So play it, you might enjoy it. I did.

Charles Packer

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