Squadra Corse Alfa Romeo

Format: PS2
Black Bean

8 011642 129181
Age Restrictions: 3+
24 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...

"Just what the games market doesn't need!" I hear you cry. "Another racing simulation." Up to a point that's true. And I have to be honest and say that things don't sound too promising when you realise that you'll only be able to race Alfa Romeo models around the race tracks. Blatant advertising tie-ins like this are usually to be avoided like the plague. However, SCAR claims to offer something new that other games in the market have never catered for before.

Instead of focusing so much on your car's performance, the developers have concentrated more on the dynamics of the driver. This I found an interesting concept, and one that certainly does add a lot to the game play.

Playing the game in the career mode you simply have to complete each race in the top three places to progress to the next race and unlock other areas of the game. Starting the race you have another areas to focus on other than the usual steering and damage to your car. This is displayed as your drivers nerve. If a driver is tailing you and intimidating you, your level slowly decreases. Once it reaches zero you seem to loose concentration and your vision blurs for a few seconds. You are also, for reasons I was unable to fathom, able to turn back time briefly - so that if you come flying off a bend you can zip back a few seconds and ensure that you break a little sooner. As we didn't receive any real instructions with our review copy, I wasn't really sure why this feature was included, but it does come in handy as it doesn't take much to make your car unroadworthy.

Now to the handling of your car. It's not great, but it's not totally disastrous either. If you are used to flying around in games like Grand Turismo then you are going to be in for a bit of a shock here. Your car handles like it's racing on an oil slick... that is until you realise that keeping your finger on the accelerator and tapping the break every now and then is not going to work. If you want to negotiate the course properly you are best advised to hang back with the other drivers and get the feel of each bend. Then, on the second lap make a break for it. And this, what I thought at first was frustrating, aspect actually adds a little realism to the game play.

While the graphics are not as great as they could have been, SCAR adds an interesting twist on an old favourite genre. Certainly worth checking out.

Pete Boomer

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