There will be air. Lots of it.
While the multicore processors in today’s now-gen consoles have the power to accurately model real-world physics, this wasn’t always the case. Ten years ago, racing games were built upon simplistic, and often exaggerated, rule sets. Players would apply a few basic skills to outrace the competition, practice until proficient, and then emerge victorious. It is interesting to note that while early attempts at simulation such as Porsche Challenge haven’t aged gracefully, more arcade-like diversions such as Motor Toon Grand Prix and Re-Volt still hold entertainment value.
So when we heard that Konami was releasing GTI Club+ as a downloadable title for the PS3, we were filled with eager anticipation. However, after a few hours of play, we can’t help but feel slightly disappointed by the title. Sure, the title is an enhanced port of the 1996 arcade game, complete with remixed music and a handful of additional options. But some of the de facto gameplay mechanics of a dozen years ago seem dreadfully outdated in an age of Burnout Paradise and Midnight Club Los Angeles.
No, officer- I’ve never been to Amsterdam. Why do you ask?
Unlike most racers that literally stay grounded, GTI Club+ sends players hurting through the air at regular intervals. While this could have been the basis for a captivating play mechanic, the game’s narrow walls remove any sense of danger or experimentation. On the easiest level, one track contains a steep, rollercoaster-like drop. Veer too far off the left side, and you’ll bounce off an invisible wall. With the game’s emphasis on airtime and thin streets, play initially feels clumsy and unpolished. Gradually, the player will master the title’s racing lines, and subsequently, it’s quirks.
While there was speculation of the game having a single track to race on, this information is not entirely correct. GTI Club+ offers players a single city, with multiple levels of difficulty. More challenging races offer an increased number of junctions, testing players familiarity with the track layout. Ultimately, the game’s challenge is about consistently lowering your lap times; players who obsess over racing lines will likely find the greatest value in the title.
This summer travel Air France. Or just stay home with your Playstation 3.
GTI Club+ received a respectable graphical overhaul in its absence; the game’s cars and environments look sufficiently detailed and exquisitely colored. The game’s setting along the French Rivera, with its green palms, azure skies, and inviting waters is a beauty to behold. The game should be locked at 60 fps, but drops the intermittent frame around busy corners.
Unlike the racing games of yesteryear, GTI Club+ completely omits an option for split-screen multiplay. Instead, the developers have added 8 player online racing, team-play, and an amusing game variation called bomb-tag, where players transit an explosive charge to adjacent foes. Players with a Playstation Eye can record a number of still images for online play, while masochists can enjoy Sixaxis steering.
Overall, GTI Club+ is an amazingly faithful port of a twelve year old arcade racer. Many fans that have trained on contemporary racing games might be perplexed by this offering; the game’s old school sensibilities may be lost on them. Others, who relish shaving microseconds off lap times, or long for a time when racers were delightfully simple, will find merit in this title.