First of all from Psion comes Chequered Flag - a game that will find you lapping away on some of the world's most famous motor racing circuits - from the relative safety of your own living room. It also features a choice of three cars, and for those who feel a little uneasy about gear changing, an automatic has been included. Intrepid participants will have to watch the dashboard instruments carefully to make sure they're not going too fast, running out of fuel, overheating, or about to encounter any of the other hazards involved in grand prix racing. As well as watching out for mechanical failure you'll need to keep an eye out for oil, water and glass, any one of which is likely to lure you into untimely disaster. But the most impressive feature of Chequered Flag is the view from the car as you hurtle like a maniac around the track.
THE COMPLETE YS GUIDE TO DRIVING GAMES
It's strange but true - normally courteous YS readers tend to turn into homicidal maniacs once they get behind the wheel of a Spectrum. We sent JONATHAN DAVIES, who still hasn't managed to get that wretched helmet off, to find out why.
It's an expensive business, driving. Not only do you have to hand out piles of dosh to actually get a car, but there are loads of 'hidden costs' thrown into the bargain' too. For a start, you've got to get it insured (in case you crash), which means serious sponds for your average Spectrum owner Then there's road tax, servicing, MOTs, petrol, all sorts of things. And, if you want to keep up with the latest fashions, you'll want to purchase a few 'extras' as well, ranging from simple '-TURBO-' stickers for the back window to alloys, buckets and twin cams. And they all mean spending lots and lots of money.
So wouldn't it be nice if you could get your Spectrum to sort of 'pretend' was a car, allowing you to zoom about to your heart's content for minimal outlay instead? Well, actually you can! Yes, all you need to do is buy a suitable driving game, load it up and you've got yourself a set of wheels.
It'll be almost exactly the same as driving a real car except that you can crash as much as you like without having to worry about your no-claims bonus. And you'll be able to choose from all the latest posh sports cars like Porsches, Ferraris and Lotuses and drive them as far and as fast as you like without having to splash out on a drop of petrol! (In fact, because driving games are so much cheaper and more practical than real cars, it is predicted that by the year 2012 the motorcar will have become obsolete, replaced by the driving game.) The only trouble with all this is that it's a bit hard to pick up birds with a 48K Spectrum.
JUST WHAT, EXACTLY, IS A DRIVING GAME?
Mmm, knew we'd have to get round to this sometime. Well, I've had a think and come up with the following spec...
- It's got to have either a car, a motorbike or a lorry in it.
- That means no bicycles, boats, jet-skis, tanks or anything like that.
- And no skateboards either. They're crap.
Seems simple enough. It means we're including Grand Prix-type games (where you just race against other cars) and shooting ones (where you zap them) but not similar-looking ones that don't have cars, bikes or lorries in (like boat ones). Okay? Phew. I never thought it would be quite so easy.
SO HOW ABOUT THINGS LIKE ARMY MOVES?
Oh cripes. Look, just shurrup. will you, whoever you are. No, Army Moves is out, I'm afraid. It's rubbish anyway.
So let's take a look at a few examples, eh? It's worth noting that, where driving games are concerned, the ratio of crap ones to good ones is a lot higher than with other types of game (apart from football games, of course). So you can't be too careful.
The YS Ratings System? You don't want that old thing. No sir, over here we have the brand-new top-of-the-range 1990 model. It's turbo-charged, fuel-injected, 16-valve, super-cooled and has a full X-pack (with droop snoot). And spots. You'll be doing yourself a favour.
It's no good having a driving game that seems to be simulating an FSO or something. You want real power, a feeling of being at one with the road and all that sort of thing. Control responses, speed etc are all taken into account here.
Assuming you remember to clean all the dead leaves and bird turds off the windscreen before you set out, what's the view like? A thinly-veiled graphics category, in other words, but jolly important all the same.
It may seem to have everything, but once you've set off, and you've been on the road for a while, do you relish every second that you're behind the wheel? Or do you want to keep stopping at the services? Or perhaps you'd rather just take the bus instead, eh?
A competitive edge is most important where driving's concerned, both in real life and on the Speccy. So do the other cars put up a decent fight, or do they just seem to be part of the scenery (if, indeed, there is any)?
So here we are. The official First-Ever Driving Game. So what's it like then? Well, it's one of those where you get the view from the driver's seat as you race round the track (with a choice of things like 'Micro Drive' and 'Psion Park' as well as genuine ones like Silverstone) in your McFaster Special (or Psion Pegasus or Ferrati Turbo). There are obstacles to avoid, like oil, glass and water, but not much in the way of competition from other cars. In fact there aren't any other cars at all. It's just you out there, and it gets damned lonely at times. All you can do is race against the clock, trying to beat your lap record. On the plus side, the car handles extremely well considering its vintage, and the road is one of the best around (although there are no hills). There are gears to fiddle about with if you choose the second or third car, and there's a great crash effect too. (Even better than the one in Flight Simulation.)
A good first attempt then, but it won't hold your attention for long.
Hunched behind the wheel of your Formula 1 racing car the endless ribbon of tarmac unreels towards you at an incredible rate - well, quite fast. This is an impressive simulation of Atari's Pole Position, although for some reason the trees appeared to be red. Perhaps it is autumn.
Rocks, warning arrows, lakes and other landmarks zoom convincingly towards you over the horizon. The engine strains as you go up hills. Instruments require careful monitoring to achieve maximum performance and avoid skidding or overheating. You also get a choice of cars. The Feretti Turbo, the Psion Pegasus and the McFaster Special Each has its own characteristics - the McFaster has an automatic gearbox, so is ideal for beginners; the Feretti is turbocharged and develops 640 bhp between 8,000 and 10,000 revs per minute.
The dashboard display has fuel and temperature gauges, a gear selection indicator, a rev counter, a lap counter and a full analogue speedometer. Real-life hazards such as skidding on oil patches and coming off the road are well-simulated. Running over glass on the road causes a tyre to burst. You wobble violently and the car slows till you can reach the pits.
Ten circuits have been programmed in: anywhere from Psion Park to Saturn Sands, or more terrestrial venues like Silverstone or Monza. There is even a circuit whimsically entitled Micro Drive.
An impressive array of keys are used to get the fine control required, at least eight for actual driving, plus a pause and an abort key. You can turn fast left or slow left for example by pressing different keys, which is great for your co-ordination; however, this is a game which cries out for a joystick option. Nevertheless, this is one of the most effective usages yet of the Spectrum graphics facility.
All information in this page is provided by ZXSR instead of ZXDB