The best game ever created to feature only Ferraris
Racing games built around one car specifically always have a harder time than their peers. With immaculate titles on the market such as Gran Turismo and Forza it is hard to really find a game that can deliver that type of variety with just one vehicle. Developer Eutechnyx is hoping to change all of that with their latest PS3 racer entitled Ferrari Challenge: Trofeo Pirelli. With an ample amount of models to choose from and a plethora of tracks the game gets off to a good start, but the real test of this game is just how much do you love driving Ferraris?
When you begin the game you are forced to play through what is called the F430 Challenge (named for the vehicle you will pilot throughout) to unlock new cars and earn credits to increase your library. The biggest problem here is that in this mode you are always driving the same car. This wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t such a long ride, but completing this section of the game will run you roughly four hours. Of course you don’t have to stay restricted to this mode, there are plenty of other things to occupy your time, but if you want to unlock all of the cars in the game you will have to tough it out.
This is made more enjoyable thanks to the wonderful physics system and superb driving engine. If there is one thing you can say about Ferrari Challenge, it is that it plays phenomenally. Unlike other simulation games Ferrari is aimed somewhere in between a hardcore sim game and an arcade racer. There are a ton of assists that can be turned on and off that aid you such as braking, traction control and ABS. Turning these off makes the game much more challenging by forcing you to take every mistake as seriously as if you were in a real race. The physics engine is also extremely realistic giving you a sense of power versus speed when flying around the track at insane speeds. The overall feel of the game is superb, which is imperative in a game that decides to focus on one specific vehicle.
Outside of the challenge mode you have an assortment of other modes to keep you occupied. The Trophy Mode allows you to race the cars you have obtained in the single-player game on any of the available tracks. There is also Arcade mode, Quick Race and the quintessential Time Trial, but outside of a few settings these offer roughly the same experience sans Time Trial of course. There is also an interesting card-esque game called Top Trumps. Using a deck of cards you have to decide where your car will beat a computer-controlled AI. This is mostly a numbers game and while a nice distraction, most gamers will see it as more fluff than anything else.
Ferrari Challenge features a massive number of cars both new and old. Everything from the classics such as the 1962 250 GTO and the 1958 250 Testa Rossa to the more modern 360 Challenge and GTO is represented in the game. Each car is modeled in painstakingly detail down to the instrument panels and all of them handle almost identical to their real-life counterparts thanks to the dynamic physics engine. The realism is further enforced by the damage system found in the game. Scratches appear from minor incursions while larger collisions will result in the removal of key pieces of your ride.
The tracks are created with an equal amount of detail. The developers really have spent a massive amount of time re-creating each of these courses that span across North America and Europe. My biggest gripe with the courses though is that even with their amazing attention to detail, they all tend to meld together to casual racing fans. Sure hardcore aficionados can tell the difference between California Speedway and Mont-Tremblant, but to the untrained eye they appear to be the same combination of pavement and dust.
Of course a racing game on a console these days without online would be a crime against humanity, thankfully Ferrari delivers a solid online experience. While the community may be small everyone online plays with dignity (meaning they don’t simply turn around and run the other direction) and if you are lucky you can get into one of the massive 16-player races. There is little lag to speak of and to much surprise there is support for voice. You can also show off your customized cars online in the virtual garage. The traditional stable of modes are available and if you can find players the community really is a pleasant place to play.
The biggest problem with Ferrari Challenge is the same one that plagues most racing games that choose to focus on one specific vehicle; lack of variety. Granted this isn’t really something you can knock the game for because you know from the outset that is what you are getting into. The handling and physics are tremendously impressive and the visuals have moments of brilliance, but unless you are a Ferrari fanatic you will likely grow tired of the linear career mode quickly. However, if you are in the market for a nice compliment to Gran Turismo or Forza there are few games that match the level of detail found in Ferrari Challenge, just make sure you really love these dream cars.