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With the enormous number of racing games available for the PC, it's not a surprise that a game has been developed around Ford-produced automobiles. In fact, the only surprise may have been that it took so long. The idea behind Ford Racing is quite simple -- you choose one of the included Ford cars or trucks to compete against similar types of Ford produced automobiles. Unfortunately, although the graphics in Ford Racing are tremendous, the playability is below average, as are most of the other aspects of the game.
When you start the game, you are presented with some amazing graphics that rival anything on the market. Unfortunately, the graphics may be the only strong point of the game, as the playability leaves a lot to be desired. Billed as a racing simulation rather than arcade racer, Ford Racing was supposed to be about realistic physics and car handling, but the game falters terribly in this respect.
You begin the game with a KA and can progress to other types of automobiles like the F-150 truck and cars like the Escort, Explorer, Fiesta, Focus, Mustang, Puma, Taurus and even concept cars such as the GT90. When you begin, you have to race in non-championship races before you can move on to others. There are eight versions of each vehicle with two models for every year from 1997 to 2000. It's a good selection of vehicles, offering a variety of cars and trucks that handle differently. The vehicles are nicely done and the ten tracks that are available look good as well. The settings are imaginary locations, although this has no real effect on the game itself.
Once you get past the flashy graphics, it doesn't take long before the many problems take center stage. In each race, you are competing with similarly designed and built cars. As a result, you would assume that your car would perform as well as the CPU controlled cars. However, something is amiss in this area as CPU controlled cars are faster and can turn corners much better. Not to mention that they also brake better and rarely, if ever, make a mistake when driving.
Ford Racing's physics model is interesting, albeit not perfect. The handling and speed at which the many vehicles operate is very different. This would seem to be a plus, but you soon realize that it only severs to magnify the limitations you have to work with, while the CPU operated cars seem to operate without restrictions. For instance, if you are traveling over 40 mph, any braking action will cause you to spin out. CPU cars don't have this restriction and can brake at any speed. They also have a turning radius that is so unrealistic, it looks as if the car is floating in air for a short period of time.
Collisions are another area that needs improvement. If a CPU-controlled car collides with you, they will always gain speed, while you will lose speed. Other collisions are much more realistic, but again, they magnify the restrictions imposed on player-controlled cars. For instance, if your car hits an embankment, you can safely assume that you are already out of the race. By the time you reach a reasonable speed, the CPU cars have left you in their virtual dust.
Unless you are a fan of Ford, you're probably better off waiting for future releases. If the gameplay were up to par with the graphics, this would be an amazing simulation. It's a good first step, and if improvements are made in respect to physics and general playability, Ford Racing will become a must have.
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Graphics: The visuals are the best part of the game. The cars are realistically modelled and the tracks are very detailed.
Sound: The music is very repetitive and becomes mundane the second time you play the game. Fortunately, you can turn it off.
Enjoyment: It's not a terrible game, and the graphis are nice to look at, but you'll probably only play it a few times.
Replay Value: It's nearly impossible to win, which becomes very frustrating. You probably won't have a desire to play it more than once or twice.
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Ford Racing 2, Ford Racing 3, Sega Rally 2 Championship, Grand Prix 4, Grand Prix 3, Ford Bold Moves Street Racing, GTI Racing, Autobahn Racing
Do you remember the original Ford Racing? Of course you don't. Nobody does, except perhaps a few people who worked on it. Lost amid the monthly morass of driving games, its route to the bargain bins was swift and undignified. So what has Empire decided to do? Forget about it and move on? Of course not. They’ve drafted in a different developer (Razorworks of Total ImmersionRacing fame) to knock out a sequel. And from our extensive playtest there wouldn't appear to be a great deal of work left to do. as Ford Racing 2 looks as good as done.So what are you going to get this time round? From what we've seen, a great deal more bang for your buck, particularly as the game is set to retail for less than a tenner. That’s nothing. In fact you could probably have earned it by now if you weren’t sitting on your arse reading magazines all day. (Quality mags aside.)
Thanks to the exclusive deal with Ford, the game will feature 32 of their vehicles from 1949 onwards, including Mustangs, Thunderbirds, F-series pickup trucks, exotic concept cars and 200mph stock cars. There's even a category called Movie Stars, offering a range of cars made famous by films and TV shows. So if you’ve ever wanted to have a spin in the Mustang that Steve McQueen drove for the famous 1968 car chase in Bullitt, this is probably as close as you're going to get. The cars on offer stretch to the present day and beyond, with the inclusion of so-called 'future classics' such as the beefed-up Ford GT.There will also be a great deal of track variety on offer, taking in race circuits, city-based tracks, off-road jungle action and even oval speedways for some pseudo-Nascar action.
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As for game modes, Ford Racing 2 keeps on giving, offering a generous octet of driving challenges. Standard Race is self-explanatory; Elimination involvesthe last two cars dropping out each lap; Duel sees you take on a different challenger each lap; Drafting requires you to drive in your opponent's slipstream; Driving Skills has you steering through a series of gates; Seconds Out (our current favourite) sees you collecting time bonuses to keep your lap time down; Racing Line requires you to stick to it like shit to a blanket; and, finally, Time Attack is simply you against the track.
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Something of a bumper package then, and one that is already looking like a vast improvement on the original, which had to go out and actually buy before we could review it. This time around, preview code has been readily available, and Empire's confidence appears to be well-placed, despite the reduced price tag. Bargain hunters will be able judge for themselves soon.