Kuju
Xicat Interactive
Racing
1-2
04.30.03

Motor Trend Presents Lotus Challenge


As I walked into my local video game retailer, I noticed a shiny new plastic box on the shelf. It was titled "Motor Trend Presents Lotus Challenge." This, being the first game I have seen from a magazine company, seemed like promising title that may add a little realism into the racing genre of video games. It seems that there has never been a compelling racing simulator on the market and was hoping this would be the odd one out.

Lotus Challenge plays like a sim, and is nowhere near a game like Burnout 2, or any other arcade type of racing. Lotus challenge is all about Lotus cars, and the entire Lotus history is included on the DVD.

Graphics

Arrrghh...what happened here. I tried to let it not bring me down, but who designed this graphical engine? Graphics and physics are far from amazing, and can even be frustrating despite some innovative game play challenges. Excite Bike for the Nintendo was starting to look more appealing. On the other hand, I have to hand it to Motor Trend for putting together a game. You can't always expect a perfect game to come from an exceptionally well-written magazine. You may want to think twice before laying down 50 smackers for this title.

Sound

Easily, I can stand up and say that the audio of this game is the worst trait. The Lotus brand of cars have been known throughout history to be a sleek, fast powerful vehicle that offers great handling at high speeds. This does not however automatically suggest to add lawnmower engines that burn nitrous oxide to the mix. The cars all have a likeness in the way the engine roars…or in this case lawnmower roars. The deep "drone" noises are enough to make you dizzy and put you in a trance. The Playstation 2 counterpart offers a distinct scratch to the audio…maybe to add an aged effect. Brilliant developers never stop showing up, do they?

Gameplay

Maybe you can already guess that a game with weak graphics and a A-Track sound system built in that the gameplay would maybe try and make up for it, right? WRONG. The physics on this game are similar to Tokyo Extreme Racer for the Dreamcast. The gameplay is stiff, but so are most simulation racers. You can never seem to pull off those turns no matter how fast you are going. Sometimes I find myself not even worrying about the race, but just driving in the Indy Car mode and straight into a wall just to see the glorifying explosion of rubber and metal objects all over the screen! Considering I can't even make the turn anyways, why bother?

There are 38 total cars to choose from, and each has its own attributes. One of the fastest cars that the game starts you off with is the GTI (1997). It can reach speeds close to 200MPH. There are 15 tracks to race on, which include places like London, Florida, Tokyo, etc.

The computer AI really needs a face-lift. The "I" in "AI" should be taken out. While jetting down the road at 200mph, you seem to get the feeling that you are the only one on the road at all! Every computer driver seems to have a programmed path around the track and there is nothing you can do about it! Also, the handling of the vehicles resemble a Yugo. The more expensive the car gets in this game, the worse it handles. That's why I drive a Honda J.

The actual amount of car damage can be regulated before each race. Easy options are: No damage, minor damage, and full car damage. Full car damage will damage the physical body of the car, as well as the mechanical parts of the car.

There are many challenges and modes in this title that keep you coming back for more! I especially like the one where you have to drive a large soccer ball past an automobile goalie and two poles. Another is where you have to catch a van full of car parts before it reaches the border to make sure it gets the right race! Astounding feature, don't you agree?

Bottom Line:

Many of you Lotus fans will rush out and buy this game within the drop of a hat no matter what any review says. That is what keeps you a die-hard fan of what you indulge on. If you are looking for a fast paced, live-for-the-moment, smash 'em up, have a good time, good racing simulator, don't get this one. Try out Burnout 2 Director's Cut. That will soothe your appetite for a sense of thrilling, illegal, racing. Overall it is a nice attempt by Kuju and Xicat, and it shows that there is some real potential if they ever released a second one. Definitely give this game a rental. Simulation racing fans, or anyone who likes Lotus should give this game a chance.

-Ricky Zwiefel




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