As I have written about in previous posts, my favourite gaming genre is car racing. I loved my first Test Drive game (The Duel: Test Drive II), and I have never looked back having played most of the Need For Speed series, Simbin’s GTR series/GT Legends, and ISI’s RFactor.
One of my all-time favourites was NFS Porsche Unleashed (see blog here), mainly because it gave me an opportunity to experience 50 years of Porsche racing innovation in one exciting package. There was only one problem though: where were the Ferraris? See, to me Porsche and Ferrari are two sides of the same coin: you can’t have one without the other, and each one compliments the other and gives it meaning. Secretly, I hoped that one day NFS would reprise the ‘Unleashed’ name, but this time create ‘Ferrari Unleashed‘ and eventually ‘Porsche vs. Ferrari Unleashed‘ (the holy grail).
Hence, that is why I was so excited this past summer to see that Ferrari Racing Legends had suddenly appeared on Atari’s online store for PC digital download. Seeing that the game had already been released on July 3rd, 2012 (according to the website) and developed by Slightly Mad Studios (of NFS Shift series and Project CARS fame), I immediately purchased the game with my credit card and excitedly awaited my digital key via email.
The key never came. RAGE.
Instead, I received a form letter saying that the PC version had not been released and that I would have to wait to download it (no specific release date was given). I was really angry, not so much that the PC version was late, but that the website did not notify me that the PC version had not been released yet. I felt I had been deceived, and at that moment all I wanted to do was get my money back.
My anger at the current situation was somewhat abated by a YouTube video of an Australian chap who had the exact same experience that I had. I only wish I had seen the video before I purchased the game! In the end, I wrote a fairly pointed letter to Atari expressing my dissatisfaction, and demanded my money back. I am happy to report that my MasterCard was credited back the amount charged ($49.99). I was relieved that I got my money back and resolved that my dream to digitally race Ferraris was over. *Sigh*
To my surprise (and delight), Ferrari Racing Legends was finally released on Steam to very little fanfare on December 10th, 2012. Instabuy! And the best part was that the price was lowered to $29.99. The big question remained: was Ferrari Racing Legends any good?
After my trouble acquiring the game, I tried not to set my expectations too high because I didn’t want to be disappointed. I was a little concerned because I had read on several forums that the game was insanely difficult – even on easy. Many veterans of the racing genre were being stymied by uneven difficulty spikes and unable to complete the game due to the hellish difficulty. Would my enjoyment of the game be diminished by this too? I certainly hoped not, because I really really wanted to drive the 458 Italia…
Thankfully, I am happy to report that the game is in fact very good – excellent even. I experienced no crashes, the difficulty was manageable, the car models beautiful, and the sounds heavenly. There were some ‘levels’ or scenarios that seemed initially like they may be impossible, but I found that as long as you took the time to learn the track and the car’s intricacies, it was more than forgiving. In fact, I would go on to say that the game may have been too easy as many of my races I obliterated the field by 30 seconds or more in easy/normal mode.
However, racing against the AI was never the draw for me. The real draw was the opportunity to ‘Test Drive’ each one of these fantastic cars, listen to their sounds, revel in their beauty, and dream…
My favourite cars were the F40, F50, 365 Daytona, 250 Testarossa, and the FXX. I think I have said before, and will again, that in car games the visual experience, although important, should always take a back seat to the auditory one. I think there is still room for improvement on this front. I want to truly know what it sounds like to be in a Ferrari, and I want it to scare the living crap out of me. Oh, and also there needs to be more tunnels for me to drive through so I can hear that glorious Ferrari V12 (or V8) engine reverberate against the walls.
The only criticisms I have of the game are that a) I couldn’t record lap times and compare them (at least offline), and b) I couldn’t pick and choose to race any one particular Ferrari model against another one (only choose the car class). I really wanted to race a 288 GTO against an F40 and see what the difference would be! I love comparing lap times.
Anyways, I really loved this game and I completed it to the end. It took me 46 hours in total and it was indeed time well spent. I love cars.