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ups: Gorgeous Cars, Streamlined Interface, Excellent Sim Feel, In-Car detail rocks, Easy to configure
downs: Reduction of Car Damage, Learning Curve is Rather High, No Help With Some Penalties, Online Play Requires Offline Dominance

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GT Legends Review
game: GT Legends
four star
posted by: Chris Martin
publisher: Viva Media
developer: SimBin
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date posted: 08:30 PM Fri Mar 17th, 2006
last revision: 05:54 PM Mon Mar 27th, 2006

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Click to read.A Time When Cars Were Cars, and Men Were Men Who Drove Cars:

In GT Legends, from the same company who brought us GTR, you return to the Golden Age of motor sports, an age you\'re not too likely to remember if you were born after the premier and cancellation of the Andy Griffith Show. The 1960\'s and 70\'s of the golden age are defined by fast, blocky cars. They\'re the days of thunder, and for a racing fan, this is awesome stuff. GT Legends doesn\'t have the greatest presentation and its jump-in-and-play ideology might turn some off (especially with the heavy difficulty curve), but give it an hour or so and I\'m sure that your affection for it, as did with me, will grow.

Featuring 95 autos from the twenty-year span, GT Legends grabs for the classic lover in all of us. There are some familiar favorites that racing game fans will recognize immediately, notably the Porsche 911, the Ford GT 40, the AC Cobra, the Ferrari 275 GTB/C. There\'s a lot to love, especially if you have a fetish for accruing money - and who doesn\'t - and spending it collecting garage-fulls of cars.

GT Legends is basically what we\'ve come to expect in a racing game: qualify, race, earn money, buy car, rinse, repeat. In this respect, GT Legends does it well. And unless you\'ve played GTR, which - albeit in a different era - is remarkably the same as GT Legends, you might have some learning curve issues with Legends (GTR\'s was also very high).

It\'s not just that the game is hard, which it is, or that you start from the bare-bones slowest car class (a trend that certain games have already bucked), but it\'s that after you set up your controller, game wheel, etc., figuring out what to do is fairly trial-and-error. We\'ve lost GTRs crew Chief/Spotter guy who gives you hints, losing a little bit of guidance that would have made GT Legends a bit easier to get into.

I\'ve come to expect a certain amount of hand-holding in video games, especially if we\'re not familiar with a genre, and while I hate games that lead me through like they were tour guides, telling you to stop and look at the pretty sights here and there, a bit of help can go a long way. A game should find a solid balance of \"This is what you need to do, now go do it\" mentality without being too overtly patronizing. Even though GT Legends is simulating the lack of advanced radio technology, I think the spotter would have been nice, giving you reminders when to pit and the like. Races can be long drawn-out tests of endurance, and it might have been good to be given an extra hand.

The greatest strength of GT Legends is its realistic simulation aspect, to which it strictly adheres. GT Legends doesn\'t lead you like other games. Not at all. And in keeping with the sim feel of the game, is Legends\' biggest problem: it keeps new players at bay. GT Legends is another racer directed at experts and simulation fanatics.

And to many racing gamers this is a turn off.

There are options for turning down the difficulty - which add assists - but the real thrill (if you\'re good enough) comes from playing on Professional. The assists only feel right for so long.

For instance, upon starting your first race, you begin in your garage; for new gamers this is confusing because they won\'t remember setting the race to \"practice.\" But it is. They\'ll race around the track a few times before they realize that they\'re not really racing, just practicing. When they get to the real race, they might false start (something I inevitably did) and receive a \"Stop/Go Penalty.\" This is because GT Legends, in keeping with the sim aspect, doesn\'t lock your car in place at the start of the race (like a lot of other \"sim\" games). Not locking the car down is fine - in fact, it\'s commendable - though there should be some warning about it, perhaps in the manual, since it violates expectations. This would keep people from unknowingly accelerating too early.

The game never gives any hints as to what the \"Stop/Go Penalty\" is until you\'ve made an extra lap and it says, \"Stop/Go Penalty Ignored. Disqualified\" or something to that effect. To make things worse, the manual doesn\'t really give an explanation to what a \"Stop/Go Penalty\" is. Just so we have things crystal clear, you have to pit after the first lap. If you false start, you might as well restart the race because there is no recovery from a \"Stop/Go Penalty\"; you\'ll do as well to concede.

Once you\'re passed this slight irritation, the game is a 60\'s and 70\'s motorist dream. It features over 25 tracks from a handful of locales, keeping the game variable. 25 isn\'t equivalent to the insane number we\'re used to in Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport, but they\'re good tracks: Nurburgring, Monza, Mondello, Anderstorp, Donnington... you\'re likely to find a track you recognize.

The game is nicely detailed - sparsely, however - with sharp looking tracks. I never noted slowdown with many cars on screen, but for some reason in minor instances at complex parts of tracks. It wasn\'t consistent. The game does require quite a hefty computer to run some of the more insignificant details (shadows, overlays), far above the minimum system requirements. SimBin has included a nice configure mode from the Start Menu folders. Configurations should always be a one-time use and after that, never look at it again, but you might overestimate your CPU and be back for some tweaking.

The cars themselves are gorgeous. The detail put into each car - not only when you\'re admiring the paint job, but the extremely detailed interior - is particularly good. Legends has damage modeling - pieces chip off, bumpers fall - but it\'s been scaled back from GTR. Cars no longer shatter and splinter in a vibrant show of destruction. I\'m not sure why it\'s changed, as the damage modeling of GTR was one of my favorite aspects of the game.

Still, without damage modeling, GT Legends feels right. It has a great sense of power, even on the Beginner setting, without making you feel out of control. For the cars, there are 27 types, with team variations of each, for a total of 95 - not a shabby number. Each handles different, which is something we\'ve come to expect from a racing simulation. In this regard, GT Legends is perfect.

The car sounds change depending on not only the car, but the viewpoint selected (in car, hood, bumper, behind car). The detail of each engine is also remarkable. The engine can stall, clunk, and overrev, if you\'re not careful with shifting. The in-game music, however, is sort of the generic techno-rock, \"racing music\" I wish games would get away from. How many times do we have to hear the same unexciting riff? Personal tastes aside, the music isn\'t bad, just generic.

Of the viewpoints in GT Legends, it\'s the in-car view you\'ll fall in love with. Inside, you\'ll see your driver going through the motions, shifting and steering. Certain cars have indicators for when to shift, and all have speedometers and tachometers doing their things.

GT Legends\' gameplay stands out among racing games only if you\'ve never played GTR, a fundamentally identical racing sim - with a few extra nuts and bolts. The major difference is the time frame (60s & 70s) and the fact that GT Legends has a more streamlined interface. This isn\'t bad since GTR received a near-legendary 4 out of 5 stars here on GamesFirst. Some notable improvements are the shorter load times (thank you!) and the aforementioned streamlined interface. No longer do you have to select Arcade, Semi-Pro, or Simulation; GT Legends keeps it simple with Single Player\\ Multiplayer, game modes (along with Options, Driver Profiles, and Replays) and never has you second-guessing what you\'re doing.

Select Single Player and you get \"Cup Challenge\" (an overly simplistic career mode), \"Quick Race,\" and \"Open Practice.\" Cup Challenge sends you to an ascending series of races to win cups, money, and advance your race ranking. Each track must be unlocked in order to play them on Quick Race or even Open Practice, same goes for the cars, which must be purchased. Quick Race lets you jump into a race with a purchased car on an unlocked track. Open Practice lets you, well, practice in the same vein. And if that\'s not enough to get your blood boiling, take the game online and show off your unlocked cars. The only real complaint about the online mode is that you really have to devote time to the offline mode to unlock good cars to race online. It would be nice to jump into one of the monsters right from the get-go, but that just isn\'t in the cards.

Even with some problems GT Legends is essential to any racing fan, giving hours upon hours of fun despite a high difficulty curve. It\'s more forgiving than GTR but has less in the way of detail (read: crashes are less magnificent). GT Legends seems to find a nice compromise of essential racing features with more streamlined interfaces, better handicaps, and less hand-holding at Beginner levels than GTR. It\'s hard to lay fault for slight technical hiccups and irritations when the gameplay roars like an AC Cobra.

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