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Group S Challange
game: Group S Challange
two star
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
publisher: Capcom
date posted: 12:00 AM Wed Jan 21st, 2004
last revision: 12:00 AM Wed Jan 21st, 2004

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By Eric Bodrero

To compete in the extremely overcrowded and overdone racing genre you need a game that stands on its own, a game that changes how you look at the genre or adds something new and different to the mix ˜o tricks. Unfortunately not only does Group S Challenge not add anything fresh and different, it actually takes a few things away which results in a flat and ordinary racer that tries to make a grand leap into the genre but falls a little short.

This certainly isn't an ugly racer, quite the contrary. Courses are mapped very well, and the surroundings are extremely detailed-- not that you'll get much of a chance to enjoy it. Each time I witness how clean and sheik the cars look in these next-gen racers, I'm blown away. The cars you'll race with in this game are no exception. Shiny, clean paint jobs reflect the beautiful surroundings gorgeously. Every vehicle is intricately detailed against their real-life counterparts, letting you partake in some wonderful eye-candy. I just wish my real car stayed this new and neat looking. However, I can only look at a brand new Ford Focus or Honda Civic for so long. I'd rather be staring at a Porsche or Lamborghini, both of which are surprisingly absent in the game. There is a minuscule amount of pop up way out in the distance, but this won't cause any driving problems, unless you're staring at it while racing, which I don't recommend.

You'll touch pedal to the medal in real-life models including the likes of Honda, Toyota, Subaru, Nissan, Ford, Chevy, Audi, Renault, and many more. There are fifty cars in all, which is a decent offering. However, a huge negative to all these cars is there's no real evident change in the way each vehicle feels while driving, outside of the advanced aerodynamically enhanced vehicles. No matter the make and model, I still often fish-tailed wildly, in some cases out of control, and overcorrected to the point where I ended up backwards and going the wrong way on the track, slamming into the wall, resulting in a blown race. This doesn't seem to improve with any of the parts I can purchase and install on my car, as I had the top normal parts for one vehicle and still careened wildly out of control. I'd like to blame it on my lack of racing expertise--and to a point I do. But I feel that Capcom needed to make the game more playable and user-friendly, as trying to navigate around hairpin turns in an unresponsive (or over responsive) Viper GTS is painfully frustrating and certainly will appeal neither to casual gamers nor die-hard racing nuts.

Group S Challenge is pretty much your standard run-of-the-mill racer, with your standard run-of-the-mill modes including arcade and circuit, plus a replay theater where you can save and rerun your favorite races at any time. Like most racers, circuit mode is where you'll spend a good chunk of your time, and this is where you earn wins and score DP? (which stands for driver points). Of course DP allows you to add parts and upgrade your car, which I suppose is what you're aiming for in this game. Under circuit mode is a mode called Challenge, which includes three sub modes. Championship is where you compete in tournaments, ranging from C class all the way up to S class. Line/Line is where you race any course of your choosing by yourself. The goal is to follow a prescribed line and to stay on that line as often as you can to earn DP. The last mode is Duel, where you race one other opponent, using only the best aerodynamic parts. For each race you complete and win, you receive one or two special? cars built exclusively with aerodynamic parts. It all sounds really good until you're actually playing the game, where the excitement dies rather quickly because of the poor control. You also have your choice of perspectives in which to race, like first person inside the car or from third person view. Again, standard.

The sound effects are decent. Engines rev like they would in real life, and I can hear a difference in the way they sound, which is a plus. The music will pretty much drive you insane unless you're a techno fan (and being a techno fan by no means guarantees your sanity while listening to this soundtrack). You can never go wrong with the option to import your own music, especially in a game as unexceptional as this one. It's a real shame you can't do it here. It would definitely have saved me hours of headaches. When I retire to bed just after playing this game, I can actually put myself to sleep hearing the same bass drum thumpity-thumping in my head. Take that as a plus or minus.

I could keep going about how mediocre the game is, but I think you've heard enough. Group S Challenge is no Gran Turismo or Project Gotham. Those titles still rank as some of the best in my opinion, and it will definitely take something more than what Group S Challenge has to offer to top them. When it boils right down to it, the game just isn't fun to play, and is quite boring. I'd like to say something like I can only recommend this game to die-hard racing fans?, but that would be a lie. Die-hard racing fans would do well to stay away from this lemon, as there's certainly no shortage of fine racers to be played on any system. If you must play this game, it really deserves no more attention than a quick rental at best. The game isn't a complete flop, as its graphics are a beautiful thing, and there may be one or two minor things that could possibly keep motorheads interested. I will say that Capcom has given an honest effort at a racer here, but Group S Challenge is more of a work in progress and it could take a few years to get this one to the top of the racing food chain, if it even lasts that long.