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Hands-on Ferarri Challenge Trofeo Pirelli - PS3

by Steven Williamson on 10 June 2008, 15:10

Tags: Racing

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As slick as a Ferrari

Ferrari Challenge can be played as a ‘sim’, where in return for stepping up to the challenge and not relying on ‘assists’, you’re rewarded with more cash toward buying and unlocking better cars. Alternatively, you can take the arcade approach and simply concentrate on getting around the track safely and as quickly as possible.

The first thing that stood out for me was just how visually impressive the game is, with cars immaculately and stylishly designed and a high level of detail in their bodywork and interiors. The cars look beautiful on track especially with rain bouncing off their hoods, but more so when the sun bounces off their bonnets.

The track-level reference photos that were taken prior to design stage were well worth the effort. As you peer left or right whilst hurtling around the tracks there’s great clarity in the design of the stands, backdrops and the surrounding environments as clouds float by and trees rustle in the wind.

This is also the first time that Ferrari has allowed such extensive damage modelling on their vehicles. We’re not talking the same degree as it is in Colin McRae: Dirt, where your car literally buckles around a tree, but what I did see was scratches appear when I collided with fellow racers or barricades, bumpers falling off and bits of debris shedding from my vehicle and still being visible on the next lap. Overall, the effects create a realistic-looking race experience.

The surfaces also feel authentic with a noticeable change when you move from dry tarmac to a rain-sodden surface or when you veer off track onto grass. Although the frame-rates don’t quite match up to the impressive 60fps that we’ve seen in the likes of Forza and Gran Turismo, the developer has still managed to capture the feeling of speed around the track.

There’s no blurring effects, which would have been a bit of a kop out anyhow, but instead the smooth handling of the vehicles, the accessibility of the ride and the intelligence of the AI make each race feel aggressively fast.

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Off –track, one feature that is becoming the norm in racing games is custom-made liveries and Ferrari Challenge is no different. The paint editor allows for a suitable amount of ‘pimping’ with vinyl decals, stickers, lettering, racing stripes, symbols and ‘what-not’, plus there are a set of fairly limited tuning options where you can adjust the likes of your ride height or anti-roll bar.

Ferrari Challenge also introduces challenge cards into the racing genre for the first time. They’re essentially trading cards that look similar to a Top Trump deck with a picture of each car and various categories such as engine size and top speed represented by numerical data.

There will be 60 battle cards available in Ferrari Challenge, 10 from each decade of Ferrari's history and these will then be able to be traded online after you’ve competed in a Top Trumps style game. Although the card game doesn’t really do it for me - I just want to race after all - it does give you a chance to learn about the redeeming features and attributes of each car and therefore become familiar with the Ferrari roster.

Click for larger image

System 3 will be hoping that Ferrari Challenge will be a viable alternative to other racers currently out there, such as the recently released Race Driver: Grid and the superb Forza Motorsport 2, but I’m going to hold back on giving my definitive verdict until the review code lands and I've played the game online.

While it’s true that Ferarri Challenge doesn’t quite have the depth in terms of customization as some racing games do, System 3 has always stressed it’s about the cars and the thrill of the ride.

In that respect, Ferrari Challenge hits the mark and exudes the style that you’d expect from the Ferrari brand.

I’ve yet to see the online mode in action, but it will probably be where the game will make it or break it. If the online servers are stable enough to host 16 racers and there’s a few engaging game modes and a decent lobby system, Ferrari Challenge could well be one of the most accessible and slick racers of 2008.

Ferarri Challenge Trofeo Pirelli will be released on PS3, Wii, DS and PS2 in July.

HEXUS Forums :: 4 Comments

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This is also the first time that Ferrari has allowed damage modelling on their vehicles.

lol :D


Phrased incorrectly, sorry! It should really read ‘such extensive damage modeling’. My bad.

I got to play this a couple of months ago on a multiplayer race, really good fun game, don't think the Wii version will look that good though ;)

The devs are based about 5 miles from where I live and were one of the places I tried to get a placement at, 2 peeps off my course did get a place with them though :)