September 15, 2002
Ferrari F355 Challenge - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Rating Players Price
25/9/2002SonySega AM21-2$99.95

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Tracks are fairly detailed.
Ferrari F355 Challenge is a port of Sega's arcade game which was released in the arcades in late 2000, and then on Dreamcast in mid 2001. The game is yet another of Yu Suzuki's masterpieces, which should translate very well indeed to the Playstation 2. While the Dreamcast game was published and distributed by Acclaim on the Dreamcast the game will be release on the Playstation 2 thanks to Sony, however AM2 are still doing the development, as they did with the Dreamcast game so the conversion should be spot on.

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Getting ready to race.
When Yu Suzuki decided to make Ferrari F355 Challenge he wanted to make the most realistic driving game ever, and what better car to use then the Ferrari F355. Don't be fooled, this is not a racing game like Daytona USA or Sega Rally 2, this is a serious driving game where the aim is precision and total control. To retain the realism in the game the only perspective when driving is from inside the car. There are no external viewpoints while racing, which may come as a shock to some, but you don't sit on the roof when driving your car do you?

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The game includes a replay.
Fortunately for those of us who don't own a real Ferrari, which is pretty much everyone, Yu Suzuki has included a training mode where the tracks have a red line marked to show you the perfect racing line into the corners as well as sight and sound hints around the courses. The next step up from the training mode is the driving mode where the hints are removed and you can drive on the courses to improve your times. The Racing mode will put you on the track with several other Ferrari F355's to give you the complete racing experience. Following this you can enter the Championship mode where you race on the six tracks over the entire season. Just like in real life the computer controlled drivers are extremely intelligent and one slip up can see you loose several places in a matter of seconds.

When looking at tracks the game includes six real locations in total. They include the fast and twisty Suzuka, home of the Japanese Grand Prix (you can race on both the short and long versions); the Long Beach street circuit, with its 90-degree corners and unforgiving walls; and Motegi Oval Speedway for flat out, Indycar-style blasts. And of course no self-respecting Ferrari simulation would be complete without Ferrari's own test circuit, the legendary - and lightning quick - Monza.

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Smoking tyres blocking the view.
As with most good racing simulations Ferrari F355 Challenge allows you to tweak the car to your own desire. Everything from the wing angles to the tyres and cambers can be modified. But in all honestly the initial setup will be more then adequate for most people, especially those who are only casual racing game fans. It is also possible to paint the cars to your own individual tastes if you don't like the Ferrari red. The cars (supposedly) handle exactly as you would expect it too, and Ferrari would have certainly tested this game to check the accuracy.

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A simulation - with screen details.
Upon release in 2000 Ferrari F355 Challenge is one of the most graphically impressive driving games ever seen. The arcade game used four Naomi boards to power the graphics onto the three monitors in the sit-down cabinet. The home conversion, only having to display the game on one screen, should be arcade perfect, although it may be a little dated next to newer games. The cars (of which you can only choose the Ferrari F355) are wonderfully detailed and the six tracks are among the most detailed ever seen in a video game with some amazingly detailed ground and track textures. Hopefully given the extra power of the Playstation 2 AM2 won't have to sacrifice frame rate and detail in order to get the 2-player split screen mode to run acceptably unlike the Dreamcast game which suffered a little in this area.

Ferrari F355 Challenge is not for the casual racing game fan. This game takes days, if not weeks, to master but for most people that will become the biggest enjoyment from Sega's title. The detail is superb and while the choice of only one car may seem disappointing it's probably the best car in the world. For most people this will be as close to the real thing as you will ever get.