Thursday 20 August 2015

3D Grand Prix (Amstrad CPC review)

Developer: Exopal Software
Publisher: Amsoft
Released: 1985

3D Grand Prix is a racing game that was also released on the Super Sport II compilation.

Eight real-world tracks are on offer that take place at Zandvoort, Silverstone, Anderstorp, Jarama, Roeun, Brands Hatch, Kyalami and Mosport. Each consists of three laps and you must finish in third place or better to move onto the next race. To accelerate and brake you simply use Up / Down on the joystick, while the fire button changes gears. The game is more of a simulation than an arcade take on the sport and the amount of realism is stunning. Going round a corner too fast will see your controls locked as you skid off the track and eventually come to a halt. The 3D first-person viewpoint looks amazing for the time and the action moves along at a brisk pace. It's all very impressive and little details such as a moving steering wheel and tires that roll with the scenery are all present. There's a nice scaling effect with the cars and scenery and it's even replicated in your wing mirrors. It does take a bit too long to complete a singular lap but the racing is fun and engaging. The tracks are unique and well represented graphically but they're incredibly narrow which makes passing the bulky cars in front of you a real challenge. This certainly adds realism but it can lead to frustration as there are limited straights in each track where you can just speed past them on the outside. The handy wing mirrors do help here though and the key is to use them to see whether you've passed an opponent before heading into a corner, otherwise you'll crash into them. In the first few races crashing isn't a big issue but in later tracks it can seriously hinder you as it's tough to catch up with your speedy opponents. The challenge is fair though and increases steadily so it's possible to see a few of the tracks on your first go.

3D Grand Prix is a technical masterpiece with some solid gameplay to back up the visuals. It's still very playable today and although I'm not usually a fan of racing simulations this one is enjoyable with just the right level of challenge.

Random trivia: Exopal Software also developed another game for the Amstrad CPC that was published by Amsoft in 1985; it was a strategy title called Gatecrasher.

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