Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends ReviewMatt Andrews
In the highly competitive field of racing simulation games, Rombax Games submits for our gaming pleasure Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends. With more than fifty Ferraris from over six decades of production to drive through nearly forty different circuit variations, Ferrari Racing Legends claims to be the ultimate Ferrari driving experience.
What Ferrari Racing Legends does deliver on from onset is all the class and elegance that one would expect from a game designed around the Ferrari brand. The game captures the nostalgia of Ferrari's early cars to the awe inspiring modernity of the twenty-first century models. This elegance is reflected in the menu design and music, in-game commentary, and really throughout the game which culminate in a racing sim that has a lot more class than most. You won't find songs with coarse lyrics (or any lyrics for that matter), nor will you see aftermarket advertisement plastered anywhere in the menus, tracks or cars.
Where the game will really wow players is in its ultra-realistic car renderings. Each of the fifty available Ferrari models is rendered with the most extensive attention to detail, both inside and out. The menu screen always contains one of the cars you've unlocked, and it's easy to find yourself spending extra time at the menus, staring at the beautifully rendered Ferrari in front of you. With several views to use while racing, which for many cars includes more than one cockpit view option, there is no denying that Test Drive may well be the closest platform gamers will get to feeling that they're driving a Ferrari.
Further enhancing the Ferrari experience is convincing sound and driving physics that capture the power, control, and speed of the Ferrari cars. The most impressive aspect of the cars may be the difference in performance amongst the generations of cars. Gamers will really be able to feel the difference between the early model cars and those produced just eight or ten years later. Early models will compress the suspension around curves, while the formula one racers will hug the road until traction breaks and you slide off the track. This quality and attention to detail is not reflected other aspects of the game.
Test Drive boasts only the standard racing modes that gamers expect: time trials, quick races, both online and offline multiplayer racing, and a campaign mode. Perhaps the game's most significant shortcoming is that without exception, the game modes and core game play are completely unoriginal, and quickly become boring. Though Ferrari Racing Legends excels in its racing mechanics, and includes all the control options one would expect and some they wouldn't, the only customizable aspects of the racing experience are the controls. None of the cars can be altered from their existing setup, nor can they really be damaged while racing. The little damage that does occur does not even affect performance, and as a whole, the core game play is cannot be described as dynamic in the slightest.
If the lacking core game play wasn't enough to deter gamers, the few remaining shortcomings may seal the fate of Ferrari Racing Legends. The utter beauty of the cars is not paralleled in the rendering of the tracks, bystanders, or even the garage area in which you select your car, and the lack of an online following makes online multiplayer essentially unplayable. This limits you to the entirely to the dull campaign mode, and despite the well done driving mechanics it's not nearly enough to hold your attention for the time it takes to complete the game.
Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends does a pretty good job at what it set out to do. It certainly contains the most beautifully rendered collection of Ferraris that platform gaming can offer and it does a good job of capturing the feel of the Ferrari brand from its consistent elegance to the progressive improvement in performance throughout the brand's six decades. In these aspects the game deserves due credit. Where Test Drive fails though is when it is compared to the giants or even reasonable standards of simulation racing games. The lacking core game play, failure to offer customization or any options to players, and par or subpar performance nearly all facets besides the cars themselves will forever keep Ferrari Racing Legends a large step below the top shelf simulation racers. If you need to feel what driving a Ferrari is like without leaving your couch, give Test Drive a try, but as an all around driving sim, Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends simply falls short.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.