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Review by: David Laprad
Published: November 13, 1997
Generally, when a game publisher or developer enters a new genre, they start out slowly, learning the basics of programming and design before attempting a more ambitious project. However, this simple philosophy was not a part of the design specifications for Microsoft’s racing simulation CART Precision Racing. Instead, the software behemoth, along with the developers at Terminal Reality, skipped the pace lap and shifted into high gear right from the starting line. The result? A highly refined masterpiece that sets a new standard for realism in racing simulations.
Officially licensed from Championship Auto Racing Teams, Precision Racing includes 17 tracks, each of which was modeled using the Global Positioning System, and provides precise width and elevation measurements of the actual tracks within 10 centimeters. Tracks include the Homestead Motorsports Complex in Miami, Surfers Paradise in Australia, Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway in Rio De Janero, Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Exhibition Place in Toronto, Concord Pacific Palace in Vancouver, Laguna Seca Raceway, and more. A wealth of information is provided for each venue, including graphs that detail the layout and requirements of the course, and behind-the-shoulder videos of a driver racing on the actual track.
The game features an impressive level of configurability. The garage provides over 50 settings that allow players to make improvements, and customize the cars to suit their particular driving style. Drivers can tweak a vehicle’s aerodynamics, drive line, tire compound and pressure, suspension, brake proportioning, fuel consumption, ballast positioning, and mirror angles. Players can also opt to include tire wear, fuel consumption, crash damage, and prepare a pit stop strategy. Drivers can then save the settings and take the car out for a test drive before attempting a full-fledged race. When the testing is complete, race engineer Nigel Bennett, an experienced race engineer, can recommend changes in your car setup to improve your on-track performance. This is accomplished by posing a series of questions focused on isolating specific car-handling issues. If you prefer, he will even make the changes for you.
After things are running smooth, players can race a complete season with the pros, or just a single race weekend. If you choose to race a full season, you’ll follow the same 1997 schedule as the pros, racing all 17 tracks in the 1997 PPG CART World Series circuit, starting with the Miami race and ending the season at Fontana. The goal is to accumulate the most qualifying and race points and win the championship. For each of the 17 tracks, you have the opportunity to drive six weekend sessions. You may decide not to race all the sessions, but if you skip both qualifying sessions or the Sunday Race sessions, you cannot earn points.
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