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Review by: Emil Pagliarulo
Published: September 24, 1997
Lord knows there are plenty of racing sims on the market right now. With titles like X-Car, Formula 1, Power F1, and even Carmageddon sitting on store shelves, motorheads have plenty to choose from. Unfortunately, all of these games (like most games) will cost you well over $30. A gamer on a budget need not despair, however. Wizardworks, now also known as the GT Interactive Value Division, has just released Circuit Racer, a racing simulation for the financially impaired. At a retail price of around $20, Circuit Racer offers quite a bit of racing action at half the price.
Circuit Racer is actually a European import, and was created and first released in Spain some time ago under the name Speed Haste. Early European reviews were excellent, and the game was hailed as a incredible racing simulation with spectacular graphics. Well, either the European review standards are lower or Speed Haste really was cutting-edge when it was first released. Regardless of the reasons for the praise, Circuit Racer is no technological marvel. Still, for what it is, this budget racing sim does deliver some good driving action.
What really makes Circuit Racer a worthwhile game is a feature I have yet to see in the more well-known, more expensive racing sims. The player can choose to play the game using stock cars or Formula 1 racers. This design element has been flawlessly interwoven into the gameplay, broadens the player’s choices, and really does change the feel of the game significantly depending on which mode is chosen. Formula 1 cars are faster and generally handle better than the larger, clumsier stock cars.
Starting up Circuit Racer presents the player with a myriad of options. After choosing the single-player mode (multi-player mode is covered in page two’s Gameplay section), the prospective driver can choose to compete in a Championship of several interconnected races, or a Single Race on a chosen circuit. He or she must then select a Race Mode of either five laps or no time limit at all, and choose the Car Model — Formula 1 or stock. Two players can even opt to play against each other via a split-screen.
In a Single Race and Practice session, the player has two choices to make: circuit and car. There are seven circuits to choose from, and each is defined by its length in kilometers, best time, and record time. The tracks are also differentiated by difficulty, ie., how tough they are to navigate depending on turns, etc. Fast Lane and Indiana are pretty basic, and are considered “Beginner” circuits. Racer’s Edge, The Tomahawk, and Twin Lakes are the game’s “Amateur” tracks, and The City and No Man’s Land are meant only for the “Pro.”
There are twelve cars available in Circuit Racer — six Formula 1 and six stock. Each has a name, a skill level, maximum speed in KPH, and either an automatic or manual transmission. The six Formula 1 cars, in order of skill level, are the Phoenix Engine, Blue Steel, Dream Maker, Frozen Sky, Speed Demon, and Black Bullet. The six stock cars are, also in order of skill level, are the Road Star, The Flame, Skein, Black Fury, Lucky Horse, and The Miracle. All of the cars range in skill/difficulty level just as the circuits do, from Beginner, to Amateur, to Pro.
Once the circuit and car are selected, it’s pretty smooth going. There is enough variety in the tracks and vehicle performances to ensure some fun (if not entirely exciting) races.
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