Review by: Mike Laidlaw
Published: October 24, 2001
The 24 Heures du Mains, usually translated as the Le Mans 24 Hours, makes even the mighty NASCAR events seem short by comparison. The endurance event to end all, this race pushes men and machines to their limits, meaning even the successful completion of the race is a Herculean feat. Racing teams from around the world enter this grueling event to see which car can cover the most laps in a non-stop race that lasts one complete day. With variable lighting conditions, changeable weather and a high probability of mechanical failure when you combine high speeds with long durations, the Le Mans 24 Hour race is a true test of technical skill and driving ability. Now, players are being offered the chance to participate in this grueling event with the release of Le Mans 24 Hours for the PS2.
Those who own Dreamcasts will find Le Mans 24 Hours decidedly similar to Test Drive Le Mans for Sega’s system. While there have been some changes made to the internal workings, this is essentially a re-release of the same challenges without the Test Drive appellation.
As outlined above, when racing the Le Mans 24 Hour circuit the driver’s fortitude and skills are a vital component to any racing team; the car and its mechanics, though, are equally necessary to run a championship race. Initially, Le Mans 24 Hours lets players choose from a selection of twelve vehicles, most of which are based on the GT class of cars. Based upon actual entries, fans of the Le Mans circuit will find racing teams such as Audi Sport UK and Team Agusta among the line up. For those participating in a quick race, each of the cars is rated in four categories: speed, handling, braking and acceleration. In the championship rounds, however, the car’s ratings are determined by the configuration set up in the workshop. The mechanics can lower the initial fuel level, making the car lighter and faster, but compromising the vehicle’s staying power on the track. Similar speed trade offs are made with each choice, improving handling with downforce, or minimizing wear with harder tires. Catering the hardware to the situation can be equally important, since in longer races like the full Le Mans the weather can change from hour to hour, forcing different tire choices to compensate for a wet track.
In addition to customizing their cars, players can also alter the parameters of the race itself. With individual options for each racing mode, the player gains the meteorological super power to control the weather by specifying that races are run dry, take place in the rain or in variable conditions that can switch over the course of a long competition. Similarly, fuel consumption and tire wear can be set to take place quickly, at a realistic rate, slower than normal or not at all. Because the settings are event specific, rather than global, the quick race may be set up as an arcade racer, while the championships run more like simulations. You can also vary the length of the races in certain modes, allowing you to get a quick fix of turbo-charged excitement or hunker down for a long stay.