Ferrari Challenge: Trofeo Pirelli (Wii)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Graphics: 6.00
Sound: 5.00
Gameplay: 5.00
Replays: 4.00
Gamelength: 6.00

Activision and System 3 have brought the latest racing simulation to the console market in the form of “Ferrari Challenge: Trofeo Pirelli”.

The realm of racing simulation video games if a small one, but more of them are starting to pop up all over the radar these days. None of them are as limited as this one, though and that’s not only because of the Ferrari-only branding. If you’re looking for the next “Gran Turismo”, you wont find it here, but if you have an open mind and you enjoy the experience of racing in and of itself, hop into my ride for a few laps around “Ferrari Challenge: Trofeo Pirelli” for the Nintendo Wii.

The visual presentation of this title is far from perfect due to the obvious jaggies all over the place, but in truth, this is as good as you’ll get for a Wii racing simulation because no others exist. Tracks, backgrounds, trees, signs and just about everything else look pretty bad, but most importantly, the cars are quite passable. No, they’re not all that realistic and yes, they look sort of cartoon-like in a way, but that alone is not why this game is such a pain to look at. The biggest issue here is the horrific trees and various other foliage. It’s all colorless and just downright ugly. If graphics are your thing, move onto the next game because this just wont make the cut.

Every aspect of the sound quality screams “Generic.” From the overused sounds of the engines to the simple noises of the user interface, everything sounds as though it was ripped straight out of an arcade racer of yesteryear. This is a huge hit to a game with such a big name branded all over the place, considering the amount of realism that’s usually expected from a racing simulation. This is one of the biggest disappointments of “Ferrari Challenge: Trofeo Pirelli” and it pains me to admit it.

At least we have good gameplay to look forward to, right? I wish I could say yes, but a few major flaws hold this game back far more than they should. The first problem is the poor controls. When used as a steering wheel, the Wiimote is far too unresponsive for such a heavily physics-driven game. On the other side, the nunchuk controls, while tolerable, make the game feel more like a clunky arcade than a real racing simulation. The second problem is that this game is just far too realistic in some ways. Given the poor controls, the physics should have been toned down accordingly for the Wii version of the game. As it stands, with no way of patching the game, there’s pretty much no hope for any sort of improvements in that area. The other issue there appears to be a common complaint: The first-person view. When using the first-person view, only about 30% of the screen is the track. Everything else is a (somewhat) realistic view from the inside of your vehicle. It’s a really cool thing to see, but it seriously sets back the overall experience because it’s just so hard to race when you can barely see what you’re doing. The third and final serious problem is the lack of any real sense of progression. Aside from an arcade-like structure in which players unlock new vehicles, there’s not much else to dive into. It’s a rather simple “play, win, move on to the next race” design, which just doesn’t work when the game is trying to take a serious approach to the racing genre. It’s not all bad, though and when using the standard third-person view with the nunchuck control scheme, the game is generally playable and offers a fair amount of races for any Ferrari fan. Just don’t expect much of a racing simulation and you might find a decent gaming experience locked away in this lesser-known title.

Overall, I think this series needs a complete overhaul. It’s confusing when a game calls itself a racing simulation, but feels more like a clunky arcade racer.

Pros:
-Nice difficulty curve.
-50+ Ferrari models to play around with.
-Good amount of tracks to race on.

Cons:
-Graphics could use some serious improvement.
-Sounds could be more realistic and varied.
-AI is not as advanced as the box makes it sound.
-No serious sense of progression.

Bottom Line:
This game is passable enough that most racing fans could rent the game and feel satisfied, but it would take a die-hard Ferrari fan for this game to be worth a purchase.

Overall Rating: 5.00

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