Search For Posters!
  Join the SGN staff!
Help Wanted
Release Dates


About Us

The Sports

Partner Links
Auto Insurance Quote
Irvine Moving Companies
LA Moving Companies
Brand Name Shoes

Ford Racing (PC) Review

Background Info

What hath Viper racing wrought? As far as I know, that was the first title to feature one make or model of car, and now Empire has followed in VR's footsteps with Ford Racing, featuring cars from--you guessed it--the Ford Motor Company. While not as focused as Viper, it still narrows its focus, which should make it easier to faithfully represent the cars. Viper Racing did a pretty good job of it, but Empire hasn't distinguished themselves with auto enthusiasts. Did they change that with this release? Read on and find out.

Presentation/Graphics : 94
There's absolutely nothing wrong with Ford Racing in this department. The cars are among the best I've seen in any title, with each being easily identifiable and true to its real life counterpart--the overall shapes and textures are nothing short of fantastic. The tracks are very well done, too, and are very believable for fictional venues. There is some scarcity of off-track scenery, but there are few repeated textures, and each track has a distinct look about it.

One of the biggest drawbacks, and also one of my pet peeves, is the absence of an in-car view while driving. The only available view is a chase camera (or a chase camera with a small TV-type display), but this isn't very well placed and could have been done much better. The lack of choice in the driving view is odd in light of the plethora of replay views available--there are multiple camera views to choose from, some of them quite good. This feature is, once again, among the best I've seen anywhere.

If looks were the only benchmark to meet, Ford Racing would be a contender--but we don't live in so simple a world, and this is not the case.

Presentation/Audio : 34
One word--blah. The only saving grace in the audio area is a decent skid sound, and that's not enough to excite too many racing fans. The music is typical fare (which, as usual, I turned off immediately), and the engine sound is horrible. At the least, I would expect a Ka to sound different from an F-150--but in Ford Racing, they all sound alike, and this is not a good thing. The cars (and trucks, and SUVs) have a sound not unlike a slumbering wasp's nest, and that's being kind. Good sound is an integral part of creating a convincing environment, and Elite completely missed the boat with this one.

Interface/Options : 80
There isn't a lot to complain about when it comes to the interface--it's mostly straightforward, and pretty intuitive. At first I thought it was more complicated than necessary, but after some use I found it quite good.

There are plenty of graphics options, most of them adjusted by sliders (a good idea), and the audio options are all there--but what happened to the controller setup? The only settings are choosing from a joystick, wheel, or keyboard, and some very basic configuration. When using a wheel or stick, the only assignable functions are for shift up and shift down--I have no idea why this was done, but it's nowhere near complete. Ford Racing also supports only 2-axis controllers, so be sure to set your wheel up right before starting the software.

Gameplay : 36
I wanted to like Ford Racing--and I really tried. There are some good ideas here, but a few glaring flaws more than counter them. I'll cover the good points first:

  • - A good selection of vehicles. Drive anything from the micro-sized Ka to the bulky Explorer and F-150. There are choices of running a quick race against same-class vehicles, or racing in a career race against an open or closed field.

    - A nicely done career mode. In place of a financial model (as in Dirt Track Racing or Sports Car GT), you are rewarded with better, faster cars for winning closed series championships. In an open series, finishing ahead of a car in the season points will put that car in your stable, so there is more than one way to progress. The biggest drawback is that the races tend to be short, and the early series have very few races.

    - Great graphics, once again, and nicely designed and rendered tracks, even if most of them require little technique. Ford Racing seems geared toward drivers who want to conserve brakes by not using them.

  • So far, so good. Not Grand Prix Legends by any means, but those are all desirable features. Now I'll get to the parts that make Ford Racing hard to live with, and there are some biggies here.

    - Little or no difference in vehicle dynamics. There are some differences in the top speed and acceleration, but the Explorer feels like the Escort, which feels like the get the idea. I would assume that a Puma and a pickup would be tremendously different on the track, but you get no sense of that here.

    - No in-car view. Some people won't mind, but this omission removes any credibility a driving sim has otherwise. For realism and immersion, there is no substitute for a cockpit view.

    - No car setup options. As delivered, the steering on these vehicles is so touchy as to render them nearly undrivable. It took me a long time to get used to it (using my wheel, joystick, or gamepad), and it continued to cause problems even after several hours. This is a combination of no controller setup options to speak of, and no way to set steering sensitivity or range. Maybe everyone won't have this problem, but most of my time was spent chasing the tail of the car with opposite lock, and it got old quickly. Combine this with the less than stellar force feedback, and it's not a very good effort.

    - Only 8 AI cars to race with, and 8 kamikaze AI cars at that. While the AI provides good competition, I think the drivers are all either blind or stupid. If you happen to be in the space they want to occupy, they hit you--every time. This unfailingly results in the human-controlled car veering out of control, and the AI car continuing on as if nothing had happened. This is a recipe for a lot of frustration, and a little swearing on top of it. The AI also suffers from the worst case of "fall back-catch up" I've witnessed to date. Fall too far behind, and the cars in front will slow to a crawl. Once you pass, they will speed up and fly right back past. The best strategy I found was to hang back until the final lap, and try to make all your passes in the last half of that lap--without giving time for the AI warp drive to kick in. Not very true to life.

    - No multiplayer. No explanation necessary.

    Replay Value : 55
    This could be a strong point, if Ford Racing was enjoyable in the first place. The career mode does add to the score, but that one feature isn't enough to warrant a long life for this one.

    Overall : 48
    Basically, Ford Racing is a good idea gone wrong. The cars are interesting, the tracks are somewhat challenging and fun, and the graphics are great--but somewhere along the line, Elite forgot about the driving. If the vehicle handling, dodgy control, and terrible AI could be addressed in a patch, Ford Racing could be a worthy purchase. As it stands, though, it fails to meet the standards set by so many other titles, and I really can't recommend it for anyone.

    By: Scott Moore 1/4/00

    © 1998-2006 Sports Gaming Network. Entire legal statement. Feedback

    Other Links:
    [Free Credit Report  |   Car Insurance Quotes  |   Designer Shoes  |   Outdoor Equipment

    WSB 2K3 PS2
    MVP Baseball 2003
    Street Hoops
    Mad Catz Xbox Hardware

    Inside Pitch 2003
    MLB Slugfest 20-04
    Tennis Masters Series