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Johnny Herbert's Grand Prix
World Champions (PC) Review

Presentation/Graphics: 70

Graphics are this game's strong suit. Unfortunately they aren't particularly inspiring. The scenery is done fairly well, with nice road textures. It's easy to see the proper line on any of the tracks due to the rubber that has been laid down. The cars though are not very handsome and the cockpit view lacks a few standard features, like functioning mirrors and the cockpit computer display that comes standard in other Grand Prix/CART games. 3Dfx support is in as well as software rendering, although a 3D accelerator is highly recommended. There are enough options to turn down or off that it should run smoothly on most accelerated systems. All graphics options on full at 800x600 produced a decent frame rate on the tested system. While the graphics aren't really bad, they certainly are nothing to write home about.

Presentation/Audio : 60
The one area where GT2 improves the most upon the original is in the audio department. GT's audio package was very good, but GT2 features better dynamic range and more oomph overall. Engine sounds are distinctive for each car (no mean feat considering how many there are), and precisely localized in stereo. Running the audio through a surround setup yields some smooth rear to front panning effects that really help to immerse you in the action as opponents approach and attempt to pass.

The soundtrack in GT2 has also received a serious shot in the arm. A weak point of GT, Sony has really pulled out the stops here by serving up a veritable who's who of front-line artists including Beck, The Cardigans, The Crystal Method, Filter, Foo Fighters, Garbage, Rob Zombie, Soul Coughing, and Stone Temple Pilots. Whew! As good as the music is, like most racing games, it's tough to balance against the engine sounds. If you use a manual transmission you're likely going to want to sacrifice the music for the ability to hear your engine clearly. On the other hand, if you enjoy racing to tunes, you're gonna love this. I should also mention the jazzy music that plays over the menus. It sounds great and is in stark contrast to the edgier music used during the races.

Interface : 85
The interface overall is very good but sports one minor annoyance. Everything is accessible on one page. Game setup, options, garage etc. are all one click away from the main menu. The buttons are large but you have to click on the words on the button to register a click reducing the 'hot' area to about half what it could be. That aside, the interface is easy and quick to navigate.

Gameplay : 50
Ugh. There is just about zero to get excited about here. The car dynamics are non-existent, crashes are unrealistic at best, and the AI is average. While this game claims to be a simulation, it plays like an '80s arcade game. It does have some of the simulation options and features, such as tire wear, fuel consumption and so on, but it just doesn't help when you get behind the wheel. The car sticks unbelievably to the road and if you do manage to get it to slip it is like a scripted spin. You turn about 45 degrees one way or the other and slide to a stop about 15 feet from where you started your spin. There is no riding the edge of traction here, you either have complete traction or you don't have any at all. The AI drivers follow a good line but they'll leave the line to make passes that should be impossible. On the plus side, the game does offer the full array of typical sim options. A fair garage area, pit stops, full season championship racing with 15 Grand Prix tracks etc. .

Difficulty : 60
Given the unrealistic traction and handling of the car, it's very easy to just jump in and knock out some fast laps. You may not set any lap records the first time out but you should be able to get around fast and in one piece without much trouble. There are many options to adjust difficulty in the game, from the usual driving aids to six levels of AI difficulty. No problem matching the game to your skill level.

Overall : 65
As a sim, this game fails. There are far superior racing sims on the market to even consider picking this one up. There are even arcade racers that have more realism and are more fun than Johnny Herbert's Grand Prix. Average graphics, sound, and a poor car model make this game one to stay away from. Since I have two hands, and therefore two thumbs, I give this one both thumbs down.

By: Garth Cramer 12/22/98

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