Monaco Grand Prix (DC) Review
While the intro does a fairly good job of getting you prepared to race, the game itself leaves much to be desired. Monaco GP does well in showcasing a 128-bit system's power in terms of graphics, but it does little in exposing the sheer gameplay we have come to expect from a superior system. While there are several modes of play, none of them promise to keep avid gamers interested for very long.
Presentation/Graphics : 86
There are multiple views available to you; unfortunately, the view which exudes the greatest sense of speed is hardly the most playable. More often than not you will find yourself selecting the three quarter overhead view so you can have a clear line of sight to the oncoming turns. The "in-car" view, nose cam, and chase views, while more graphically appealing, present a much higher degree of difficulty. Normally the step up in challenge is appreciated, but in this case it simply makes an already average racing experience that much worse. The majority of these camera angles are anything but playable. If you wish to enjoy the incredible graphics that these non-playable views offer, you first must spend a great deal of time memorizing the tracks. This is a bit more difficult than it should be since there is a complete absence of a track radar! It's hard to believe that a 128-bit racer could forget a detail so predominant in racing sims, yet details such as tire tracks and skid marks are present!
Backgrounds and racing environments are average at best. The most prolific and certainly the most enjoyable aspect of the objects in the backgrounds is the smooth transitions they make into the foreground. Lacking are beautiful scenarios which involve your actually winning a race or stopping in for a pit stop. Doing either in Monaco GP will leave a rather bland taste in your mouth due to below-average graphical presentation.
Presentation/Audio : 76
An occasional voice will request that you "hurry up", this along with throwing you an occasional voice-over bone is about all you'll hear from the title's shallow arsenal of sound files. The absence of an announcer is greatly felt in console racers, and sorely missed in this game. Once more, Monaco GP leaves you feeling empty in the audio area.
Interface/Options : 71
The Arcade Mode will hardly remind you of a quarter muncher in any area aside from its checkpoints. In fact, nothing at all reminded me of an arcade racer whatsoever. The handling was still weighted and loose thus showing little or no difference in gameplay. Apparently Ubi's rendition of an arcade mode is simply turning off just about every option and slapping an arcade title on it.
The Simulation Mode is obviously where this game was meant to shine and within it you will find a few hours of enjoyment. There are numerous car settings (15 to be exact). Plan on adjusting your tires, gear boxes, and spoilers before, after, and during each race. This is very similar to EA's Mario Andretti's racing title for the PSX. Other noted adjustments that you will have the option of making include weather and lap selection. Most gamers find it tedious to race the six laps required to win a race, let alone 100. Yes, this game actually offers an option of racing 100 laps. If this were available in other titles I might even consider calling it a plus; however, in this title it's almost as if the programmers were making fun of you for buying it. One hundred percent of the controller options are configurable. This is an option all games should entail so you don't have to stick with a configuration you're not fond of. This being said, if any game DOESN'T need this option, it's Monaco GP. The programmers spent so much time on options and details that they forgot the very aspect of what truly sells games: gameplay!
Gameplay : 69
One good thing the Dreamcast controller offers its handler is the addition of the jump pack controller. This peripheral is used to its fullest potential as you race around the track. When you punch the acceleration and begin to shift gears, you will feel a nudge from below. The way the jump pack rumbles feels almost as if the controller is trying to jump out of your hands. Pretty neat stuff. You will also be witness to occasional rumbles as you encounter grass, fences, other cars, or if you simply spin out. If you happen to have already purchased this lackluster title and don't own the jump pack, you probably should run down to the store and pick one up. It does wonders for the feel of the game.
Another impressive detail is the computer's AI. In most driving sims all of the cars will react similarly; however, in Monaco GP you will find that both reserved and aggressive computer drivers are represented. In any other game this factor would really impress the consumer, yet when racing against smarter drivers in this title, the AI will do little if not add into the annoyance factor. Once again, a great detail stuck in the wrong game.
Monaco, like its predecessors, offers an independent four-wheel physics model. This is designed to really give a great feel to your car. Its design and effect are completely different things. All too often will you find yourself spinning out or just barely bumping another car, yet sending yourself into an end-over-end flip. Yea, it's realistic, but seemingly impossible to avoid, even in the arcade mode where handling is meant to be "easier."
The two-player version would have been much more fun had the basic physics of this game been a bit tighter. Offering a full field of racers in a split screen mode is something that only Dreamcast can do at the time. While it presents a scenario that is potentially much more fun, the actual play it offers is short of spectacular. Perhaps in the future we will be participants in an online version pitting eleven competitors at a time against each other. If so, I hope the actual game play is tightened. If not the preceding scenario would be a total debacle.
Replay Value: 64
While offering a great challenge, very few of us will actually be motivated enough to see this game to its completion. Races are tedious at best. Even after you have mastered the loose control, you'll find that this game is downright boring. If you spent the $50 on this game and it's simply too late to return it, these challenges may be a bit more welcome to you rather than someone who has yet to purchase this game. If you already made the mistake, at least it will take you a great deal of time to win the championship races. This, as well as fiddling with the many options, could in fact warrant a slight replay value. If you have yet to buy this game, I suggest you rent it first. In almost all cases, a brief rental will ensure that anyone who was at one time interested, will no longer be interested at all.
Overall : 67