Test Drive Le Mans (PC) Review
Presentation/Graphics : 90
In addition, different types of weather can be chosen from dry to rain to even a thunderstorm that flashes on the dark track.
There are many graphics options to tune the quality of the visuals to the abilities of your computer. I was able to run everything at maximum level with my P2/400 with no noticeable effect on frame rate, even when the car was going through tunnels in a crowd of other cars.
Presentation/Audio : 55
Interface/Options : 65
DirectX 7 is required for the game and force feedback controls are supported.
Gameplay : 80
The only view provided is a low chase view, which does well to show off the game's flashy graphics. On-screen information includes speed, gear and position in the race. Occasionally other information will appear in pop-up screens.
Game modes available include arcade, championship and the Le Mans race itself. The arcade version has three variants -- Challenge, where courses and opponents are randomly selected; Time Attack, where you are on the track alone trying to achieve the best lap time; and Quick Race, where you select the track and whether to run GT2, GT1 or Prototype cars. In Championship mode, you start out in a GT2 car -- either a Marcos or a Porsche -- and run a complete series of races. If you do well, you will receive offers to join teams in the higher-performance categories.
In the Le Mans event, the driver can choose to run the race from 12 minutes of actual time to a real-world 24 hours. I only tried the shortest mode and it's interesting to watch the sun plummet down toward the horizon over the matter of just a minute or two.
Urban environments include highway and tunnel sections while racetracks have the track surface surrounded by rumble strips, grass and sandtraps which slow the car realistically. It's fun to watch the play of the suspension of the cars as you slam the curbs.
One thing I noticed in all classes of car is that it's never necessary to shift lower than fourth gear. In the three lowest gears, all you do is spin your tires, so you're actually better off in terms of acceleration to remain in the top three gears.
I also had the impression that the speed of the AI cars was variable by how you were doing in the race -- if you fell behind, they would seem to slow and let you catch up, at least in the arcade mode.
I was not very good at this game on any but the most simple tracks. Handling is flypaper-like right up to the moment that traction is lost and then the car just loops right around. And I looped a lot! The GT2 cars are especially prone to this behaviour while the prototypes can be hurled into sharp corners at near suicidal speeds.
Replay Value : 85
Overall : 78
I like the idea of a game with a wide variety of sports cars and challenging tracks. A lot of Americans never are exposed to the wide variety of racing that exists beyond NASCAR and dirt tracks. Test Drive Le Mans is an entertaining introduction to the world of sports and prototype racing and I hope a lot of people follow through on their experience with the game to learn more about the real races.