Ferrari Challenge Review (PS3)

System 3 has created a fine game in Ferrari Challenge though unfortunately one let down by the initial lack of a decent online service and some very rigid, insipid AI.

The presentation is the first thing that grabs you; the game is one of those rare titles that actually runs in 1080p and looks stunning. The frame rate however is only at 30fps in order to maintain resolution and the races can feel sluggish at times. However, the cars themselves look awesome. Any racing enthusiast - especially - Ferrari ones should have bought this game by now as driving one of these babies must be like a virtual dream come true. Each car feels different, handles different, has plusses and minuses and yes, you can tweak it all to your hearts content.

The game looks better than this when you play it, believe it or not.
At 30fps, the game sometimes feels slower than it looks.

What did initially impress me about the game was that you didn't need a PhD in mechanics in order to just sit down and race. More importantly, race and win. In fact, the inclusion of the virtual garage seems to be an odd one as all of the races are indeed winnable without changing a thing. Various Ferrari's are awarded to you as you progress from one challenge to the other and they are more than adequate to see you through most races.

The above paragraph might annoy the motor heads out there as they would say it's all about performance and lap times and of course they would be right. However, Ferrari Challenge doesn't exactly live up to its namesake in this regard, ergo; it doesn't really present you with a challenge. I found that after I'd gotten to grips with the first two to three laps, I started to leave the AI behind: way, way behind. So much so in fact that I began to lap the other cars. Racing on my own for the best part of a nine lap race isn't my idea of fun. In short, the AI just doesn't seem to care where you are. The other cars simply stick to the racing line and some pre-set speed and that's it. Shame.

Again, this will bring some of you to ask the question if the racing lines are on or not. I'll freely admit they were. As racing without them just becomes too difficult. Which really does highlight the fundamental problem with Ferrari Challenge, there is no middle ground. It's goes from either far too easy and not much fun, to extremely challenging, loads of tweaking - which entails an enormous amount of trial and error for those of us who don't have the aforementioned PhD - and thereby back to not being too much fun again.

Which brings to yet another negative: the online "experience". This is what most of us buy racing games for. Sitting down on the sofa with a group of mates doing same thing on their houses on their couches, creating races, arguing, bumping into each other and generally having a good time. Not so with Ferrari Challenge. The online part of the game was broken that getting a game was nigh on impossible, making me wonder how on earth the game was released with such glaring technical - albeit restricted to network - issues. Fair play to System 3 however, they have made an appeal to the fans, asked for patience, and assured us all that a patch is on the way. Fair enough, but too little too late in terms of a favourable review, I'm afraid.

There are so many cars to choose from.
You can add your own decals and colours to your lovely new Ferrari.

To surmise, Ferrari Challenge is an excellent fan-service. Everything is there for Ferrari fans, the cars, the presentation, even the inclusion of a seemingly arbitrary Top Trumps game where you play against AI and do your best to win them all, betting on price, age (year of issue), top speed etc. The sound is also impressive with realistic engine noises all sounding like you're in the vehicle when played at Dolby Digital 5.1. In fact, most Ferrari fans would have already bought this game so these comments will fall on "deaf ears", so to speak.

For the rest of us however, we've got a game that is so detailed it's off-putting, and if you do choose to ignore the mechanics and race anyway, it becomes far too easy. However, if you're trying to convince a friend to buy a PlayStation 3, demoing this game will most likely make them a convert. System 3 have made a decent little title, hampered only by its own aspirations: sometimes balance is a hard one to get right and sadly the team were a little off with this one.

Top Gaming Moment: Finally getting a decent multiplayer match

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By RS (I just got here) on Sep 22, 2008
Right first of all I have this for the PS3 and it does run at 1080p but it looks terrible! This is one of the worst looking games on the next gen console, it looks like something off the PS2 not for the PS3. The track looks like its made of dirt not tarmac. The body for the cars do look ok but when you see the wheels on the other cars they look blocky and wobbly.
When comes to setting your car up for the race.. well this is not too hand to work-out. The settings are soft or hard thats it, ie; spring can be set to soft or hard, dampers soft or hard. Whats the point in having set-ups if theres only 2 setting?! I You can change your toe and camber and your ride hight which have more than two
Now the sound....
First up theres no Dolby Digital 5.1, I have it and no sound comes out of my speeker and theres nothing in the options about it , its just not there.
The cars sound nothing like a V12,V10,V8,or a V6 but it does sound like a sick Nissan Micra and the sound of the gear change are horrendous. When you in 1st and 2nd gear there is this scrapping noise (WHY?) and it sounds like your clutch is slipping badly every time you change up a gear.
You may now be thinking this guy just hates racing games, well I don't. I'm a big racing gamer and I use a GT pro wheel with my racing games and using this wheel with this game and it does work well. Infact they got something right ,YES !atlast. The physics are good !! the way the car feels as you go round the tracks works well. Oh and you can now race online now it seems to work alright and the online player are better than the A.I. thats in the game.
So if you turn down the sound and squint your eyes the game is almost playble. lol

My mate came round to have a shot on my PS3, he has a XBOX 360. He asked me if I had this game and I lied saying no and suck in GT 5 Prologue to show him what the PS3 could do.
I could bang on for age about this games bad points but if your thinking of buying this game, I would rent a copy of it first and see if you like befor you buy it. (I wish I had done that)