Game Over Online ~ Johnny Herbert Grand Prix Championship 98

GameOver Game Reviews - Johnny Herbert Grand Prix Championship 98 (c) Games Arena, Reviewed by - Jube

Game & Publisher Johnny Herbert Grand Prix Championship 98 (c) Games Arena
System Requirements P166. 32MB RAM, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 64%
Date Published Monday, August 10th, 1998 at 11:29 AM

Divider Left By: Jube Divider Right

Well it must be a conspiracy that the gaming industry has devised against us. In another flurry of releases I have come out of hiding to check out Johnny Herbert Grand Prix Championship. On a personal note, allow me to inform you that the War/Strategy gamers are a bloodthirsty and loyal bunch. Never ever cross them without serious cause, and ammunition. So after a short stint in the Reviewer Relocation Program, I am back in the saddle. On with the show!

Well.. visually JHGPC was decent, yet unimpressive. It supports resolutions up to 800x600 and hi-color mode. It also has some interesting, if somewhat minor 3dfx effects such as chroming and speed blur. Chroming is basically the addition of a reflective texture to the car chassis. This reflection, while neat at first glance has some obvious shortcoming after my initial 'oh boy', for one thing chrome effect is not textured fully on other cars, leaving them only rendered when you are about crash into them. I found that the chroming effect is processor intensive. With it on my 233 stuttered quite a bit when more than five models were on the screen. Turning it off was a major boost to my overall FPS. The speed blur isn't exactly new, but for some reason few games implement it. Motor Head is another game that used motion blur to add another element realism of driving 200mph. However, once you get beyond those two minor eye candy effects the graphics become very bland. You have a choice of just two views, either behind the wheel or behind the car. I prefer a large variety of cameras while racing and two just are not enough. The backgrounds and sky are static low res. bitmaps, and the tracks themselves often lack a dull and unfinished look in various places. Also there are no change in any of the weather or track conditions.

It was my intent to not constantly compare this game to F1: Championship Edition during my review. However, such this was a glaring omission by JHGPC I have to mention the lack of any interesting auditory aspects of this game. F1: CE features a variety of engines, tires and track sound effects. Locking up the wheels in F1 will result in a puff of white smoke and a change in pitch of tire squeal. However this realism is not included in JHGPC. Cars make basically one engine noise, and one tire squeal. Driving off the course and on to grass, sand, or that white lumpy stuff around the track produces a sound much like driving over cardboard. Only of the features I liked best about F1: CE was the British announcer who would update you on race standings and comment on your driving (or lack thereof) skills. However, JHGPC did not seem to value the importance of the play-by-play commentary leaving the game audio fairly bleak, and mostly mediocre.

My initial impression of this game was a positive one. For its relatively small size and system requirements I thought JHGPC was a fairly worthwhile game. Oh how quickly that changed. From memory I went over what I liked about F1: CE and tried to find equivalents in this game. One of the most obvious flaws was the total lack of an 'arcade style' mode of play. Basically in an 'arcade' mode the laws of physics and realism are toned down in respect to quickening the pace and action of the game. Your car spins out less and most crashes do not end in axle breaking disaster. I find that arcade mode both gets me accustomed to the controls, increases skill with the tracks, and also my interest in the game itself. As far as I am concerned a racing game without arcade mode is lacking something fierce. JHGPC does offer a trainer mode where you follow a slow moving car around a track to learn the tracks. However after I raced alone and behind the trainer car I decided to try the full race mode. As far as I could tell the AI does not even acknowledge your cars existence. They are fully willing to slam right into you during a turn and spin you out when they shift on straight sections. I attempted to test my theory further by turning around and driving straight at them in a makeshift game of chicken. However the game was quick to stop my meddling by disqualifying me from the race. Then as punishment for my insolence I was forced to sit at a menu screen waiting for the rest of the field to finish. So if I am correct, and the AI does not acknowledge your presence I suggest you learn a 'go really fast and stay the hell outta the comps way' strategy. Even on the novice settings I was getting shoved into walls, spun out and lapped by most of the field. I do believe myself to be a bad racer and have finished the championships in other games. (ahem.. F1: CE) The replay value of this game is not high enough to encourage that I devote myself to learning how to dodge 15 cars in a hairpin turn while doing 90.

Fun Factor
At first glance this game is moderately entertaining. The best modes are the training and head to head, due to the fact that the computer is a big cheater face. Avoid the championship modes at all costs! There is a great feeling of getting spun out for the fourth time this lap while the leaders zip past you and having 20 more fun filled laps left. The tracks themselves have a good design as far as layout goes. I impressed by the use of head to head multi-player action via spilt screen. However the game was sub par in many areas.

The split screen feature of multi-play has been mostly abandoned due to the lack of screen size available to each player. While it constricts the field of view ridiculously and doesn't control well on PC (Ok, who gets to steer with the keyboard this time) I like the quick and dirty multi-player gaming it provides. JHGPC lacks in network multiplay (am I the only one who couldn't get this to work?) , but it almost makes up for it in the groovy spilt screen.

So yeah, its another F1 simulator/racing game. Is it worth your time? Most likely it is not. The chroming effect is nice, but need refinement. The tracks and cars are in no way official, so that blows most of the 'realism' right there. I'd recommend you genre fans stick with F1: Championship Edition, this just can't compare. But I must mention that I love the spilt screen option!! It should be in more games! Maybe this game will spark a resurgence of game designers adding the spilt screen back into their titles. Or maybe this will go on the $9.99 table at EB in a couple weeks never to be heard from again.


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