Grand Prix 2, by Geoff Crammond / Atari
System Requirements: 486/100 or equivalent, 8MB RAM, 1MB video HDD, 15MB HDD
Motorsport video games come in two forms: you have your classic arcade-style games designed to give you a quick fix, or there are the more serious racing simulations that give the gamer a more in-depth experience.
Geoff Crammond’s Grand Prix 2 is the grand daddy of the simulation category, and marked the developer’s first proper foray into true racing simulation.
Today’s gaming experiences available – particularly the likes of the brilliant rFactor – really should pay thanks to Grand Prix 2 for paving the way almost 15 years ago and showing what was possible in game development and design.
And with PCs currently geared to support games infinitely more complex than this, I still find myself turning to this beauty, and have had to specifically source software to temporarily detune my computer for the purposes of playing the game.
I cannot stress just how revolutionary this game was for its time. It positively shattered the (then) traditional perceptions of gaming, by providing adjustable ‘driving aids’ to affect the difficulty of the game, incredibly detailed reproductions of the circuits and cars, and the most complex physics model of its day. Hit a bump or catch a kerb at high speed and you could literally get airborne! The crashes are equally spectacular!
Irrespective of whether you choose the more arcade (low difficulty) or simulation-style (high difficulty) gaming experience, Grand Prix 2 still delivered an outstanding gaming experience. Set-up changes, tyre wear and fuel loads would have a genuine effect on your competitiveness. It had (at its time) some of the finest graphics seen in PC gaming, which were beautiful to behold.
You could opt for short races, full race distances (including all practice sessions, qualifying and pit stop strategy manipulation), or contest a full championship replicating the 1994 season.
So how does a game nearly 15 years old still have relevance?
Well, the Grand Prix 2 fans have developed an incredible array of modifications to make it relevant to today, and there are some brilliant add-ons you can download. My particular favourite is the Grand Prix 2 Editor suite, which allows you to upload other F1 championship seasons’ (where you can manipulate every aspect of driver/team skill, reliability, engine power) to play. Paul Hoad’s CarEditor allows you load and export the car shapes and helmets from yesteryear and today into the gameplay. You can even download alternative circuit designs or fantasy tracks to drive on. In short, there are still plenty of relevant applications in today’s gaming.
The fantastic add-ons allow you to replicate the car shapes, liveries and seasons from any era. Here are fully-rendered versions of the 1983 Brabham BT52 (left) and the 2009 Brawn GP BGP001s (right).
One piece missing from the simulation is an actual wet-weather experience. Apparently the production of Grand Prix 2 ran behind schedule – such was the complexity of the game at the time – and it was never installed or patched into a later version for sale. Frankly, it’s small beer in the game that truly takes me back to my childhood.
The Pros: A revolutionary design and gaming experience for its time, with plenty of relevance in today’s gaming.
The Cons: Sure the graphics are nothing by today’s standards, and there’s no wet-weather experience and minimal driver AI, but I’m more than prepared to overlook this.
Why play it? This is really the game upon which ever other bona fide racing simulation is based. You can still manipulate and modify the gaming experience with all of the add-ons available online.
Using our unique ‘Chequered Flags’ rating system, we award Grand Prix 2…
OUT OF A POSSIBLE 5.