Race car fans and racing game gurus: get your thumbs ready to roll. Yuke's Media Creations' new racing title, "D1 Grand Prix," is a game that's designed for you — and pretty much only you.
What makes this professional racing simulation different from the other racing sims on the market is the fact that it's a "drift racing" game. Drifting is a specialized style of speeding around the track that originated in Japan and has recently grown into something of a phenomenon in the United States. For a cinematic take on the cars and the culture, check out "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift."
"When you drift, if you ain't outta control, you ain't in control," says one of the film's main characters.
For the uninitiated, think of drifting as the art of fish-tailing. In this new PlayStation 2 game, the goal is not just to drive your finely-tuned speed machine around the track as fast as you can, but rather to slide it sideways around the curves in a sweeping, screeching display of power and finesse. Drivers are judged not only on speed, but on just how stylin' they make these gliding turns look.
"D1 Grand Prix" gives players the opportunity to try their hand at what is an oddly delicate and elegant sport, if such a thing can be said for something involving heavy machinery and smoking tires.
But be warned: If you're not highly experienced in the ways of racing games, you're likely to find yourself skidding all over the track, slamming into concrete barriers and, eventually, tossing your controller at the nearest wall in frustration. Playing "D1 Grand Prix" gave me flashbacks to the experience of playing "MotoGP '06" earlier this year. Like that racing sim, this one is a demanding mistress that'll accept nothing less than intense levels of dedication and near perfection when it comes to vehicle control.
Though the graphics are only mediocre here, race enthusiasts will enjoy modding and tuning their car to suit their personal style, driving circuits from real life D1 competitions, and digging into the various play modes (Grand Prix, Time Attack, Survival, Battle and Xtreme.)
But with a tutorial that's little more than an aggravation and a learning curve that's steep as a skyscraper, it's clear that "D1 Grand Prix" is designed to make car and drift geeks go gaga —while everyone else watches from the sidelines.