Big Scale Racing Review
By Pauline Clay |
Having raced radio controlled cars for a number of years it was with some anticipation that the shrink wrap was peeled off Big Scale Racing.
The game sees you getting behind the wheel, or should that be sticks, of the controls of a number of two stroke radio controlled cars and fanging them for all they are worth on a variety of different tracks. Now high powered motor sport fans might be wondering why you'd bother simulating what are essentially toy cars when you could for the same cost simulate powerful V8s, but they'd be missing the point as Big Scale Racing captures the feel of racing remote controlled cars very well. Indeed for once the use of an exterior view actually makes sense as this is the only view the radio controlled car drivers get when they have a go with the real thing.
Anyway radio controlled cars also handle differently to full sized vehicles and these handling foibles also suit pc circuit racing game quite well too, with lots of biff and barge action, which would get real world drivers killed.
That said as far as racing games go this is a bit of an acquired taste as the cars aren't that easy to control and the whole concept behind the game feels a bit well 'nerdy'. However I say this having been a radio-controlled racer (and even competing at the national championships a few years ago), so no disrespect intended. By nerdy all that I mean is that attention to detail and fiddly touches are very much a part of the game. That said it would have been better to be able to have more input in setting up your car as there are virtually no options in this regard.
As you'd expect in Big Scale Racing there are different championships and most of the time progressing in the campaign mode unlocks faster and usually more enjoyable cars. There are rear wheel and front wheel drive cars, as well as a variety of different motors that pile on the power as you get access to the more prestigious classes.
There are a few handling foibles which fail to make sense though. It can be annoying how hitting the anchors seems to sometimes completely turn off your steering lock, forcing you to run wide. This happens more with some cars than others and you can get used to it as you race using a particular car for a while, but it makes power slides with heavy braking and power drifting through corners near impossible in some instances.
Also some of the tracks serve to exacerbate the problems by forcing you to brake progressively as you come into a corner with a tightening apex, so you have to be decelerating and turning at the same time. No big tick for this part of the game then, as it can be bloody annoying.
That said there are some tracks and classes which work well and certainly once you get a feel for the cars there is some fast biff and barge racing to be had. The keyboard can be a bit of a problem though as you sometimes want to be more precise than going from full lock to lock with your steering. The on off approach of the arrow keys comes up lacking when this is the case. A wheel or controller might be a better option.
Big Scale Racing's atmospheric effects are for the most part very impressive. As well as featuring tracks during overcast, sunny and evening conditions the game does a solid job of portraying puddles on the track, complete with accurate reflections. The steam rising off the car exhausts as they run through puddles is also very convincing.
The cars all look pretty decent in their colourful livery and those with an eye to detail will notice the blue two stroke exhaust coming out of the side of the each car, as opposed to the rear. This is where the mid mount engines tend to pump out exhaust gas, so Dutch developers Bumblebeast have done their homework on this score.
The tiny high revving engines sound decent enough too, even if their noise is somewhat overpowered by the dull generic techno, which should have been binned before the game was released. Apart from the engines, the crashing noises and the crappy techno there is an announcer who calls out when the races are due to finish.
That's right, you don't finish a set number of laps, but rather race for a set number of minutes. If you are ahead of the pack you'll be hanging out to hear the announcer's call of last lap, but if you are behind you'll want to open a can of whoop ass every time you hear the last lap call from the announcer, as you often hear it just as you are looking to overtake another car on the NEXT lap!
The campaign is where you will spend most of your time when racing by yourself, and this mode has its good and bad points. The championship mode is odd in that it is team based and so to some extent your car's success is tempered by the success of your other team drivers in a race. This is a nice idea and it is based on the way match race events are run in European clubs. However it also tends to make you feel like you don't deserve the good results you get as sometimes you will do poorly, but get a better result because of your crew.
The cars all have their own team livery though and it is sometimes fun making sure you double team other crew's cars, and making sure you and a fellow team mate get past.
However Big Scale Racing can be a big pain at times. The tracks are pretty good, but you are penalised if you don't go around every cone on the circuit. Miss just one and you are instantly down a lap on the whole field. This is bad enough, but it is exacerbated by the way the other cars like to 'hip and shoulder' you off course without even thinking about it. You can do this too, but you tend to often come off worse when you get tangled up with another racer. Missing a cone or getting punted off course takes the fun out of a championship as you are immediately out of the points and have to start the whole championship again.
The only other play mode worth mentioning is two player split screen action which works pretty well and provided you don't mind jostling for pole position on the same keyboard is pretty good fun.