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An antique favorite that was released for Playstation 1, this game still has replay value for me close to a decade after its debut in 1997. To me, racing is not ALL about getting the best lap time or even just being first. In no other game can I set multiple personal goals, and achieve this by knocking selected opponents out of the race, or arrange for them to attain certain race (and season) positions.
I did not get its successor, Gran Turismo for Playstation 2, because my next console purchase was an xBox. The Need For Speed series has an entirely different appeal from GTR 98.
GAME MODES & TRANSMISSION
One Player: A normal race with full grid of opponents.
Time Attack: Race around the circuit for an indefinite number of laps, with a "ghost" car to pace you to beat your previous lap time. Unlike your metal-and-rubber opponents, you can drive though the shadow car.
Season: A set of 6 races in the exact order stated in "locales." Results table after each race: the winner gets 12 points, the runner-up 7 points, the third 6 points, and so on. But those who are "out" of the race get no points. If you complete the season, the maximum points is 72, and minimum zero.
Split Screen: Two players may race against each other. Pity the other 6 cars aren't involved.
Head to Head: Similar to split screen, but the 2 human players race in opposite directions and risk head-on collisions with each other. Only available for reversible tracks.
Automatic transmission allows you to concentrate more on manoeuvring your vehicle. Manual transmission allows a slightly higher speed, but more hassle.
LOCALES -- GAME TRACKS
L1 teaches you the feel of the race with the most empirical track and easy-to-beat opponents. In the middle levels, L2-4, your opponents pick up speed, and the tracks get more difficult. L5-6 allows you greatest speed on rather dangerous tracks, hence a great increase of "outing" possibilities if you are not careful. L7 is my shorthand for "special (extra) levels," which may be accessed by locating the fireballs in each locale.
Moscow (Mos): Ivanov's home track in Russia boasts of city roads for sports or indy cars. It rains in some levels, and eventually snows. (L7: Rally, similar track & snowy weather to L6)
Easter Island (EI): Baptiste's exotic sandy and volcanic island retreat poses challenges for buggies and dakar cars. One wrong turn, and your car is sent for a bath in the cool sea or in the hot lava. (L7: Rally, similar track to L2, but sunny instead)
Switzerland (Swit): Lumiere's circuit takes place high on a mountainous range, that turns snowy in high levels. Drive your rally car carefully, or plunge into the water below. (L7: Sports, similar track to L4 & L5, but sunny instead)
Scotland (Scot): Roberts' hilly race makes your rally car bump quite a bit. It never snows there, but the dark, rainy, winding roads can be quite tricky. (L7: Buggy, similar track & sunny weather to L1)
Egypt: Ahmed's local sand dunes prove deadly if your buggies or dakars fly at a high speed in the wrong direction. Expect more dizzy bumping as you progress. (L7: Indy, similar track & dusk condition to L5)
Hong Kong (HK): Xu's cityscape gives the shortest lap of the six locales, hence a swift race for sports and indy cars. However, the high levels take you for a spin through a sandy and watery farming area, which can be dangerous if you skid too much. (L7: Dakar, similar track & rainy weather to L6)
Unless there are "expansion packs" to include a San Francisco or Torino, Morgen and Rossi do not have home tracks. Hence, these two cars tend to take on the "pacer" or "overtaker" roles.
TEAMS & VEHICLE CLASSES
#1 Roberts (UK) #2 Morgen (USA) #3 Lumiere (France) #4 Ivanov (Russia)
#5 Baptiste (Jamaica) #6 Ahmed (Egypt) #7 Rossi (Italy) #9 Xu (China)
The cars' physical designs are paired differently according to vehicle classes. There are obvious similarities in appearance and abilities between pairs of cars. Knowing the capabilities of each car associated with a particular team helps you pick your optimal team for Season mode.
Among the 5 vehicle classes, Sports and Indy cars do not have overtly obvious pairs, except for the sports variety of BP-RS & perhaps IV-AM.
Rally: IV-XU, BP-MG, RB-LM, AM-RS Buggy: IV-BP, XU-RS, RB-AM, MG-LM
Dakar: IV-BP, XU-RB, LM-RS, MG-AM
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