Go like a Damon

CD-Roms: Grand Prix 2
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Many simulations are essentially lame, relying on shallow gimmickry or a plethora of sponsors' logos to liberate the contents of punters' wallets. Grand Prix 2 has its priorities sorted out, and is first and foremost an engrossing and flexible Formula One racing simulation.

The key to its flexibility is that you can choose to operate more or less of the car's controls and let the computer look after the rest. At its simplest, this means you only need worry about the steering and the accelerator and concentrate on not crashing. The computer takes care of the braking, spin correction and gear changes, and indicates which line is best to take through bends and chicanes.

Within five minutes of installing the software, you can pretend to be Damon Hill and vicariously rewrite the history books so that he didn't lose the 1994 world championship by a point to Michael Schumacher and have to wait until this year to take the title. Once you get used to controlling the car and begin to appreciate the intricacies of race tactics, the next step is to take control of everything yourself and pitch into a whole season's racing.

The software is programmed with all stats for the 1994 season, which means you can play the part of any driver in any team as you visit each of the tracks on the circuit, striving for the individual and constructors' championships. The programmers' quest for realism is laudable and, running in 3D Vesa SVGA graphics, impressively realised. It sounds good, too - the engine noise has the right timbre. I don't know how realistic the crashes are from the driver's point of view, but they can be spectacular.

There are suitable electric guitar riffs when the race isn't on, which should make BBC2 viewers feel at home. The only thing lacking is a Murray Walker commentary. It is also possible to play TV producer by choosing different camera angles. It is a multi-layered piece of software which can satisfy almost any player, from the impatient type who just wants to burn rubber to the techno-obsessive who wants to tinker for hours with individual car set-ups and initiate data logs and then take on like-minded enthusiasts over a modem or serial link n

`Grand Prix 2', pounds 44.99 (Microprose, 01454 893893). System requirements: 2xCD-Rom drive, 486 DX2/66 processor (DX4/100 or Pentium recommended), DOS 5 or greater, 8Mb Ram (16mb under Windows 95), VGA or Vesa compliant SVGA card, 15mb free hard disk space, Microsoft mouse. Major soundcards are supported; joystick recommended.