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Aha! This is the driving game that's my barg of the month, if not the year. What else can I say? It's better than Chase HQ
The next 16-bit owner to come up to me and say that the Spectrum is a dying machine, I'm going to kick his teeth in, or I'll do the next best thing. I'll grab him by the lapels and drag him over to a Speccy, and then put on WEC Le Mans, the latest in a long line of racing conversions. Up until now, I always thought of Super Hang On
as the ultimate in Spectrum racing. Le Mans looks at SHO, says "I can do that", makes the graphics bigger, moves more items around, does it faster, makes the tea, puts the kids to sleep and then takes you out for a meal afterwards. Now that's what I call programming.
It's not much fun being a Le Mans 24 hour racing driver. First you get strapped to the front of a giant petrol tank containing a trillion gallons of highly dangerous fluid. Eeek! That's enough to put most people off for a start.
Then they send you off around a twisty, turny, treacherous track at 200 miles an hour, with 30 or more totally mad people to join you. And that's not the worst!
The worst is that they make you do it for 24 (24!!) hours non stop (well, actually, that's a bit of a lie) and feed you full of coffee to keep you awake. All very well, but what they haven't thought of is providing any way to, erm, 'do your business', without stopping and losing the race. Ouch! Maybe a full bladder is an added incentive to winning and getting first in the queue to the little drivers room.
Perhaps no longer the best car racing game - there are many competitors it's hard to pick a best - but WEC Le Mans still qualifies in the front row.
It's just as colourful as you'd expect on a Speccy, with sound effects to match. The scrolling is faster on the Spectrum than it is on the Amstrad giving greater impression of speed. You won't find any of the computer cars smashing into each other though, and when you crash the car doesn't go flying dramatically through the air. It's still just as exciting and playable, though, and coin-op racing fans will not be disappointed.
The Spectrum version is of similar high quality and the game doesn't seem to lack anything in spite of the machine's graphical and audio shortcomings. Strange, isn't it, how well driving games translate to the old Speccy? On these two machines at least, this has to be one of the best arcade conversions going. Test drive today.
Another tough racing game, but much older, is Full Throttle
. Despite that game's simple visual charms, WEC Le Mans beats it hands-down for looks, with well-defined graphics whizzing past at great speed and - unlike Enduro Racer
- no confusing overlaps. Also like Full Throttle, it remembers the competitor cars, so you can catch up with those two drivers who caused you to crash. But otherwise this is far inferior. For a start there's only only one track which little resembles the map layout, then there's dodgy collision detection and only one (far too tough) skill level, severely limiting lastability. WEC Le Mans is great fun to play for a while, but I suspect it will end up severely gathering dust.
Excellent presentation and superbly detailed graphics fail to disguise the lack of visual variation as you progress. Sad, because it kills long-term playability.