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The fact that it keeps track of your time makes it a game that could potentially see a lot of playtime as you try to improve your times on each of the courses, especially if you're a big fan of racing games. But if you're not a big fan of racing games on the Atari 2600, this game might not change your mind.
Grand Prix has players racing on four different courses with the goal of finishing in as fast a time as possible. Viewed from a top-down perspective, the game involves driving left to right while weaving through opponents and avoiding oil slicks and the sides of bridges. Each course varies in length and number of bridges. The multi-colored cars have spinning wheels and their engines elicit a throaty growl. However, despite top-notch visuals and sounds, the racing action is monotonous. The tracks are entirely without curves, and no matter how many cars you pass, you can't win or lose a race. Finishing time is the only factor.
The game is really at its best when you're flying down the road at full throttle, weaving through traffic. Pressing left on the joystick applies the brake, but you'll need cat-like reflexes to make good use of it. Despite the high production values Grand Prix has limited play value. You're really just dodging cars and there's little drama or suspense. There's a clock at the bottom of the screen but no indication of your proximity to the finish line. Grand Prix is a well-programmed racer that could have used a little more spice.
I used to hold Grand Prix in fairly high regard and, to be fair, it’s hardly a disaster; the graphics are a treat for the eyes and the engine sounds are Atari 2600-realistic. But thanks to the AtariAge High Score Club I’ve been playing a lot of Enduro and Dragster (which I like more and more every day) lately and Grand Prix just doesn’t measure up. Dragster has far more play depth and Enduro is the game I’m sure David Crane wanted Grand Prix to be but perhaps was not able to develop at that time. Grand Prix played an invaluable role in a brief portion of the VCS’ history but it doesn’t hold up well today.
Une cassette classique donc, réservée aux amateurs du genre, mais qui ne fera pas date. Activision nous avait habitué à mieux...