GTI Club+: Rally Cote d'Azur

The Cote d'Azur is a beautiful area, or, at least, it certainly seems to be in all the racing games that have featured the location's street-based track over the years. Where some games have allowed you to unleash motoring powerhouses and Formula 1 efficiency machines on the narrow streets of the French Riviera, GTI Club+ presents an alternative slant on the idea, allowing you to fling tiny hatchbacks around the circuit, with the freedom to explore the treacherous cobbled streets, and other areas of the town not normally accessible from the usual racing lines. The idea of sending a Golf GTi rocketing past cafes and along harboursides might not seem as glamorous as an F1 race, but it's potentially a lot more fun.

GTI Club+

The game's central concept, sadly, is its largest flaw, though it's not enough to cripple the game. The entire experience is based entirely in the Cote d'Azur, which is fine until you realize you've already explored every possible route through the tiny town within the first few races. Even so, knowing all the routes and knowing which are the most efficient are significantly different things. To truly succeed in this game, knowledge of exactly which racing line to take will be key. There are three races through the city, an easy medium and hard, with the latter providing the most scope for exploration, particularly since the race features more laps than the easier events. Thankfully, there's more to the game than just these events, with full online play, featuring several party games such as "Pass the Bomb". Racing light-as-a-pencil hatchbacks through the streets against human opposition takes the experience to a new level, particularly when things get aggressive, with players pushing eachother into obstacles or forcing them from the optimal route. Offline, there's also a handy exploration mode, allowing you to drive freely around the town, planning your best routes and practising for the big events. As a side feature, winning races will also unlock different paint jobs for the cars available (a small range, but featuring several classics like the Golf, Mini and Peugeot 205), which can be customized further using a variety of stickers and a user-created registration plate.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the handling of the cars (and the associated controls) are key to the success of any racing game. It'll likely come as no surprise that the handling is not realistic. The game was never intended to produce Gran Turismo levels of handling perfection, but GTI Club succeeds admirably in its own way: by making it fun. It you try screaming towards a corner, forcefully applying the brake at the appropriate time and steering into the corner, you can expect to gently chug round the bend and into the barrier. However, if you forego braking distances and momentum in favour of one simple thing, the handbrake, then you're onto an effective and enjoyable winner. The game actively encourages you to hurl yourself at every corner, slam on the handbrake on the apex of the turn and hang on as the car screeches onto the next straight. It's brilliant, and very liberating, even if a little simple. That said, achieving the target lap times (particularly for one gold trophy the game offers) will take some serious effort, which is fortunate since a game lacking in track variety needs considerable replay incentive.

GTI Club+

Though the game lacks the visual quality of Gran Turismo and other full-development racing games, GTI is extremely sharp and very brightly coloured. The daft nature of the vehicles in the game is perfectly complemented by the simple, colourful visuals. The whole thing seems extremely cheerful and warm, mirroring any beach party ideas people may have for the French Riviera, even if the more sedate cafe town feel is ignored in the process. The audio side is a slight disappointment, with very basic engine noises and effects, supported by (frankly) rubbish voicework (though perhaps it's deliberate). Still, the sound is perhaps consistent with the cheap and cheerful nature of the cars, and the main theme for the game perfectly accentuates the feel of the hatchback racing in the game. It could have been more professional, but it doesn't ruin the game.

In summary, GTI Club+ is a fun and unique title, which broadens the range of good-quality games on the Playstation Store. With a bit more polish and variety, the game could have scored considerably higher, but there's only so long the small town of Cote d'Azur can maintain your interest. The online options are a vital addition to augment the game's lifespan, and add considerable enjoyment to the experience. If you're looking for something a bit dafter and less eye melting than Burnout Paradise, then perhaps GTI Club+ is worth a look.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

Konami

Developer:

Sumo Digital

Players:

1

Online:

1-8

Release:

2008-12-04

Trophies:

22

Review summary

Gameplay:

Excellent fun, especially online; a good little racer

Graphics:

Crisp and colourful, but basic

Sound:

Cute little effects and fun music

Lastability:

There's little track variety, but plenty of routes

6.6

Aurora

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