Road & Track Presents: The Need for SpeedDeveloper
Pioneer Productions and EA CanadaFormat
Won all C class and B class races in Tournament modeImpressions
The handling is surprisingly sim-like; the fastest way through a corner seems to be to maintain traction and not to drift.
The camera cuts to a third person, elevated view if you crash your car slides by about 90 degrees, which helps you get back on track, although it is a bit disconcerting the first it happens.
I have had a lot of fun getting to grips with the cars. Winning seems to be a combination of the right car (Supra for C class, Viper for B class) and then getting the braking right, which massively affects how much speed you carry in through the corner. This seems to be a game in which utilising analogue braking is of equal (if not more) benefit to analogue acceleration (which I would have said is unlike the norm, even in sim racing - in most games I am much more conscious of needed to modulate my accelerator input, especially on the arcade-side of things).
The tournament mode requires you to win a race on each track, which can be attempted in any order. There is one circuit and one point-to-point race for each car class (and a seventh track is unlocked upon winning them all). It is not really a tournament as such then, and oddly there does not seem to be any way of keeping track of which races you have already won.
I found the setup of the point-to-point races quite interesting. They are held over three stages, with a grid start at the beginning of each stage based on your position at the end of the previous. The winner of the race is not necessarily the first car to reach the finish of the final stage, but whomever has the shortest total time for the three stages. You can restart each stage individually, but you will have to start from the back of the grid if you do so. This leads to some difficult decisions. For example, having won the first stage you might come 4th on the second stage, leaving you second overall. Do you retry the second stage (from the back of the grid, rather than the front) in the hope of improving your time, or do you back yourself to be able to win the final stage with enough of a margin to win overall?
The first track, Rusty Springs Raceway, is a great example of game design. The first corner is so wide and banked that it offers no challenge at all, and simply lets you get a feel for the controls. Next up is a mild chicane to let you get used to shifting the steering direction, and then you have a tighter turn that you can just about do flat out which leads to a clearly tighter final turn which you clearly must brake for. It looks simple, but it is really well designed and is essentially the game's tutorial.
The second circuit, Autumn Valley Speedway, increases the difficulty with tighter turns and significant elevation change. Like Rusty Springs, its final corner steps up the difficulty, this time by removing the banking. The sequence of corners 4 and 5 is also quite tricky, so you have two key challenges per lap, rather than Rusty's one.
In the relatively early days of 3D racing games (1994 for the original 3DO version), I really feel like the developers are setting a very good standard for track design here.Additional notes
The highlights replay option is welcome, given the length of the races, and it does a good job of picking key moments in the race like overtakes and collisions.
I do not remember if this was something I already knew, but the game was developed by the same team responsible for first two Test Drive games, and I immediately got the sense that this was the case from the nature of the in-car view that the game defaults to, and from the point-point open-road stages ahead of me.
The Road & Track elements provide a surprisingly in-depth analysis of the cars in the game. This was more than just a brand slapped on the box to sell more copies; it really adds a sense of passion for the subject matter of the game.Next stage
To complete the A class races of the tournament and unlock the bonus track.