|System: PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: System 3||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 26, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
It's best to focus on the racing line, a green-colored path that turns to red as a corner approaches. That's right: the game maps out every turn, acceleration, and brake, and it's still remarkably difficult.
Once all this practice is over - assuming the Wii-mote and television have survived any violent incidents, and assuming neighbors haven't called the police to report high-volume curse words - it's time to tackle the game's five (yes, five) race modes.
The unlocking system serves as the common thread. By completing (or better yet, winning) races, the player earns "Challenge Cards" and points. Somewhat stupidly, both are necessary to unlock cars - each card makes a new Ferrari available for purchase with points. The physics model adjusts to the various cars' handling, and for the game's target audience, diehard "Prancing Pony" fans, this will no doubt be a thrilling experience.
At least it had better be, because the Ferrari license degrades the game's realism big-time in the race modes; the cars do not take damage beyond a scratch or a lost bumper. If you drive headlong into a wall, ram other cars out of the way, whatever, there's no damage and no effect on handling. It's no shocker that the company wanted to protect its image, and other licensed racing games do the same thing, but it's ridiculous all the same and kills the immersion.
Challenge mode, in which players tour Italy, Europe, and North America in an imitation of the real-life Ferrari Challenge, forms the game's heart. Most of the races are pretty manageable after the tutorial, though it's infuriating to realize it didn't cover a necessary and difficult technique: using the handbrake to skid. Passing is another harrowing experience, especially as the game progresses and the A.I. gets more aggressive.
The races are far too long - in the 10-to-15-minute range, usually. Because of the game's commitment to realism, all the cars in the Ferrari Challenge are F430s, and there's no (apparent) rubber banding. This means passing is rare, and once one is far enough in last or first place, it gets lonely and boring. One half hopes for Princess Peach to smash the car with a red shell, just to liven things up.
While only the F430 is available in Challenge mode, there are plenty of cards and points to earn. In Trophy mode, some of the cars unlocked and purchased with these goodies have their own three-race tours. Time Trial is just what it sounds like, with the unlocked cars available to run each track.
Arcade mode includes four tours of four races each. The completion of each tour in or above the targeted position unlocks the next. It's fun, and there are (again) points and cards to win, but the races are just as long as they are elsewhere, and there's no way to save between races.
The game's most fun mode is Quick Race. Unfortunately, the only tracks and cars available are the ones unlocked in other modes, but it's possible to set the number of laps, the number of opponents, and even the weather - with "wet," the race takes place under a moody, overcast sky, though the rain effects aren't as impressive as in the PS3 version. Unfortunately, there's no option for a night or, say, snowy race.
When it comes to multiplayer, Ferrari Challenge really drops the ball: there is none, which is annoying, because the PS3 version has an online mode. Relative to the PS3, the Wii also loses out on DLC packages featuring every Ferrari ever made - hardly a surprise, given the Wii's lack of a hard drive.
For the Wii owner who loves no-frills racing simulations, doesn't also own a PS3, and wants to be run over by a Ferrari and then buried in its driver's seat, this is the perfect game - there's no telling, between all five modes, how long such a person could stay entertained. For Wii owners who love racing sims and don't have other consoles, this is the only game in town. Otherwise, forget about it.
CCC Freelance Writer