D1 Grand Prix Review / Preview for PlayStation 2 (PS2)

D1 Grand Prix Review / Preview for PlayStation 2 (PS2)

As fun as a flat tire in a snow storm.

In drift racing, you don’t race for position but style instead. Drift racers throw their cars into outrageous angles in a turn, only to twist them back in the exact opposite angle for the next turn on the track. And then there’s all the tire-smoke coming from these cars. It’s really enough to give a person black lung or something. As this type of racing is gaining in popularity, what with the Whip Set on G4 and the Fast and the Furious, it was only a matter of time before we saw an “authentic” drift racing game in the market. No one was prepared for just how impossible it would be to play this game, though.

D1 Grand Prix screenshot

Drift racing, more specifically, is a score-based competition that pits drivers against one another, challenging them to out-style one another. When heading into a turn, racers put their cars as perpendicular to the turn as possible while maintaining speed and control. Not every car is suited for drift racing, and those that are pretty much blow if you were trying to run a regular race. Drift cars are tuned specifically to easily toss the back end out, tires screeching and smoke rising from the cement. The more the angle and the faster the speed achieved through the turn, the better the score for the driver. It’s a simple concept really, but at least here, it doesn’t really translate well into a game.

Even before getting into the single-player D1 season, gamers are forced to sit through an extensive, yet completely useless tutorial consisting of a handful of videos and interactive trials that “put you to the test.” Unlike similar models in something like Gran Turismo, the tutorial trials here feel really lenient compared to the actual game. In GT, missing the entrance of a turn by just a smidgen can nudge your time just past the bronze time, whereas here if you screw up half-way through a turn, you can make up for it in the second half. The tutorial throws a ton of techniques and controls at you step-by-step, but none of them are ever thrown into a comprehensive lesson that teaches you how to put all the skills you have apparently learned to the test.

D1 Grand Prix screenshot

Which takes us to the controls, which at first feel broken, but are really just entirely too complicated to be efficient. When heading into a turn, you can either slam the breaks to throw your car into the turn, use the hand-break to force your back-end out, or clutch-kick to spin your back tires prior to turning. To someone that isn’t completely intimate with the D1 circuit, at least a couple of these techniques feel unnecessary and much too difficult to master. Rally racing games have achieved an excellent level of control through the years to mirror the demands of that specific circuit, but D1 isn’t even close.

Players that attempt to stick it out will be sorely disappointed by the complete lack of depth in the single player season mode. While you can choose from a number of past seasons on circuit, each circuit is only nine or so events long, with the older ones struggling to break five or six. Cars are barely customizable, but only at the beginner levels. The only cars worth racing are licensed vehicles that mirror the real-life racers, but there is no ability to make any of these drift cars your own in the traditional sense. You don’t earn money for wins to beef up your car or anything like that. You simply race each event for circuit points and try to be at the top of the leaderboard at the end.

D1 Grand Prix screenshot

Reaching the top of the leaderboard will be nearly impossible at any rate. D1 is hands-down the most unforgiving racing title ever seen on the PS2. Drifting will only earn you points if you carry enough speed through the turn, but knowing just how much speed you should have for each turn is nearly impossible to gauge without failing three-dozen times first. What’s worse is the penalties that you can accrue in a run. Putting part of your car in the grass can deduct 100 or more points from your total. You will be lucky to have gained half of that from the three previous turns you just came out of. Perfectionists drift-racers who are suckers for punishment may find something of merit in that, but any sane gamer on this planet will instantly give up after a handful of races.

About the only place that D1 doesn’t fall completely on its face is in the graphical department. Cars are modeled fairly well, but aliasing is much more of a factor here than it is in racing games much older, such as the aforementioned Gran Turismo. There is never a hint of slowdown throughout, but with only two cars at most on the track at the same time, the framerate should never be an issue. What music that is here is passable, but the three announcers that heckle you throughout the race will have you reaching for the mute, or PS2 power button, in no time.

D1 Grand Prix screenshot

Racing fans of any type, be it drift or traditional, will do well to avoid this title without so much as a rental. What boggles my mind is the fact that this title, with no depth and gameplay that will cause gamers to lose years of their lives to stress, is currently selling at the standard 40 dollars that most premium PS2 titles are going for. D1 as a budget title is practically a joke, but as a premium title, this game is too ridiculous for words.

Rating out of 5 Rating Description


The cars look ok, but not up to the Gran Turismo standard set a while back. Only two cars on the track ensure zero slowdown occurs.


Trying to play this game seriously will cause gamers to break their controllers in rage.


Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
If I wanted to be told for thirty minutes straight how much I sucked, I would just go back home and talk to my parents instead.


Play Value
If you can win a single circuit event, consider yourself a stud. I wouldn’t wish this game on an arch-nemesis, let alone my sweet, unsuspecting readers.


Overall Rating Avoid
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
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