Ducati World Championship

The Ducati franchise has seen many iterations on different platforms. Acclaim had the license for the Dreamcast, PlayStation One and PC, while Vir2L Studios took it mobile and Strategy First launched the PC version. At first blush, this looks to be a solid racing game, but what would be a simulation soon deteriorates into an arcade racer that has several options, but several issues thrown into the mix as well.

The game allows for two methods of input and that is the beginning of the problems. If you don’t have a joystick or racing wheel, you might as well leave this game in the box. The keyboard controls are not intuitive and even while it seems to allow you to configure the keys to the way you are most comfortable, the settings didn’t seem to ‘stick’ on several occasions and reverted to the default settings.

4Game modes include Quick Race, Career, Championship, Capirex Challenge and multiplayer. The latter was unavailable during play times if for no other reason than the game does not release until later this month. In career mode you take your created character and team onto the professional racing circuit. Options within the mode include working on your ride in the garage (there are seven areas you can tweak, including gears, brakes, clutch, suspension, chassis and steering angle.

In championship, you select a pre-designed driver and go through qualifying, practice and racing options. This also allows players to setup the bike. The Capirex Challenge has a list of other bike-related events for players to participate in, including pulling five wheelies within a certain time frame. This means learning how to control the game well in order to get your bike to do some of the stunts.

The game does allow for a bit more customization options in the character creation. You can pick your team colors and which eyes you want to have peering out through the visor on the helmet. At the heart of this title is the racing itself and while the graphics are solid, the physics leave a little to be desired. It seems if another bike bumps you, you are the one that slows down. And though the drivers exchange gestures, they are delayed and often the rider you are trying to ‘tell off’ is no where around when you look to where he was and show him the back of your hand.

It took a while to get the screen resolution right. At first, the aspect ratio had to be adjusted to 16:9 to allow for the 1440×900 resolution. Even then the cut scenes were pixilated and not as sharp as they should have been. The game graphics are not bad, with weather effects dotting the screen on occasion. The music does not seem to fit the sport very well and is pervasive.

12The game does have some depth, though. There are name-brand bikes covering four different classes (classics, sports, road and grand prix) and 34 course to challenge. The game is relatively easy to pop in and play, but control problems factor in. Get bumped and you slow down. Drift off the track, even for a bit of a moment, and you slow down. What that translates to is that you are quickly passed up and move back in the pack. Likewise, choosing the right bike and then tweaking it is paramount to success. It means nothing if you can’t close on the straightaway.

There is plenty to like in Ducati World Championship. It is definitely not a bad game, though it still falls flat as an arcade game in several areas. The awkward controls don’t help in this regard.

System Requirements: Pentium 90 MHz, 16 MB RAM, 50 MB HDD, Win95

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