We've all experienced the hype for Killzone 2, LittleBigPlanet and inFamous come and go. We're currently in the process of screaming in anticipation for Gran Turismo 5 and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. But Supercar Challenge we can sum up in one single phrase we uttered a couple of weeks back when questioned about the game: "What's that?".
Saving our blushes we did have some recognition of the game when the term Ferrari Challenge was mentioned. Of course, the game is from Eutechnyx, a company renowned for excellent driving physics.
Supercar Challenge offers over 40 cars and 20 something tracks. We were able to go hands on with the Aston Martin DB9 among a couple of others on the famous Nurburgring track.
Jumping into the online beta, Supercar Challenge clearly has some very carefully considered netcode. Connection is smooth (even at the beta stage) and jumping into a game is as easy as selecting a particular lobby. PSN ID's are complemented by corresponding flags adding a touch of the ol' patriotism to proceedings (how we wished those German folks weren't so darn good).
Supercar Challenge offers a range of options to the host; he can restrict the use of "noob-friendly" aids such as the ABS, aswell as set the weather functionality, track, car types, laps, etc. The dynamic weather system plays a big part to the game, instantly noticable from the moment you jump behind the wheel of your car and find your vision almost totally impaired. We only turned the rain on because we like the sound of it, we didn't realise it was going to be so bleeding difficult to see.
To be honest though, we're not criticising. Rain does impair vision, that's part of the impact and this is a pretty hardcore simulation. Although we're told you can totally play the game all arcadey in single player. It's up to how you prefer playing the game, which is a neat idea.
Despite the excellent looking rain though, we found Supercar Challenge to look a little flat. The interior of the car lacked depth, looking like a simple 2D image (a nice hi-res one mind) and the outside world lacked spectacle. Then again we couldn't see much of that. Did we mention it was raining?
Still, what the game lacks in graphical polish it makes up for in weighty cars. The vehicles feel heavy when cornering, giving way just a little to the puddles on the ground and providing a great sense of speed. Even with the assists on we felt like it would take some time to adjust to feel of the vehicles, but we got a tremendous sense of satisfaction taking our last corner perfectly.
With online mode already looking so polished in the beta, the only real problems we see for Supercar Challenge is it getting noticed. As a Playstation 3 exclusive it, admittedly, already faces trouble in terms of generating some real sale numbers. But the fact that even we had forgotten the game existed, just weeks away from an August 28th release suggests the marketing team are going to have to pull their finger out fast if this is to get any sales at all.