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Monaco Grand Prix Racing Simulation 2

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Anecdote:  I had nearly no interest in racing a few years ago.  Then I and a colleague started playing Stunt Driver from (I think) Spectrum Holobyte.  We wanted a game that we could play H2H, and the Compuserve forums led us to Microprose Formula 1 Grand Prix.  The default track is Monza in Italy.  Two weekends after buying the game, my colleague flipped past ESPN2 early on Sunday morning just as the race at Monza was about to start.  He commented on how the sim was good enough that he was able to recognize the various turns around the track.  He even thought to himself one time, "That guy is sure waiting a long time to brake." just as a driver overshot a turn and ended up in the sand trap.  It's amazing how much more interesting racing is when you've tried the track yourself in a sim.

I didn't have much free time to race Microprose' Grand Prix 2 last year.  Also, I always felt my P166 was just a little underpowered for that game, anyway.  So I was hoping for a really smokin' Windows F1 sim by now.  Ubi Soft's Monaco Grand Prix Racing Simulation 2 could be considered the Windows version of GP2.

It's impossible to tell from the box what a racing sim will be like.  Most people want arcade.  As with my flight sims, I prefer high fidelity.  So I went to rec.autos.simulators and skimmed the posts and looked at a coupla reviews.   Apparently, MGPRS2 is a very minor enhancement to Formula 1 Racing Simulation sans the F1 licensing of the driver and team names.  If you already have F1RS, then you don't need to spend the money on MGPRS2.  Similarly, if you have GP2 then MGPRS2 isn't a huge upgrade.

Where MGPRS2 stands above GP2 is in graphics.  MGPRS2 uses 3D accelerators and uses them well.  The graphics are really pretty on my P2/400 Voodoo2 screamer.   I especially like the pit animations when the pit crew works on your car.

It has been long enough since I've driven GP2 that I can't really do a comparison on the driving models.  (I can get GP2 to run on this machine, but I can't get it to use the sound card.  Sound really does play a part in a racing sim.  In monitoring your own car, and your nearby opponents.)  I'm a little suspect about the driving model MGPRS2.  Since I have driven F1GP and GP2, I know about consistency.  I've only just found how to get telemetry, so hopefully I'll figure out that it's my sloppy driving.  I am out of practice.  Or, it may be worn tires.

But overall, the driving model seems pretty good.  Lotsa parameters to adjust (I've mostly stuck with wings in the past.)  I like the visible "groove" on the track that marks the best line without it being a cheat.

The menuing interface is pretty bad.  Having just worked on building a UI, I now know how hard that is.  But I find this one pretty convoluted in places.  And the manual is nearly useless.  It's often slow to respond.  And sometimes it's hard to find stuff.  The Replay is annoying.  Apparently it tries to determine "interesting" points in the race and chops out huge sections.  I have 128 meg on this machine, so I'd appreciate being able to save a big chunk of racing.

There's good support on the net.  I downloaded a set of names and skins for the drivers and cars to match the '98 season.  I get the impression that you can also download tracks to match the '98 season.  I haven't done that, yet.

High points:
Eye candy
Solid physics model
Good use of 3D cards
I like the hotlap hall of fame (until Bruce bumps me off of all the tracks :-)
Low points:
Poor front end.
Can't save telemetry.
Weak sounds.
Have to surf a lot to find licensed names, skins, etc.

MGPRS2 is the Windows equivalent of GP2.  Different blemishes, but overall a solid sim.  On Mighty's Brother's Game Total Value Scale I rate MGPRS2 as a Threat of Heavy Sleep Loss.

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Last modified: January 25, 2003
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