Bring me to the Main Page   Bring me to the Reviews Index

Jaguar XJ220 logo

Core nicked the driving licence of ’92 when they signed up Jag. But should it be endorsed? Trenton Webb makes them blow into the bag to see if the crystals turn green or Format Gold.

Jaguar XJ220 Jaguar is more than a car, it’s a legend. The name has all the right associations – from the E-type, through Le Mans victory to The Sweeney’s titles – so the game that bears its name has much to live up to. Core’s response to this challenge is a car game with good performance but little personality – more of a Toyota Celica than a XJ220.

Get your motor running
A fictious private Grand Prix circuit provides motive for this international racer. You tour the world driving three races in each of 12 countries. Finish the 20-car dash anywhere in the top six and you win some cash to pay or repairs and travel to the next case.

If you pick one of the six available songs on the CD player then it cuts in and all sounds as well. If you opt for sound effects then a reasonable snarl follows your revs through the box, eventually. Hit the first corner, mind, and the lame tyre squeal blows out the other effects, though the graphics back-up is potent enough to offset the sound troubles. Sitting on the line, a sea of cars is visible, each drawn with a hint of cartoon solidity and each easily spotted and identifiable.

Head out on the highway
As soon as the flag drops, the game’s speed becomes apparent. It’s not the fastest kid on the block, but can certainly hold its own and conveys a solid impression of 200mph racing. Each corner is flagged in a course-specific way that, once missed, is never forgotten. In England fences always mark the inside of a bend while arrow-topped poles always mark the outside in Egypt.
Each of the ‘flags’ is just visible enough to give you time to get on line. Enough, that is, provided your attention isn’t diverted by the jostling of other racers. This gameplay advantage is short-lived because courses are frequently obscured with fog, rain, snow or sandstorms, forcing even seat-of-the-pants drivers to learn the course.

Jaguar XJ220 The different effects and various national backdrops are good, each forcing attention to be focused on every aspect of the display. In the fog, the strong murky effect makes you tailgate the rear lights of those ahead. Wet courses force you to watch the track for rev-sapping puddles, while in the snow you’re struggling to see the light-grey track itself. Each circuit of every country is strong, but none are stunningly tough.

This relative equality of tracks matches the structure of the overall game, in that the only effective factors are: after each race you must repair your car and after every three races you must travel to the next venue. As fo financing your efforts, you start with a pool of some £4,000 and can win up to £27,000 by finishing in the top six. If you finish well and protect your car you can afford to travel, but go bust and it’s Job Centre time.

Jaguar XJ220 Racing with the wind
The repairs screen is a polished pose, but if you can afford to throw a £200,000 sporting classic around, you can afford flash garaging. The car can be viewed from one of three angles and damaged bits glow moodily red against the dark blue backdrop.
The addition of this tactical edge is welcome. It affects the way you drive and where you drive, but it all falters on the size of the prize. You basically earn too much if you win. Even drivers who haven’t even begun to wonder what the middle pedal does can win races with only about £10,000 worth of damage, but if inflicting it won you £20,000, what’s the problem? Major components like engines may eventually need replacing, but the necessary £80,000 is quite easily amassed.

The quantity of the prize money would be enough to keep drivers on their heels and toes if first place – or at least a convincing placing – wasn’t so readily achievable. But Jaguar is too easy, particularly with the mouse. This throws the balance out and the sacrifice of a linear, but gradually tougher, course structure doesn’t seem worth it.

The feelin’ that you’re under
The driving ‘feel’ of Jaguar comes into question here. The car rumbles through corners with an amazing amount of adhesion, even at the higher speeds. There’s no sense of drift, just gradual under steer, which mean you can go full throttle for virtually every race if you line up right and are prepared to take a knock. This may not be in the spirit of the game, but it’s not punished anywhere near heavily enough.

Needs 1 Meg Jaguar works well in each of the individual races. The competitors are tough and race against you. Not just appearing randomly. The graphics flash by with impressive speed and the sounds are solid, if not exactly stunning. Overall, the game is sabotaged by the ease with which victory is achieved. You’ll need to concentrate on every yard of track, but first place is eminently achievable and even the occasional fiasco doesn’t halt your progress. This robs Jaguar of that essential ‘victory-or-bust’ edge so apparent in rival Lotus 2.
Trenton Webb

Amiga Format, Issue 37, August 1992, p.p.50-51

Jaguar XJ220
Core Design * £29.99
  • 36 very different tracks.
  • It’s too easy to do well first time out.
  • The Jag neither looks nor feels quite ‘right’.
  • Repair and travel costs add much needed HP (horse play).
  • A real wrist-aching racer!
  • Dangerous weather makes life fun (soft of)!
verdict: 83%