Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge logo

GREMLIN GRAPHICS £24.99 * Joystick or Mouse

Some cars, especially red ones, just sit there and beg "drive me" and the new, curvy Lotus Esprit Turbo is just such a motor. But if you take Gremlin's Challenge you won't drive one at all - you'll drive two.

Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge sets a thoroughbred car in a head-to-head charge to the finish line. You take the wheel of a spiffy shiny red sportster that's racing against 19 cars of exactly the same spec, so winning is down to skill and not horsepower. Your task is to finish first after a preset number of laps, a possible stop for fuel, a few gut-churning hills, numerous hairpin bends, quite monumental amounts of atrocious driving by the computer cars and vast quantities of outrageous cheating by the other human racer.

The two human-controlled cars have half a screen each. If the other guy gets ahead, you can see him scream off into the distance. If he's just behind, you can sneak a quick peek at his half of the screen to help avoid collisions. The white drone cars must be considered as dangerous as, if not more dangerous than, their red human counterparts. Designed to protect their racing line, they sweep out in front of you and slide into corners, cutting off overtaking routes.

Winning isn't the most important thing - it's the only thing. You start the first meeting placed last on the grid and must work your way through the field to finish at least 10th to qualify for the next race. This is no mean feat when there are cars blocking good starts and mad geeks cutting you up at every turn.

On longer courses there's the challenge of negotiating fuel stops and maintaining your place in the face of ever stiff competition. Your position in the last race determines your starting place for the next. Win a race and you kick off from the back of the grid. As you compete for the Lotus licence the tracks get ever more tortuous with sharper bends, nasty road-works, big rocks and huge signposts - all out to prang your car.

Damage is not a problem, but the ensuing loss of time is. If you tag a tree then your engine takes time to build the revs back up. The Lotus has legendary acceleration, but it's not fast enough to keep pace with those lucky people who manage to avoid the danger and stay on the road.

As the pressure to win builds, you have to try more outrageous passing manoeuvres and risk those time-devouring stunts. Luckily your Lotus handles well, but everybody has these advantages so you must exploit them fully to get ahead.
To help players get the most out of their red speeders there is the choice of either manual or automatic gears, as well as two different styles of joystick control and a mouse option.

Four levels of difficulty (though that's including practice) lend the game great variety, as does the number of totally insane race tracks. You'll never notice them, though, because the car's so swift everything becomes a blur. Even the background and sound effects are completely ignored by drivers whose attention is locked into a race, because you're too busy shouting obscenities at drone cars driven by nutters!

GRAPHICS AND SOUND

Lotus looks and sounds like the best straight racer ever to hit the strip. The cars are large but move with real speed. 160 mph actually looks like 160 mph, without any loss of control. The split-screen choice is inspired, allowing two drivers to go head-to-head and giving twice as much game without hindering the speed or view. With the action linked by some beautiful incidental screens showing the Lotus in its full glory, Turbo Esprit Challenge lives up to its great pedigree.

Sonically the game's no slouch either, offering a choice of in-game music - on the Lotus CD system, naturally. Best of all is the squeal of tyres as you push traction to the limit.

LASTING INTEREST

Most racing games fall down heavily here. Blasting round a track ain't fun for everyone and the novelty wears thin after you've seen the same circuit 58 times. Lotus has three levels of actual racing and with each degree of difficulty new tracks are added - easy has seven raceways, medium ten and tough fifteen. To win the entire game you have to score the most points over the fifteen-race 'hard' season, where even seeing the next track is an achievement. Yet even with all this variety, if you don't find high-speed jinks massively appealing then the game will not weave its spell on you.

JUDGEMENT

Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge is the best racing game yet. In a world filled with Out Runs and Chase HQs it takes pole position without a doubt. The car itself, in real life, is in a class of its own and the game captures that hand-crafted quality too. It is a complete racing exercise with high-quality sound and pictures: but without the ability to adapt the car, or the curse of permanent crash damage, Lotus remains simply a two player race game. Even so, it's a race game that leaves all corners trailing in its tyre smoke.


LOTUS ESPRIT TURBO SE
ENGINE - Mid-mounted Lotus 2.2 litre aluminium alloy 16-valve chargecooled engine.
Water-cooled TB03 turbocharger with integral wastegate.
Multi-point fuel injection system with electronic ignition.
Max power: 264 bhp at 6500 rpm.
Max torque: 261 lb ft at 3900 rpm.
Max speed: 163 mph.
0-60 mph 4.7 seconds.
0-100 mph 11.9 seconds.
Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge: Photo of a Lotus Esprit Turbo SE

Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge logo Amiga Joker Hit

Mit dem Programmierteam Magnetic Fields hat Gremlin ein paar Jungs unter Vertrag, die wirklich Benzin im Blut haben: Nach dem tollen "Super Cars" kommt jetzt das nächste Rennspiel der Sonderklasse!

Die Lotus Challenge ist von der Präsentation her eine absolute Wucht! Das fängt schon an, ehe man noch zum ersten Probespielchen startet: Zu einer fetzigen Titelmelodie zeigt das Intro den Wagen unserer Träume, wie er einladend mit seinen "Schlafaugen" klimpert. Dann erscheinen diverse Tafeln, die alle Fahrzeugdaten und das Interieur des Luxusschlittens präsentieren. Wer auf die Piste will, drückt den Feuerknopf und landet im Hauptmenü: Hier kann der Schwierigkeitsgrad bestimmt werden, ob man alleine oder zu zweit an den Start geht, und ob Automatik oder Schaltgetriebe bevorzugt wird. Zudem kann auf eine alternative Steuerung gewechselt werden, wo nicht durch Drücken des Joysticks nach vorne, sondern mit Feuerknopf beschleunigt wird. Ehe es dann endgültig auf die 32 Rennstrecken aus aller Welt geht, wird am Car-CD-Player noch die passende Sound-untermalung ausgesucht (vier verschiedene Melodien oder FX pur).

Luxus, soweit das Auge reicht, aber wir haben unser Wägelchen schließlich nicht (nur) zum Angehen - marsch, marsch an die Startlinie...

Um sich für die nächste Strecke zu qualifizieren, muß man zumindest als Zehnter durch's Ziel rauschen. Die ersten drei Kurse machen da auch kein ernsthaften Schwierigkeiten, spätestens ab dem siebten Lauf wird's aber haarig: Scharfe Kurzen, Steine auf, bzw. Löcher in der Fahrbahn, und Konkurrenten, die beinhart versuchen einen von der Piste zu drängen, sind dann an der Tagesordnung. Außerdem reicht für manche Strecken die Tankfüllung nicht aus, dann muß ein Boxenstop eingelegt werden. Wer hier meint, unbedingt volltanken zu müssen, verliert wertvolle Zeit! Gleiches gilt für Unfälle, auf spektakuläre Crashs muß man aber verzichten.

Zu zweit macht die Raserei am meisten Laune, es genügt übrigens, wenn sich nur einer der Fahrer qualifiziert. Der Split-Screen zeigt das Rennen für jeden Piloten extra, wer alleine unterwegs ist, muß sich mit der oberen Bildschirmhälfte begnügen - unten wird eine chice Grafik eingeblendet. Das ist aber auch das einzige Haar im Süppchen, denn Lotus Challenge spielt sich einfach großartig! Die Steuerung ist durch und durch gelungen, die 3D-Grafik nicht nur schön, sondern auch ordentlich schnell und nahezu ruckelfrei (daß alle Gegner gleich aussehen, stört nicht weiter). Alle Begleitmelodien sind mitreißend, die FX erinnern aber oft recht deutlich an die von "Super Cars". Sei's wie's sei, Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge ist ein Rennspiel der Spitzenklasse, das man sich einfach nicht entgehen lassen darf! (C. Borgmeier)


Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge logo

If 100 gamesplayers who owned a 64 back in 1984 were asked to name one of their all-time favourite racing games, I'd lay a large amount of money that the EPYX classic Pitstop II would regularly crop up. Not because it was a particularly well programmed - or indeed executed - product, but because it was a highly exciting and competitive two-player racer, the likes of which haven't been seen in quite some time. Until now.

Lotus Turbo Esprit Challenge, one of Gremlin's trio of, if you'll excuse the pun, driving licenses, takes two player addictiveness and a high level of playability and bolts it on to a top quality, 16-bit race game. The end result? A must buy for arcade players and driving sim freaks alike, along with anyone else who happen to enjoy good computer games.

Set over 32 courses placed in all sorts of terrain, you, a friend (or the computer), plus 18 other computer controlled cars race frantically around small, tight looping tracks full of the sort of things that would make Nigel Mansell crash. From rocks to roadworks, oil spills to steep hills. And all this has to be avoided while jockeying for position and trying to save the impeccable paintwork on your brand new Lotus Esprit SE.

No doubt a fair few of you have already seen Lotus in action at this year's CES Show, but for the benefit of those who didn't, here is a brief description of how the game looks and plays. Brilliantly. Graphically, the game creates one of the most impressive feelings of high speed movement yet seen, and it's sprite based. The most amazing thing is that even with both halves of the screen chock-a-block with sprites (and there's a fair lot onscreen) the game doesn't slow down at all.

The controls are very simple. Left turns you left and vice versa. Gears are controlled either by the computer or manually by pushing up or down and accelerating by pushing fire.

The feel of the game is arcade quality. Joystick response is smooth and fast just like the car, and as the controls are so basic, this is definitely a game you can dive right into and get on with the thrill of the chase. One player, it's a great racer that will probably become dull with age. Two player, though, it's a timeless classic that'll be played over years to come (as well as causing many a fight with friend and family!).


GENERAL HINTS:
1   Some of the tracks are quite long, so at some point you have to make a pitstop to refuel. The longer you stay in the pits, the more fuel you get, but you lose position. Try not to stay in any longer than is absolutely necessary.
2   It's best to give the computer cars as wide a berth as possible, as some of them have an annoying habit of swaying in front of you at the last minute and slowing you down by bumping you, costing you valuable time.
3   Taking corners is a remarkably easy process on the early tracks, but require deft manipulation of the brake and gas later on. So learn to cut those corners from the start.

Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge logo ZERO Hero

In which Ivan Hawksley puts on one of those rather slinky all-in-one fire-retardant suits, wiggles his bottom in a Jackie Stewart kind of way and drives very fast into the back of the car in front...

Being something of a sports car fan - and a man who likes to live in the fast lane - I do get a bit excited whenever a flashy motor becomes the subject of a driving game and Gremlin's latest racetrack outing, Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge, is no exception. (I bet you buy motorbike magazines for the pervy pictures in them. Ed.).

Now, thanks to Gremlin and Magnetic Fields (of Super Cars fame), the thrill of having a large, throbbing, red Lotus 'under your bottom' is available for a measly £24.99. Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge gives you the chance to drive your own flashy, red, willy substitute and burn the opposition off the track on a variety of different circuits around the world. You can have either 1 or 2 player head-to-head action (hence the split screen), so you can race against a fellow Lotus freak ( driving the other flashy red Lotus in the bottom half of the screen). Not to mention the other 20-odd competitors, all driving flashy, white motors.

The action is fast and furious with three main levels of difficulty: Practice (for the namby-pamby shandymen), Medium (for the not so quite namby-pamby lager toppers) and Hard (for the totally cool pint-of-Crème-de-Menthe-with-a-straw lunatics). Each level is pretty tricky - calling for sharp judgement and reflexes at full power - and just to make things even more difficult, each international circuit has its own obstacles and characteristics (patches of killer ice and rock falls in Finland; heat, dust and unexpected roadworks in Mexico).

Add to this hills, S-bends and a field of competitors which includes some of the most reckless drivers you've ever seen, and you've got yourself a bit of a 'hard' race! Finishing in 10th position or above qualifies you for the next race. (In head-to-head competition, there's a special 'handicap' facility which puts the slower diver in front for the nest race, making it a more even contest). And with not 1 - not 2 - but 32 (gasp!) international circuits to compete on, the Nigel Mansells of this world won't be disappointed.

Amiga review

Ivan: Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge delivers the things most driving fans want. Sexy sports cars, great graphics and pure speed combine to make it one of the best road games to appear on the Amiga for yonks. The screenshots may look ordinary, but the speed at which the track and scenery scroll is breakneck and very smooth indeed. Some of the game's features are dead groovy - particularly the two player split screen perspective. Both players can check out their respective race positions, lap times and whether they need a pit stop to refuel.

The engine sounds are excellent too. Listen with glee to that turbo roar as you hit the downhill straight! Wince as you skid off a bend and smack into a trackside tree! There are also manual and automatic gear options, and even an in-car Stereo CD Player with a choice of several tunes (if you're going to crash, it might as well be to a racy bit of music).

My only niggle - being the psycho that I am - is that there's not enough destruction: when I hit a tree, a pile of boulders, or another car at 140mph, I want exploding fireballs and bouncing hub caps; an element of feat might have given a delicious extra thrill to the action.

Having said that, overall Lotus Esprit is a very good game and destined to become the new lap leader in straightforward, no-nonsense racing games. Well presented, fast, and great fun. Stop


Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge logo Zzap! Sizzler

Gremlin, C64 £10.99 cassette, £14.99 disk; Amiga £24.99

Gremlin certainly take their Lotus licence seriously. Apart from loads of very swish techy Lotus stuff on the Amiga intro (time to first speeding ticket, etc), they've issued all the competitors with Lotus Esprit Turbo Ses. That way however poor the human players are, an Esprit always wins!

The only way of telling the cars apart is that the competitor cars are red, with a one or two on the bumper to show who's who. If you can't find a friend to fill the second car, the lower half of the screen show the car in the pits (I thought Lotus's reliability problems had been solved!). In any case the tracks ahead provide plenty of challenge, with rocks in the road, slippery oil spills and water pools to slow you down. Longer races also require refueling in the pits. The biggest challenge, though, is those crazy computer cars, 18 of them turboing about with many manically weaving across the road.

There are a total of 32 different worldwide tracks within the three skill levels: seven in easy, ten in medium, and 15 in hard. In every race, points are awarded to the first ten drivers home - these are totaled to determine the World Championship. As long as at least one human player finishes in the top ten, both players can carry on to the next race.

Players have a choice of automatic or manual gears, and two control methods - either pushing forward or holding down fire to accelerate.


Phil King The 3-D in Lotus is remarkably fast - especially considering the split-screen effect - and you really feel like you're bombing along at incredible speed. I also like the way the roads undulate realistically - it's an amazing feeling zooming up to the brow of a hill at full throttle, not knowing what hazards might await you on the other side! Both versions are technically impressive, with the more speed and cars than is believable. In fact the C64 version is a little bit too fast - the cars are so big that you don't have much time to react as they zoom in off the horizon.
For both versions the computer cars make things very tricky, homing in on you and requiring you to serve quickly one way then the other to overtake. Later levels are even more tense with rocks and oil pools littering the road plus the need to stop and refuel. Although playing solo is fun, Lotus is really designed as a two-player game. This is where the real excitement lies with each driver pushing the other to the limit, daring each other to take extra risks - especially with quick refueling! At the same time, however, ensuring at least one of you gets into the top ten adds an intriguing twist to the otherwise highly competitive races.
Stuart Wynne This just has to be the fastest racer yet! The cars rocket along at exhilarating, arcade-standard speed. It's immense fun to weave through the pack, dodging past the slowcoaches, cursing the fellow driver as his Lotus overtakes you and then laughing as he comes to grief and you roar past. This makes it instantly, compulsively addictive. However there is a negative side: the graphic variety isn't extensive and with only fuel to worry about, strategy is rather limited. Tunnels, weather conditions, worn tyres or at least different colour computer-controlled cars would have helped it dramatically. Lotus works brilliantly as a two-player game; on your own it loses quite a lot of its entertainment value. It's technically excellent but in the gameplay stakes doesn't advance the racer idea an awful lot (Pitstop II has more depth).
As to differences between the two versions, like Phil I found the C64 game toughest, but both are technically stunning with all twenty cars appearing on screen on the Amiga (twice over, in fact due to the split-screen), and the C64 managing a respectable five or six cars per screen. Such big, fast-moving cars mean the C64's collision detection isn't always immaculate, but the sheer spectacle more than compensates. Great fun on both machines.