D1 Grand Prix simulates drift racing, a “sport” that originated in Japan and is quickly becoming popular in the United States. Popularized among gamers in titles like Ridge Racer and Project Gotham Racing, drift racing involves a driver purposefully put his or her car into a controlled slide, “drifting” around corners at up to 85 mph. When done in competition, drift racing is scored not by the time it takes to complete a course, but on the driver’s style and control of each slide. Just think of it as ice skating, but using cars on asphalt.
It’s important to have this “sport” background, because D1 Grand Prix for the PS2 features 30 licensed vehicles, 12 racing circuits and a number of real-life D1 professional drivers to choose from. Before you can start your career as a D1 racer, you must complete the training missions, which not only teach the basics of drifting but test your patience. Remember, professional drift racers take their sport very seriously, so these training missions must be completed before you are allowed to advance on to the main game. And unfortunately, due to the difficulty of some of the missions, this can become quite frustrating. It’s expected that a game like D1 would need a tutorial to teach players the ins and outs of drifting, but a quick race or practice mode would have been nice.
The first thing you will notice about D1 is that it’s like no other racing game you have played. Sure, it’s like Ridge Racer in that the cars handle like a greased bowling ball on ice, but you will probably spend more time in the grass than on the track. To make matters worse, the game’s annoying commentators will constantly nag you when you make mistakes, and worse yet, words like “idiot” and “stupid” pop up on your screen when you don’t pull off perfect drifts. I don’t know about you, but being called names when you mess up in a video game isn’t my idea of having fun.
The thing is, you’ll see those insults a lot during your time with D1 Grand Prix, because it’s by far the most unforgiving racing game ever made, making it next to impossible getting to the top of the leader boards. You will only gain points if you drift through the turns at precise speeds, and hitting the right speeds is nearly impossible. Once you do manage to earn some points, they are easily taken away by the penalties you acquire by touching the grass or bumping into another car. In fact, we had points deducted from our score because an AI driver rammed into the back of our car though no fault of our own. Such detractions get so bad, in fact, that many times you will find yourself in so deep a points hole that it’s easier to restart the race rather that try to make up the points.
With unforgiving gameplay, you’d hope that the multimedia would inspire some kind words. It doesn’t. The car models in D1 are fair at best, and the overall look of the game is completely average by today’s standards. There’s not a very large selection of music tracks to, and the music that’s there is pretty forgettable. Unfortunately, the one element of the audio that’s not forgettable are the three racing announcers, who pummel you for every mistake and will drive you to the point that you’ll look for a hammer to pummel your speakers.
Drift racing may be exciting and fun to watch on TV, but the first American videogame to represent the actual sport is nothing more than a frustrating game that insults the player for making mistakes. And in our opinion, the only real mistake was popping this game in our PS2 to begin with. Even the most hardcore drift racing fans will find it hard to enjoy this game.
- Overall: 3
- The hardest and most unforgiving racing game known to man, it’s not even all that enjoyable for a hardcore drift racing fan. The annoying announcers are just icing on this horrible cake.
— Randie Kilgore