|2012-07-17||Xbox 360||Racing||E (Everyone)||Slightly Mad Studios / Atari|
Whether you're a simulation or arcade racing game fan, there's no denying the potential that comes with the Ferrari catalog of both classic and modern automobiles. While bringing these cars to life (at least digitally) and placing them in the control of gamers might be overdue, Atari's final product simply doesn't excel at anything it does, and allows for more boredom and frustration than enjoyment.
The majority of your time with Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends will be spent in the game's career mode, which is split into three eras. Each era contains a different selection of cars from the 1940's to 2011, but the general setup of each block of races is the same. Races are split into missions, and come in just a few overall types: complete a lap within a specific time limit, win a race, overtake all opponents, and so on.
There's very little variety to the presentation of races and missions, so you'll find yourself stuck competing on the same few racetracks, using the same few cars until you eventually unlock something else to experience.
The bulk of the game's tracks and cars are locked behind these campaign races, so unless you complete the entirety of the career, the game's Quick Race feature is an even more repetitive affair. Adding insult to injury, races simply aren't very fun to complete, with incredibly inconsistent difficulty across the game's three difficulty settings and cars that each control differently than the last, forcing you to tweak your controls each time you begin an event to compensate for these differences.
Environments tend to be lovely, with properly animated sun and shadow effects, but while these might be set in dense forests or over large rocky ravines, I can imagine many players spending all of their time staring at the green guide line on the track (that turns yellow and red when you should reduce your speed), rather than admiring the view. Furthermore, this green line becomes a blur after just a few races, as players that are dependent on its help might go cross-eyed from everything else whizzing by in the background.
Ferrari Racing Legends is a simulation racer through and through, as you'll need to baby the controls, and avoid obstacles and other cars at all costs. The game is incredibly unforgiving, whether racing against the clock or other players, as AI racers will bump into your vehicle from behind, sending your careening off course. In the case of timed races, the time limits are so short that you'll need to have a near perfect run on each and every lap to finish in the event's qualifying time. Make a single mistake and all of your progress on previous laps is a wash, and you're better off starting the event over from scratch than trying to catch up. While some gamers might excel in such high-pressure situations, this experience is simply more challenging and stressful than it should be, and becomes more of a chore than fun.
Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends is hit or miss when it comes to quality. When you've mastered the controls of one vehicle or the layout of a single racetrack, the fun is stripped away by making you play on that same track far too repeatedly. Once you do unlock new content, the cycle continues all over again, but is given "variety" with the unnecessary frustration that comes from wrangling these cars into submission until you can successfully make those 100+ degree turns. Only the most die-hard fans of simulation racers should apply to be a Ferrari test driver, and even then, only if they're fully aware of the problems that wait within.