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1988
Arcade: Race 'n' Chase
£9.95
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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54,55
Matt Bielby
Chris Bourne

Eeeeeeeeoooooooowwwwwwwwwww!!! Could this be the best car racing game yet? Matt Bielby gets his crankshaft (fnar) in gear to find out.

It's not much fun being a Le Mans 24 hour racing driver. First you get strapped to the front of a giant petrol tank containing a trillion gallons of highly dangerous fluid. Eeek! That's enough to put most people off for a start.

Then they send you off around a twisty, turny, treacherous track at 200 miles an hour, with 30 or more totally mad people to join you. And that's not the worst!

The worst is that they make you do it for 24 (24!!) hours non stop (well, actually, that's a bit of a lie) and feed you full of coffee to keep you awake. All very well, but what they haven't thought of is providing any way to, erm, 'do your business,' without stopping and losing the race. Ouch! Maybe a full bladder is an added incentive to winning and getting first in the queue to the little drivers room.

But in Ocean's new game WEC Le Mans you can stop playing at your convenience to use the, er, convenience. And there are so many other good things about WEC Le Mans I don't know where to start.

This is possibly the best Speccy race game we've seen since Enduro Racer, knocking OutRun and the rest into the pits. Indeed, though the graphics and animation are perhaps not quite up to Enduro standard, WEC Le Mans manages to remember where the other cars are meant to be in relation to you rather better, so it's a real race against other cars instead of just the clock.

WEC Le Mans has lovely large car sprites, a challengingly curvey track and a smooth set of acceleration/braking/gear change controls. However, there are no surprises at all in the gameplay: bonus points and extra time are given if you manage to make each successive time checkpoint and you spin off if you hit the trees, barriers or other cars.

This total lack of anything unexpected is perhaps the game's weakest feature. For example: the game is based on the one famous race course so each lap is exactly the same as the last, which may help it become a good simulation of the repetitiveness of an actual race but is not exactly a selling point.

Get far enough and the course switches to night for a bit, where it all gets a bit more difficult 'cos you can't see a thing except headlights!!

So, a rather fine racing game that works exactly as it's meant to but is very hard to write much about because it's so simple. With two of the best racing games (Enduro Racer and Super Hang On) being about bikes, WEC perhaps gets 'best car race' by default. We're impressed with it - but we wouldn't buy the company. (Oh I don't know! Ed)

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HOW TO LOSE THE RACE, WITH CAPTAIN TREAD

Hello, I'm Captain Tread, your advanced driving instructor. The ups, downs and bends on this Le Mans course can be very dangerous, unless you know the drill. That's where I come in - I'm here to help.

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Wooaahh! You're approaching this corner too fast. Put the brakes on and change down a gear. Remember - Captain Tread says "Safety first!"

Look! There are some cars in front of you! Don't just plough through them, you could cause a nasty accident. Beep your horn and only pass and when they have pulled to the side of the road. Captain Tread says "Think before you overtake!"

Hey, be careful, you could do someone an injury just pulling out like that. Mirror, indicate then (and only then) manoeuvre. Captain Tread says "You're not the only driver on the road - don't forget it!"

Slow down - you're driving like there's no tomorrow. Captain Tread says "Imagine you have an elderly relative in the passenger-seat drinking a mug of Ovaltine."

That's no way to take a chicane - this 'racing line' business may get you through fast, but should you skid you may cause injury. Captain Tread says "Stay on the left hand side of the road - treat the racetrack as you would a busy street."

Hey! Slow down even more, put your headlights on dip and keep both hands on the wheel. Captain Tread says "Don't forget, even though it's a clear, sunny day. there's still might be fog around the next corner!"

Remember! Safe motoring can save lives. Cheerio!