Race with the rich in...

Jaguar XJ 220 logo

CORE * £25.99 * 1 meg * Joystick * Out now

Question - what's the difference between Jaguar and Lotus Turbo Challenge 2? Answer - not a lot.
To say Jaguar XJ220 has been warmly received by the computer press is a bit of an understatement. In fact some computer mags have gone so far as to give the game a four-page review and percentages bordering on the ridiculous.
I mean a four page review on a driving game? It's just not physically possible, believe you me I'm having trouble filling one page. What on earth do you say about a driving game. Well? Look for the purpose of time-wasting, I'll have a go.

Look, it's a driving game and, err you drive. If you move left on the joystick you move (gasp) left, oh forget it - I just can't do it. Look are you thick or something? It's just a driving game, now go away and don't hassle me.
Oops my temper took over, I'm sorry, it won't happen again. Right what can I say now? Ummm.

Jaguar is good. In fact it's very good, but it's far too similar to Lotus 2. The graphics and sound are better than Lotus 2 which is fairly obvious seeing as though Lotus 2 was released a year ago - you know technology advancements and the like.

There is a major difference between the two games and that is that Jaguar XJ220 has a track editor, thus allowing you to construct tracks from scratch or modify any of the 36 available.
This is a fairly neat idea, but in the end it's just another gimmick.

Talking of gimmicks, remember the in-car stereo in Lotus? Well, it's back in Jaguar and for one reason only it's tons better.
That one reason is Thrash Pig - probably the noisiest, rocking tune since, well since ever really. As soon as you hear those wonderful opening notes, it's time for a most frenzy.
All the other tunes are a bit bobbins to say the least. A new nice little feature is the car radio with the option to tune into your favourite station. Let's put it this way - it raises a smile for at least three seconds and then the novelty wears off.

One small teeny weeny problem with Jaguar XJ220 is the Jaguar XJ220. It has a maximum speed of 213 mph. This little baby can do 0-100 mph in eight seconds. Now because of all this speed you'd think that the game was pretty fast... wrong!

In Jaguar XJ220 you just don't get any feeling of speed. For instance I was taking sharp corners at 200 mph and it just felt as though I was doing 40 mph.

The handling on the Jag is so good that the game is really easy to play. You race against Porsches and Ferraris and you fly past them as if they weren't there.

You get to race in 12 different countries and each country has three tracks in it. The first track is a breeze and you are guaranteed to come first. The second is slightly harder with more difficult corners and you probably come first or second, but - and this is a big,big but - the third track is really hard. It normally puts you in some freak weather conditions like snow, fog, night etc and chance are you'll find it difficult into the top five.

Overall Jaguar is good, but not that good. It has almost the same features as Lotus 2, like the pits and the in-car stereo, etc. The graphics are excellent and sound is very good, especially Thrash Pig.
The problem is not that it's not as playable or addictive as Lotus. But Jaguar has far more tracks and it is a lot harder to complete. If you like car games then you'll love Jaguar XJ 220, but don't waste your money if you've already got Lotus 2.

Jaguar XJ 220 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 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.

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.

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.

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.

Jaguar XJ 220 logo Amiga Joker Hit

Bis heute gilt "Lotus Turbo Challenge II" als das Rennspiel schlechthin - die Zeiten sind vorbei. Core Designs Versoftung des automobilen Raubtiers ist schneller, schöner und unterhaltsamer als alle andere vergleichbaren Games zuvor!

Bereits der Optionsscreen läßt kaum Wünsche offen: Man kann zwischen Maus- und Sticksteuerung wählen, deren Empfindlichkeit einstellen und sich für oder gegen ein automatisches Getriebe entscheiden. Gut, die versprochene Link-Option für zwei Rechner fehlt, aber ein Rennen gegeneinander auf dem Split-Screen ist ja kaum weniger spannend. Zuletzt wird noch die Sounduntermalung festgelegt, dann kann's losgehen...

Simuliert wird hier die "S.C.R. Challenge", sie führt durch 12 Länder, wobei jeweils drei Kurse à vier Runden zu durchrasen sind. Die Hatz beginnt immer in England, danach kann man sich auf einer Weltkarte für den nächsten Austragungsort entscheiden (also z.B. Deutschland oder die USA).

Je nachdem wechseln die Tücken der Landschaft: Mal peitschen Regenschauer über die Straße, dann behindern Nebelschwaden die Sicht, oder dichte Sandstürme machen die (Nacht-) Fahrt über Berg und Tal zum Blindflug.

Es gibt überall eine Unmenge von Sehenswürdigkeiten wie Wasserfälle, Klippen oder Brücken, auch Tankstops sind nötig, soll nicht mitten im Rennen der Sprit ausgehen. Kollisionen mit Gebäuden, Felsen oder anderen Verkehrsteilnehmern kosten hingegen bloß etwas Zeit, verursachen aber kaum Schäden.

Sollte dennoch mal ein Aggregat streiken, kann es in der Werkstatt ausgetauscht werden. Allerdings braucht's dazu Kohle, und die bekommt nur, wer unter den ersten zehn Racern ins Ziel rauscht! Reicht das Bare nicht, um die Reparatur oder die Reise zum nächsten Austragungsort zu finanzieren, ist die Saison zu-ende - außer, man hat in weiter Voraussicht den Spielstand (Tabelle, beste Rundenzeiten etc.) gesichert.

Technisch wurde die Raserei brillant in Szene gesetzt: Die abwechslungsreichen 3D-Landschaften zoomen fast schon mit Lichtgeschwindigkeit, zahlreiche Zwischenbilder und viele grafische Gags zeugen von der Sorgfalt der Programmierer - etwas, daß die Bremslichter des Vordermannes vor scharfen Kurven aufleuchten, während im Nebel nur dessen Schlußleuchten zu erkennen sind.

Akustisch überzeugt das PS-Spektakel durch ausgeklügelte Soundeffekte bzw. sechs hübsche, anwählbare Musikstücke. Und die jederzeit exakte Steuerung ist sowieso über jeden Zweifel erhaben.

Vorwerfen könnte man dem Jaguar höchstens seine unübersehbare Ähnlichkeit zum Lotus, aber warum sollte man? Schließlich ist es Core Design gelungen, ein hochklassiges Konzept durch zahlreiche neue Features nochmal am eine ganze Klasse zu verbessern. Und wer sich trotz Boxenstops und Finanzhaushalt Sorgen macht, daß am Ende aller Strecken ein Motivationsloch lauert - selbst einen feinen Editor für Individual-Pisten hat man dem Super-Boliden spendiert! (rl)

Jaguar XJ 220 logo

Come on - you must know the story by now. First there was Gremlin's Lotus Turbo Challenge, then there was Lotus II, and now there's Lotus III - oops! Sorry, now there's Jaguar, Core's stab at a sprite-based driving game, and it just begs for Lotus comparisons...

It seems that Gremlin really started something with their Lotus Turbo Challenge games - not just the resuscitation of the old Pole Position-style racing game, but the introduction of a whole new genre of uncannily similar looking split-screen, two-player racing games. At least, that's what Core must be hoping has happened, because if no-one else does a Lotus-lookalike supercar game they're going to look rather out-on-a-limb. With Jaguar XJ220, Core have taken Gremlin's seminal Lotus II and replaced the Esprit by a Jaguar XJ220. And, er, that's it.

Okay, perhaps that's not entirely fair. And to make up for it, here's the 'descriptive' part of the review with the emphasis firmly placed on the differences between the two games.

Um. (This isn't easy..)
Right, got one. Lotus II featured eight courses, which were played through in order. To complete a course, and progress to the next one, you had to reach all its checkpoint within certain time limits. And that's all there was to it. It worked, but had a rather linear feel.
Jaguar takes a rather more flexible approach, revolving around cash. It allows you to play three courses in each of 12 countries (that's 36 altogether, and they're racetracks rather than continuous roads), and once you've played through England's three courses you can choose which country you move onto next.

The only snag is that you've got to pay to get there, and the further away it is the more it'll cost. It's just as well, then, that winning races nets you cash in the form of prize money - the higher placed you are the more you get. So all you've got to do is make sure you win enough races to keep paying the air fares.

The other thing that'll soak up money is your car. If you don't treat it gently, bits will start to need replacing, and if you can't afford them you're out of the game. This might all sound rather numerical and boring, but it fits in seamlessly with the driving sections and has the enormous advantage that one disastrous performance doesn't always mean The End - you've just got to make good your losses in the next round.

Another difference is the scenery, although it's more of an improvement than a difference. Lotus II looked nice, with its trackside ornamentation and weather conditions, but Jaguar really pulls out all the stops. There are tunnels, bridges, caves (complete with spooky stalactites), waterfalls, marshes, roadworks, the lot. Even Rolf Harris makes an appearance, complete with Stylophone, if you get as far as Australia. The variety is dazzling, and a great incentive to explore all 36 tracks. And Lotus II's weather conditions have all been faithfully transplanted - rain, snow, night-time, fog - plus a slightly over-the-top sandstorm.

Jaguar XJ220 is really quite fabulous

I'm struggling now, but here's another: the cars you race against. Lotus II put you up against other Lotuses. Jaguar has you racing against Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Bugattis, Porsches and (oh dear) Corvettes, and they all behave rather more intelligently than Lotus II's. And each manufacturer has his own team racing against you, so as well as working your way up the drivers' rankings, it's up to you and 'Player 2' to do your bit for Jaguar in the constructors championship.

All this said, however, once you've hit the road the similarities flow thick and fast, and it's easy to see how the two games could be confused. Jaguar moves just as fast as Lotus II, the graphics are just as tasty, the road undulates just as, um, undulatingly and the way the car handles is virtually identical (i.e. just as realistic). Even Lotus II's dearth of crashes has been included - you just slow down when you hit something, rather than exploding.

The overall result is that Jaguar captures that 'driving feel' perfectly, and is brilliant fun to play and utterly addictive. Er, just like Lotus II. And, just like Lotus II, Jaguar really comes into its own as a fiercely competitive two-player game, the only difficulty being in trying to reach an agreement as to when to turn it off.

In fact, the two games are so outrageously similar (and both so good) that I'm not even going to attempt to pick a favourite. What a thought. It would be like trying to choose between Macallan and Lagavullin, or Roseanne and Have I Got News For You?, or Sonia and Sabrina. (Eh? - Ed.)

So what do you do? Do you buy this? Do you buy Lotus II (if you haven't already)> Do you buy both? Or do you wait for Lotus III? (Or do you simply pack it all in and take up a less mentally taxing pastime, like brass rubbing?) I suppose that if you really twisted my arm, really twisted it, I'd have said that Jaguar XJ220, with its as-yet-unmentioned track editor, more adventurous - and numerous - courses, and more varied opponents, is probably just (just) about the better buy. But there really isn't much in it.

Forgetting the comparisons for a moment, this is a really quite fabulous product that utterly restored my faith in computer games (I've been played too many wargames recently, through no fault of my own). It's been running uninterrupted on my Amiga for days, and see no reason why I'm likely to switch it off in the near future. (I do - here's another wargame - Ed.)

In an attempt to be as fair as possible to both games, here's a quick break down of the strengths and weaknesses of them both...
Lotus II 8 - Jaguar 9
As fast and slick as one could possible hope for in both games. Lotus's are perhaps more attractively drawn (I'm not keen on Core's black outlines), but Jaguar heaves a lot more around the screen.
Lotus II 9 - Jaguar 9
There's really nothing in it. Both games strike the perfect balance between realism and fun.
Lotus II 8 - Jaguar 9
While they're both as unputdownable as each other to start off with, it's likely that Jaguar's flexibility and general 'bigness' will make it the more viable long-term proposition.
Lotus II 8 - Jaguar 8
Lotus II packs a two-computer, four-player option and a choice of two cars, but Jaguar holds it off with its track editor and more complicated moving-around system.
Lotus II 33 - Jaguar 35
A photo-finish, but it looks like Jaguar, by a whisker, is the one that gets to squirt champagne all over the place.

Jaguar XJ 220 logo CU Amiga Screenstar

Steve Keen pulls on his asbestos underwear and climbs into the driving seat of Core Design's mean machine.

Lotus 2 has dominated the computer car racing world for almost a year now. Its super-fast scrolling and realistic racing conditions made it an instant classic and has since remained unsurpassed - until now. All good things must come to an end, and Core's newest product, which is about to take to the road, is just the game to make sure that Lotus 2 is knocked from its pole position - it was a comparison the Derby-based company were wary of, but they have certainly pulled it off with style.

Looking back at Lotus 2 it was a relatively and linear affair: you simply set your options and raced. If you qualified for the next round, you could progress. This is where Jaguar knocks its many rivals for six. Whilst there's not a lot you can do in terms of changing the actual on-road gamestyle, Core realised that they could still incorporate a host of new features, such as improved graphical detail, and an additional element of strategy play never seen in the genre before.

Jaguar's racing is spread across twelve countries around the world and thirty-six tracks. The player must take his Jaguar and crew to each of the dozen countries and race against the fastest road-worthy cars the rest of the world has to offer.

In addition, he must also improve his teams' ranking and position in the world tables with successive wins. Every new game starts with a lap or two in England and is accompanied by the appropriate dreary weather conditions. In each race you are pitted against twenty other cars, including Ferraris, Porsche, Lamborghinis, and Corvettes, as well as your fellow stable mates in identical Jags.

The racing screen is dotted with information vital to obtaining pole position. A counter to the top-left of the screen displays the laps remaining, whilst one to the right shows your current position in the race. Two unobtrusive bars to the bottom-left of the screen indicate fuel remaining and the current gear in use. Your speed, of which the maximum is 220 mph (hence the XJ-220's name) is displayed in the right-hand corner.

For the first few races, this information - with the exception of the lap and position counters - seem irrelevant, but to rank among the highest-placed in each race, all such information must be monitored scrupulously. For instance, some bends are real back breakers and you'll need to sink into the lowest gears if they are to be safely negotiated and, although you can complete some races with just half a tank of fuel, others will require you to fill up more than once during the race, forcing you to gamble between perhaps losing a vital position and running out of gas.

The scrolling of the track and the roadside detail is superb. Every country has its individual racing conditions, including snow, rain, falling leaves, fog and others. The beauty of Jaguar's effects are that, unlike other racing games, the conditions are sporadic. Snow doesn't continuously fall, it will often just be a few flakes which may later increase to blizzard proportions. The same can be said for fog, and rain actually throws up puddles here and there that affect the car's grip on the surface.

All these neat extras are supported by incredibly detailed roadside formations. Rocks jut out from the edge of the road and eventually link together to form huge arches to drive under. Waterfalls cascade down mountainsides, whilst fences, bollards and cones appear in the distance and follow the track like writhing snakes - a feature I can't recall having seen before. The most important thing however, is that for the first time in a racing game you actually feel as through you could be there - a feeling enhanced by the excellent night driving sections.

The Jaguar XJ-220 is primarily a commercial road vehicle and, as such, even with its racing modifications, can't withstand many knocks. During the race you will almost certainly get nudged, thumped, bumped and downright bashed from every angle and it's up to you to repair the damage at the end of your race using your winnings to pay for the repairs.

A beautifully-presented screen comes up depicting the Jaguar ina semi-dissected computer-styled selection screen. Here, you must click through the different components that make up the car piece by piece. The computer highlights the parts to be replaced in green. If the chosen piece flashes orange it is damaged, but functional, if it is red, though, it needs replacing. This is where the strategy comes in. In order to get to the assorted world destinations, it is necessary to fly both you and your car to them - this, of course, costs cash. The further you are from your required destination, the more money it's going to cost you to get there - and the less spare cash you'll have to spend on parts. Weighing the cost up between getting to an easier track or buying the latest shock absorbers can be a real predicament.

The sheer detail that's been crammed in is what sets Jaguar XJ-220 apart from the pack. The gaggle of options, including car responsiveness, joystick or mouse control, manual and automatic gears, a data disk option and even track-editing features are a credit to Core. From the exquisite scenery to the fantastic touches of detail such as the light that reflects off the car's roof as it goes through tunnels, and the assorted spray thrown up by the back wheels is fantastic.

More importantly, though, it plays as well as it looks - and that's certainly saying something. Simply the finest racing game I've seen so far and one that both Jaguar and Core can be justifiably proud of.

Jaguar includes some great sound effects, but if you'd rather race to the sound of music the XJ-220 comes with an excellent CD player as standard! You can choose between six tracks ranging from the melodic, to hardcore trash for foodlit night driving. If none of those included are to your taste you can even scan the radio stations and take pot luck in what you'll find - these range from the theme tune from the A-Team to Starksky And Hutch's twangy signature tune!

BACK TRACKING If you're not content with the courses included in the game you can also create your own with the built-in track editor. This allows you to edit the tracks supplied or assemble one of your own from scratch, including all the details and special effects found in the game. The editor is incredibly easy to use and you may select from a libary of more than fifteen objects which include bridges, bends, gradients, barriers and waterfalls.
The track is built block by block and you can scrolling along it at any time to check how it's coming along, and make any necessary adjustments. The new circuit can then be saved to disk and used whenever you like.

TEETHLESS TROUBLE Putting together a game such as Jaguar XJ-220 can be full of unforeseen problems. The release of the game actually coincides with the release of Jaguar's brand new £350,000 sports car of the same name. Whilst the classic sports car company worked closely with Core, the development team were told that under no circumstances were they allowed to show the car in a bad light. This even meant that the player's car didn't so much as get a single scratch during a race. No explosions, smashes, dents or smoke were allowed to be associated with the exclusive baby. The company even made the programmers include a certain quota of Jaguar billbaords displaying their name and logo to line the computer course. Rather than looking like obtrusive ads, though, they keep in with the game's immaculate presentation.

Jaguar XJ 220 logo

JAGUAR XJ220 out now from Core Design on 1 Meg Amiga, £25.99

Ever since MARTIN POND previewed Core Design's JAGUAR XJ220 back in April, he's been saving up to make the first instalment on the real thing. Since he's now the proud owner of an XJ220 petrol cap, we thought we'd let him slobber over the finished game.

AmigaDriving around in a huge, low, fast car, cocking a snook at local traffic regulations and frightening the peasants in 12 different countries of the world - that's the life, eh? It's also the idea behind Jaguar XJ220, a sprite-based racing game with a two-player split-screen option. You'll experience a variety of conditions on your tour: rain, snow and cross-winds affect handling, while visibility may be impaired by fog or night driving. (Or driving with your eyes shut 'cos you're chicken. Ed.) I wasn't scared - I was using the force, actually.

There are 20 cars in each race - Porsches, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Bugattis and Corvettes. Each of the constructors fields a three-strong team. Teams consist of a good driver who goes like the clappers, a Sunday driver who does likewise but brakes at hazards, and a learner driver who's likely to be hitching on the hard shoulder when he lets his car run out of fuel.

The prize money you earn from a race can be spent on travelling to more races in different countries, or on repairing any damage to your car. Prangs, rough handling and cross-country short-cuts all take their toll on the tyres, engine, spoilers, stick-on Garfield, etc. The car status screen shows you the condition of each component - green if it's okay, orange if it's a bit poorly and likely to hamper your Jag's performance and red if it's damaged the car would fail an MOT.

The damage factor brings a whole new dimension to the game - especially in two-player mode. Picture this scenario: your opponent is as poor as a church mouse and has been forced to enter a race with a dodgy rear spoiler. During the race, you ram said spoiler 'accidentally', incurring some damage to the paint-job on your car but hopefully wreaking havoc with your pal's aerodynamics and lowering his top speed. The tactical nobble - it's what racing games have been waiting for.

As a format, arcade-style racing games are as fresh as left-over bread rolls from the Last Supper. Luckily, XJ220 has enough new features to get away with it. It's well thought-out from start to finish, and graphically it's just dreamy. Take the autumn scene on the Canadian leg - I just wanted to run barefoot through it. (You nonce. Ed.)Z

The game features a marvellous in-car stereo. Boasting a selection of music ranging from trash metal to Leonard Cohen, there's something to suit everyone's style of driving. It's also got a smart simulated radio with channel search ad a working Dolby system. A complete simulated car hi-fi - what a great gimmick! (And no chance of it getting ripped off.)

The Map Editor lets you re-design any of the game's 36 circuits with ease. It includes a large prop department from which to select the roadside sprites, as well as various track sections to create the uppy, downy, lefty, righty bits. You could recreate the Birmingham one-way system if you really wanted to.