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GTI Club+ on PS3 stays true to the popular 1996 arcade version whilst updating the gameplay to reflect more open racing games made possible by modern technology.
Racing games although sometimes seen as a sporting sub category, are a well established video game genre in their own right. They can feature a variety of driving styles ranging from the fantastical arcade racing focusing on thrills and spills, to the super realistic simulations that recreate every aspect of real life driving.
GTI Club+ builds on the strong sense of style and place of the original game. The game takes place in the Cote d'azur, a French riviera section. The game further establishes this sense of place by its selection of vehicles. A variety of European super minis from the 80's are included. These range from the Mini Cooper, Renault 5, Volkswagen Golf GTi, Lancia Delta and Fiat A112 Abarth. Even those not up with cars will recognise these iconic rides often appearing in films and adverts.
Unlike other (more expensive) racing games, the course is restricted to this one area and there are only a limited number of unlockable features and customisation. Like its arcade forebear, GTI Club+ tasks the players with clipping every last second from their lap times by really getting to know the course.
This is made more interesting by the ability to choose your own path through the city. Provided you pass through the check points in order, you can literally choose your own route. The city has been set out with this in mind, and shortcuts, dead ends and cut throughs abound. The 90's graphical style and this gameplay make it much like a racing version of Crazy Taxi.
Where this comes alive is racing against other people. The online feature lets you easily jump into an eight player race, and test out just how well you know the course. This is enhanced by the support of the PlayStation Eye and blue tooth headset to enable players to watch and chat to each other during the race.
Players are drawn to this game because of it's no nonsense arcade racing style. Although other games like Burnout Paradise 360 offer a similar arcadey feel, they can be overly cluttered with features and real world paraphernalia. The joy of GTI Club+ is finding a few friends online and settling down for a good few hours of repeat racing.
Not only does the balance of power swing from player to player as they discover new routes and better cornering, but the Eye and Mic support make it a real social occasion. By the end of the session you feel like you have spent time with friends, rather than just played a video game.
The arcade nature of the game means you can pick it up and put it down at will. Short sessions will make the game seem a little one dimensional. It's not until you have spent longer with GTI Club+ that it starts to shine.
Young players will find the arcade controls (read: simplistic) and driving easy to get to grips with. Add in the motion controlled steering and you have a very accessible game.
Intermediates, may find the game a bit of non-entity, neither one thing or another. Those that persevere with it however will start to under what made this style of game so popular - restraint being the key concept here.
Experts are more likely to remember the original, and 'get' the pared back approach to driving. After the initial trip down memory lane, some may balk at the limited options on offer but those willing to forgo some modern gaming luxuries.
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