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Following up on the success of Grand Prix 2 racing simulation and Grand Prix Manager is this latest release from Microprose, Grand Prix Manager 2. A direct descendant of last year's Grand Prix Manager, this updated release features a few new highlights and, of course, the prerequisite for any updated pro-sport game, a up-to-date list of athletes.
Before you even begin to entertain the notion of taking the car out for a spin on the track, you'd better make some deals with engine manufacturers, tire makers, spare component companies and, yes, security people. You'll notice right off the bat that not all teams are treated equally. Engine and tire manufacturers want to be associated with successful teams and therefore offer `special' deals to successful teams like Williams and Benetton. Those deals could be anything from discounted pricing to free engines. Struggling teams pay full price. The same logic applies to sponsorship. In order to defer some of the costs of running the team, you'll need to sell advertising space. Sponsors will pay big bucks for the privilege of slapping their logo on a successful team's car. They'll also sponsor less successful teams, but will pay less for the `privilege'. So, the more successful you are on the track, the more successful you'll be at the bank.
Now, there's more to this game than money management. You, as the team manager, are responsible for making sure your drivers, engineers and technicians are happy. You're responsible for tweaking the car's set-up so that your drivers can actually have a chance at winning a race. You're also responsible for telling the drivers to `step on it' or `take it easy' during the race. Basically, you're responsible for everything, except driving the car.
Which brings us to the second big `improvement' over Grand Prix Manager; the in-game commentary by Stirling Moss. Now, while this was an interesting feature for the first ten minutes of game play, we found we enjoyed the game much more without it. It's not that Mr. Moss' voice is annoying, but the game just doesn't seem to manage the voice clips very well. In one instance, we listened to Moss rattle off the current driver's position, from first to last, only to have him start all over again because another lap was complete. That, plus the aforementioned `Newhouse' problem were enough for us to wish this feature were never added to the game. Thankfully, Microprose has provided the option to remove the commentary.
Anybody with a modem; and if you're reading this you must have one; will be happy to see that they can now challenge their friends to a manager's duel. This kind of feature always seems to add a little bit of zest to a game.
The Windows based graphics interface really hasn't changed all that much. In fact, when we first installed Grand Prix Manager 2, we thought we were still playing the first one. The game looks almost identical to its predecessor with a few minor cosmetic changes. One thing that we appreciated was that the slide-bars at the bottom of the screen that you use to control how much you want your driver to `push' the car are much bigger than before, making them much easier to use.
Other add-ons include a few new ways to view the race, one of them being the `helicopter' view, which literally zooms in on your car. We were not impressed. The resulting chunky graphics left much to be desired. We were impressed, however, with some of the real life `highlight' shots although they seemed to get repetitive after a little while.
Also included as a bonus for Windows 95 users is a screen saver. It's pretty standard stuff with some nice shots of your favorite F1 drivers.
For anyone who's played the first installment, we're really not sure this game has improved enough to warrant buying it. Sure, there are some improvements, but there simply aren't enough of them. The game basically looks and feels the same as the first one. Our recommendation to you is to hold on and wait for the next version.
Back when Coming Soon Magazine reviewed the original Grand Prix Manager, we put out a wish list for Grand Prix racing games. We hoped at the time that Microprose would somehow combine the winning aspects of Grand Prix Manager and Grand Prix Racing into the then soon to be released Grand Prix Racing 2. That didn't happen. Obviously it's more lucrative to release two games to the marketplace rather than one and that's probably why Microprose released the games separately. The net effect is a great driving game (GP 2) and a good management simulation game. So, we put out the request again... Microprose, are you listening? Combine the two Grand Prix titles and give us the definitive racing game.
Written by Mike McGrath
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Network play requires Windows 95.
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