Ferrari based games have never really caught on as much as you'd think they should. That's because, to date, we've only had one Ferrari game, and that was Sega's F355 Challenge. F355 Challenge hit the arcades first, featuring a panoramic three-screen setup, complete with a cabin that features force feedback, and gameplay that was fairly realistic (at the time). The game hit the Dreamcast soon after, and then Sega ported it over to the PlayStation 2. Acclaim would also try to throw their hat into the Ferrari mix with their own Ferrari Challenge game on the PS2. Of course, that never happened, because Acclaim had hit financial death traps and would later fold.
Now, resurrecting the name, developer System 3 has revealed that they'll be taking the reins of the horse (pun intended) with a Ferrari Challenge game for the PlayStation 3. The game was playable for the first time at the Leipzig Games Convention, and thus far reports have been positive. System 3 has officially stated that the game will feature a selection of real race tracks, and no fantasy ones (not for the time being, at least). So expect to see Monza and Silverstone, among others. Hopefully we'll see Nurburgring, too. After all, what racing game is complete without the 'Ring?
Taking a cue from other racers, System 3 refuses to fall behind in this aspect, and will be modeling the interior of every Ferrari. Hopefully that means there'll be an in-dash view. Damage will be present, but it'll be limited to aesthetic deformation, and will not affect the performance of the car.
Now speaking of performance, just like Sega's old F355 game, this is a pretty simulation focused racer. You can't just mash the pedal and take turns going 100MPH. Turn in poorly, and you'll lose control. Break too late and you'll go off course. The game is reportedly taking shape to be fairly challenging, so those who are looking for a pick-up-and-play experience may want to look elsewhere: like Project Gotham or Need for Speed. Now, just like F355, there will be assists in the game, although it simply isn't made to be played with them. Furthermore, if you really screw up, you can actually flip the car over. And remember, because this is a sim game, you'll have to use some strategy in your pit stop planning.
Taking a page from Gran Turismo 5, a drift mode will be present in Ferrari Challenge. There'll be hill climbs and various other track types, all complete with real time weather and time of day changes. So yes, there will be night and rain races. Best of all, when you go online, the game checks the real-world conditions of the track you've selected and will replicate it.
On the topic of online, the game will support a wonderful total of 16 players! On top of that, downloadable content will range from cars and possibly tracks, as well as online enhancements. System 3 says that their goal is to release five new Ferrari's every month following the release of the game – ultimately making it the most complete Ferrari game ever.
As far as other features go: Ferrari Challenge will also take use of the PS3's HDD for faster loading times. The game will feature two-player split-screen modes. Voice chat has yet to be implemented, but may be seen as a downloadable patch.
Finally, the game is looking pretty solid. While it may not be the same show-stopper that Gran Turismo 5 is, with a much smaller team (and likely budget), System 3 is pulling off some pretty impressive stuff here. Good lighting and solid car modeling will really make Ferrari Challenge stand out.
The game will boast a resolution of 720p, running at 30 frames per second. Hopefully they can fake 1080i output for those of us with overscan issues (or insert a overscan correction tool). In any case, let's also not forget there'll be 16 cars on the grid. Taking all of that into consideration, Ferrari Challenge certainly doesn't seem like a game you'd want to sleep on.
Keep your eyes peeled on this one. It's European launch date is November 23, 2007. No word on when it'll hit the North American shores, but seeing as how the game will be region free – you can always import.