First Released: December 2008
Reviewed May 2009 by Keith Murray.
The original GTI Club, released for the arcades back in the 1990`s by Konami, probably bypassed a whole generation of gamers who either didn’t frequent them or weren’t close enough to their local emporium to sample its delights. It was a riot of a game that attracted a dedicated following at the time partly thanks to a unique, but useful, gimmick – a handbrake lever to assist full on power slides around tight corners.
Now, Konami has charged the UK-based development team Sumo Digital, who’s excellent work brought us the home conversions of another Arcade classic, Outrun 2006, in handling the PSN update, titled GTI Club+ Rally Cote D`Azur.
GTI Club+ is set in a wonderful blue sky environment which instantly endears itself to gamers of a certain age who still hold the likes of Sega Rally, Daytona et al close to their hearts. While it’s only one track, which is split into three different disciplines: (easy, medium and hard) there is a nice gradual challenge which builds upon the repetition and learning the different short cuts dotted around the tracks to help bring close quarter racing to the fore.
Nothing beats the thrill of swapping paint with the nearest competitor, hitting a tight short cut and beating them, shaving precious milliseconds from a previous lap time. Graphically the game is solid and looks the part and when you consider it’s a downloadable title, it has a wonderful vibrant palette.
The handling is pure arcade and Sumo has done a superb job of making it super responsive and easy to get to grips with. The ubiquitous handbrake is mapped to a shoulder button, but a quick recalibration of the controls to a face button makes it feel much smoother to control.
There are five different cars to choose from. The likes of the Golf GTI, Mini Cooper S and the Lancia Delta, all of which are iconic and of a certain time. Players will soon find their favourites and set about not only winning races but honing their skills, aiming for good times to compare with their friends on the online leader boards. As well as that incentive, there is a fully fledged online mode to keep players busy.
Ultimately there will be those who level the criticism at GTI+ that it should have added much more to keep people interested, that it lacks more in-depth modes and the like. Those people are missing the point of such a title and its heritage – this is perfect pick-up-and-play type of game, and it manages to continue to attract people back to it by offering immediate thrills, much like its older brother did back in the day. Except this time, there’s the luxury of not having to pump pound coins into a slot to continue to play.