When I received this review key earlier this week, I knew I was the chosen one for the task. You see, I’m a car nut, or more precisely, a motorsports enthusiast. I’ve been to Le Mans 24 hours three times, witnessed 12 live Formula 1 Grand Prix races, and experienced WEC, Moto GP, WTTC, WSBK, and more. I’ve even attended a couple of Historic GP events and visited the Le Mans museum. Classic Racers Elite seems tailor-made for people like me: petrol heads with a keen interest in history.
Classic Racers Elite offers time trial racing with historic cars on tracks from the 1960s and 1970s. They feature all kinds of cars and tracks, ranging from iconic F1 cars to rally vehicles and everything in between. While there are no licensing agreements, car connoisseurs can still identify famous racing brands and models from that era, like the Ford GT40, Abarth 1000SP, Citroen DS Rally, and BMW 2002. They all have garbled names, Ford becomes Fred, for instance. The representation of F1 cars is really cool, with brands like Lotus, Matra, and Honda from the late 1960s.
Hill climbing Mont Ventoux
The tracks evoke the spirit of classic (French) road and circuit courses, although they seem more inspired than historically accurate. Nonetheless, they remind me of the Reims-Gueux track, Monaco, Pau, and even include hill climbs on the roads of Mont Ventoux.
High resolution PS1 look
The developers sure have a fine taste in motorsports. However, if their passion doesn’t translate well into a fun video game, it’s all for nothing. Unfortunately, when playing the game, you can spot some cracks in its veneer. The user interface looks nice, featuring ’60s-like event posters to represent the tracks, and a meticulously detailed garage setup for car selection. However, the tracks themselves appear visually dated, almost a high res version of PS1 era graphics. It has extremely low-poly track decorations and unappealing textures. While the road and occasional rocks look decent, larger objects such as houses and pit areas are noticeably rougher.
The car models and animation don’t boast the visual polish, but they possess a certain charm reminiscent of Outrun 2006, which I can appreciate. Yet, the car physics and controls feel somewhat digital, lacking the precision I had hoped for, especially in terms of steering. Furthermore, the absence of analog triggers hampers the refinement of braking and accelerating. While it’s possible to use the right thumbstick for these functions, it still feels somewhat on-off. The frame rate is pretty solid, with minor dips around tight corners. But it plays well in general.
In terms of game modes, there’s only time trials available. Surprisingly, this doesn’t bother me too much. I find it rather enjoyable to solely focus on the current track, particularly the hill climbs which reminds me a lot of Goodwood, çomplete with hay bays and 60s signage. Competing for a spot on the leaderboard adds to the fun, although the timing system appears flawed, with some players achieving unreasonably quick times, likely exploiting cheats, which diminishes the overall enjoyment.
Lack of polish
Ultimately, this game lacks the finesse to truly captivate me. While I appreciate the these vintage cars, I also wish for a less arcade-like experience and a more simulation-like approach, which, in my opinion would fit the hill climb/time trial gameplay more. Considering its price of €29.99, I believe this isn’t too much to ask for either. It’s clear that this game was crafted with care and love, but it falls just short of hitting the mark.
A lot of love and care went into the car models and the tracks settings. But the executions falls a bit short, with lacklustre 3D models, especially of the scenery. The car models are reminiscent of games like Outrun 2006, from the PS2 era, which isn't to bad. Furthermore, the lack of modes makes the $29.99 price tag out of place.