Thursday, March 4, 2010

"Test Drive: Le Mans" (PS1) and "Le Mans 24 Hours" (PS2)

John Marine | 3/04/2010 02:19:00 AM |
The French endurance racing classic known as the 24 Hours of Le Mans was embodied in two different games I've played before. I have played "Test Drive: Le Mans" more than ten years ago, and then "Le Mans 24 Hours" for the PlayStation 2. I'll be here to talk about both games for you in this blog entry. I will start with "Le Mans 24 Hours" for the PlayStation 2 and then talk about "Test Drive Le Mans" for the PlayStation 1.

--- A Glance at Both Games ---
This is "Le Mans 24 Hours" for the PlayStation 2:

^ from:

And this is "Test Drive Le Mans for the PlayStation 1:

^ from:

Both games allow you to race the 24 Hours of Le Mans with some of the finest sportscar racing machines in the world. The two games are very different gaming experience, but there's no denying that both titles deliver a solid experience for their respective consoles. If you love sportscar racing and/or Le Mans, these are two classic titles you can't afford to pass up!

--- "Le Mans 24 Hours," PlayStation 2 ---
The PlayStation 2 version of "Le Mans 24 Hours" is based on the hit Sega Dreamcast version of this title. There are lots of cars to choose from, especially when you run the 24 Hours of Le Mans. You have a handful of tracks to race in the United States, Europe, and Japan. You can do various Arcade races with selectable difficulty levels. You can do Time Trials. If you break the lap record (which can be very difficult), you win a bonus car. Multiplayer racing is also possible between you and another racer. You can take part in Championship races which allow you to earn more cars to race with in most of the other modes.

The real meat of this game, however, is in the Endurances. You can choose between the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta or the 24 Hours of Le Mans. You can run either endurance for four different time distances. You can race anywhere from a few minutes to the full length of either endurance. Petit Le Mans lasts for ten hours in this game (usually lasts 10 hours or 1,000 miles, whichever comes first), and the 24 Hours of Le Mans lasts for 24 straight hours. Don't be daunted by having to play all day! In fact, you can save your progress by going into the pits and selecting the Save feature. The progress in your race will be saved for you to complete an endurance in its full extent. One extra note about the endurances... the cars you race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans can ONLY be raced in this mode.

The positives of this game is that the graphics are very nice, even for a 2000 game. The racing action and driving physics are amazing. The lights are blinding. Varying weather effects also add some challenge to your racing. I would recommend you race with Intermediate tires if you do the Championship races, because you'll never know if you'll be facing dynamic rain conditions. Usually during championship races, you get a forecast of what the weather conditions will be like. If you're the "better safe than sorry" type (like myself), go with Intermediate tires in case that dry forecast ends up being a lie.

The negatives of this game... the sounds are very weak, and loading times can be pathetically long. I also mentioned that some of the Time Trial times are difficult. I almost cleared the Suzuka East time trial course, but I only came within 7 thousandths of the record lap time. If you prefer games with a damage model, then this one doesn't have a damage model. So that can be a deterrent too. From a technical aspect, you can see what has been done to help out to make the graphics work decent when racing. You note that only your car has the chrome mapping when looking at replays. Other versions of this title feature the Toyota GT-One. I was saddened not to see the GT-One in the car lineup in this game.

Overall, this game is still enjoyable as a whole. I'm even thinking of playing this game again and try to finish what I started. I still have Petit Le Mans and my 24 Hours of Le Mans save files to complete! I even have progress in the final Championship series.

If you want this game, please click on the graphic below to purchase it. Remember, this is "Le Mans 24 Hours" for the PlayStation 2:

--- "Test Drive: Le Mans," PlayStation 1 ---
"Test Drive: Le Mans" is a different animal from the previous game. However, you can still race the 24 Hours of Le Mans in this game. This game has only two real tracks, along with a handful of fictional courses named after corners at Le Mans. The voice of Tiff Needell serves as commentary and information on the cars. You can race in Championship races, Challenges, Time Trials, and even the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The maximum number of cars to a track is eight, but that maximum car count goes up to 12 when you do the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

You may choose any number of cars across GT2, Prototype, and GT1 ranks. Like with Le Mans 24 Hours, some cars don't feature certain specific names like Ferrari or Porsche.

When you do Le Mans, you begin by taking offers from other teams to drive for them for this race. You may elect to do a test drive with certain cars, or you may take that offer and just go racing. When you select Le Mans, you can compete for a certain length of time as specified by your options. Time cycles nicely in this game. You actually note the sun going down and even some of the fans shooting off fireworks at night. There's a real sense of atmosphere for Le Mans. Unlike LM24H, Le Mans is severely abbreviated. An average lap of Le Mans in real life would be about 3:30.000 or less in the fastest cars. In this game, you'll complete a lap in about give or take 1:40.000. And as a recommendation... it is required you pit if you're doing Le Mans in this game. I once thought I was going to win outright without needing to pit. But unfortunately, I ran out of fuel on the last lap when racing for the 12 minute-length Le Mans 24. So pit at some point in this game to avoid embarassment.

The positives to this game is that the racing action is pretty good and that the 24 Hour race is lovely. There is a damage model to this game, especially when doing the Professional-spec races. The negatives in the game include the sound, graphic, and sometimes interface properties of this game. It seems very mediocre and not as exciting or as engaging. The music is pretty boring as well.

This is still the best way to enjoy 24 hour endurance sportscar racing if you own a PlayStation 1, even despite its flaws. Get this game by clicking on this:

--- Video Proof ---
To see videos of both games I discussed here, I've found some videos to help make your decision easier if you want to get these games or not. So check these out:

^ "Test Drive: Le Mans" for the PlayStation 1

^ "Le Mans 24 Hours" for the PlayStation 2 (this was actually the best one I could find that is really worth showcasing)

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoy either or both games!
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