by CAPCOM EUROSOFT LTD
Driving games on the PlayStation 2 are hardly uncommon now are they? If you're going to release a driving game you're going to have to make it something special and something unique. CAPCOM know this and have released the 3D cel-shaded Auto Modellista which not only handles very well indeed but also looks unlike any other racer you've ever played before.
You've probably looked at the screenshots and thought to yourself that it looks like an Animé Gran Turismo. While this wouldn't be too far from the truth there are a few essential differences. First of all it would be fair to say that Auto Modellista does not have the depth of Gran Turismo although this is no bad thing. The game comes with a Garage Life mode (the main part of the game where you buy cars and progress through the races to unlock cars and other items) and an Arcade mode for that instant race experience. The Arcade mode also features a 2 player split-screen option for those head-to-head races.
Your cars can be tuned somewhat and key parts can be replaced with superior versions. Auto Modellista is far more visual in it's customisation options. Your garage for instance can be adorned with items that you unlock such as posters and numerous floor items. Spoilers can be attached to your cars. Your cars can be painted, not just in one all-over colour but separate parts such as the bonnet and doors etc., can all be different colours. You can also alter the style of your cars paintwork. You can spend hours just finding the perfect look for your car.
If you found the steering too loose in Gran Turismo you'll be pleased to know that the steering in Auto Modellista is far tighter and very responsive and is actually a big improvement over Gran Turismo, especially when using a Dualshock 2 gamepad. In Gran Turismo I always felt that a steering wheel was essential to gain good control but thankfully in Auto Modellista this is not the case. Braking also feels superb. By default your car is equipped with street brakes which feel a little light. Like in Gran Turismo though you can purchase sports and racing brake systems which will give the brakes that more responsive feel. You also have a choice of manufacturer to choose from, which is very impressive indeed. When you've made all the improvements to your car, you'll want to take it on a test run. Strangely though you can't have automatic gears on a test run. This isn't too much of a problem as the gears are easily changed with the L1 and R1 buttons but it does seem strange. In a race though you can have automatic gears and what's more, even with automatic gears you can still change the gears which is a novel idea.
The line-up of companies to choose a car from is also very impressive. Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mazda and Mitsubishi are just some of the companies from which you can choose a car. Despite the cel-shaded look you can still make out the cars very clearly and they look great. There isn't any visible damage modelling but Auto Modellista is not alone in this and most modern racing games seem to be without this feature.
What can we say about the graphics? A look at the screenshots says it all really. The game has a distinctive look and it's superb. There are various effects that come from the car such as the cartoon lines that come from the car when travelling at high speed and these all look great (you can turn these off though if you don't like them). The game comes with a 60Hz option so if your TV supports it, you can drive along at 60fps. The framerate is wonderfully smooth and I didn't experience any slowdown even with the mass pile-ups, that my not so brilliant driving caused at times.
There is absolutely no problem with Auto Modellista for deaf gamers. There is an announcer who comments when you've overtaken by a car or aren't doing particularly too well but to be perfectly honest these comments are trivial and do nothing but add an arcade feel to the game.
Auto Modellista might not offer the depth of Gran Turismo but it certainly offers as much enjoyment as most of the other games out there and the degree to which you can customise your cars is very impressive. There is even the option to edit your replays and create some special footage of yourself. If you're into driving games at all you'd be mad to miss it.
Game Rating: 9.0/10