Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge exudes attention to detail from the moment you whack it in your drive. A colourful, techie-looking attract mode expounds the virtues of your car, the 150 mph-plus Turbo SE. Press on the joystick and you can select manual or automatic gear changing and fire-button or forward-push accelerator, so there's sure to be a control method to suit you.
There are three levels, each with more races to get through and tougher circuits than the last. Easy Circuits are flat, smooth-cornered affairs, while hard circuits are hilly, twisting and strewn with road works and blocked lanes. Regardless of the overall difficulty level, the tracks get tougher as you progress through each season.
You start each race from the grid as usual, but unlike in other games the other cars accelerate away at similar speeds to you. Your Opponents (there are 19 in all) race the circuit for real, rather than popping on and off screen simply to block and annoy you, as they do in Out Run. If you overtake a car and then slow down, it fights to regain its position, keeping you on your toes throughout the race.
Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge's most appealing feature is its two- player option. The screen is split into two horizontally, each driver having his own set of statistics and read- outs and the main track view ahead, You and your mate both have red Esprits, so you can distinguish yourselves from the rest of the cars. Plenty of scope for some real '’ding-dong battles” as that Murray Walker commentator chappie loves to say.
The game is impressively fast, smooth and eminently controllable. The graphics are clear, well drawn representations of the things they purport to be, and even in the two player mode the screen is clear and easy to read at speed.
The sound effects, though chip based, are thankfully neither repulsive nor unbearable. The car sounds are actually quite reasonable, even if they aren't samples, or you can choose one of four in-car tunes.
Against the pack or against a friend, Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge pushes you further than most other race games ever have, and it makes your joystick hand hurt like hell. While it might not be the most imaginative or original game ever, it's still well-written, beautifully presented and compelling to the very finish. If this ain't on your Christmas list, then you’re a pedestrian!