We weren’t greatly impressed with the first Lotus game but it clearly did enough to warrant a sequel (nothing like a bit more direct advertising…) so here were have Lotus 2 (II) R.E.C.S, funny title and all. One of the major qualms we had about its predecessor was that there weren’t enough options. EA and Gremlin have addressed this ten fold! Or so it seems when you first load up the menu screen.
In addition to the normal time attack mode we now have a championship mode (hooray!), three difficulty settings (whoop whoop!), three different Lotuses to choose from (phwooaaarrr) and the much “anticipated” R.E.C.S system (more on that later). The game also has in-race music which was sorely missed in the first title.
Pick up time attack mode and you’ll see things have changed a bit. The courses are a lot shorter and the vary degrees of difficulty mean you see more of the game. The presentation is slick, with the car selection and radio (to select your music track) screens looking simply gorgeous in 16-bit. Choose your track and off you go! Erm, what’s happened to the sound effects?
The game engine in Lotus 2 is virtually the same as Lotus 1 but doesn’t feel as grounded. This is partly caused by there being no sound FX when one of the four (four? Come on!) music tracks are selected. I never thought I’d miss the hum of the Lotus engine but it really makes a difference (you select track 00 on the radio for this option). The screeching noise when you go too fast round a corner is missing however, meaning that knowing when to take your foot off the pedal becomes a tad trickier.
Sound-wise, Lotus 2 is a bit of a fail even though the music tracks are good. Graphics-wise, it’s better. Not drastically better but everything looks sharper and the backgrounds look more 16-bit than previously. Some of the levels (particularly the desert level) suffer from a scanline blur that hurts the eyes – thank goodness for the shortened tracks! But some of the tracks make for interesting additions like the Saturn stage (yep!) and the frustrating Roadworks stage.
Championship mode is as you would expect. Lotus 2 allows you to put your own name in allowing you to have a little fun competing against the other named drivers and it’s a nice change from constantly having to beat the clock.
A little on R.E.C.S as promised. Track builders are common place in PC games but this is the first time I’ve ever seen this in 16-bit which in itself is impressive. I say track builder, R.E.C.S (Racing Environment Construction Set) is more like a way to mildly alter the current tracks, offering you several sliders for curves, obstacles, length and so on. This is great for those who hate those in-road obstacles (like me!) or who want to get a lot more timeout of the Saturn stage, boost areas and all. But its creativity is limited and the novelty soon wears off.
After you’ve explored all the new options (which doesn’t take long) and maxed out the two-player modes, we’re back to where we finished with Lotus 1, a game that’s fun for a little while but soon falls flat. It’s worth a look if you liked the first game but it’ll soon be at the back of the game shelf.