Game Name: Enthusia Professional Racing
Game Developer: Konami
PAL Release: 06/05/06
Game Type: Racing Simulation Game
Game Description: Enthusia Professional Racing is exactly what you think it is and that’s a racing game but what you might not know is that this game takes itself very seriously. This game is a racing simulation game that has some licensed tracks and roughly 200 plus cars and realistic car handling where g-force and tire grip are accurately modelled and the game is even compatible with racing wheels.
Let’s just get this out of the way right now, yes Enthusia is a racing simulation game much like it’s more famous rival Gran Turismo. Unlike Gran Turismo though, Enthusia actually requires the player to actually race properly. The problem with Gran Turismo is that while is does state on the box that it’s a proper racing simulation game you can (and most of the players did) essentially play the game like a demolition derby, ramming all comers off the track and not only not get disqualified but actually win races using such underhanded tactics.
Enthusia has a point system that is not only linked to your progression in the game but if you are involved with too many pile ups, bang in to barriers or slide around the course too much like a yob then you will not only be docked vital progression but you might even be banned from racing in the game for a whole (in game) racing week. This can be bothersome since the game runs on a event calendar so certain races only appear on certain weeks so if you are barred from racing for a week and your favourite big money race comes up then you can not compete. This might seem a little hard to some but assuming that you are trying to play the game properly then you will never really docked to many points anyway and it actually succeeds at motivating you to drive like an actual race driver and not like a terrorist which in my opinion for a racing sim is fantastic.
As you have mostly likely worked out by now, Enthusia does have a career mode which takes the player to all kinds of events, mostly circuit races but with some rallying thrown in for good measure. You also don’t buy new cars and upgrades. Upgrades are earned via winning up races and levelling up your car (which can be done quicker by clean racing and entering your car in to events mean for higher class cars) but you don’t get to choose what upgrade it is, it’s a linear progression I am afraid. New cars are won via a random lottery of the entire grid after beating them in a race which is a little problematic since there might be a car you really want but instead you might end up with a pryus or some other worthless hybrid powered car.
The handling of the cars also feels good. The cars seem to have a real weight behind them and are actually fun to drive. The whole g-force thing is shown while you are racing and you can really feel your car rolling this is especially noticeable in the people carriers since they tend to be so heavy and roll quite a bit. I know this because for giggles I decided I would pick one for my starting car. I should probably point out at this point that I have been playing with the humble PS2 controller and not a wheel so I can not say how it handles on a racing wheel. What I have noticed is that even with the assists on the cars can be very slidey unless proper breaking is used i.e no breaking while turning, pump the breaks etc.
The presentation is generally very nice. The cars do look good and there is a nice variety of them, the same goes for the race courses. There is a nice little motion blur effect on the edges of the screen in the in car camera mode that gives the player a real sense of speed. The sounds of the cars are pretty decent too but if I where to complain about one thing this game does wrong is that the music while racing is not very good. It sounds more like racing game menu music than actual racing music. That said if you where to spend any serious amount of time playing Enthusia I would strongly suggest listening to your own music.
If you are in to serious racing games Enthusia is worth picking up, it can generally be had pretty cheaply these days. (I picked up my copy second hand for £3) It has decent graphics for a 2005 vintage game and the cars handle like you would expect them too. There is plenty of content and it plays well with a controller and is a nice, overlooked alternative to the Gran Turismo’s of the world.
The best bit: The handling of the cars and actual penalties for hitting other racers.
The worst bit: Randomly winning a hybrid car during a race while desperately trying to win another car… thanks!
Best quote: It’s a racing game…