The Micro User

Grand Prix Construction Set

Author: James Riddell
Publisher: Superior/Acornsoft
Machine: BBC B/B+/Master 128

Published in The Micro User 5.04

Strap yourself into the cockpit of your formula one racing car and prepare to thrash your way around 18 of the world's most tortuous racing circuits. Once you've mastered these you can load up the construction kit and design yourself another set of circuits.

Whether you're loading the game from tape or disc, the construction set is always loaded first. Before getting down to the nitty-gritty, you must enter the names of two drivers and specify whether you want to use the keyboard or a joystick.

You are now ready to choose a circuit on which to race, which can be done in one of three ways. The first is to sit down and construct your own, the second is to load a circuit which you designed on a previous occasion, and the last is to race on one of the 18 tracks which Superior have already provided.

Grand Prix Construction Set

For those who want to get straight into the game, the pre-defined circuits are excellent. A diagram of each circuit is called up as you browse through the collection. Once you have found a track that you like, the race section of the program is loaded.

Make quite sure that the track you load is one that will keep you amused for a while - you cannot select another track without re-loading theprogram.

Constructing your own circuits couldn't be simpler- there are 15 sections of track at your disposal, all of which are displayed at the top of the screen.

Grand Prix Construction Set

Using joystick or keyboard you highlight the piece of track required and the program will tag it on to the last piece you laid. If you make a mistake, just press L and the latest section of track is removed. By repeatedly pressing L you can backtrack all the way to the starting section.

The different pieces of track can be used to create some devilish race circuits. Apart from the straights and bends, there are also short and long chicanes, chicane bends and hump-backed bridges.

Unfortunately some of these features do not appear as you might expect when racing around the circuit. The banked bends are no more raised than any other bends - you are just allowed to take them at a higher speed.

Grand Prix Construction Set

The chicanes do not taper gently, the road changes from full width to half width instantly.

On the positive side, the hump-backed bridges do cause you to rise and fall. Cross a bridge at a speed of greater than 180mph and you'll take off - unfortunately touching down again tends to be a messy business.

The final feature of the construction set is the close option: Once your circuit is nearing completion you can press the C key and the computer will then attempt to complete the circuit for you.

Grand Prix Construction Set

At last you are ready to load up the race section of the game. Races are held over one to nine laps, and can take place between two humans, or one human and the computer.

The computer is capable of five skill settings: On level one the computer can be beaten easily, on the other four it can't! The screen is divided into three equal sections. The top display follows the computer-controlled car, the middle one follows your progress, and the bottom one displays two small diagrams of the circuit.

As each vehicle moves round the track its position is logged on the diagram. Frequent reference to this display will help you prepare for sharp bends and hump-backed bridges. By watching your opponent's display, as well as your own, you can spot which side he is about to overtake you on, and block his manoeuvre.

Bumping and barging is accepted practice on the Superior race circuits - on one occasion, the computer car and my own became locked together while battling it out down one particularly nasty section of chicane.

The construction kit is excellent, and the race section, while not up to the standard of Revs, has sufficient thrills and spills to keep you on the edge ofyour seat.

James Riddell

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