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reviews >> xbox
Motor Trend Presents Lotus Challenge

written by Shaun McCracken

Game Information
Publisher: Xicat Interactive
Developer: Kuju Entertainment
Year Released: 2002
Players: 1-2
ESRB Rating: Everyone

Visuals 6
The only good thing I can say is that the game runs at a smooth 30 fps. Everything else is really average.
Audio 5.5
Awful engine noises (especially in surround sound), decent music and poor voice-overs.
Gameplay 5
The innovations are really far from innovative, and the racing is just painfully average.
Replay Value 5
It takes about five hours to unlock everything and that's it.
Reviewer's Impression 5
I don't think it's such a bad thing that a developer chooses to base a game off of one auto maker, as long as that auto maker put out a variety of automobiles throughout it's history (like Chevrolet, Dodge or Ford). But for a company to release a game based upon an auto not even sold in this country, and not even a good one at that, it's just a waste of my time.
Overall 5.5
If you really, and I mean REALLY like the Lotus brand, rent the game. It's in no way worth keeping.

The makers of Lotus Challenge would like you to think that this is one of the most innovative and greatest racing games of all time. And it would be, if I had never played Gran Turismo, Project Gotham Racing, Burnout, Need For Speed, Ridge Racer, RalliSport Challenge, V-Rally, and some of the better racing franchises of our time. As it stands with the current oferings, Lotus Challenge is far from a memorable racing experience. It doesn't matter how much thought you put into making the controls tougher than they should be or how redundant you make your challenges, because no Xbox owner is really going to care about this game, let alone play it. Yet I did.

There's not a lot going for this game. For one, it's a racing game that only sticks with one auto maker. Now, it's not like this hasn't been done before, EA did this with the release of Need For Speed : Porsche Unleashed back in 2000, and the later OutRun 2 stuck with all Ferarris. But seeing how it's been years since a Lotus automobile has been sold in the United States (if ever), is anyone really going to care about the Lotus license, let alone it's history. Another thing against Lotus Challenge is the fact that it is all around unimpresive. The challenge mode seemed promising by mixing race challenges with stunt challenges, but the stunt challenges are so demanding, flawed and complicated that you just don't want to deal with it. Plus, it seems almost uneccessary to go through the challenge mode to unlock cars and tracks if you can do that in the championship mode, and THAT itself is boring and redundant. The controls are playable, but sketchy. On it's normal setting, the cars turn decently, but there was some noticeable twitchiness when straightening out the car on turns. The "innovative" control scheme was too complicated to understand, and wasn't really a necessary component to make the game better. I can understand that a developer would want to try and re-create the feel of a steering wheel on an analog stick, but why not just use a steering wheel accessory instead if you want the steering-wheel experience?

The visuals and audio are not that great, and that's almost a given seeing this game is published by a company who is relatively unknown. The visuals are about of average quality, with car models ranging from simple to just "okay", and the textures that actually seem pixelated is some states. The framerate does stay pretty smooth most of the time, but that shouldn't be so hard given the hardware the game is on. The sound effects are awful, the music is acceptable but repetitive and the voice overs is something I could live without. Why is there no custom soundtrack function, though?

Final Thought

Lotus Challenge is at the low-end of the racing spectrum. While it's not a god-awful racing experience, it's far from a great one. You can pretty much unlock everything within five or so hours, and you really won't want to go back and play the game again. So, if you wanted to give this game a try, just rent the damn thing. Lotus Challenge isn't a game really worth hunting E-Bay for, and really won't make you feel all the more enlightened for playing it.