Looking at the box for Driving Emotion Type S fills you with worry. Can a driving game that looks so good, really be utter poo? The game loads up showing a decent in-game movie with some of the worlds finest cars battling for the lead around Suzuka.
When DETS is started, you realise that RPG masters SquareSoft, have paid close attention to Polyphony, arguably the masters of the driving sim. The cars are alterable to suit, allowing the player to customise the handling, braking and aesthetic characteristics, including choice of alloy wheels.
Fiddling with the controls on the start-line reveals three view options: In car, complete with realistic dashboard, behind car view and the game standard, sellotaped to the bonnet view. 3,2,1 and you are away. The cars that are available at the beginning of the game are not the paunchiest of accelerators, but you pick up speed with the rest of the field. Then you try the steering. You move the controller to the left and nothing seems to happen. About a second later your car veers off uncontrollably to the left forcing you to do a hard right. Again there is a long delay, before the car lurches off to the right, again out of control. You then try and counter-steer left again and so on. The replay shows you zigzagging along the straight in a scene reminiscent of the first time you let your girlfriend have a go on Gran Turismo.
Something is wrong here. Having mastered almost every decent driving game to come along, why is Type S so difficult? Anyway, we persevered and after about an hour, success! We won a race! The first victory is rewarding, giving the player access to a new car and a new track. The ludicrous manner in which the cars handle slowly becomes easier to control, and, dare we say it, quite enjoyable. The European version has been enhanced from the original NTSC code and the cars have lost some of their worst characteristics. You now get the feeling that your Honda Civic Type-R is in contact with the track, as opposed to floating three inches above it. It also appears to steer from the front wheels, instead of pivoting magically from some unseen central point.
One anomaly that we couldnt explain is the braking system. You may find this hard to believe, but it appears that Square has confused the physics between the brakes and the handbrake. When the normal brakes are applied on the straight, the car slows erratically with the back end skipping about all over the place. If you then try and use the normal brakes whilst cornering you are thrown into an uncontrollable back end slide. Strangely it is possible to go into a corner at full whack, apply the handbrake and slow the car while retaining complete control. Boy-racer beta-testers required at SquareSoft!
Driving Emotion Type-S is not the worst driving game in the world and can become rewarding and enjoyable. There is a plethora of top quality motors to choose from, from top Japanese hot-hatches right the way up to Ferraris. If you cant wait for Gran Turismo, check it out.