How Lotus Turbo Challenge II blended arcade thrills with racing realism

This makes the game faster and saves the getting-started-again problem, but equally it makes it difficult to judge just how appalling your mistake was without your keeping an eye on the speedo. It's a moot point, but in the end I think I'd say this non-stopping is a good thing – though, of course, it's pretty hard to take a game totally seriously when slamming into a lorry at 140 just slows you down to 20 mph (instead of simply mashing you).

Still, that's all part of what makes it such an unusual game – it's so very arcade-like in speed and smoothness terms, while much of the actual driving experience it's trying to emulate (the way the two different cars handle, say) is so realistic. Unusual, but it works.

The other really unusual thing about the game is the style and range of the weather conditions presented – and how they really affect the way your car handles and you play the game. Throughout, though, the cars handle a treat (just different enough from one another to be noticeable), the sweeping descents into valleys and blind hilltops (as in the first game) are as exciting as ever, and, of course, the programmers have made no mistake with the parallax scrolling. As a one player game it's simply excellent.

That said, though, the best, best thing about it is the ability to play against your pals. As we've often said before, computer games are always best when you're trying to whip your buddies, and I reckon this applies especially to driving games.

The horizontally split screen option (carried over from the first Lotus game) puts you head-to-head against a pal using the same computer without any loss of speed – I would say that this is the best way to play the game, except that a) Stuart beat me every time we played, so there MUST be something wrong, and b) if you link two computers with a lead you can either play a friend with a full screen each, or split both screens for four (four!) simultaneous players. It's quite something.

So is it worth buying? Well, yes, of course – it may not be perfect, but it's probably the most atmospheric game of its kind, and most certainly the most fun. Definitely recommended.

  • Score: 87%
  • Uppers – Gorgeous graphics, lashings of speed, and that hard to capture real driving atmosphere – especially when you're up against human opponents. The most together traditional-style driving game yet.
  • Downers – Suffers a little from Lotus' insistence on banning any crash sequences. And there aren't any decent maps to tell you how close you are to the next checkpoint, either.
  • The bottom line – The Amiga has suffered from plenty of disappointments when it comes to driving games. Lotus II is not one of them. (In fact, it's rather excellent).