Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed

Publisher/developer:- Electronic Arts
 
Genre:- Racing
 
Release date:- March 2000
 
Platform:- Strictly Win 98 and Win ME compatible. Win XP users need to grab the Microsoft Windows Application Compatibility Toolkit software from somewhere (Microsoft ain’t dealing this bundle anymore but I can help), install it and tweak some stuff (which is too long to elaborate here, go to one of the forums specialising in this area and get pro help). Actually, a common Win XP problem is that after installing Direct X 9.0a and its latter releases, the game will load but freezes at the loading screen. Must have been the way the old gfx drivers in NFS:PS is unable to understand the programming code of the new Dx 9. Apparently, advice floating round those aforesaid forums to delete so and so file is pure bollocks and CAN wreck your system. In short, theoretically it can run on Win XPs but only on those virgin machines whose update is as frequent as the Russians taking a shower in the Siberian winter.
 
Specs:- (minimum) P 166, 4MB video card, 32MB RAM, 200MB HD. It’s likely that most machines after the Y 2K ‘debacle’ can run this title with no problems unless they’re using Dx 9 or some twisted version of Win XP.
 
Current availability:- Rare. Amazon retails it via 3rd party traders at 6 bucks and a lesson learnt is that it’s never wise to buy products which Amazon will take no responsibilty of. But USD 6 is not that much for a title which reignited the racing fervor among gamers long after its predecessors went out with a whimper. Locally in M’sia, ‘good’ game retailers may have the title but it’s likely to bundled with other Need For Speed franchises in a compact DVD format.
 
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So I’m a late starter in the racing genre. When the guys at EA has already released no less than 3 titles with the famous Need For Speed tag, I was only introduced to the Porsche Unleashed franchise in late 2000 after the STPM hell. No, it was not the exams which puts me off initially but the fact that I never really relished playing racing games in the PC format. Probably the old days of Daytona Racing et al has confimed that unless something betters it, the smart gfx and licensed cars EA has to offer will not sell me a bridge.
 
Okay, so it was the love of Porsche (pronounced por-shuh and not like Beckham’s wife) and Ferrari cars which sparked the interest but to me,but the numerous challenging tracks and the superb graphics did more than just giving me a slight nudge.
 
In late 2000, the game seemed just okay at first. Why? Cos you’d have to buy a car to race and no race= no money.And you’re stuck in the classic era for time immemorable. Sure, there’s a whole lotta fun playing out races to win some cash to upgrade some parts like the gearbox, suspension, brakes etc. but the novelty wears off fast. To get a clear idea of what I’m hinting at, try driving a Porsche 356 (the first production auto) in the long, vast tracks. Add that to the fact that the payoff for winning the race is peanuts, and you can see why I took to Counterstrike faster than this 356 is ever gonna run. At least CS rocks at that time and Half-Life craze was at its zenith. Nothing escapes the lure of Half-Life, the greatest game ever developed.
 
Then after a lengthy lay-off till late 2002, the zest for HL-CS fizzled out and the passion for Porsche rekindled and I thought to at least finish off what I’ve started. And surprisingly, I thoroughly enjoyed it this time round. Gotta blame CS for that diversion.
 
Clever though was the EA folks’ decision to mix difficult and pleasant driving tracks in the fray without bending the difficulty curve too much. The cars after the 356 model was a whole lot more pleasant to drive and the road-handling is as realistic as they come. Interesting too was the fact that once the car takes way too much abuse from rival racers and natural obstacles alike, the car’s performance starts to dwindle noticeably and when you’re done with the race, it’s time to forget about the car upgrade you’ve been itching for and settle down to some bad news from the mechanics as they quote the bill for the possible repairs. Yeah, you may snicker at the pitiful sum you’d have to fork out for damages in the initial stages, but once the electronic parts come in at the latter eras, the bills can even force you to sell the car and recoup the losses. 
 
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Various game modes are available:-
 
1. Evolution- Witness the evolution of the Porsche line of cars which makes it the name it is today. Most racers take to it like a duck to water at first but the slow and unwieldy selection of cars at the beginning can put most racers off and opt for a fresh one-off game. Persevere through the early slow cars and the latter rewards await. The AI is mostly fierce and competitive. Expect them to slam into you and try to knock you off the reckoning for a top three spot and qualification to the next event. After all, it’s you against 7 other AI drivers, and they have nothing to lose. AI eccentricities are quite seldom but they generally perform well and upgrade their machines often. At the end of the era’s competitions, you get a shot at the top prize of race car unique to the respective era. It’s not replayable, so make sure that you’re fired up for it.
 
2. Single race- like the name implies, take a random factory stock from the selection and race. Catch is, if you don’t finish the evolution mode, a great many challenging tracks are locked as is the later impressive 911 models. And the factory stock sucks big-time compared to your rivals’ tuned-up machines so you might end up playing catching up for most parts of the races without even the remotest chance of a podium finish. A great place to start practising and also a great place to show off your modified toys at its greatest glory without the responsibility to pay the bills later for any dents. Then again, when you’re that good, getting a scratch here and there is never in your agenda as you try to break the time record over and over.
 
3. Test driver. Now this is what a NFS franchise is all about. A pure Porsche dedication and the ultimate crazy set of tests to judge your resolve and lay bare all your computer-driver skills. Frankly, these set of tests are varied with a nice tinge of in-fighting and raw competency at its best. Take a slalom course, sit for the pro test driver exam, shut some rival’s whining with a sweeping performance and deliver cars in one piece without a scratch in a time limit…and more. Some of those challenges are purely academic but some can get you looking through the video replays and wonder what went wrong. Finishing the test rewards you with a beefed-up Porsche 911 Turbo (year 2000 model).
 
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The game is relatively stable at times and autosave is available without prompting but intermittent crashes to the desktop are as frequent as 2 in 10 times. I attribute the problem to some difficulty in the autosave feature since there is never a save game option in whatever menu you wish to tweak. A workaround is to install the last-known patch for the game but it’s not a sure-fire insurance from these unwanted crashes.
 
Porsche Unleashed also seemed to find it irritating to adjust to the 1280 x 1024 resolution setting and the gfx in this mode looked squashed and ugly to look at. The 1024 and below resolution settings should do it nicely.
 
The controls are not difficult to master and a keyboard should handle it all like a proper steering would. Different car models also behave differently with varying degrees of speed, handling, braking etc. to actually allow you to tell the difference between one from another.
 
Having overlooked these petty issues, Porsche Unleashed may be said to be strictly for Porsche enthusiasts or racing sim fans as not all the cars may appeal to those well-acquainted with NFS Most Wanted’s trendier concepts since it does not pit the Porsches with other manufacturers’ models to judge the performance yourself. I myself found out that the mid-modern era cars to be pretty similar in performance and this can hardly entice one to visit the showroom and drive home all the models that they care to sell you. Still, for want of a better racing sim, Porsche Unleashed had it all in abundance and more.    
  

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3 Responses to Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed

  1. Sarah E says:

    Didn’t know you are a car lover… lolz.. now a game lover! 😛

  2. Artur says:

    Hey Sarah,it’s been a long time! Yeah, in my spare time, I just thought to add to Spaces something which other Space users never really did to and tat’s PC games. Hope you’re doing well! 

  3. Sarah E says:

    OIC!! Cool!!
    I am doing finer over here.. Hows life?? Are u back in home town or still going around on your trip??

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