Enthusia Professional Racing PS2 Review

If Burnout 3 is all about causing metal mayhem, then Konami’s Enthusia is definitely the polar opposite. Whereas Burnout is an arcade-style racer and is all about the vehicular violence, Enthusia is a racing simulator (much like Gran Turismo) and something of a Sunday drive in comparison. Konami’s stab at racing simulators is all about passionate driving, and punishes you if you don’t rigorously stick to the rules.

You see, Enthusia is all about the glory of driving lovely cars around equally as lovely tracks, all made even more lovely by some shiny visuals. It’s an often-punishing game, which gives you the middle finger for driving badly, and it’s a title, which really encourages you to improve if you intend to move up those virtual rankings.

At the heart of the games career mode are the Enthu points, these measure your driving ability and encourage you to stay rooted to the track like a train and avoid crashing into other cars with a passion. Any misconduct results in the loss of Enthu points, and when fully depleted you are automatically disqualified from the next race, which means you won’t earn any skill points (for levelling up certain stats for yourself and your car) and it can also potentially affect your ranking. Don’t drink and drive is also a good lesson to be learned here, as you’d probably lose all those points if you did so.

It’s finally a game that encourages people to be nice to their opponents, or suffer the consequences of being caned by the game. It’s just a shame that the poor AI does not have as much respect for the player, as they’ll literally bump you off the road if given the chance, and they don’t even get penalised for committing such offences either, you lose some of your Enthu points instead, which makes a total mockery of what should have been a level playing field. It’s all totally unfair for the player, and something that should be addressed if Konami are intending to make a franchise out of this.

A good and rewarding idea is the odds system, which encourages you to take your car into a race with as challenging competition as possible. Winning, and even earning a respectable position in races will catapult you up the rankings. You can participate in races as the odds on favourite if you want to, but it doesn’t pay off particularly well compared to success with working against the more powerful cars.

Speaking of cars there’s over 200 of them from 50 manufacturers, but you don’t need to earn a fortune to drive them, instead it’s all about the luck of the draw. Car raffles take place after races, which randomly allows you to unlock a new car for your use. The motors have distinctive characteristics to adapt to during races, and petrol heads will want to earn and learn to drive them all.

Another good idea is the Visual Gravity System, but one that isn’t as half as successful as any of the above. The VGS is supposed to be a visual aid to utilise whilst out on the racetrack, it depicts the stress and the turning points of your motors tyres as well as the vehicle itself. The problem is that it doesn’t really reveal anything that isn’t already obvious, and sounds much more exciting on paper. If truth was to be told it’s nothing that is required during racing and is turned off with a button press just as easily as it becomes a forgotten gimmick.

A two-player mode is also included alongside The Driving Revolution mode. This is another feature of the game that is supposed to teach you the racing tricks, but it doesn’t suffice to actually being out on one of the games tracks yourself. Colour indications and markers warn you when to slow the car down or speed it up, and as a reaction test it does actually work, but we prefer to think of it as a bolted on mini game rather than a training tool.

Enthusia was always going to be compared to the Gran Turismo series, but it does enough to stand up as an independent game without reaching the peak of its inspiration. It’s just a shame that GT syndrome had to be present with the rather stupid AI and the lack of impact and damage following nasty crashes. Elsewhere, ideas are good and being forced to learn how to flawlessly drive the cars is a godsend and much better then any licence test or vague training tool. Just be prepared to invest some time if you want to get the most out of Konami’s impressive racer.