Alfa Romeo Racing Italiano
|Alfa Romeo Racing Italiano
PlayStation 2 cover art for Alfa Romeo Racing Italiano (North American version)
|Publisher(s)||Valcon Games (PS2) 
Black Bean Games (Xbox) 
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 2
|Genre(s)||Gran Turismo-style racing w/ role-playing game elements|
Alfa Romeo Racing Italiano, known in Europe as SCAR (an acronym for Squadra Corse Alfa Romeo), is a Gran Turismo-style racing for the PlayStation 2, Windows and Xbox. It was developed by Milestone S.r.l. and released in 2005.
It is similar to the Gran Turismo series except for the role-playing game elements. The game was lauded for having artificial intelligence superior to Gran Turismo 4. When compared to Gran Turismo 4, Alfa Romeo Racing Italiano has far fewer cars and tracks. All the cars in the game are manufactured by the Alfa Romeo motor company (unlike Gran Turismo which has vehicle makes and models from countries from Australia to Sweden). While most of the tracks are in Italy, a few are in other countries like Germany and the United States. With a maximum of nine laps in any race, with most races lasting only three to six laps, the races are too short for the game to model pit stops.
A distinguishing feature of the game is that it models driver development using a system almost identical to a role-playing video game. In addition, cars get damaged, both visibly and in performance, by collisions or by driving off course.
Like many racing games, the game has a quick race mode and a career mode (called dynasty mode). The initial choices of cars and tracks in quick race mode are very limited; additional choices are unlocked by progress in dynasty mode. Initially, dynasty mode has a limited number of events available to enter. Placing third or better in races unlocks new races, series of races, and championships. At the same time, the game models the development of the driver using a system that is almost identical to a role-playing video game.
This elaborate system of developing the driver's experience is used to toughen up both the player and the car that he or she uses. Experience points (referred to in the game simply as XP), are acquired for various achievements during a race, such as passing opponents, or driving a clean lap. Similar to the way that XP is lost after dying in some role-playing games, failing to finish the race cancels all XP earned in the event. When certain thresholds of XP are reached, a new driver level is achieved, and a Skill Point is awarded. These Skill Points can be used to develop driver and car. Additional Skill Points are awarded for other achievements. Some races award a skill point for beating a particular opponent for the first time. There is also a list of dynasty achievements, the completion of which awards a number Skill Points. One such achievement, for example, is going faster than a certain speed in dynasty mode.
Equipment and customization
All cars in the game are manufactured in real life by Alfa Romeo and in any race the player always races against seven other instances of the model that he or she is driving. The player cannot choose his or her vehicle for a race, except in the "quick race" mode, and even then the opponent vehicles are all the same model. Cars assigned to beginners can go up to 110 miles per hour (177 km/h). Advanced cars, however, can go faster than NASCAR stock cars 200 miles per hour (322 km/h).
Cars cannot be customized; instead it is the driver who gets customized, although some driver customizations do affect car acceleration, handling, and damage resistance. Various achievements in the game, primarily achieving XP point levels, are rewarded with Skill Points which can be distributed across nine different categories to affect car and driver characteristics. In addition, the player wins racing gear—helmets, suits, gloves and boots—by winning "gear races" or by achieving a certain number of victories (as well as knockouts). Gear can also be earned by passing challenges. The gear a driver is wearing can be changed to further affect driver (and car!) characteristics. Like in EverQuest, all the gear that is unlocked in the game has a minimum level requirement. Players who do not meet the minimum requirements cannot wear the new gear until they reach that experience level. Different computer-controlled opponents in a race will have different skill points and gear, resulting in differing driving skills and endurance of both car and driver. All opponent drivers have names shown in lineups and results, but they are not of well-known drivers. Many are probably purely fictional (with some puns), and it is possible that a few names are those of people associated with the game developers.
During a race, the game's unique Tiger Effect allows players to go back in time a few seconds and try again in the style of a butterfly effect. Typically, this is used to avoid accidents. The Tiger Effect does not automatically cause the player to avoid accidents; usually the player can at least mitigate the effects of the accident. In rare cases, the players' second attempt might actually make things worse. Tiger Effect points are decreased by units of 1.0 every time they are used. For instance, using a Tiger Effect when a player has 1.7 Tiger Effect points will reduce his or her Tiger Effects points to 0.7; making it useless until the counter increases itself by 0.3 points. The explanations in the game suggest that the Tiger Effect is meant to represent an expert driver's keen ability to anticipate and avoid danger, but at times it feels like a means to “repair” your damaged car by “undoing” a collision.
Building up points in anticipation can help increase the frequency that the player can turn back the clock and try to prevent accidents in a single race. Likewise, building up points in heart can help the player heal faster so that he or she is less likely to lose focus on the race track. Statistics to improve during the course of the game are named heart, vision, intimidation, handling, acceleration, recovery, focus, anticipation, and endurance. Some of these affect the driver, and others the car, and some affect both.
All drivers start each race with all their available driver condition points. Driving close behind another driver reduces his or her current driver condition points. If a driver loses all such driver condition points, the game calls this a "Knockout". Computer-controlled drivers can do the same thing to the player and each other. If the player receives a Knockout, he or she suffer a temporary loss of control. This is signified by blurry graphics, heart-pounding audio, and a difference in car response.
Eventually this temporary condition ends and driver condition points begin to regenerate according to the rate that is established in the player's statistics. When computer-controlled drivers suffer a Knockout, their driving becomes visibly slower and slightly erratic. Expert players will be able to recognize the pattern that the knocked out vehicle will take and can avoid them completely. The erratic movements tend to include slowing down, wobbling around the course, followed by taking a slight dip to the left or the right (depending on the race track).
All cars start each race with all available condition points. Collisions and/or off-course excursions will visibly damage cars, and reduce car condition points for the duration of the race. Off-road excursions presumably create excessive tire wear and suspension damage to racing cars. In any case, the phenomenon serves to inflict a penalty for cheating short-cuts; excessive off-course excursions can destroy a vehicle the same way that banging it excessively can do. This phenomenon can also reward players who remain on the road by letting them get bumped more frequently before being marked down as a DNF.
The player's car, and the opponents' cars, can be damaged to zero car condition points. When that happens, retirement is forced. Car damage is shown visibly in the rendered models, as well as on a condition gauge which indicates how much more damage the car can take.
- "Release information (PlayStation 2)". GameFAQs. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
- "Release information (Xbox)". GameStats. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
- "Summary". IGN. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
- "Basic overview". MetaCritic. Retrieved 2008-07-07.
- "Statistics information". Milestone. Archived from the original on 7 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-20.
- Corvette Evolution GT - This game is the successor to Alfa Romeo Racing Italiano; it was made by the same company and features virtually identical gameplay. An added sponsorship model means, among other things, the player can change the livery of the cars they drive.