I’ve mentioned on this site previously that, on occasion, I’ve wondered what it would be like to manage a Formula 1 team (see my review of Grand Prix Story). I’m still feeding that desire to know, and have recently started to play a browser game called Grand Prix Racing Online (GPRO).
GPRO is a racing management game – let’s make that clear from the start. There are “live” races, but they amount to the browser refreshing every couple of minutes, at which point you get to see how your car is doing. Forza 4, it isn’t, but it’s not meant to be. No, the point here is to train your driver, train your staff, improve your car and facilities, and try to work out the best strategy for winning races. That’s where your skill comes in, not on the track itself.
There’s a heck of a lot to think about. You obviously want the best driver you can get, but at the start of the season the drivers market is crazy with managers looking for recruits. So do you put up with a mediocre driver and come back when it’s all died down, or do you carry on and end up paying a silly salary? Which parts of the car do you upgrade… which parts can you afford to upgrade? And when parts wear out are you going to replace them with new ones or go back to some of the old ones you took off the car earlier?
Race day strategy itself is, I think, the hardest part to get right. You need to set the car up… wing angles, type compound, gear ratio, and so on (fortunately it’s all done on a scale from 0 to 999 rather than getting too technical). You need to decide how much fuel you will have on board, and how much you will put in at each pit stop (yes, there’s still refuelling in this game). And you have to hope your driver doesn’t make a mistake or you get a random failure on the car. All of this combines to make the races rather interesting – what they lack in fancy graphics they make up for in personal investment in seeing your team do well. Or, in my case, not do so well.
Grand Prix Racing Online will appeal to those who enjoy management games – and particularly those who enjoy Formula 1. It’s completely free to play, works in your web browser, and there’s no harm in having a look… unless you count getting addicted :)