Time to review a game. Enough of serious topics, now's the time to have a bit of computer fun. For that purpose, I selected the latest game app for the iPad (but also exists for the iPhone). Ducati Challenge HD was made by Digital Tales, the same folks who brought us MotoGP 2010 on the Apple platforms.
For this review, I used the iPad version, running on my iPad2 (be jealous...). Before starting the review, let me tell you up-front: THE APP DOES NOT WORK USING THE iPAD2 HDMI INTERFACE! In short, you can not play it on your 16:9 TV screen, which bums me out. I've got another (car) racing game on the iPad that works fantastically on the TV (the iPad shows you the circuit and instruments while the TV shows you the circuit from the car).
Loading the 150 Mb of app takes a few seconds, even on the iPad2, and when it has loaded, you get to see the Ducati logo and the maker's logos, plus a few Ducati motorcycles. You can skip through the introductions by pressing on the screen.
The first real screen gives you the main options:
Ducati Challenge HD Screen 01
Championship. Racing in a Championship gives you the option to gain points. The more points you gather, the better the motorcycle can be and the more racing circuits you can go to. You start your career with a 1100 Monster EVO and upgrade right up to a Ducati Superbike 1198SP (but for that you need to win a lot of races).
Quick Challenge. Quick Challenge allows you to train on a circuit. But you can only select the motorcycle and circuit you are currently "rated" for. But it's a good way of getting used to the bike and circuit.
Multiplayer. You can play against your buddies, as long as they are within reach of your WiFi network. A maximum of 4 can race, but not all need to use the iPad version. Any combination of iPad or iPhone will do. I did not test the Multiplayer. When Valentino Rossi comes to visit, I'll give it a try with him (might be the only time I can out-ride him).
Extra. The Extra menu shows you what you have achieved and the galleries of the bikes you "own".
Options. In the options menu you can set a variety of settings, like language, audio (you can even play your own music via the iPod library), and game play settings - sensitivity, brake assist, etc.
Loading the Quick Challenge brings you this screen:
Ducati Challenge HD Screen 02
Here you can select the motorcycle you want to use, and the circuit you want to race on. But you can only have what you've earned. Initially, you "only" get a 1100 Monster EVO, and one (very) long track. There are 6 tracks, each can be taken in the other way, so in fact you have 2 x 6 circuits.
You also get to say how easy this will be as a race, and for how many laps.
You can review each motorcycle for their performance:
Ducati Challenge HD Screen 03
... and each circuit for length and records:
Ducati Challenge HD Screen 04
Once you press RACE, off you go
Ducati Challenge HD Screen 05
You can the three red lights, and once they are all on, you start your race. You can see the circuit map and your (and the others) position, the lap time, which lap you're on, how many laps, and your overall position.
You can also see a small gray camera below your position indicator (top right). Press that to change the view (camera behind the racers, or racer view).
Ducati Challenge HD Screen 06
Racing is quite easy, specially when you use the auto-braking option. Trust me, you'll want to use it in the beginning. On the right of your screen is the throttle. Press it to open the throttle, and let go to cut the power. To the left is the brake. If you're on auto-braking you don't really need it, but you can still use it if you want to adjust.
Tilt the iPad/iPhone to the right to lean to the right, and to the left to go left. You can also title the iPad/iPhone front or back, but more about that later.
Once you're into the race:
Ducati Challenge HD Screen 07
..you can see your speed and timing, and if you have the time, you can have a look at the beautiful and very realistic scenery. The scenery is really superb, and you can even race through an old medieval town. All that while you hear the growl of you Ducati engine. Each bike has its own sound, and you'll even hear the gearbox change, and when braking heavy, you'll hear the backfiring. Impressive....
Leaning is fun
Ducati Challenge HD Screen 08
Leaning into the curves is really fun, and you need to do it pretty serious, almost the way you should in real life. Hit the brakes before the curve, dive in, and start you acceleration coming out. If you hit the brakes in the middle of the curve, you'll start sliding.
Keep on the track...(the screen will show you a few hundred meters before a curve which way the curve will turn).
Ducati Challenge HD Screen 09
If you leave the track, you will slow down, and your tires will be full of grass for a while. So better stay on the black, if not you'll loose precious time.
When you are in proximity to other racers, you can actually pretend to be Marco Simoncelli and bump into the other racers, but chances are you are going to go off. There are no drive through penalties, but you do loose a lot of time.
No for the title forwards and backwards...
Ducati Challenge HD Screen 10
Keeping your hand on the accelerator and tilting the iPad/iPhone backwards will make you do a wheelie (and sometimes the text appears saying "SHOW OFF"), and hitting the brakes and tilting forwards will do a stoppie.... just like a real bike, but safer.
At the end:
Ducati Challenge HD Screen 11
... you can see your overall position and ranking.
In the Championship, which is very much like the Quick Challenge, you do need to run qualifiers. You get to do two laps, and the best gets the pole position. The tougher the game becomes, the better it is to be up-front. Trust me...
On the upside, you can retry your qualifiers in case you screw it up.
A very playable game. It's fun, it's fast, and not expensive. On the down side, 2 x 6 circuits is not that much, and the HDMI control is sadly lacking for those of us with an iPad2.
But for a few Euros/Dollars/Pounds, who's going to complain.
Click here for Ducati Challenge HD (iPad) at iTunes
Click here for Ducati Challenge (iPhone) at iTunes