Review by Hysteria__

"GT4 or Enthusia? Pepsi or Coke? Roseanne Barr or Anna Nicole Smith in about a year's time?"

Knowing what a pain in the ass it can be to spend even $10 on a game only to be disappointed, the least I can do is give a quick write up as to what to expect from Enthusia.

First of all, don't let the overall sales figures of this game affect your thoughts, as there were several reasons it didn't sell well. First off, if I remember correctly it was released roughly around the same time as Forza was for the XBox, which is like releasing your new brand of homemade cola in front of a Coke factory on the day they released Coke Zero on the unsuspecting public. Second of all, soccer gamers like myself know that when it comes to sports/driving games, Konami often focus all their energy into gameplay, neglecting cosmetic touches; and that's what I'd prefer they continue doing. But I seem to be in the minority in thinking that, because a lot of the people I've talked to about this game were turned off by the hilariously inappropriate and misleading intro video, the bizarre track names, and the fact the games title sounds suspiciously like 'Euthanasia'. But whatever, if you're reading this you're obviously considering buying this game so I'll just get to the point.

First off, those used to Gran Turismo's 'race - buy - win' formula aren't going to find such happiness here, as Konami have developed a very intricate and complex 'Enthusia Life' system. I can't be bothered explaining it all (and truth be told, I still don't fully understand all of it) but the gist is this; pick one of the 12 cars available to you at the beginning of the game, race, and after the race, depending on where you finished, how 'clean' a race you drove, and the odds you had of winning the race (the worse the car you use is, the higher the odds) etc. the more points you recieve at the end of the race. Points are taken away for hitting other cars, fences, going off the track, etc. The points 'level you up', unlocking more race events for you to enter, and also go towards to your car, much in the same way your money would in Gran Turismo. Also, since you can't technically buy a car, at the end of each race, when the graphic showing final times, finishing position, name and picture of your car is shown, each of the 6 (or in some cases, 2) cars have a white border around them, moving up and down through the field of cars. Press X to slow and eventually stop the highlight on a car, and you win that car. It's a mixed blessing; on one hand, you have 6/1 odds of acquiring the car you want, and the highlight can still land on your own car (in which case you wouldn't win anything) or land on one of the 4 unoccupied spots after a 2 car race, but on the bright side, once you win a car you can choose to race it in any color you want any time, unlike in Gran Turismo, when you'd have to buy a whole other car to get it in a different color. Also, this system allows you to get some of the games more powerful street cars - such as the Mercedes - Benz SLR McLaren or the TVR Cerbera - very early on in the game, possibly around the 8 or 9 race mark.

There is also a 'Driving Revolution' mode, not unlike GT's license tests, allowing you to unlock more fun things, in addition to the usual race/two player split screen/time attack modes.

Graphics - 9/10.

Even in mid-2008, the graphics are still among the nicest you're going to find, ever, on the PS2. The textures are smooth, the colors crisp, and after about a week of playing I've yet to experience any slow down, at all.

Sound - 8/10.

The sounds are very nice, but nothing mind-blowing. The menus avoid annoying sound effects, Konami's signature elevator music rock and jazz tracks fans of the Pro Evolution Soccer/Winning Eleven series know so well are included here as well. The engine notes of the cars are good as well, from the low rumble of the Shelby Cobra to the shriek of the Mazda 787b.

Gameplay - Better than Gran Turismo 4/10.

The gameplay - the balls of a game, if you will - is Enthusia's greatest strength. Several racing games released are of the 'pick up and play' variety, and they are to the gaming industry what Hillary Duff is to music. Fine to play around with at 2 in the morning when you're to tired to care but ultimately annoying. Enthusia is not one of those games. You will not be running 5 minute laps around the 'Ring right out of the box, it takes practice, and lots of it. With every car.

But is it better than Gran Turismo 4? Yes, and no.

First off, Enthusia gives you 211 cars to use, a respectable amount on it's own but completely destroyed by GT4's 700+. Granted, GT4 includes about 50 different Skylines, 20 different Imprezas/Lancers/NSXs etc. but that's something only GT4 bashers see as a problem. It's something that would've been welcome in Enthusia. For example, let's looked at the JGTC series - In GT4, you had (off the top of my head) 5 different Supras and NSXs to use, and about 10 Skylines/GTRs. In Enthusia, you've got one Supra, one GTR, and on NSX. Enthusia has two cars from the GT1 class that ran the Le Mans 24 Hours in the late 90s, the Toyota GT-One and the Nissan R390. GT4 has those, the Mercedes CLK-GTR, the Panoz Esperante GTR-1, etc.

That said, there are a few cars missing from GT4 that Enthusia had; the liveries (paint schemes)
on a lot of the race cars included in both games are different in Enthusia, Enthusia has a lot of cars from the 80s and 90s not found in GT4 (Notable examples being the Bugatti EB110, the Lancia 037, the Alfa Romeo RZ, and the beautiful BMW M1 ProCar, just to name a few). This goes to further my point that you really don't need to choose between Enthusia and GT4; if you're reading this, than the prices of both games are in the $10-20 range, so do yourself a favor and pick them both up.

Anyway, with the cars comes the tracks, another facet in which GT4 and EPR are neck-and-neck.
While Gran Turismo featured far more real-life tracks (in fact, the only real tracks in EPR are Tsukuba Circuit and the Nurburgring Nordschleife, both of which are in GT4 already) the fabricated circuits in the games are very different. While GT4 does a better job in making it's fantasy courses feel like actual race courses, and EPR's are like something out of a Ridge Racer wet dream, EPR's courses are ultimately more fun to drive, and that holds a lot of weight coming from me, who views realism and fun as the same thing. Enthusia's tracks are full of twists, chicanes, and plenty of elevation changes (the roller coaster 'Lowenseering' comes to mind), and are charming graphically.

In any event, it's late, I'm tired and I'm starting to rant. Let's wrap this up.

Pros of Enthusia Professional Racing

- More challenging gameplay than GT4
- Very nice graphically and the sound is great too
- Full support of driving wheels, pedals, and clutches
- Funny speed sensation blur at the edges of the screen at high speeds
- Hilariously inappropriate intro video
- 211 cars, a fair amount of which aren't in GT4
- AI is better than GT4's
- Very fast loading times
- If you choose the wrong track/car, don't worry. If you find yourself driving a car you don't want to drive anymore on a track you don't want to drive on anymore, it's literally about 10 seconds before you're back racing with a new car and track.
- Only bumper and chase camera view available.

Cons of Enthusia Professional Racing

- Ultimately more shallow than GT4
- A lot of the tracks have stupid, fruity names. Cosmic Eggway? Really? You had a meeting to discuss the name of a new track and you called it that?
- Need for Speed/Midnight Club-ish tracks aren't exactly realistic
- Complex main game mode will turn off a lot of casual gamers
- Complex gameplay will turn off a lot of casual gamers
- No way (that I've found) to change the mp/h to km/h on the speedometer
- AI is better than GT4's, but still sucks anyway.
- Another game that for some reasons wastes valuable disc space by including stupid 20-90 hp cars that have a top speed of about 50 mp/h. A race full of Diahatsu Midgets could conceivably be fun in real life, but in a game it isn't.
- Has 211 cars, 500 less than GT4, and most of which are in GT4 anyway.

Notes -

- There is a track called Dragon Range that is perfect for fans of hillclimb racing and drifting. The track can be run both up and down, although only at night.

- The d-pad cannot be used to steer your car. It's still in use in menus and things but there is no way to assign it any function for in-race use.

- There is no hood/roof/driver camera view available. Only a bumper cam and one chase view.

- Every in game function (gas pedal, shift down, clutch, handbrake, etc.) can be assigned to any button, excluding start, select, and the d-pad.

All things considered, as charming as Enthusia is it's came out about 2 years too late. If this was released around the same time as GT3, the weakest in the GT series, Enthusia would be wiping the floor with Polyphony Digital. But it didn't, and Konami's effort with EPR is solid. Trust me, I will never forgive Konami for ruining the Pro Evolution Soccer franchise (I've said things about them that would've landed me in jail in another country) but they got things right here.

Ultimately, Enthusia will more than likely be a novelty racing, something that will only see action if you're craving a little fun with the BMW M1 ProCar. There isn't any reason not to buy both this and GT4. I don't really no how to end this, so I'll use this period.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 06/30/08

Game Release: Enthusia Professional Racing (US, 05/03/05)

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