Astana Racer Works And I’m Glad it Does
I defamed the creators of Astana Racer. After Chris Merriman, who knows a lot more about computers than I ever will, commented about video drivers, I decided that I better double check even though Windows said there was no new driver. As it turns out, ATI video card drivers don’t get updated by ATI for some complicated reasons. In short, if you have an ATI card with a driver that’s a few years old, check out this mod tool. Worked great for me and I haven’t seen any junk installed yet (except a link to a World of Warcraft free trial easily deleted).
Astana Racer now works very well. And a lot of features that I said were missing are not in fact missing at all. When you go to modify your car, it does indicate which engine parts you already have as well as how the parts will affect your car’s performance. I think the interface could be a little more user-friendly, but you can figure it out. In the tuning section, an open box means you have that part. If the box is red, you don’t have enough money to buy it. The parts are still numbered rather than named, and at least on my monitor, I can’t see how much something costs I have to buy it first, then see how much money was subtracted.
I would also say that the pricing system needs some improvement. When you start you have 10 000 dollars (I assume, actually another issue is that money doesn’t have any units in the game so I’m not sure if it’s dollars or gold or points or Euros, a small detail but wouldn’t have been hard to add in). You can buy a Shelby for 5000 or a BMW for 10 000. You can’t see any cars that you can’t afford so you don’t know how many other cars are out there or what they cost. So far in addition, I’ve had access to a Subaru Impreza at 15 000 and a Toyota Camry at 20 000. Can’t wait to see what happens at 25 000. Considering each race wins you either 3000 or 1000 (if it’s a drag race), it doesn’t take long to be able to afford a new car.
The parts seem to be quite cheap. I was able to trick out my Shelby and buy a BMW and Subaru after winning about 12 races–including doing over the shorter ones several times. I don’t know if parts for more advanced cars cost more or what, but I hope so. Otherwise, I’ll fill my garage in no time.
One nice feature of the game is that there are different kinds of races. The first race is a pretty straightforward 3 laps around the Left Bank. Race two however is a short and sweet drag race, so you have to master shifting (This is also a good way to pick up extra money–you only get 1000 for each win, but you can play 10 times in a row and get a chunk of change). Another race features sharp turns and you have to get fairly aggressive about ramming the other cars to have a chance of winning. It might be nice to have other challenges such as a straight on crash fest, or a timed lap or something, but I’m not bored. There is no prize for second place however, so you have to win to get any cash. And yes, if you win a race in career mode, it is then unlocked in Quick Race mode so you aren’t stuck doing the first race over and over again.
Another nice touch is that it is fairly hard to crash your car in such a way that it will not drive anymore. There’s only one point, on the bridge, where I was stuck up on a barrier so my wheels weren’t touching the ground and I had to start the race over. But other than that, if you crash, you can keep on racing.
One new problem I have now is that it appears that there are random barriers occasionally in the middle of the road. Sometimes I am driving and notice that the car screeches and everything slows down a bit, as if I have crashed. But there’s nothing there. It’s possible that that’s my slower processor and the game is reacting to something I did earlier, but it does seem as if they have accidentally put an invisible barrier in the road.
There’s some diversity to the race courses too, though not much. The first 4 or 5 of races takes place near Kazakhstan Sports Complex and the Ministry of the Interior and two of them are basically the same course with one hairpin turn taken out. The next set of races moves you to the train station, and again two of the races have very similar courses. The third set takes you to Samal (by far the most beautiful course with almost every building recreated faithfully) and all the races are basically the same course with some turns included or excluded (and sometimes you have to go in the opposite direction i.e. up Bararyeva instead of down it. Still, I’d like to have seen some more diversity in courses. Even if it meant a sacrifice in faithfully reproduction of each building on the course to save memory.
One other issue is that in some races, you can be driving around and suddenly it shows you in last place. If it the completion meter showed you had covered 67% of the race, suddenly it drops to 19%. This is extremely frustrating, especially as the cure seems to be following another driver and not getting too far ahead or behind. Makes it a bit harder to win. Still overall the game is fun to play, the graphics are great and I do sometimes just drive around looking at the different monuments. It’s kind of fun guessing where you can go off-road and where you can’t. I would definitely recommend Astana Racer. Even if you do just download it illegally.