With video gaming becoming more and more popular, board games are beginning to die out a little. One way to rectify this is to make video games which resemble the style of a board game and this is what Asceron have done. Take Carmen Sandiego, add a few pieces of priceless art and you have one of the most family friendly PC games around. The Great Art Race may not be the most impressive game out there, but it offers something fresh and new for the whole family to play.
The storyline revolves around your art collecting Great Uncle. Depending on how you set the game up, he has a set time to live and whoever brings him the most art during this time wins the game and the inheritance. So the storyline revolves around traveling around the globe, picking up art and taking it back to him to make you filthy rich. On paper it doesn't sound all that great but in practice it works extremely well.
This is a game where you have many decisions to make and have to use your brain. You build an empire of coffee and other crops to fund your trips across the globe and managing your business while gaining art work is the key to winning. The link to Carmen Sandiego comes from traveling across the globe chasing art. As you play through the game a ticker will give you indications as to when the next auction is, where there is horse racing or where your uncle currently is. These are all important as they are the main components of the game.
As you travel around the globe you have the opportunity to bet on horses to increase your money significantly, visit your uncle to help you with some things or go on Safari or visit an auction to buy a piece of art. There is a twist to the game however and that is that some art is fake. To help you with this at galleries you can train yourself in each style of artwork so you have the best chance of not landing a fake.
One of the most surprising aspects of the game is the paintings are all real, but in terms of art not the most famous around. The manual lists where they are housed in the world which shows the authenticity of the game but it would have been nice to see something more recognizable. Playing the game is relatively easy although time management is part of the game and the game is best played with friends or family. It has the option of playing on the same PC in a turn based style format which gives it a distinct feeling of a table top game.
The game is set in the early 1900's and events around the world can affect the game such as the First World War. This is because you can trade in shares and currency. Predicting when to buy and sell is tough but can win you the game quite easily in comparison to building crops. The AI players are fairly tough to play with and have ranging difficulty levels but this game is definitely played best with other humans.
The game encapsulates the globe and features thirty five real world cities to visit ranging from Europe to Africa which have distinct landmarks to indicate where they are, such as the Eiffel Tower. Depending on where you are depends on your options - some cities have banks while others have warehouses to ship your crops for money. The visuals of the game are a little lackluster but do the job well, allowing people to play it on a lower end PC. One of the main disappointments though is a lack of voice acting outside of the occasional cut scene.
The Great Art Race is a game that won't light up the sales charts but it can be enjoyed by any gamer with their family and friends. It's a fun game for people to play and if you like gathering around a table playing games, its time to gather around the PC to start the race!
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