Golden Lap Preview: 5 Things To Know About This Retro Take On F1 Management

Golden Lap Preview: 5 Things To Know About This Retro Take On F1 Management

Motorsport management games are in something of a boom at the moment, no small part thanks to the return of the officially licensed F1 Manager titles.

For some though, they can be a little complex – or just too grounded in the modern era. This is where Golden Lap steps in, a new title from indie developer Funselektor Labs, with a simple take on ‘70s Formula One.

We’ve had our hands on a preview demo of the game, and here are a few things we’ve learned.

It’s easy to pick up

Golden Lap Preview: 5 Things To Know About This Retro Take On F1 Management

One of the biggest hurdles of getting into F1 Manager is just how complex it is. That’s a good thing for diehards, but for newbies or those who don’t fancy investing huge chunks of time into a game, it can be a problem.

By contrast, getting started in Golden Lap is a very simple affair. Pick a team (our demo build only had one available to pick), sign your drivers, an engineer and a crew chief, pick a sponsor then set a direction for car development. That one isn’t too in-depth, with conservative, balanced or ‘experimental’ options which will determine the stats for your car.

Once that’s all done, it’s straight to your first race. Qualifying is a simple affair: send your driver out, tune the car when they’re back (more on that shortly), send them back out and hope for the best, rinse, repeat.

Races aren’t much more complex, either. You can choose how aggressive your drivers should or shouldn’t be, and then just make sure they’re on the right tyres at the right time.

Car development is straightforward but needs work

Golden Lap Preview: 5 Things To Know About This Retro Take On F1 Management

Between races, you have two options to improve your car. The first is to spend a small amount on upgrading one of three existing parts – engine, chassis or handling – which gives a small performance boost but mostly focuses on reliability.

Alternatively, for a little bit more spend you can build a new part. These offer big gains in performance but generally are less reliable than the parts you replace them with.

In theory, it is a simple but effective option but it has a bit of a problem at the moment. Reliability doesn’t seem to factor in all that much – across two seasons I had one car failure – which feels odd for a game set in the ‘70s. Most of my money was put into building new parts, with little incentive to improve them and without a dramatic cost increase.

There’s more to tuning than meets the eye

Golden Lap Preview: 5 Things To Know About This Retro Take On F1 Management

Tuning isn’t all that in-depth, which fits the vibe of the game perfectly. In qualifying, your drivers will earn up to 20 hexagons which can be cashed in for a random number of points towards your engine, chassis or handling.

On the face of things, simply aiming for more points might seem the logical thing but there’s a bit of a twist. At the end of each bar is a thin golden zone, followed by a bit of red. The target is to land your points in the golden zone – between 80-85 – or risk hitting the red and being set back massively. This is one I found out the hard way.

It’s an interesting risk/reward addition that does add a little bit of jeopardy to chasing marginal gains.

Drivers can, and will, die

Golden Lap Preview: 5 Things To Know About This Retro Take On F1 Management

This one caught me off guard. In a race, a red flag came out for what the game described as a nasty-looking accident. This I assumed would be simple filler text to add some visualisation, but nothing more.

Imagine my surprise after the race then to be met with a notification that the driver involved had died, and would unceremoniously be replaced with another for the next race.

It’s a morbid but unique nod to the era of F1 it’s inspired by and adds that little bit of suspense to your hopes of winning a championship knowing your star driver could be killed in a race at any moment.

It’s quite addictive

Golden Lap Preview: 5 Things To Know About This Retro Take On F1 Management

The best thing I can say for Golden Lap at this stage is that once my two-season run in the demo was up, I was disappointed. Not at the game, but the fact I couldn’t play more of it.

Short seasons of only five races keep things fast-moving, and the result is something truly addictive. We’ll reserve our final verdict for the game’s full release, but the signs of an indie gem are there.

If you’re keen to try Golden Lap for yourself, a playable demo – identical to the one we’ve played – is now available on Steam until 17 June.

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