Scalextric Digital Platinum pictures and hands-on

It comes with six cars, features more than 8.5m of track and costs £499.99, and we just couldn't resist having a play with the new Digital Platinum from Scalextric. So that's what we did - with a few beers and some pizza, of course.

Out of the box and the set is large, creating a figure-of-eight track, complete with raised bridge and banked corner, that is likely to have to justify its own room rather than something you can set up on the rug in your lounge. Scalextric tell us you need a space 2.8m by 2.8m.

In the box you get the track and six supercars - two Porsche 997 RS, two Audi R8 LMS and two Lamborghini Gallardo GT-RS - and the Digital Platinum set is the largest and most feature-rich product ever released by Scalextric.

Although it comes with six cars, you get only two lanes on the track. Don't panic, Scalextric hasn't duped you, the system allows multiple cars on the same lane, and even lets you switch lanes as well. Nice huh?

At the core of the system is an Advanced six-car Digital Powerbase that can be used to race up to six cars on a Scalextric Digital layout at the same time or be used on a standard Scalextric two-lane layout.

The accompanying display lets you set up a number of extra settings and isn't just a race counter - although it will do that as well.

When it comes to racing your granny, or in our case Paul Lamkin, you can set individual skill levels that allow you to adjust the maximum power levels to individual cars so that "novice versus expert" races can be run more fairly.

Hand throttles can be calibrated to equalise controller performance and each comes with a button to force lane change when you get to the right bit on the track.

Multiple gaming modes, timed endurance and total lap format racing are all included, giving you a sense you're playing a video game rather than just pressing a trigger and hoping you don't career off. There is even a ghost car function for setting one to six cars to run automatically, with switchable lane changing and lap counting on individual cars.

If that wasn't enough, the Scalextric Digital Platinum claims that the combination of more power to the track - this Powerbase delivers 15v for faster car performance and comes with two transformers - and cars that feature magnets so they stick to the track better should mean that you are unlikely to crash as often. Sadly for team Pocket-lint that wasn't he case. We crashed. We crashed a lot.

We crashed so much that by the end of our two-hour session (the beers and pizzas may have hindered performance) virtually all of the six cars had major damage. Wing mirrors had fallen off, fenders dented, and spoilers lost in the battle.

That's partly because of the crazy speed we were trying to achieve, but also the stock-car-style mentality that ensues by being able to switch to the other lane. There was nudging as well, of course.

With your rivals on the same tracks you don't just have to sit behind them and we soon discovered that there were ways of taking your opponent out. Just give your car a burst of speed heading into a corner and you'll knock the car in front off the track. It's all about timing, but it's surprising how much you can do.

Although we weren't able to test this out - we have lives don't you know - Scalextric also tell us that the system has an "open-source" output connection that enables the enthusiast to connect the C7042 power base to a computer for additional functionality - intense.

Two hours later and we were ready to move on to the pub, the Scalextric set slightly battered and bruised.

At £500 you've really got to be a die-hard Scalextric fan to justify this, and we would question whether that is going to be the case. We didn't get to try out all the features on the night, but we really like the concept of the ghost car so you've got a challenger even if you are on your own, and the ability to slow down or handicap other players if they are just too good.

Racing doesn't get tougher than this.



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