Turbo Esprit, developed by Mike Richardson, was very detailed and advanced for its time, featuring car indicator lights, pedestrians, traffic lights, and a view of the car's interior controls. It may also be the earliest example of a free-roaming city environment to feature in a computer game. Turbo Esprit was the first free-roaming driving game, and has been cited as a major influence on the later Grand Theft Auto series.
The object of the game is to prevent a gang of drug smugglers completing a delivery of heroin, by tracking down their cars and destroying them, or ramming them into submission. The player takes the role of a special agent driving the titular Lotus Esprit car, who must travel around one of four available cities looking for the criminals. Messages from HQ will flash up periodically giving the location of a target car, which may then be tracked on the map.
Once the target car is found it must be either destroyed with the Esprit's built-in machine gun, or repeatedly rammed until it surrenders. Different cars may need to be dealt with in different ways; for example armoured cars must be rammed as shooting has no effect, whereas "hit cars" are the only other vehicles that can match the Esprit for speed, so ramming them is more difficult.
Penalties are incurred for hitting scenery or other cars, and the player's car is likely to explode if it crashes into anything while travelling fast. As in real life, speeding greatly increases risk.
The game features four free-roaming cities (Wellington, Gamesborough, Minster and Romford) through which the player may drive as they see fit. Each city features a grid plan of roads, and each is progressively more difficult; the first city contains many six lane motorway-like roads making speeding and dodging traffic easy, whereas the later ones have more two-lane and one-way roads.
The cities contain many computer-controlled cars, all of which obey basic traffic laws, such as keeping below a set speed limit, stopping at the working traffic lights, moving out of the way of obstacles such as roadworks, and attempting to avoid head-on collisions with the player. They will also stop at zebra crossings to allow waiting pedestrians to cross the road. Contact with or destruction of these cars results in score penalties.
The Spanish version claims it to be set in the city of Manhattan, despite the fact that no changes were made to the game itself, which retains its British-style road markings and driving on the left.
Source: Wikipedia, "Turbo Esprit", available under the CC-BY-SA License.
This game is similar to the Grand Theft Auto franchise.