CryEngine 3 SDK can now be downloaded free of charge. This is the engine that powers the legendary Crysis 2 game so this is very interesting news. This gives folks a lot of high powered options to choose from (Unreal Developer Kit or Cryengine 3)
This will be very cool if this technology were to work however I will reserve my judgement til I see it in action on dynamic, skinned meshes and fully populated scenes with unique geo. Plus, seeing it used in a game would be very sweet
Need For Speed: Shift 2 [Arcade style] is one racing game that has consumed a lot of my time. I purchased the PC version as soon as it was available using EA Origin. I was a bit disappointed it wasn’t on Steam immediately though but still plowed forward. Besides the obvious bizzare magnetic collision detection between cars it’s been a really great game to play here and there. Recently, a DLC 3 pack was released by the community which adds even more great beauties such as the Koenigsegg Agera and Pagani Cinque Roadster…
Back to EA Origin, hopefully they fixed the awful issue was if you launch Shift 2 using it you will lack FFB on your steering wheel altogether. Very bad form devs such an obvious bug should not exist. Funny thing is when I launch the game outside of EA Origin it works just fine
One great thing about this title though is that it looks absolutely fantastic. However, there are some downsides. I’ve had trouble trying to get 900 Steering wheel range to work. For now I just use 450 for all my racing games including this one. The campaign is one of the best arcade style you can find in a racer. Multiplayer is lacking along with lack of support for dedicated servers. The custom steering wheel options lack the ability to bind a shifter so you might be out of luck if you want to use a complex racing config. It’s basically what you’d expect from a direct console port sadly with little thought given to PC community. Beyond these downsides it’s a great game and a great deal for the current price on Steam ($29.99). Notice this is an Arcade style game lacking pits, tire wear, and fuel management completely. It also lacks long races of course since it is tuned for short, fun races. This is a shame because hotlapping in this game is very realistic and immersible as leaves blow around the track, dirt stains your car, wrecks come alive, and the sounds are very enthralling in-spite of the slightly overdone gear whine sounds.
Also like one would expect from a console port it is very hostile to mods. The wonderful community has still managed to work some wonders over there at NoGripRacing as they have found ways to inject new skins into the .bff files and so forth. Still, due to this limitation, this game has fallen short of the glory of ISI-powered titles
However, one must give a nod to their great night racing which is top notch but feels a bit out of place due to the lack of long races. No one just simply engages in a race in the middle of the night like what occurs in this game’s campaign. Still, its very impressive and well done. The deffered lighting engine is used to wonderful effect here.
The AI is a bit too much though as they tackle you off track along with them (magnetic cars FTL). Also, the difficulty settings seem to do very little as Easy can still be tough for inexperienced newcomers. Also, you might find yourself having to restart a race a lot of times within the first 10 seconds due to magnetic cars getting glued together and wrecking. It seems very bizzare!
However, overall I must say this is a great package. The car selection is incredible and the ability to works convert any car is just astounding. Autolog is insanely addictive once you populate it full of friends to compare yourself to. The sheer amount of config options is insane and in-depth, trumping dedicated sims such as iRacing, etc with ease. This game would’ve been an easy 100+ I think for most people if the magnetic collision didn’t exist and the AI was less hostile.
rFactor is an industry respected sim that gets everything right with full dedicated multiplayer servers, great physics, awesome steering wheel support, replays, and extremely mod-friendly making it a must have sim racing game. Below are some pics from just some of my favorite mods DTM, Enduracers, and V8 Factor. Getting the most out of rFactor might require extreme patience though. You have to know where the hot mods can be acquired from for new cars & tracks. For instance, Com8 is one of my favorite mappers. However, a newcomer might be overwhelmed by all the choices and content.
* Must have mods are ENB (HDR / Bloom) & RealFeel.
GTR 2 is a fabulous Simbin title that makes great use of ISI’s gMotor 2 engine. Graphics seem very crisp out-of-the-box with it’s clean shaders and shading style. It comes with a very nice tight set of licensed cars. Unfortunately, newcomers may endure great hardships to acquire this title since the publisher has refused to release a digital version. Like all ISI based titles, GTR2 is very mod friendly as well. Below are some models included with the game plus additional content from mods such as WSGT & Porche 911 race car. The only downside to this spectacular title is that it is limited to just 450 deg or so for steering wheel range.
* Must have mods are ENB (HDR / Bloom) & WGST (for high quality cars made by Arnold Wong and associates!)
GTR Evolution / Race 07 might seem a bit confusing to newcomers. Essentially what Simbin has done here was create a base racing platform called Race 07 (which released in 07). The graphics are a tad bit dated but once you play the game you’ll quickly begin to appreciate the hard work and details. What I’m more excited about though is GTR Evolution which is an expansion for Race 07 (not to be confused with GTR 2, it’s done by a different team. It’s not related!). Unlike GTR2, GTR Evo supports a wide variety of steering ranges out-of-the-box and has incredible FFB. I would dare say it holds a candle to the legendary iRacing (online racing game I’ll cover very soon hopefully). GTR Evo is reknown for it’s incredible Nürburgring tracks which I must say is top notch! Driving along this track using a T500RS racing wheel just feels absolutely breathtaking. The physics and force feedback effects are just simply 1st class.
* Must have mod is ENB if you want HDR/Bloom
iRacing is an extremely popular online racing game that shares some qualities with MMOs such as persistent stat tracking and a focus on player interaction. There is no offline modes available in iRacing. The advantages to subscribing to iRacing is that you can engage in a fully populated race once per hour as well as participate in practice sessions, etc at anytime. Like a true racing sim should do- it allows practice, time trials, qualification, and proper championship races. iRacing also sports an incredible physics model along with spectacular force feedback effects. It also has true laser scanned tracks so you can feel every bump for additional immersion. The only downside is the costs which might get expensive with each car costing $12, every track costing like $15 each, plus an additional subscription fee. You can reduce the costs by buying everything together though. Like an MMO, iRacing is regularly updated. I would say the only other racing game that sees a lot of updates like this is the Race 07 platform by Simbin.
One of iRacing’s claim to fame is the well thought Safety Rating system. Players earn SR for clean driving in official races. However, the only downside to this is that if someone intentionally wrecks you then your SR goes down along with theirs. However, SR does seem to be working decently to serve the greater good to encourage nice clean, precise racing. iRacing 2.0 now boasts driving aids for rookies and private races to help ease in noobs.
Dirt 3 [Arcade style] is the new Dirt game from Codemasters that features Rally racing, gymkhanna, RallyXCross, etc. Currently I play the console version however I am aware it suffers the obvious console port pitfalls on PC such as lack of dedicated servers and hostility to modding. Inspite of this, clever modders still found a way to inject new functionality and changes into the game such as new skins, camera changes, etc. However I believe this disables online play so these gamers might be required to maintain 2 different installs. Dirt 3 features great force feedback effects for an arcade style game. However, the lack of saving replays is a real bummer! Still, it presents a fun multiplayer package that is well thought out beyond the obvious flaw that you can’t use DLC tracks online. But you can use DLC purchased vehicles.
Gran Tursimo 5 is a clever mix of Arcade / Sim but leaning more towards sim-like feature boasting realistic tire wear, detailed pit crews, and fuel management. It also boasts a wide variety of racing wheels with full support for max rotation on the T500RS wheel. The force feedback effects, while not quite as detailed and precise as PC sims by a wide margin, is still really nice for a console title. You can feel the dedication of the creator, Kaz (TBD), to simulate racing while also retaining some arcade qualities such as the omission of Qualifying events. However, it does include lots of long endurance races. For example, I just completed the Indy 500 last night using my Red Bull X1 prototype car :D. It was a bit too lengthy for my taste so sadly I did mix in some automated controls so I could take a break (good old rubber banding controls and hug the walls) along with myself driving a bit to manage fuel and tire wear.
Multiplayer is very solid with the inclusion of 16 players. Not a full grid like the PC sims. But very nice. Also includes rain, night, etc. It’s the most comprehensive racing title to date out of the box with support for Kart racing, NASCAR, Ferrari Formula 1, Super GT, Rally, and even electric cars. It’s unmatched in this area I would say out-of-the-box. It lacks a detailed livery system like its competitor Forza 3 has though along with a comprehensive online trading system. GT5’s used dealership system seems quite broken nowadays though with the lack of being able to trade items above 950k in value (1 mil credits or more for sure). GT5’s Premium models are top notch however the Standard models look like they were directly ported from Playstation 2 (GT4)! The devs unwisely also excluded cockpit views for Standards. You would think it would be a simple matter to make a basic cockpit for the 60+ Skyline models this game boasts
The car selection is quite questionable on the lower hp end with choices such as Nissan Prius while lacking Mazda Speed 3. The LMS category feels a bit shallow with only Mazda 787B, 980i, and Audi R10 being elected to premium status while the fantastic cars like F1 GTR is reduced to Standard status along with many other attractive cars. Hopefully we will see at least 1 DLC that will address this odd situation. However I must say the Super GT cars are all here represented in kingly fashion which brings the car selection up to par especially with a nod towards a lot of nice classics from Lamborghini, Ferrari, Ford, Shelby, & Jaguar vehicles. The supercar category is very strong with only Porche missing from the mix. However, 1 criticism I have is that RUF, Porche’s replacement, did not receive any Premium model treatment whatsoever which is very disappointing. RUF vehicles share the same Porche bodyframe w/o the licensing issues so it would have seemed prudent to highlight these unique vehicles more