segunda-feira, 16 de junho de 2014

My 4 Best Sim Racing Videogames - It's a Pixel THING

Note: The games covered in this episode are my favourite Sim Racing titles ever.
They were played with an xbox controller, but, obviously, a racing wheel is essential.

Driving games have always been a priority in my acquisitions. The first one is a really slow paced off-road driving sim. It is, also, the more technical I’ve ever come across. I’m talking about Screamer 4x4 that I’ve recently bought through the “good old games dot com” digital platform. 

This PC exclusive title was developed by Clever’s Development and released in Europe in December 2000 and, one year later, in North America.
My co-driver is always warning me to be careful and to drive slower. I simply cannot put my foot down in this game.
Going through checkpoints without touching their markers will get you to the end of each stage without penalties, so, be very careful when you pass them. Checkpoints are laid out at specific points in such a way that the player is forced to navigate difficult terrain. There’s also a Pathfinder mode available, which gives only a handful of checkpoints spread out over the terrain and leaves it up to us to decide how to reach each one (although each must still be passed in a predetermined order).
If you overturn your vehicle, you will also be penalized for recovering it. Disqualification will occur if you hit the crowd or any bystander.
Car damage, due to accidents and rough driving, will affect the control and vehicle performance. Bad weather conditions will also be your enemy, like rain and the creepy fog that drastically limits your visibility.
When you succeed on negotiating all checkpoints and arrive at the finish line in first place, unlockable upgrades to your vehicle will be presented in the form of engines, tires and differentials.
There are a few different areas to drive on. Unfortunately the only variations in the maps are from the geography and the textures used, as there is no difference in handling from one surface to another.
There’s 10 official licensed off road four-wheel-drive vehicles to unlock and 60 courses spread over six different terrain types with, as mentioned before, varying weather and times of day.
At night don’t forget to turn your headlights on!

Next up is another PC exclusive: GTR 2, from Swedish developer SimBin Studios, released in September 2006. 

Inside we get the DVD, as well the awesome manual that tell us everything we need to know about the game: the fantastic multiplayer, race rules and regulations.
GTR 2 offers a bunch of different game modes: Championship, Single Race, Practice, 24hr Race, Time Trial and even includes a Driving School that teaches the player some fancy racing techniques that you can practice later to perfection.
The Official Championships consist of the 2003 and 2004 FIA GT Championship series. However, unlike its predecessor, GTR2 offers smaller unlockable championships as well as the ability to create custom championships.
The 24hr races offers dynamic day and night cycles. The transition between day and night is seamless and steady, unlike in the original GTR where the race had to be paused whilst the new time of day was loading.
The day and night cycles can also be experienced by changing the speed of which the time of day passes during a race weekend. Selections here can be accelerated up to 60 times. But doing so, the realism is not so realistic.. is it?..
There are more than 27 car models included. They range from 600 hp GT class, to 400 hp NGT class vehicles. It’s also possible to create your own content. Many more vehicles have been created by the dedicated GTR2 community.
As for the tracks, there’s 15 real-world included, with 34 different variations to choose from. And there are hundreds of add-on tracks available. Highlights of these includes Laguna Seca and the 22 kilometer Nürburgring.
This is one of the reasons GTR 2 has been so popular, the ability to create custom content for the game. This has led to a large community of players who create new vehicles and tracks to race with.
GTR 2 was considered the best driving PC game of 2006 by major reviewers.

Since we're talking about SimBin and their driving games, a year before GTR 2 was released, other simulator was the delight of gamers around the world: this game was GT Legends

The cover art is simply awesome with a retro kind of look to it. Inside we get the DVD, the manual and some other stuff just to add more weight to the whole package and pay more in the post office.
Most of the features that were already mentioned in GTR 2 are also present in GT Legends, except for the 24 hour races.
It is based on the 2005 FIA Historic Racing Championships for GTC and TC cars of the 60ties and 70ties. This is a modern-day championship for historic cars, and so the circuit designs in GT Legends are those of the modern era.
GT Legends has the same graphics engine as the magnificent rFactor, a similar physics engine but different multiplayer programing. Reviewers from all around the world were blown away by the extreme good quality sounds and realism.
Unlike most Simbin games, GT Legends has a career mode, in which you need to win a series of races in order to unlock cars, tracks and more championships. In total, we get 11 official tracks –  Nürburgring also included – and 27 officially licensed historic cars.
Just like GTR 2, the game supports many add-on tracks and cars provided by the sim racing community.

Last one I have here is the fabulous Richard Burns Rally, developed by Warthog and published by SCi with precious advice of WRC driver Richard Burns himself. 

In the back cover there’s a PC Gamer quote that says “Richard Burns Rally is the scariest driving game we’ve ever played.” And they were right about that!
Inside the case there’s the DVD and a manual that gives us an intro into the rally world explaining everything from setting up the game to exhaustive comprehension of the pace notes given to us by the co-driver.
It was released in July 2004 for PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC, and even to this day, it’s considered to be one of the most realistic and difficult racing simulators. Richard Burns Rally was not made to be modifiable, but despite this there are mods available for the PC version due to a large online community. The game was originally an offline racing title but user created mods have enabled online play. Every day there are hundreds of online championships to enter.
No other title comes even close to the difficulty, realism and, most of all, rewarding sense of fear and speed that this game has to offer. If you know you’re gonna crash, instinctively you close your eyes, grab the wheel hard and just wait for it to stop!

If you’re tired of arcadish stuff that the only thing needed is to floor the throttle and go around corners hitting everything, give these titles a chance and maybe, just maybe you’ll convert yourself into a virtual Pro-driver.

Before finishing this episode of It's a Pixel THING, here’s a couple of honorable mentions:
-  rFactor, for the PC,

-  Race Pro, for the xbox360 

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