Reviewed: June 25, 2005
Released: May 3, 2005
Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines!
GTR FIA Racing is the newest, hottest racing simulator on the market, brought to you by 10Tacle and Simbin. For all you race fans out there who are constantly looking for a true racing simulator, look no further. For those of you who want nothing more than to slam your car into others at blinding speeds with no penalty, this is not the game for you.
GTR boasts these impressive features:
Simbin attempted to make the game accessible to all race fans when they made GTR, including three separate race modes, Arcade, Semi-Pro, and Simulation. Within Arcade, there are also 4 separate difficulty settings that increase the level of damage, driving assistance, and AI toughness. Arcade mode does away with all those annoying things like pre-race practice sessions, qualifications, etc. Just pick your car, pick your track, and race against a smaller field of opponents in a short race to the finish.
Even though it’s called “Arcade”, however, don’t expect this to be like one of the games you’d find at an actual arcade. You’ll not find any nitro boosts, ramps, or shortcuts of any kind in this game. Semi-Pro and Simulation settings are increasingly more difficult, with more of the driving assists turned off and the damage becoming more and more realistic. In Simulation, sideswiping another vehicle may warp your alignment or mess up your aerodynamics enough to seriously hamper your chances (not that I ever had much of a chance in Simulation anyway, since my best qualification time put me second to last on a 24 car starting grid).
Detail and realism were the two action-items on the list when the developers for GTR sat down to design this game. Every minute detail, whether it be on the track, or in the car, was incorporated into the game. The game designers had the full cooperation and assistance of the FIA (the people who run the actual GTR racing series), so the details in the game are accurate.
The track designers were able to get their hands on the actual blueprints for the tracks, and also went to the tracks themselves and used GPS systems to map out every minute elevation change along the track, every bump included. Combined with the fully-modeled vehicles, from steering wheel to suspension, the game puts you as close to being on these tracks in these cars than you’ll ever be, unless you are good enough to actually get into the racing circuit. But even those guys have reportedly played this game, and have commented on how accurate it feels.
I would highly recommend playing the game with a steering wheel and pedals, especially if you have access to a force feedback steering wheel. I discovered that, after downloading a driver at wingmanteam.com, I could use my Logitech Driving Force Pro wheel that I bought for PS2 on my PC. The game’s force feedback enhances the game’s realistic feel to the nth degree. I have not tried playing the game without a wheel, but I think that it would detract from the experience greatly. I imagine that anyone interested in this game, however, is going to already have a wheel and pedals, or won’t hesitate to shell out the money to buy a set.
For online racing, this game has a fairly accessible multiplayer option, allowing players to find a race within minutes against a full starting grid of other live opponents. Although it is frustrating when you get into a race with practice session, qualifications, and warm-ups, all to get taken out at the start by some fool who forgets to take his car out of park.
There is already a fairly extensive league system set up allowing players to join a group of serious drivers who have seasons with points standings and so forth, and there you will avoid the type of tomfoolery and shenanigans that cause such frustrating online experiences as having someone driving the wrong way around the track trying to take out as many other drivers as possible in his suicidal attempt at trying to make the game his little version of Burnout 3.
The graphics in this game are just like the rest of it, very realistic. There is nothing flashy about the game, but it does look extremely real. There aren’t any cool blurring effects or sun flares, or explosions. The vehicle detail is amazing; down to the suspension moving independently of the vehicle as it careens over each little rise and fall in the roadway.
One of the most impressive things I saw was that while racing from inside the cockpit of the vehicle, your “head” actually moves independently from the vehicle also, so you get a very realistic feeling of motion and speed as you see the frame of the vehicle moving around you as you go.
I don’t have access to this, but they also incorporated the use of a device that allows you to actually turn your head (in real life) and it recognizes those motions and adjusts the view on the screen accordingly. For those of you like me who can’t afford such a device, they have also included an option called “look to apex”, which turns your “head” as you turn the wheel, so it allows you to look into your turn, much like you would naturally do in real life.
I like the graphics for their realism on the track, and the rain effects are also a treat when you get to see the rooster tails coming up from the vehicles ahead of you. However, I think that people who are looking for flashy graphics (like something from the Need For Speed series) will be disappointed with this game.
The sounds in this game are…yeah, you said it… very realistic, just like with the graphics and gameplay. The designers used microphones on the actual vehicles to record their engine sounds and imported those directly into the game. So, if you want to hear what the Ferrari really sounds like going 180 mph down a straight, either spend the half a million and buy one, or buy this game and get just about the same thing. The other vehicle sounds, the transmission during shifting, the rattle of the vehicle at high speeds, the scrubbing of tires around a sharp turn, are also very nice touches and very impressive.
As with most racing games, the replayability factor in this game is nearly limitless. That, combined with the immense amount of third-party created tracks that are constantly being released online, the strong online racing community, and the staggering amount of tweaking that you can do to the vehicles in order to fine tune it to get that perfect setting, guarantees the hardcore race fan all that they will ever desire.
This game, like other great racing sims in the past, like Grand Prix Legends, which to this day has a huge following, will stand the test of time. For the casual racer, GTR will get tedious and boring after a short time and the extreme realism will send these gamers to more action-packed thriller racers.
With an acceptable selection of vehicles (the box claims over 70 cars, but that includes each team member of every team, driving the same car, but with a different number and paint job), and a mediocre selection of tracks (10, plus three more that are available for download from the company’s website) that comes with the original copy of the game (plus the tons and tons of third-party created tracks that are available for download off the internet already) this game will impress those people who are really into the nitty-gritty of racing, especially GTR racing.
For people who want a huge variety or who aren’t really that into realism, I would recommend something else. If this kind of game is what you’re looking for, but you really wish they had some different cars, then perhaps you’ll be pleased to know that in a few months, the same developers are releasing GT Legends, using pretty much the same game engine, but tweaked up a little more, you’ll be able to drive old muscle cars like the Shelby Cobra and the ‘Vette.