GTR 2: FIA GT Racing Game
|a game by||SimBin Development Team AB, and Blimey! Games Ltd.|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 2 votes|
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|See also:||Racing Games|
Improving Upon Something that's already great is always fraught with hazards. Recall if you will the great Coco Pops disaster of '98, when Kelloggs committed the cardinal sin of changing the name to Choco Krispies. Then how they had to hastily change it back again when hundreds of thousands of complaints from the great British public flooded in. When it comes to driving sims, SimBin seem to have already nailed the market quite squarely on the head with GTR and GT Legends, so what could they possibly improve upon with a sequel?
Rather than committing an atrocity by renaming the title Great Track Racers 2, giving all of the cars nitrous and putting some 360-degree loops into the tracks. SimBin's gone back to the high-octane roots of GTR, tweaked the already near-perfect gameplay, added some extra features and polished the entire lot to perfection.
This time round, the game's based around the 2004 F1A GT season and the vehicle count's been upped to over 140 cars, including the cars and tracks from the 2003 season featured in the original. Take a car out for a spin though and the first thing you'll notice is an improvement in the graphics. Making full use of DirectX9 features, the cars sparkle and shine with even more lustre than before, interiors are resplendent with hi-res details and realtime shadows, fully animated drivers now reach for gears and push pedals, brake discs glow under heavy braking and reflections dazzle on wet tarmac.
Wanna Get Dirrty
The accelerated time feature from GT Legends has been brought over too, meaning that you can choose to literally drive through the night. Dynamic weather effects are also present with rain adding some gorgeous reflections on track, but serving to make the driving anything from slightly slippery to downright treacherous. Thankfully, the rain level can be adjusted in the menu, though rumours that downpours are mandatory when racing the British circuits have not yet been confirmed.
Out on track, things look better than ever. Every track in the new season comes complete with Simbin's customary attention to detail, older track versions are also included and five completely new tracks have been added, from Dubai to Zhuhai. The superb LiveTrack system means that dirt accumulates on the track surface and should it rain, heavily-used areas of the track will dry out first. Also on the receiving end of some attention is the damage model. During a quick night-time blast round Monza, I managed to take out my left headlight and promptly clipped a few barriers on that side thanks to my limited vision. Upon collision, sparks fly, body panels fall off, tyres can puncture and as if things weren't difficult enough already, a serious pile-up can leave your engine on fire. If you can limp into the pit, you'll also now have a fully animated team ready to repair your damage and fill her up'.
The already stunning driving model has been tweaked even further too, and opponent Al has also received a boost with the addition of LiveBrain. Despite sounding like in-game complimentary cerebral matter, this means that Al drivers will now take a lap or two to warm up their tyres and adjust to the track, helping to even out the playing field between the player and the Al.
Don't think that the modes have scaped attention either - three entirely new ones have been added to the roster. Time Trial allows you to concentrate on getting one amazing lap time (with the option to download other's ghost runs to compete against), and 24-hour races iround five of the tracks will also feature.
But our favourite addition is the Driving School. Forget the lessons you took with an structor who got nervous every time you went over 30mph: these involve hi-octane tutorials on all aspects of driving, from effective gear changes to overtaking. Get hem perfected to beat the instructor and also unlock custom championships. At first glance, it may appear that SimBin's changes are minor tweaks, but you add them all together and put them on top of what's already a brilliant jame, it's clear to see they're striving for nothing short of perfection. And judging by their past achievements and what we've so far, they may well achieve it. There'll be no Choco Krispies here...
Download GTR 2: FIA GT Racing Game
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
As a kid, we all have dreams, hopes and desires that most of us will probably never realise. For myself, getting to drive a highly powered sports car round a track was always pretty high up my list but it was never likely to happen. That is, until Simbin came along and like some kind of Swedish fairy godmother granted my wish (minus the wand and tutu).
Yes OK, I know it's only a game, but let's face it, it's hardly like I'd be able to afford the real deal anyway. Plus, this way, if I do manage to get closely acquainted with one of the circuit's walls, I get to avoid an angry rep of my insurance company knocking on my door and asking for his $500K back. As far as driving titles go, this is probably the closest you'll get to the real deal.
The main draw of Simbin's titles have always been their extraordinary driving model. As soon as you take the wheel, you'll know that this is no casual racer. Instead, you're treated to a taster of just what it's like to drive one of these monsters in real life. Braking in straight lines, bringing power back on smoothly and finding the perfect racing line; that's what this racer is all about. Adopt any other driving style and you'll be met with crashes, lots of off-track and facing the wrong way at 100mph; all pretty scary things to experience in half-a-million pounds worth of metal.
Simbin have tweaked the model a little from GTR and as such, the cars now feel far more solid beneath you and with a bit of practice, some controllable sideways action is now achievable, whether from putting down lots of power early out of corners or going for that elusive full corner drift (although if you manage this, you deserve to be worshipped). Wet-weather racing has also been lavished with attention as you struggle to control putting 600bhp down on the slippery road surface without wheel-spinning. With a driving model so scarily realistic, GTR was always pretty daunting for newcomers but this time round, Simbin have catered for novices and experts alike with the Driving School. As well as the basic tutorials on accelerating, braking, cornering and overtaking, each track features its own custom lessons, from how to tackle difficult corners to trying to beat the instructor at a full lap. It's a brilliant addition, getting newcomers up to speed faster and easier, offering plenty of challenge and longevity for the more capable players and adding extra value by unlocking custom championships too.
Of course, once you get back onto the real track, you'll have to contend with other drivers - and it was here that we encountered a bit of an issue. While the Al drivers do seem generally more intelligent if you end up braking too early for a comer with a car behind you (as you will when learning a track), you'll find that there's an annoying tendency for them to rear-end you, sending you spinning off the track and pretty much wiping out any chance you may have had of winning. Of course, with a bit of practice, your braking points will shift, but it's an annoying niggle nonetheless, especially for beginners getting to know their way around.
I Can't See You
Racing at night's definitely not for the lily-livered either; the pitch-black surroundings may have you reaching for your contrast and if you manage to lose your headlights, you'll need to borrow a pair of Sam Fisher's goggles just to see where you're going. True nut-cases can also race it ill real-time, but the rest of us will be more interested in the scaled-down versions, starting at one hour.
There's also a host of minor improvements such as a better menu system, the addition of mouse steering (although it's criminal to not play this game with a FFB steering wheel), as well as the addition of the time acceleration feature from GT Legends. However, if you own the original GTR, you may wonder if Simbin's additions have made GTR2 worth a purchase. Rest assured, they have - the tweaked driving model, Driving School mode and the addition of five new tracks are worth the purchase price alone.
As far as driving sims go, Simbin have yet again proved that the PC is the platform for real racers. If you're after realism, forget Gran Turismo and Forza - this is the sim that you want to take the wheel of.