Midnight GT: Primary Racer
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Ever heard of NSX racing - the weird, completely illegal Japanese road 'sport' involving high-speed car chases on busy urban highways? Neither had we until we heard about Rage Software's Midnight GT. Based on the youth race fraternity who thrash it out on the streets of Japan's busiest cities after dark, this forthcoming PC race title certainly seems to offer more than just a straight sprint from A to B, and could be an amalgam of some of the best examples of the genre all rolled into one.
"What we're trying to do is create a 'real road' racing simulator," explains Simon Donbavand, producer of Midnight GT. The roads you race on are apparently based on real roads found in Japan, bar the odd tweak to make things more playable. Even the geography of the eight available courses is authentically replicated to a high level of detail. The NSX cars, as mentioned above, of course make their appearance, as do seven other Japanese sports cars, all of which are 'lookalikes' of their real-life counterparts.
"We couldn't use models of the real cars," explains Simon, "because, basically, we wanted to destroy them, which manufacturers don't like you doing. Our cars are based around Supras, MR2s - well known Japanese sports cars. People will know what they are when they see them, but we've changed details - logos, headlight configurations etcetera - which legally let us off the hook." Rage have even employed the services of world-renowned design agency Pinafarina (the people who design cars for Ferrari) to help with their concept designs.
Where it matters in this type of game, though, is on the road itself. Midnight GT features highly realistic physics modelling, but remains pick-up-and-playable nonetheless. Simon details the lengths to which they're going with the realism: "The way the car acts and reacts totally depends on how you drive. Each wheel reacts independently: if you've got two wheels on gravel and two wheels on tarmac, the two wheels on gravel will react differently to those on tarmac. This way, you don't get any pre-set, pre-determined 'hard-wired' physics modelling in the handling."
As usual, Rage are going to even greater lengths with the graphics. And no one is complaining.
"There'll be real-time lighting and photo-realistic reflection maps on the cars," enthuses Simon, "plus progressive texturing, like mud caking on to the car and proper skid marks, and loads of track-side animations, some of which you can interact with."
Midnight GT's eight-strong Liverpool-based team have come up with their own 3D engine specifically designed to create this game, and they've got big things planned for it. "We're heading for photo-realism in this game," proclaims Simon.
There are loads of other things to see and do, too: split-screen two-player; oncoming traffic; civilian cars that can lose control and crash into you; car upgrades; a league system; 'capture the flag' team races on specifically designed multiplayer courses; night vision replays from helicopters... far too many to mention here. Needless to say, will be on hand to tell you more about it when the time is right.