Reader Submission #60 – A Revelation: Old Racing Games Are Indeed Better

Dolphin 2015-08-09 18-41-32-11.jpg

Kicking off the week with a fairly large Reader Submission, PRC.net reader Ben C. has put our obsessive ramblings regarding older titles to the test. We’ve long said that racing games from a generation ago are superior to what’s currently available on the market, and feel that the genre itself is in a state of decline, but very rarely has anyone put in the time to validate our claims as legitimate.

Thankfully, Ben has stepped up to the plate, taking a look at not one but two titles thanks to the freeware Dolphin Nintendo GameCube emulator, allowing him to travel back in time and experience where we’ve come from.


maxresdefaultI’ve read many articles on here and discussion elsewhere about how the racing genre is in a rut. PC releases are perpetually unfinished, over-shilled garbage (Project CARS, Assetto Corsa) with cut-and-run financing (Project CARS again, Stock Car Extreme) or straight up archaic pricing systems that make no sense (R3E, rFactor 2). Consoles don’t fare any better. Gran Turismo is so glacial that it’s behind the times when it comes out and once great staples like Ridge Racer have withered away. Even Dirt has to come out on Steam’s Early Access program to find out if anyone wants it at all.

The new Need for Speed was disappointing, with a handling model that meant you could never guarantee where or what your car was going to do, either snap oversteer at the slightest touch, or flat out refusing to corner at all. Coupled with the joke rubber-band AI and totally pointless always-online, this instead leaves me investing my time into Codemasters and Turn 10 games. These games aren’t perfect either, but for my casual simcade interests, they are the best of a shit bunch.

Two things have happened recently that have shown me just how bad things are.

First, I was browsing through PRC and came across your Dirt to Daytona article. Not being from America, I have no reverence or love for NASCAR, but grabbed the Gamecube version to emulate on Dolphin to see what the fuss is about. It seems pretty good fun, and I like that it really doesn’t give a shit about you doing well or not; you really aren’t a special snowflake and the game doesn’t come to a halt if you don’t win.

Second, I saw FailRace’s videos comparing Need for Speed 2015 with 2004’s Underground 2.

I don’t remember if I played it back in the day or not, but after watching it I saw that a 10 year old game has better handling, deeper customization (both visually and tuning-wise) and way more to do than its current iteration.  So I grabbed the GameCube version to emulate and holy shit, it really is that much better, despite the inherent jankiness of running it through an emulator.

What the fuck is going on?

Games are supposed to have gotten better, not worse. Was there really a “golden age” of racing games in the early 2000’s, or is it just that Call of Duty has taken the casual market by storm, so the market dwindles and developers need to dumb down their games further and further to get that elusive “mass appeal”?

Anyways, keep up the good work.


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I think I’ve said this previously when responding to a different Reader Submission, but once Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, and Halo took the world by storm in 2007 and generated such enormous profits on par with Hollywood movies, everyone within the industry took notice and attempted to revamp their business strategies in an effort to get a piece of the pie. Nobody wanted to just sit down for a few years and make a sweet racing game anymore, because you could only go so far with a niche title like Dirt to Daytona.

Coupled with the rising costs of developing modern video games, on the console side of things this lead to several different companies crunching numbers and pushing out the same game, year after year, as a safe way to earn X amount of money and keep the franchise afloat.

To demonstrate what I mean, let’s look at how many times we’ve become the most notorious street racer since 2008:

  • Burnout: Paradise
  • Midnight Club: Los Angeles
  • Test Drive Unlimited
  • Test Drive Unlimited 2
  • The Crew
  • Need for Speed: Undercover
  • Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2010
  • Need for Speed: Most Wanted 2012
  • Need for Speed: Rivals
  • Need for Speed 2015
  • Forza Horizon
  • Forza Horizon 2

We’ve been sold the same generic open-world street racing title twelve fucking times, and almost all of these titles were somewhat successful financially. On the console side of things, innovation has essentially stopped, because the raw marketplace data shows a company can literally keep releasing the same game as everyone else, and enough people will buy it to warrant yet another one.

Need for Speed 2015 didn’t have to be good, or even acceptable. Enough people bought it simply because it’s Need for Speed and you can rice out your car, that any legitimate criticism has no impact on the success of the game. The sad reality is that you can’t stop the average customer from lowering their expectations and putting up with these shitty games. What you can do is hope that the next big racing game is a complete abomination comparable to the most recent Batman game, forcing people to wake up and demand something better. Of course, intentionally wishing for an upcoming game to suck is kind of counterproductive to what it means to be a gamer, but we’ll need a Sim City-like meltdown to force console developers like EA to get their shit together.

We almost had one with Project CARS, but enough websites were paid off and enough financial backers sang the gospel of Ian Bell to cushion the blow.

RRRE 2015-11-21 19-21-10-32

On the PC side of things, it’s a slightly different mentality. The quest for sales numbers aren’t fueling these games; it’s almost as if each developer instead agreed to participate in a perpetual science project, and the result is not one or two but five unfinished games.

  • Assetto Corsa
  • Project CARS
  • RaceRoom Racing Experience
  • rFactor 2
  • Stock Car Extreme

[Insert One of the Five Games Above Here] has a random assortment of cars and tracks that don’t fit into any one specific category, as well as a continuous stream of physics, tire model, and overall game updates intended to bring the game closer to reality. All of the games listed above are no more than physics sandboxes with rudimentary auto racing functionality. That’s not cool. Of course, the individuals working on these games aren’t dumb, and do everything they can to push the reality of five unfinished modern racing sims under the rug.

Developers willingly create Stockholm Syndrome-like effects to intentionally downplay what their racing sim lacks. Weekly blogs and/or livestreams outline how small the team is, and how they don’t have enough resources to finish their game. These postings subliminally imply you should feel bad for the insurmountable odds the developer is up against with their perpetual science project, the equivalent of a Taco Bell manager telling you the cashier messed up your order because her boyfriend broke up with her the previous night. Blame is shifted onto the publisher for awful pricing models or DLC packs, as if knowing the developers are good guys somehow makes the ridiculous cost of games like R3E an easier pill to swallow. Community members are routinely recruited to be beta testers and welcomed aboard as extended family members, leading these testers feeling obligated to downplay flaws the rest of the community has found.

Mention how Assetto Corsa doesn’t let you pick the color of your car online, and fifty fanboys show up on PRC out of the blue to say absurd shit like “features are just to fill a list in a racing sim.” Point out that RaceRoom has a downright retarded pricing model, and a handful of people arrive to channel their inner Billy Mays and explain the complicated content discount system. Draw attention to Project CARS being a literal pile of garbage on release, and administrators from popular sim racing sites paid by Slightly Mad Studios will bend over backwards to explain why you’re wrong.

For every legitimate point you bring up about a racing sim, ten other forum users show up to call you a crazed hater with an irrational vendetta. None of these games will get better anytime soon, because legitimate criticism is swept under the rug by aggressive fanboys. Ten fanboys praising the game against one guy saying something isn’t right, developers are going to take the easy way out and listen to the blind praise.

 

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56 thoughts on “Reader Submission #60 – A Revelation: Old Racing Games Are Indeed Better

  1. “We’ve been sold the same generic open-world street racing title twelve fucking times,”
    … which naturally means that every racing sim should be the same generic GT3 Endurance racing title? No? Then fuck off with the “AC is an incomplete sim, it doesn’t even have driver swaps or pit stops”

    Like

    1. I guess not being able to change paints is a complete sim then. Good info.

      I guess the fact that an infinite number of racing series(read all) have start rules(rolling or not), flag rules, and when your favorite driver in real life is in a blue car even though his sponsors are colored red because those were the colors available sorry you cant pick its just a Generic GT3 thing and nobody needs these features.

      K

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Is not playing the game a prerequisite for criticizing it? Like how some servers have fixed setups, and some servers let you join in the middle of a race, some servers let you pick your skin. Maybe they would be popular if sim racers actually cared at all about that ‘issue’, but it appears people flock to servers where you can join mid-race but can’t pick your skin.

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  2. Still reading article but had to stop, why the actual fuck would you use the gamecube version through an emulator? mein gott get the pc version.

    I know where this is going Ive said this very thing pretty much on one of the NFS 15 previews, they dumbed it down beyond recognition, just because its a arcade game doesn’t mean it should play like dog shit, a NFSU2 with updated textures and new dx would destroy that fucking press button to drift BS, pretty much like all titles today NFS now is designed for insecure little boys.

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    1. Hash, actually it kind of reinforces the point. A non-perfect emulated Gamecube version of NFSU 2 gives a better experience than NFS 2015.

      It’s quite sad when it comes to this.

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    2. The NFSU2 PC game doesn’t work properly with controllers because a .dll the game needs from the WINDOWS folder hasn’t been shipped with Windows OS since XP or Vista, can’t remember, so you are left with either playing it on keyboard or wheel (both not really great for NFSU2 imho). Emulating it is actually the way better option.

      Like

  3. I’ve said it many times. The current crop of games leave a lot to be desired. We have these studios with guys who spend a lot of time dicking around with physics, which for some reason they seem unable to get right, and that’s about it. That’s pretty much all these games have to offer. None of the current sims shows a vision of what a successful sim should look like. They aren’t finished, they aren’t polished to level other games are, they run poorly due to bad physics or graphics optimization, and most importantly they just aren’t FUN. So why do we keep buying them? Do people really think it’s acceptable to release an incomplete game and charge full price for it? Or to materially misrepresent a product? To have something be in a beta state not for weeks or months, but for years? Is the state of the industry so bad that people can’t see these practices for what they are and just throw their money at shitty games because they’re so desperate to buy it? Are the cults that surround these sims so effective that they actually persuade people?

    If you want to raise the standards, you need to demand better. I wish people could put aside their need for instant gratification and just say no, I won’t buy that game because it doesn’t look up to my standards as a consumer. And then the studio would have to raise their efforts. That’s how it should work. But no, we’re trapped because people keep finding ways to justify purchasing stuff because “I just need to have it, and I need it right now!” It’s disappointing. See I think the shills are people who actually realize on some level that the product they bought into sucks and they’re desperate to affirm not just others, but themselves that their standards aren’t the problem or that the studio isn’t the problem, it’s all those mean people who dare to critique something I thought was good but really sucks. But whatever their deal is, it’s problematic.

    We need honest criticism of these games, and we need to stop throwing money at people who have proven time and again that they are incapable of delivering a quality product. If not, the situation will not improve.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Its like voting in elections: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

      Basically I am not going to support none of these current PC sim developers in the future.

      I have also very little faith in that this situation would improve, not with these developers.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This is sadly the reason why I have been pirating most of my games for the past few years, unless it was a truly good game like Witcher3 or the new Call of Duty (no hate, it’s the best CoD since MW1, and the Co-op campaigns are awesome fun).

        Like

    2. What do you really want a sim to be like? A game like need for speed with a closed open world with tuning and police chasing, but realistic car simulation? Or you want a city driving experience, maybe in the sense of euro truck sim, but with realistic physics and ffb?

      Or you want the pc sims to be like gran turismo and forza, but with the more complete realistic car simulation of pc sims?
      Or something entirely new? Something that hasn’t been done on games like raceroom with their experience packages, something that isn’t like SCE game, iracing, rf2, pcars, ac?
      Maybe you have a much brighter idea for a sim racing game that we’ve never seen before in 20 years.

      I think sims that are about track racing won’t differ much from one another. Because track racing is just that, cars racing on a race track. What are first person shooters? Players vs Players on a map, with certain objectives. Now depends if with fps games you want to recreate a war situation or special forces (counter terrorism teams against a terrorist group).

      Racing games are just that, usually focused on real world simulation, unless you want to create a fictional racing games like mario kart, trackmania, and so on.

      I bet there are also people who can point fingers and complain about games like gran turismo and forza. People criticizing sim racing games aren’t unique and enlightened. I bet there are people who say gt and forza doesn’t have the standards they want, but for other people those games are just fine and good to play continuously. Which doesn’t mean those games can’t be improved and polished, but should we stop buying those games for that reason? Maybe at the end of your lifetime you will enjoy a racing game, after you skipped so many because is not up to your standards, or maybe you won’t buy one any more at all during your lifetime. Always in search for that happiness that’s up to your standard. But we find happiness when we stop looking for it.

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      1. I could easily debate on what sort of racing and driving simulators would be good and refreshing, but this is not the best forum for that.

        You are correct that these sims are about track racing, and because of that we should not worry on how nobody cares. I feel very strongly that even track racing could be done so that it would make an appeal to completely new and larger player bases, without having to sacrifice any of the fidelity and realism.

        Like

  4. I think I can back up your point pretty well: my G27 broke and is irreparable (I’m no slouch with repairing these things but this one is DONE) and rather than rushing out to buy a new one, I got a bigger hard drive instead. The reality is for all the good elements in modern sims, playing an older sim/game with an xbox one controller is not that much worse than a current sim with a G27.

    I’ve gone to some pretty big lengths in this: I’ve even fired up trackmania. More than once.
    I long for the day when these sims as a whole are as good as they once were, but until then, they’re not worth the price of admission, even to someone like me who is now not sim racing for the first time since a brief period in early 2006.

    That a game made on a cut budget in 2003 is still the best oval sim ever in late 2015 is just sad. I like rFactor 2 and see enormous potential in the engine, iRacing’s online structure is second to none in maybe any online gaming, and it’s amazing what SCE has done with that old engine (and I look forward to seeing what they can do with the source code) but for now, the negatives outweigh the positives in all of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Welcome to 2015, where the 99% of the video games are unfinished piles of garbage, but the autistic teenagers will still suck the developers cock for giving away a free skin.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. rFactor 2 is the most advanced driving simulator ever released, the likes of Assetto Corsa and iRacing are just not the same grade when it comes to simulation accuracy.

    Like

      1. He’s still diddling Hex’s hairy beanbag…or writing his guide on how to play rF2 with a keyboard!

        According to Ass,using a KB is how true sim racers play because Geoff Crammond said so back when his Grand Prix sims were made and wheels weren’t readily available.

        Like

  7. I’ve been saying this for all games since the commadore 64 became obsolete.

    I don’t fully agree though. I think we just expect more from sims these days. But you may be partially correct.

    People like James are what push development forward. I don’t understand the fan boy phenomenon. Criticism is good. Developers should welcome it.

    Like

    1. This is not just about developers having to welcome it. And why you calling people that like a game as fan boys? Many times when people review a game and criticize it, it comes off as the reviewer is shitting on the fans (fans as in people that like the game and playing it, and like the devs work so far), and they must be dumb for playing this, and are just mindless consumers.. ble ble ble.

      People like James don’t push development forward. There are people who can express correctly the points of the game that could be improved or fixed. What people like James are doing is being obsessive and entitled for the game to be tailored for them, and for devs to work on the things people like James want. Maybe people like James should apply for game designer and planner. If those people really want to push development forward.

      There is criticism and criticism. One type is when you make the developers (of any game) just mad and pissed, and removing their morale to work on the game.

      But in the end, devs will probably see and listen to all types of criticism, and taking out the bits that matter for the game and present and future customers. Sometimes all those bits can’t make it into this iteration, but maybe is reserved for the next game in the genre.

      Like

  8. I have to confess the same thing I confess every time that pCARS comes up.

    I like Project CARS. It’s my favorite racing game at the moment. Is it the best sim? No, it’s not. But I like it.

    It’s better than rFactor 2 in terms of being able to have a real race against AI cars that aren’t the same as you. There’s 3-4 in most classes, which isn’t enough to make me happy but it’s enough to keep me from pulling my hair out. The open wheelers are an exception, of course; F1 isn’t a one-make series, but Formula A is a spec series for some reason.

    It’s a great career mode, and I have a lot of fun with it–in spite of it’s flaws. But so many people want to sit there and say, it’s basically perfect, it’s a work in progress, they’re just a small company competing with the likes of ISI who’s been doing this for 10 years, how dare you criticize.

    It’s not basically perfect. It’s basically fun and entertaining and even a little engrossing–but it’s far from perfect. Just take superkarts out at Oulton Park and see how many AI karts go ramping off the slightly-downhill turn one, even after 6 major updates.

    Like

    1. SMS is massive, well into being 100+ people whereas ISI are the size of Sector 3 and Kunos – 10-12 full time staff. Reiza are even smaller in number….

      Is pCARS a fun game? It can be so long as one uses the tweaker files and ignores the road cars.

      pCARS is a LONG way off what Bell said it was going to be and the experience was sullied by a metric shit tonne of bugs and glitches.

      The WMD hivemind cocksuckers who acted out of self financial interest goes to show in gaming greed trumps honesty and common sense.

      Like

    1. its Jamoz\Hexjnr\pitcock/metalsucks\shill babyshill little cunt using my name now, Hes upset I spoke with his mother about his daddy issues, upset him i think.

      Like

      1. Jamoz\hex jnr\shill baby shill and various anoms and most post with a meme (and now hash it appears) are same ppl in PRC, or identical in writing style retardness and exact same critiques of rf2, hes also Cock_pit in steam and metal sucks in you tube you’ll find him trolling where eva rf2 comes up, he has a hard on for hex and associator, and thinks “AC da best”,hes also the one filling PRC comments and other forum sections with a shit ton of gay arse teen memes, and is the associator impersonator, he is literally internet AIDS.

        Hes been busted so many times with retardness I guess he has to keep changing names, like posting GT academy videos claiming non one there is talking about rfactor,lol turns out GT academy uses rfactor as its main sim training tool, that was one of me faves, and claiming you cant race nascar on circuits because they only have 4 gears, he special alright.

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      2. Yet i spend almost the whole afternoon yesterday driving rf2. Don’t know where you get the idea i hate rf2? Yes i prefer AC, but i’ve never engaged in any “my sim is better then your sim” arguments. Stop spreading disinformation…

        Like

  9. Talking about old times and DLC, it’s out the Lotus (and historic tracks) DLC for Project CARS, at a bargain price, you could have some awesome contents !

    Like

      1. According to this blog, SMS is actually paying: the journalists, ppl to post on the web sites, real pilots, they are even paying the million+ players who actually bought the game or everyone who talks good about their game. To be short: they are paying the whole world (or eventually the universe) except the few ppl here.

        Like

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