Despite it’s flaws and omissions, I find myself coming back to Sector 3’s RaceRoom Racing Experience time and time again. A cross between Race 07 and Project Gotham Racing 4, I can deal with many of the game’s shortcomings because several elements of the game are of a high enough quality to offset the negative aspects. There may be an all-encompassing exploit setup, but the driving model requires realistic inputs and techniques to be successful. The pricing model is all sorts of ridiculous, but the sheer amount of content includes well-known race cars and offerings exclusive to R3E. Leaderboard competitions that haven’t been tainted by guys intentionally exploiting track limit boundaries offer a source of genuine competition when the online servers are a ghost town during non-primetime hours, and the graphical level of detail is a tangible step forward compared to other titles based on isiMotor technology.
However, many of you are aware that I’ve spent the past few months competing in various online races within the confines of Race2Play.com, an online hub intended to mimic iRacing’s structured approach to online racing using other, more affordable racing sims. While Stock Car Extreme and rFactor 2 routinely provide fantastic platforms for competitive events, RaceRoom Racing Experience throws a new problem at us each week. I’m not a developer, and I’ve routinely displayed my ignorance in how products like these are created in the past, but for a game that’s been on the market since January of 2013, it’s disappointing to see ominous bugs like these still exist as we enter 2016. If anything, it explains the Multiplayer Alpha label the game slaps on the online component.
In a race at Portimao using the generic Silhouette Touring Cars, content that comes with RaceRoom Racing Experience, a bug in the game caused two racers to register a DNF result simply for not clicking the right button after they’d crossed the finish line. Milan Stevanovic finished the race in fifth – trust me, I was there – and the game instead had a hiccup and listed him as an eleventh place finish. As this event was part of a multi-race season, Milan’s championship run was adversely affected by this bug. Luis Almeida also suffered the same fate. With Race2Play using server plugin’s to report the results of each race to the website, there’s a pretty serious problem if the game isn’t even calculating the race results properly to begin with.
We move to an event at the Red Bull Ring using the 2014 ADAC GT Masters cars, where Roger Hinds took the pole by a whopping 30 seconds due to an in-game glitch. According to Roger, he’d messed up his lap, hit Escape to return to the game’s garage menu, and instead R3E counted his aborted qualifying attempt as a completed lap. To make matters worse, R3E awarded him the first spot on the grid, and there wasn’t a way to rectify this. The final race of the season was started with a completely random guy awarded pole position.
To continue the trend of strange results calculations, an event this morning was again held at the Portimao Circuit using another piece of vanilla content, the Aquila CR1 Prototype. With the race set to end 30 seconds after the leader crossed the start/finish line, the automated race recap generated by Race2Play led to an accidental piece of comedic gold. The ten-way tie for fourth place was more than the race recap bot could handle, continuously citing photo finishes that didn’t actually occur, and Paulo Braga was awarded a total race time of nothing after sixteen laps of driving.
Walk Racing sim team owner Mr. C has also weighed in on the troubles surrounding R3E’s online stability, uploading the above video to YouTube demonstrating some interesting netcode behavior where he’s able to drive almost entirely inside a competitor’s car during a race at Zandvoort.
With the officially sanctioned DTM Experience 2015 Winter Cup currently underway, an event pitting the best R3E Leaderboard drivers against each other in a massive tournament culminating with several knock-out rounds and guest appearances by high profile drivers, these kinds of issues make me question whether R3E can truly support competitive online racing. While Assetto Corsa constantly gets ragged on for failing to provide an environment with enough functionality for serious racing, it’s important to mention that RaceRoom Racing Experience has it’s own set of unique bugs that can and often do cause problems. With the title being on the market since January of 2013, as a consumer, it doesn’t feel like a big stretch to question why it’s now January of 2016, and fundamental flaws like a random car being on the pole or the guy in fifth suddenly being scored in eleventh still exist.