For sim racers who proudly fly the Reiza flag on their desktop, this week has been an exciting one, as the first batch of premium downloadable content for Automobilista – dubbed The Brit Pack – has arrived on Valve’s online marketplace. Bundling a trio of laser-scanned circuits from the United Kingdom, as well as a handful of cars which represent the greatest machinery the island has to offer, the new content is the first in what’s set to be a line of post-release packs which serve to elevate Automobilista from the status of a niche South American racing simulator with last-minute additions into something much more diverse. Yes, Patrick Giranthon has done phenomenal work fleshing out the track roster, and an increasing amount of solid car conversions have turned Automobilista into what’s objectively the best simulator on the market, but it’s always nice when the developers themselves are putting new stuff into the game; they know the platform better than anyone else.
Personally, I’m not too impressed by the package from a critical standpoint, but most who own Automobilista will undoubtedly purchase it anyways, as more content is always better when it comes to simulators from Reiza Studios. To their credit, these guys rarely fuck something up, and with Niels spearheading the physics operation on the vehicle performance side, and it’s a safe bet anything these guys touch will be modeled accurately.
The three laser-scanned locations included – Cadwell Park, Oulton Park, and Brands Hatch – have all previously appeared in Project CARS, to the point where I believe they’re using very similar scan data, if not the same. Not that this is a knock against Reiza Studios; the fidelity of the tracks is astounding and they fit nicely into the choice of circuits, but the wow factor isn’t really there if you’ve invested any time into Project CARS. Worth the money, however? Yes. I’m not the biggest fan of Cadwell, but Oulton and Brands are both top notch locations for stuff like the Holden Commodore, Marcas touring cars and Porsche… Sorry… Boxer Cup, sliding naturally into place alongside Montreal and Austria as international offerings.
Vehicle-wise, the Brit Pack is an extremely hard sell. I’m not captivated with any single car offered in the DLC considering the abundance of Caterhams and the set of Ultima GTR variants, which many will struggle to drive. The one shining moment I found was with the MCR 2000, which partially acts as a low-end replacement for the set of Radicals you’ve grown accustomed to in other, more accomplished simulators. It’s a fun little ride, although it’s really fucking ugly and visually doesn’t look up to par with other car models found in Automobilista. If you guys need a setup for this thing to make it a bit more lively, you can download it HERE.
The tracks are very nice, but you’ve driven the exact meshes before in a different game. The new cars all drive as they should, but it’s a very underwhelming set of additions when you consider Automobilista shipped with a fairly diverse set of vehicles from the get-go. All filler, no killer.
My biggest gripe centers around not with the content included within the Brit Pack, but the recent update Reiza Studios have introduced to the base application. As I’m a single monitor racer, I’m traditionally forced to dig through vehicle folders and manually adjust the cockpit camera view “eye point” to be closer to the front windshield, almost to replicate a Ferrari F355 Challenge camera view. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s part of the reason I love PC sim racing – if you want something a certain way, you can physically dig around in the game’s files and do what you want.
Automobilista would let me tweak the camera on every official Reiza car, as it’s not a performance hack by any means, I just want to ensure as much of my monitor as possible is used to look out the front windshield, rather than stare at the internals of the cockpit. The update bundled with the Brit Pack DLC has caused the game to ignore the Cockpit Info INI file and rely on something that’s presumably encrypted into the untouchable MAS file and, thus totally disallow me from making camera adjustments. On some cars – such as the Porsche – I can still run my custom camera. With the Holden Commodore or Ultima GTR, I can’t. And it sucks, because I’d prefer to be driving from the front seat, not staring at the awkward end of the steering column and my non-existent legs.
As we always say whenever we talk about Reiza Studios and Automobilista, there isn’t much of anybody playing online, and the offline experience very much resembles a polished rFactor, putting DLC for Automobilista just barely into the obscure sim racing payware mod category rather than a traditional piece of DLC. Make no mistake, you will be driving this content offline, as it has done little to spike the number of active players.
Most of the smart sim racers among us have bought into the Season Pass, meaning this rather underwhelming and unexciting list of cars alongside three laser scanned locations isn’t too bad of a deal for five dollars – with much more on the way between now and Reiza 2017. It’s not the most exciting start to a series of downloadable content, but Brands Hatch and Oulton Park are solid playgrounds for the vanilla content. The rest of the new vehicles? Meh.