As part of their fall 2015 downloadable content bundle for Assetto Corsa, Kunos Simulazioni’s partnership with McLaren allowed them to bring their significantly more refined GT3 entry – the 650s – into the popular PC racing simulator to legions upon legions of hardcore motor racing fans. Boasting an entirely new front suspension configuration under the body work, a slightly more appealing nose piece, and a tremendously less bizarre name to type out on a keyboard, the 650s was just one of the ten cars Assetto Corsa enthusiasts could get their hands on for a pretty reasonable price. While each vehicle featured in the bundle added something extra to Assetto Corsa, kicking off a wave of DLC that still hasn’t let up many years later, the 650s found a natural home in the GT3 category, becoming a go-to car for several sim racers who prefer their race cars with the engine in the rear, and exhaust gasses fed back into the engine. McLaren’s Formula One program may be failing, but it certainly hasn’t stopped them from engineering some ridiculously sexy race cars elsewhere in the motorsports kingdom.
Now at the command of rFactor 2, Studio 397 have brought this same car into the world of ISI’s mishandled project – the McLaren 650s GT3 marking the first piece of paid DLC for the aging racing simulator. Four other licensed GT3 cars are said to follow suit in a more comprehensive pack that will be available in the near future, but the 650s appears to have received special treatment and gotten the green light much earlier than the others, as it will be used in McLaren’s own World’s Fastest Gamer competition that’s getting underway right this minute.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, I do not feel comfortable knocking Studio 397 for releasing paid downloadable content for rFactor 2, as in my opinion the McLaren 650s is an excellent addition to the simulator, and worth the asking price if you purchased the car in the larger GT3 bundle. rFactor 2 for the longest time has been nothing but a slew of awkward content that never really meshed well together – over-saturated with generic open wheel rides and unlicensed knock-off’s – so having a familiar face on the vehicle roster will help sim racers on the fence see the software in a much more welcoming light. It’s probably going to suck major balls for some rFactor 2 owners who paid for lifetime and got practically nothing in return aside from being told they’d have to buy all of the upcoming relevant content on top of their base purchase, but it’s a necessary evil to move rFactor 2 forward. The modding community just isn’t there like the first game to pick up the slack and turn the sim into something wild.
However, what sim racers might have an issue with, is what exactly it is they’re paying for. The McLaren 650s is the first official content release under rFactor 2’s new overlords, Studio 397, so a lot of people have been looking forward to this because it will indicate the quality of material the new group are capable of producing. Unfortunately, unless I have enormously bad eye-sight, the 3D model used in Studio 397’s McLaren 650s GT3 appears to be identical to the one Kunos Simulazioni used for the Dream Pack DLC. Please enlarge the picture I’ve inserted below and compare between the two images the following elements:
- The direction the steering wheel knobs have been turned.
- The position of the RaceLogic on-board laptime tracker
- The air vent angles
- The windscreen sunstrip proportions
- The same brake bias dial with poor UV mapping
Textures, of course, have been slightly changed, but to any average Joe comparing the two images – the left being rFactor 2 and the right being Assetto Corsa – it’s extremely hard to deny that this may possibly be the exact same car model.
Well, yeah, kind of.Sim racers constantly mock Forza Motorsport fans for getting sucked into Turn 10’s expensive monthly DLC cycle, which in past years – especially on the Xbox 360 – had seen the development team sell the same cars as DLC with each passing iteration of the franchise, meaning that some gamers were paying a fee multiple times just to access a near identical set of cars for their new game. In the most notorious cases, the hardcore Forza supporters among us have purchased no less than three seperate Porsche packs – one for Forza Motorsport 4, another for Horizon 3, and lastly a third pack for Forza Motorsport 6. Sim racers once had a valid argument to mock their console brethren, yet now some of these same sim racers have a bit of explaining to do.
It also reflects poorly on Studio 397. This is a team whom were given the keys to the rFactor 2 kingdom at around this time last year, and many had high hopes for the direction in which they would take the dying hardcore simulator. For them to push out a car that at the very least heavily borrows assets from a third party source, while other news sites are claiming they have built this car completely in-house, is kind of shitty. Will the other four cars, most likely the Mercedes AMG, BMW Z4, Audi R8, and the Nissan GT-R, also be suspiciously similar to their Assetto Corsa counterparts?
I’ve supplied the comparison photographs, and y’all can draw your own conclusions, but in my opinion it’s not a good look to push out a piece of original content where even the dials on the steering wheel and vertices that make up the windshield banner are difficult to differentiate from one game to the next.
Given how many talented modders there are in the sim racing community, it’s a real possibility that Studio 397 simply purchased the same 3D model that Kunos Simulazioni did – a team who are notorious for outsourcing their car models – but the difference here is that sim racers potentially already paid for the model once, as part of a ten car pack alongside an iconic track, and here they might be forking over six dollars for just the car itself. Studio 397 aren’t exactly in a position where people won’t care; they need to impress people, and fast, with their own creations for rFactor 2. Yet in this situation, to me it looks as if a sketchy amateur modder – the same ones chastized by the community for ripping car models – could have taken the McLaren 650s from Assetto Corsa and provided you with largely the same experience in rFactor 2 for no cost at all.
You know, a very familiar looking car model that posts laps two seconds quicker than the real car.
It’s certainly going to add a very interesting sub-plot into the sim racing community – is it okay if multiple developers share assets, and are customers okay with paying multiple times for the exact same car and car model, just to have it in as many games as possible? And on the flip side, should we continue to go on angry crusades against individuals who rip and convert content to inflate the car selection of their favorite simulator, when developers are potentially doing the same – albeit with permission from the original author first?
What a strange era for sim racing.