Unwanted Setup Sharing Plays Prominent Role in Automobilista Time Trial Championship

It’s admittedly been a while since we’ve talked about Reiza Studios’ Automobilista here on PRC.net, as the Brazilian-backed evolution of rFactor has remained in stasis for several months; pushing out tiny fragments of objectively high quality downloadable content for the small group of users who still use the title as their sim of choice. Not quite a massive step for the overall sim racing landscape, but still a worthy addition to the library of any hardcore virtual racer, Automobilista was designed as a stop-gap title for Reiza Studios’ 2017 project – which we suspiciously haven’t heard anything about in recent memory – but that’s not the point of today’s article.

Over the past week, Reiza have dropped the green flag on a mammoth hotlap competition intended to bring the entire userbase together for the ultimate display in leaderboard dick-waving, putting up a fairly decent sim rig as a grand prize for accumulating points throughout twelve different weekly time trial challenges, which will obviously span a period of about three months total. The first combination Automobilista owners can try their hand at, the 2015 Stock Car Brazil Series at Velopark, reportedly boasts over five hundred unique entrants, indicating there’s a pretty solid core group of sim racers hanging around to see what Reiza Studios will churn out next.

However, upon actually examining the fine details of this competition, it seems Reiza Studios didn’t put all that much thought into what constitutes as a fair, competitive environment – or take special precautions prior to the start of the competition. Automated setup sharing has been built into Automobilista by default as a tool to ease newcomers into the world of sim racing, meaning that the setup of any individual who registers a lap has their configuration automatically uploaded into an online database, and those hitting the track for the very first time can merely highlight the name of a user, click Fetch Setup, and be given the keys to a car several seconds faster than their own. Now it’s really not a bad idea in theory, especially as the default setups for any car across a variety of games are sometimes just random numbers between the minimum and maximum value – thus creating a car that handles like dog shit – but the problem is that Reiza forgot to disable this functionality before the competition kicked off.

Because every car in sim racing is 100% equal by default, setups play a much larger role in determining the victor of any given competition than they do in real life auto racing. While major sims like Forza Motorsport and iRacing both have external setup marketplaces, neither piece of software allows you to explicitly click a drivers’ name and import their setup for this very reason; whereas real world car setups are just part of the equation to being successful out on the race track, a sim racer’s car setup is basically their whole goddamn playbook, and with sims not being totally accurate, sometimes their setup includes exploits that only they have found.

As a result, participants are discovering the hard way that all of their work and research can be stolen by their rivals at a moments notice, and with a decent prize on the line, several can be seen on the official Reiza forums demanding the developer to disable the function for the contest. Others are explicitly not turning a lap until the closing moments of the seventh day, giving other sim racers little chance to become acquainted with their setup and turn a quicker lap.

It’s pretty bizarre that a hardcore sim developer would not understand the importance of keeping car setups private during an intense, twelve-week online competition in which prizes are awarded. Part of the fun of being a sim racer participating in a serious league is sitting down in front of a PC, reading about how cars work, and applying that knowledge in your simulator of choice to gain a few positions on track, whether it be outsmarting your opponents on strategy or blowing by them with raw speed. Reiza have essentially nullified this entire process, with the vast majority of participants now sitting around waiting for “one of the fast guys” to register a time,” and in some cases beating the quicker entrants with their own setups – which the creator didn’t want shared in the first place.

It’s certainly not a good way to begin the championship, that’s for sure.

But with the setups of top leaderboard drivers now floating around in the wild for all to see, the physics flaws and general shortcomings of Automobilista have now been exposed as well. Though the Stock Car V8 was constructed by Dallara to be a low-cost, heavier, ultra-durable DTM knockoff, a sort of hybrid between a NASCAR Xfinity Series entry and a 2010 German Touring Car, the setups being used at the top of the leaderboard are nothing short of nonsensical from a realism standpoint. Sim racers are setting up these lumbering tanks created for wealthy Brazilian auto racers to be ultra twitchy death traps that loop themselves over the slightest of bumps and elevation changes, mashing the restart key over and over just to complete a clean lap. With no fuel consumption or tire wear enabled, sim racers are hitting the track with a single liter of fuel in the tank and working the two-foot magic save hax garbage to turn laps in a caricature of a Brazilian stock car – which sort of defeats the entire purpose of a hardcore simulator.

To make matters worse, Motorsport.com reports the 2016 Stock Car Brazil pole at Velopark set by Caca Bueno was a blistering 54.172, yet this would put him almost three seconds off pace the current #1 time in Automobilista of a 51.8. I understand that the locations aren’t laser-scanned, but Reiza’s tracks are fantastic works of art regardless, and a difference of three seconds in qualifying trim between the best driver in the history of the Stock Car Brazil series, versus the top twenty five sim racers – some of which have probably never driven the car before this week – is something that should be looked into.

Next week, the Reiza community challenge will take the early 2000’s Formula One car to Suzuka, which may see this problem magnified thanks to the increased complexity of setup building for open wheel race cars.

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An Insight Into the Development of Project CARS 2

So with a whole bunch of people starting to climb aboard the hype train, and all major sim racing outlets beginning to cover Project CARS 2 quite heavily, I guess it’s only fair that a guy on the company payroll who has suspiciously not talked a whole lot about the simulator after aggressively ripping on the first iteration throws his own two cents into the mix as well. I don’t care for scrutinizing recent car and track announcements because my point of view is clearly warped; I can boot up the game and look at everything that both has and hasn’t been announced yet at my own free will, so instead I’d like to go in a different route for today’s entry.

It’s still weird to say given how the previous two years have played out, but I am a contract worker for Slightly Mad Studios and I’m paid to rip apart Project CARS 2 behind the scenes. I was able to quit my job at a very prominent rental car company, so it’s safe to say this venture is funding more than just excessive amounts of Ultimate Team packs for NHL or Madden. Now a lot of our readers have been pelting the comments sections of every single article on here with accusations that I’m paid to rip on the competition and/or keep quiet about the development of Project CARS 2 on PRC, so instead of arguing with these anonymous sim racers time and time again, article after article, the easiest thing to do is just be open about what’s going on behind the scenes and do an article about how the development of Project CARS 2 is coming along – or at least, how I specifically have contributed to the game.

Because, you know, that’s what I am paid for. Slamming various simulators and praising obscure console games from a decade ago is something I’ve done independently since 2013 when I wrote for RaceDepartment and VirtualR; claiming this rhetoric only exists because of the requests of a single company is just silly. Come on guys, you can do better.

There are things Project CARS 2 does objectively well over its predecessor and it’s why I made the decision to be involved with the game. The absurdly complicated force feedback menu has been completely eradicated; it’s just one main initial “style” of feedback followed by four adjustment sliders like a guitar amp – and I expect that to be simplified even further. The menus have been totally changed, now resembling the art style of a modern EA Sports product, while the heads up display has been completely re-designed from the ground up to be more TV-broadcast looking, incorporating the highly-appreciated iRacing delta bar into the default configuration. There’s also a tangible art theme to the whole thing as opposed to floating grey semi-transparent boxes that dominated the previous offering.

And in my 54 hours of gameplay, not once has my car sunk into the ground or exploded three hundred feet into the air like the viral videos from the original Project CARS have showcased. I will undoubtedly be called a shill, viral marketer, whatever, for merely suggesting that this game has improved in certain aspects, but these are the 100% definite elements of the game where you would have to be psychologically crippled to argue there has been no improvement.

As I said above, I don’t care for going over specifics in the vehicle roster or location selection; licensing agreements will see the content featured in Project CARS 2 announced over a period of several months. What I can say is that no major brand has been left out (which many have already figured out from the few trailers released), and the track selection will allow online leagues to run two or three seasons without treading through familiar territory. It’s very much like rFactor 2 in terms of content, but in an alternate timeline where Studio 397 have an enormous budget and an average score in the 80’s from all major gaming sites that allow them to negotiate with basically whatever brands and tracks they want. I don’t care for the Mercedes Benz ice circuit, nor the rallycross stuff that was recently announced considering most will buy DiRT 4 for their rallycross fix, but I can confirm that you’re allowed to slap dirt tires on any vehicle in the game, and there are a few street legal cars that are a blast in this toss-up format, which is something DiRT 4 doesn’t offer.

Alright, that’s the boring stuff out of the way.

There were initially plans to not include the Formula A car in Project CARS 2, which for those who haven’t messed around with the previous game, it was a generic top level open wheel racer inspired by 2011 Formula One regulations, kind of like what Reiza do with Stock Car Extreme or Automobilista. Straight up, I contacted Ian Bell directly and asked “where is this car?” Honestly, I don’t care for Formula One, and every time I’ve tried to give the series a chance, I’ve either fallen asleep or been left totally underwhelmed by the on-track product, but I understand what F1 means to many sim racers around the world, and heavily pushed for this car to be included in Project CARS 2 even though I personally will never touch it. The car showed up in the next build. You’re welcome.

I think my first week or two was spent on the oval side of things. It’s no secret Slightly Mad Studios are looking to include oval racing in Project CARS 2 after the discipline not making the cut for the original game, but after my first shakedown of the content, I realized a lot of the guys in charge of the artificial intelligence were probably from Europe and just didn’t get how this type of racing works because I wasn’t very impressed with what I saw. Every other day, I would jump on to WMD, and write a somewhat lengthy post breaking down how drivers would approach each individual oval featured in Project CARS 2, where the AI should run, what kind of alternate lines they should take to either attack or conserve tires, and the mentality behind drafting – because it’s not just “follow the car in front.” It’s pretty challenging to describe to guys who have never watched a single NASCAR race in their lives how pack racing dynamics work at Daytona, but I think I did an alright job.

There’s also an oval on the roster that hasn’t seen competition since the 1960’s, so Sev and myself had to fire up a private online session and run laps against each other to understand what drivers would have been doing back then, and of course  then go on the forums and say “this is where you hold position, this is where you launch an attack, this is the spot on the track where you MUST fall back into line or else you die, and this is the line you run in the corner for maximum speed on corner exit to get a run on the guy in front…”  I found the process enjoyable because writing in a constructive fashion is a huge change of pace from being an asshole on PRC, and you have to employ a much different vocabulary to get the same point across. It kind of made me understand why musicians will start up side-projects; it diversifies their skill set.

People are going to throw tantrums if I talk about physics or the game’s tire model, so be warned that what I’m about to write is what you may or may not want to hear. The cars that have received a lot of attention in Project CARS 2, specifically the GT3 and GTE stuff, drive very much like the URD EGT payware cars in rFactor 2, so if you enjoy those cars to any extent, there’ll be at least two classes of cars that’ll be of use to you in Project CARS 2. I thought this was a meme at first when I read somebody’s impressions on the Sector 3 forums comparing it to rFactor 2, and then again when Sev told us on Teamspeak, but once I got behind the wheel myself, yeah, this is pretty much what Project CARS 2 feels like. I don’t care to sit here and throw buzzwords at you guys, so just go take some laps in the URD cars and that’s what you can expect from Project CARS 2.

Yet not every car is up to this level of competence, but I guess that’s to be expected from a game still heavily in development. A few weeks ago I was tasked with testing a specific class of car that I’m super excited to see in the game (good versions of these cars are impossible to find even in rFactor), and discovered in my shakedown sessions that the default setup warranted lap times several seconds faster than the real life pole time. So after finding this and reporting it, there were a few days where I’d sign on, run laps, post lap times in the appropriate thread, wait for an update to the cars, then do it all over again. We’re much closer to real world performance figures now than we were when I first started running shakedown laps in the class, so I’m glad I took the time to run those cars hard for a few days. On the plus side, one of the cars crashed spectacularly on me in the same manner it had crashed in real life, so that was confirmation the aero numbers were correct. I think y’all can figure out which car I’m talking about here.

Recently we did a weekend-long hot lap competition with a car I’m not too familiar with in terms of setup or driving, and in my quest to dick-wave on the leaderboards discovered a couple exploits and oddities within the setup screen that would have been just as bad as the camber exploit discovered in the first game had they made it into the build that’ll be released on store shelves. I’m still kicking myself for finishing second overall (or was it third?), but the key thing is that a fix is inbound, long before launch, and real-world setup knowledge will be beneficial to your car’s performance – as it should be in a simulator.

Starting today, I’ve turned my attention to a class that has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, and managed to catch some interesting tire heating stuff that had a really adverse effect on the handling of these cars. There will be an insane amount of leagues using this class and I’m doing my best to ensure Slightly Mad Studios get these cars as close to perfect as possible.

I could obviously go into much greater detail, but this is just a little bit of insight as to how PRC is helping out with Project CARS 2. I’m not here to instruct you to buy the game, but with everybody else publishing stuff on the list of features, the cars and tracks that have currently been announced, as well as regurgitating some of the marketing pieces released by Slightly Mad Studios themselves, I’d much rather throw everybody a curveball and do a completely different approach on the subject matter so it’s something unique to read. The game is coming along well, and it’s enough of a genuine improvement over the first release in the series that I don’t feel bad attaching my name & website to it in some fashion.

Knocking the Little Guy. Again.

The forthcoming comments will either erupt into furious hate at bashing an indie developer, or applaud someone for having the balls to say it when the majority of sim racers feel the need to cement themselves in politically correct feedback at all possible times, but I simply can’t deny what’s being presented in the above footage. gRally, the independent rally simulator developed by a passionate portion of the Richard Burns Rally modding community as a means to establish a new, updated platform for their virtual off-roading needs, is a project I’m sick of hearing about. New beta footage depicting the title in action, uploaded by YouTube personality George Bratsos, presents an extremely laughable game to the general public; a game which has spent over five years behind closed doors, teased by major sim racing news outlets on a routine basis despite very little to captivate sim racers into caring about the title.

This is not a game people will want to play by any stretch of the imagination.

I’ve written quite aggressively in the past about gRally, and that tone will certainly not change here. The footage, quite frankly, speaks for itself, and in a time where DiRT 4 is only months away from release, promising a near-infinite number of stages and a major developer team working to make the package as flashy, as engaging, and as realistic as possible to accommodate every type of rally racing fan roaming the earth, there is absolutely no longer any use for gRally’s existence. Relying on hilariously bad bloom effects to mask visuals that are now several generations behind schedule, coupled with physics that place it firmly in the iPhone-exclusive category of mobile games, I am genuinely surprised the project hasn’t been outright canned.

In fact, there would be no shame in doing so. Though the title recently made it through the Steam Greenlight process, and all original content creators appear to have given the developers of gRally the thumbs up to use their creations in a commercial video game, this does not change the fact that gRally shamelessly recycles third party rFactor mod content because the team themselves have so little of their own work to insert into the game. The bland, barren power stage on exhibition in George Bratsos’ video linked at the top of the post will make sim racers think gRally is a bad joke by a team suffering from mass delusions of grandeur upon the title’s release, but things will undoubtedly be kicked into overdrive when sim racers discover the Mount Akagi they downloaded for free in rFactor many years ago, will be something they’ll have to pay for in an inferior simulator.

Unfortunately it appears the few outlets covering the game also appear to share in these same delusions of grandeur, as Come Over Gaming state that while major elements of the physics engine need significant refining – probably not a good sign for a game that was first announced in 2011 – the graphics are supposedly “great” – even as their own footage clearly showcases a piece of software that would be eclipsed visually by Dreamcast racers such as V-Rally 2 and CART: Flag to Flag.

It’s a project that I feel needs to be put down if the creators are to retain any sense of credibility moving forward. For a game to be in development for such a significant portion of time, only to manifest itself in a way that can’t hold a candle to software on vastly inferior hardware, the sole word to describe gRally is an ugly term typically used for Nintendo Wii games your grandmother purchases for you at Christmas: shovelware.

I’m certainly left wondering how the project got to this point in its lifespan; it’s one thing to build a little indie game and sell it on Steam for $4.99 within a year or two, but gRally has been floating around the sim racing community for the better part of a decade, promised as a spiritual successor to Richard Burns Rally that relied on third party content creators to flesh the software out into something special. Instead, we’ve been treated to little more than an elaborate Unity demo exhibiting basic car physics any game from the early PlayStation 2 days could muster in their sleep, and appalling graphics that look as if someone is trying to play Assetto Corsa on a computer that doesn’t meet the minimum system requirements.

At what point do you call it a day and scrap the project? How long will the gRally team continue to parade around their work when it is so blatantly out-dated and underwhelming? This is most definitely not the rally simulator initial previews hinted at, so why continue perpetuating the farce? In my opinion, the correct call, at least in this instance, is to outright cancel the game; any other option is just complete and utter delusion.

Josh Martin Closes Website, Issues Apology Amidst Allegations of Fraud

My, how things can change in a week. What was once deemed to be fake news by the man at the center of the story himself has now evolved into a full-on admission of guilt, with the sim racing community reportedly consuming record amounts of popcorn as the story has developed in an increasingly bizarre fashion with each passing day. Partaking in an impressive multi-year exercise in fraudulent activity, Scottish sim racer Josh Martin promoted himself to the outside world as a prominent eSports superstar in a quest to attain sponsorship from major sim hardware companies, public appearances at gaming conventions, multiple interviews with the British Broadcasting Corporation, and even claimed to have landed multiple drives with real life team owners due to his sim racing prowess – but upon conducting a proper background check, we here at PRC learned he was little more than an elaborate bullshit artist. Every single aspect of his eSports persona, including his official-looking website that implied he was on the path to being the next Jann Mardenborough or Lucas Ordonez, were extremely liberal interpretations of the truth, if not outright lies.

The world records were bogus accolades in which he was the only participant. Support from Caterham’s Formula One team was merely them responding politely to a piece of fan mail Josh had sent. The eSports championships he had claimed to win in abundance were instead private sessions of Formula One 2013 he’d won against his mates, and the car he’d announced he would be driving in several different news articles had instead been placed up for sale – the team owners dragged into unknowingly marketing a fraudster from a community they didn’t quite understand or care to learn about.

Though ProRace UK’s own Craig Harper took to the comments section of PRC last week to aggressively defend the team’s new eSports Ambassador, labeling those with genuine questions about Josh’s fraudulent-like backstory as “haters” and “trolls”, those same “haters” and “trolls” were proven to be correct in their analysis of the situation, as Josh Martin removed virtually everything off his personal website and issued a public apology for his behavior, which you can read in full by CLICKING HERE.

Refusing to drop the role-playing element of his fictionalized sim racing career, Martin’s piece reads as if it were a professional PR response, angering users on Reddit even further by appearing to provide “justification for willingly misleading people” rather than a genuine apology, at least according to a user under the name of 1Operator. The sim racer in question goes on to state “this does not sound to me like someone who is sorry for what they’ve done, but instead just sorry they got caught/exposed.” I agree with his analysis, as the careful wording of his apology, plus my own investigation into the story of Josh Martin’s fabricated sim racing career uncovered such widespread deception and dishonesty over a period of several years that were in some cases aided by his teammates and online friends, there is simply no way the guy woke up one day and had a sudden change of heart.

In fact, when Josh’s public apology had been linked to certain groups on Facebook, teammates of Josh’s arrived to attack other users and discredit the expose him again, even though Josh himself had already admitted the article’s we’d written about him were truthful, removed all content from his website, and issued some kind of public apology for his actions. This clearly displays that this magical adventure was not the work of a delusional sim racer completely detached from reality, but a group of sim racers working in tandem to benefit from fraudulent behavior.

As the story has spread like wildfire throughout the sim racing community, we have learned even more about Josh Martin’s antics, some of which remained private knowledge until today. A former league member claims Josh had promised them TV time on the European auto racing network MotorsTV that never materialized due to MotorsTV already having a contract in place to televise iRacing events (not to mention the Emails he used as “proof” being doctored), while another told a story of Martin offering paid private training and setup building sessions to drivers who were faster than him. A third, the man who designed Josh’s team logo, contacted me on Twitter to say that Josh merely took a conceptual design, promised “income and exposure” from his sponsors, and ran without paying him.

An anonymous reader of PRC has also discovered that the entry level BMW race car Josh had posed with in November of 2016 had been listed for sale as early as October of 2016, indicating that both Josh Martin and ProRace UK’s Craig Harper knew that contrary to the media frenzy and multiple BBC interviews discussing his transition to real racing, Josh would not be driving the car in 2017, but continued to publicize the endeavor anyway for a period of several months, intentionally misleading potential sponsors and sim racers interested in the story.

Though it is unlikely Josh acquired sponsors through his relentless self-promotion with ProRace UK, any sponsors who did financially contribute to Josh’s real-world racing career after being persuaded by the promotional campaign now have a pretty open and shut legal case. The classifieds page claims ProRace UK had been forced to sell the car due to a driver situation, and also reduced the price of the vehicle due to the HMRC bill. The articles about Josh hadn’t even been written yet, hell the promotional pictures might not have even been taken, and they already knew they weren’t going to be racing the car, but then they went ahead and embarked on a massive media tour anyway knowing it was a sham, dragging the sim racing community through the mud in the process.

Maybe the European auto racing climate is different than here in North America, but this is the kind of shit that gets you laughed out of an entire racing community over here.

Lastly, one of Josh’s female acquaintances – presumably his girlfriend, but I’m not quite sure – has arrived on PRC to defend Josh even though the same public apology we’ve linked to on Reddit has also been posted on his respective Facebook pages. Posting under the name of Alexis Summers, the Scottish girl can be seen aggressively lashing out at our articles exposing Josh as an elaborate sim racing fraud, a bizarre move considering he has already admitted the articles were factual and taken down his website in response. However, coupled with the behavior of his teammates displayed above, I am under the impression that the public apology was a cold, calculated move to appease the larger sim racing community, while in private a much different story has been told to his friends, family, and sim racing teammates – one which portrays him as the victim.

Though his website has been almost completely erased and a public apology issued on several different social media platforms, Martin is still scheduled to appear at a video game convention taking place this July in Aberdeen, operating under the name of 4TheGamers Game Con 2017. Given the drastic difference between Josh’s personal stance on the allegations of fraud among his family, friends, and sim racing teammates, versus his public wishes to disappear from the spotlight for a period of time and re-emerge as a “true talent”, it remains to be seen whether Josh will attend this convention as originally planned, or responsibly back out of the event himself.

One of the most bizarre, hilarious, and confusing stories ever to manifest in the world of sim racing, the saga of Josh Martin has been nothing short of a wild ride. Knowing what kind of people naturally flock to sim racing, it’s not a stretch to imagine some sim racers may be overly delusional in their accomplishments or see the hobby as an extension of a career they were unable to pursue away from the keyboard, but Josh Martin’s multi-year trip spent angering league after league and community member after community member while convincing international news agencies he was an eSports phenom is no doubt the stuff of legends. Crafting an intricate web of lies dating back to a time when Codemasters’ Formula One 2013 was a brand new, $60 product you could purchase from Wal-Mart or Best Buy, Martin’s inexplicable mix of delusion, deceit, dishonesty, and brainwashed followers will remain unmatched for years, if not decades.

Knowing how long he was able to remain undetected – those with genuine questions relentlessly attacked by his online teammates and various acquaintances who were no doubt instructed to provide false anecdotal evidence in support of his character – we may never know the full extent of the damage he has done to the sim racing community. Thankfully, we can at least say that period has now come to a conclusion.

I’d Rather Play DriveClub than Gran Turismo Sport

A few more days, a few more laps, and a few more sessions of play have pretty much cemented how I feel about Gran Turismo Sport – or at least the beta, if I’m to add that important disclosure to the beginning of the article. Jumping into the closed trial period relatively late in the ballgame compared to most PlayStation 4 owners who signed up for beta codes, I was excited to see Polyphony’s take on iRacing’s established variant of online racing, one which brought structured competition and scheduled event start times to a franchise that has traditionally been all about just sort of firing up the software and fucking around for a few hours within a giant automotive sandbox. There were no lunar rovers, no coffee breaks, nor classic Gran Turismo locales such as Trial Mountain or the High Speed Ring to be found in the closed beta for Gran Turismo Sport, only nine short sprint races per evening spread evenly across three classes.

As I wrote in my original post on Gran Turismo Sport, I liked the premise of what Polyphony were doing from a design standpoint. The franchise desperately needed to evolve in a way that was fresh and exciting, as the series had been eclipsed by everything from Forza Motorsport to select Need for Speed titles in recent years, becoming a shadow of its former self by regurgitating old PlayStation 2-era car models and uninspiring events against dim-witted artificial intelligence. Moving into iRacing’s territory seemed like the right call on paper, as the market has been desperate for a competitor to what the hardcore PC sim offers for a number of years now, but my first night with the game – as Shaun Cole from The SimPit would say – just wasn’t a great shared experience.

While I had fun turning clean laps and acquiring sportsmanship points to progress quickly through the ranks, brushing aside the very GT-like oddities such as the inability to adjust the cockpit camera’s field of view, my competitors struggled to keep their vehicles pointed in the right direction, the software doing little to retain their interest. For every sim racer like me who was stoked to have a rival to iRacing on the market, fully buying into the experience Polyphony had crafted, there were twenty Gran Turismo fans throwing their DualShocks in agony as they blasted into a sand trap. GT Sport is only fun if you’re good at Gran Turismo, and not many people are what you’d call good at Gran Turismo. For them, it is a sandbox, not a worldwide competition, and no longer does the game allow them to play it like one.

But the point of this follow-up article isn’t to merely re-review the closed beta of Gran Turismo Sport, because that would be extremely boring for our readers to have what’s basically the same discussion all over again. Instead, I come to you guys as a warning of sorts. As a simulator, at least in its current state, Gran Turismo Sport is embarrassingly bad, and is actually eclipsed by an arcade racer when it comes to vehicle dynamics. Obviously they still have a fair bit of time to get it right – I believe the April 20th release date rumor is a hoax – but for how big both Gran Turismo and Polyphony are, and how much notoriety the franchise has earned over the past decade and a half, not to mention the near-limitless resources fueling the project which the dev team have access to, Gran Turismo Sport drives like absolute shit. In about three days of casual play I was able to climb the ranks from entry-level racer to competing in top split events, the game’s highest seeded online lobbies for each scheduled race session, and the way you need to drive the cars at the limit is nonsensical.

In fact, Driveclub does it better. Yes, a racing game that was originally intended to be a launch title for the PlayStation 4 before being subjected to numerous delays and eventually released unfinished and supported by an entire second game’s worth of downloadable content, drives much more predictably than The Real Driving Simulator.

Above is a clip taken from my own personal YouTube account of what at the time was a world record run for the Mercedes AMG GT3 at Salar De Surire in Driveclub. Though the force feedback in Driveclub is horrendous, and there’s actually a glitch of sorts in which the game doesn’t properly save your FFB percentage as configured in the options menu – meaning you have to flick the toggle back and forth to the desired level every time you start the application for it to register – what Driveclub gets right is in how it handles a rough approximation of basic race car physics. On corner entry, you can see me flaring the rear end to get the car to rotate a bit better, whereas other corners I merely power through the understeer, and at the twenty second mark, I lean on the sidewall quite hard for the treacherous hairpin that defines the first half of the track, still accelerating in third gear while maintaining a bit of slip angle at corner exit. I’m almost full throttle, but you can tell there’s a bit of hesitation, and see the nose wiggle a few times while I’m counter steering – that’s because for being an arcade game, Driveclub’s tires still feel like they’re made of rubber, and you have to drive in a manner that’s somewhat realistic.

Another clip from my account, this time at the Port of Vancouver circuit that was added as downloadable content, displays that while Driveclub clearly has some sort of semi-canned drift effect built into the software that allows you to execute long slides for skill points, keeping the car below that canned drift effect still generates pretty reasonable behavior. In the tracks’ final hairpin which begins at thirty two seconds into the clip, you can see the car wiggle a whole bunch on corner exit – again exhibiting a bit of slip while I counter steer and put the power down. It’s a handful to deal with and a bit tricky to figure out at first without the car launching into a full-on slide, but as a driver you can feel Evolution Studios built some kind of half-competent tire model into Driveclub that lets you free the car up in a corner and get up on the sidewalls, or at least hold a slip angle on corner exit.

The point I’m trying to make, is that Driveclub, while an arcade game from start to finish, has some semblance of a simulator. You can actually rotate the rear end as you would in a simulator for better turn-in, and power through with the ass end of the car wiggling about. Not only is it great fun to have real world driving skills apply in what’s supposed to be a lighthearted romp in exotic locations, this is how you set world records and other miscellaneous top times in Driveclub. Who would have thought that driving in a realistic fashion, in an arcade game, would be the fastest way around the track? Sure, you can hammer the downshift paddle and camp out on the sidewalls for massive bends, but when you’re doing it, the inputs required, and how the car reacts to corrections, makes sense.

On the flip side, Gran Turismo Sport does not exhibit any of this behavior. The Group N300 street cars offered in the game, which as of this writing are mostly AWD or FWD sedans judging by the lineups I’ve competed against, all exhibit varying levels of understeer because that’s what all AWD or FWD cars do by nature in real life, so the problems of the tire model Gran Turismo Sport relies upon don’t really come to light. However, as you progress up the ladder, the cars everyone will be striving to purchase and compete in once the game hits store shelves, are basically nonsensical.

I’ve been driving the GT4 Hyundai Genesis for all of my time in GT Sport’s Group 4 class, and posted a top ten qualifying time at the Nordschleife – though I was admittedly dusted by guys using the all-wheel drive Nissan’s (Earth to Polyphony, you have balance issues). I found it impossible to free the car up; you were either neutral or suffered from varying levels of understeer, and the car felt as if it had the weight of a fullsize truck. GT4 cars in real life are somewhat nimble, but for the life of me I just couldn’t get the car to rotate properly around corners. There was no sidewall, no rubber flex, or anything that felt like weight was shifting to the outside portion of the car as I’d go around a corner. You drove in a way that was very much like a hovercraft; you’d slow to a rate of speed that would not generate any type of understeer, and retained that speed until the corner opened up. It made hitting lines very easy, but also caused the driving experience to feel stiff and lifeless. I didn’t know how to beat people off corners or ask for that extra 10% from the car.

When I did try to stretch the rear tires to their limit of adhesion, the car would literally snap in a debilitating death slide that would instantly cause me to lose all of my forward progress, therefore rendering that driving style useless. Whereas I could get up on the sidewall in Driveclub and power off of a corner in pursuit of a tenth or another car, Gran Turismo Sport flicked a switch and sent the car dead sideways. It is impossible to hold a slip angle, impossible to power out of a corner, impossible to lean on the sidewalls, and in general asking far too much from the tire model to drive Gran Turismo Sport as you would any other simulator, or a real car.

Transitioning to the GT3 class at Willow Springs magnified this problem exponentially, with the race above highlighting just how prominent the tire model woes are among the best drivers the game has to offer. The second sector at Willow Springs sees you race to the top of the hill before embarking on a journey to the lowest point of the property, and in other simulators this track is genuinely a lot of fun because it’s basically a roller coaster where you gain tons of speed from the elevation changes. Yet in GT Sport, merely breathing on the throttle at 100 km/h in third gear would send your car into a death slide, and as you explore the three heat videos I’ve uploaded from Willow Springs, my front windshield is full of guys jumping sideways either at the center of the corner, or at corner exit. This is not what GT3 cars do by any stretch of the imagination.

There is no sidewall flex, no lateral grip, and no slip angles to be held whatsoever; you’re basically driving on plastic Hot Wheels tires. Hell, this one guy in front of me is fucking sideways at 180 km/h over a gentle crest, and if you look closely at my steering inputs (the white dot is the center point, the red dot is steering), I’m sideways too. These cars generate almost three thousand pounds of downforce and are designed with rich amateur drivers in mind, yet Gran Turismo believes that they will try to kill you at 180 km/h in a wide open corner.

The biggest problem for Polyphony to sort out prior to the launch of Gran Turismo Sport, is implementing a tire model that actually makes sense to drive. Yes, while many Gran Turismo fans will be put off by the sudden change in priorities that force them to become amateur eSports competitors whether they like it or not, people will stick around if the driving experience is fun, intuitive, and something they can master with practice. Currently, it is not – the most prolific name in the history of sim racing have a physics team who currently believe sticky rubber slicks generate the same handling characteristics as a children’s die-cast car.

As a result, Gran Turismo Sport is absolutely brutal to drive, and has been out-done by an arcade game that almost didn’t come out at all. Polyphony need to get their shit together if they want Gran Turismo Sport to succeed, or even partially live up to the tagline of the franchise as the real driving simulator. Last time I checked, Vadim Kogay embarrassed himself at Monza because he had poor racecraft, not because his Ferrari 458 Italia jumped sideways when he did so much as breathe on the throttle pedal at 180 clicks.