Reader Submission #94 – Attack of the Liveries

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The reception to Race Room Racing Experience’s newest piece of premium content, the 2015 ADAC GT Masters pack, hasn’t resonated with avid R3E players to the extent Sector 3 was hoping. Bringing a collection of around 20 liveries to existing GT3 entries, and just one new car – the pigfag Bentley Continental – fans of Sector 3’s most prominent simulator have put their foot down and became very vocal about the lack of value in the latest pack. Dane R. has sent in a Reader Submission to us, outlining the situation currently transpiring on the Swedish developer’s forums.


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Greetings, PRC.

Sector 3 has done it again – it’s the fourth time in a single month that they’ve published new content for R3E. But this time, it’s a pack featuring cars from last years ADAC GT Masters season. In contrast to the previous releases, such as the Nordschleife or the GTO Class update, which both received quite positive feedback, this time Sector 3 was forced to deal with a lot of valid criticism. It’s not that difficult to notice the new pack contains almost no innovations in comparison to the 2014 offering. The only new car is the Bentley Continental GT3, that isn’t really that new because it was already shown weeks ago when previewing the Nordschleife. Nevertheless almost all promotional screenshots show the Bentley, and also in the related trailer the car is omnipresent. It masks the fact that there isn’t much else in the pack to justify the purchase.

But the lack of new content was only one part of the overall criticism. People were unhappy about the developers’ decision to not bring out a complete Experience Pack as they’ve been doing for previous seasons. The negative consequences of this means you are not able to play the entire season with the original alignment, fancy menus, and other little gimmicks. Playing the 2014 ADAC GT Masters expansion pack, you had a special double race format with a driver swap after half of the race. Now, I get that some people might think this feature isn’t all that important, bit in your opinion, you can create a custom championship as you have all the tracks.

But then I have to ask myself: Why should I buy this car pack? The generic GT3 class in RaceRoom contains much more cars, and especially liveries. The GT Masters 2015 pack contains only 19 cars, so your maximum field size is smaller by default if you belong to the group of people who think driving against two #21 Zakspeed SLS AMG’s is dumb. Some guy found fault with the fact that the Ford GT is not in the DLC despite racing during the real season. Yes, this car only appeared for one event on the calendar (Hockenheim), but this is also true for the Chevrolet Camaro, and that is featured in the pack. The other Mercedes, which only drove at the Nurburgring, is missing as well. It’s also not understandable to omit some of these one-off cars, because the WTCC 2015 pack contained two drivers who only participated in one weekend as well – Schmitz and Homola.

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As a whole, I don’t understand why RaceRoom needs GT Masters content. Apart from the main game features a very good generic GT3 class, the race series itself is quite unimportant. According to J-F Chardon of Sector 3, Germany is the biggest market for RaceRoom, but the ADAC GT Masters series is relatively unknown. The TV broadcast is on a channel called Sport1, a “sports” channel whose programme consists two thirds of call-in quizzes, home shopping, and soft-core porn. One of the most important German motorsports websites, motorsport-total.com, has stopped reporting on the races. I understand that back in early 2014 it was advantageous for the game to cooperate with a series whose tracks were partially already in-game thanks to the DTM Expansions. But now, two years later? Shouldn’t the game try to move on, or to expand their horizons?


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I’m a huge sucker for liveries, so at some point I’ll probably check out the 2015 ADAC GT Masters pack. I’m pissed that there isn’t a McLaren in the field – because that’s sort of my car – but in my opinion, more liveries is always better. I love having these massive encyclopedias of race cars to pick from, and that probably stems from the old Papyrus stock car games, where it basically turned into virtual die-cast collecting. However, I agree with you that the value of the overall pack is shit, and this is coming from someone with a media account where this content gets injected into my game automatically. It would be extremely difficult to get me to be happy with this purchase had I been playing the role of a common customer.

The stream of ADAC GT Masters content is something I suspect to boil down to a licensing agreement. Typically when companies such as Sector 3 pursue a license for a real-world racing series, it’s a multi-year deal, and part of the contract is to produce content for each season, starting from year X, and ending with year Y. I agree that they could have done more, especially after setting a standard with the 2014 pack and then going backwards, but we’re looking at something that was the product of a business deal.

As for the patchy list of drivers, NASCAR games have traditionally suffered the same fate, and this was extremely noticeable in the EA Sports titles from many years ago. 2004 Nextel Cup contender Jeremy Mayfield was randomly left out of NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup, even though he ended up qualifying for NASCAR’s version of the playoffs that year. Tony Raines, a fan-favorite backmarker was demonstrated in preview footage of NASCAR Thunder 2004, but was not present in the final game. And have you ever seen screenshots of NASCAR 09? EA Sports couldn’t even get the rights to each individual car manufacturer that year. This is not photoshop, or a leaked preview early on in the game’s development cycle: a NASCAR game really did ship without Dodge/Chevy/Ford/Toyota adorning the cars. This kind of shit is a licensing thing.

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It’s all business. I’m sure Sector 3 is aware players are unhappy – these guys don’t operate in a manner comparable to Slightly Mad Studios or Kunos, but this is one of those deals where hands have been more or less tied. My biggest personal issue is how the game now includes four sets of identical GT3 cars that aren’t compatible with each other. Your average sim racer can buy the 2015 ADAC GT Masters pack, and essentially still not own a valid GT3 car for online racing unless the host specifically selects that option – which is basically never. I’ve been in online rooms where the qualifying session is four times the length of the race, so good luck getting everybody to sync up their GT3 class filters.

The IMSA GTO Pack

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A title once relegated to the depths of a sim racer’s Steam Library, the team over at Sector 3 Studios have been tirelessly working away to improve their flagship Free to Play simulator in an effort to rejuvenate what was a disastrous initial launch back in 2013. While we’ve neglected to review the game’s most recent update, as well as the laser-scanned Nurburgring Nordschleife which earned the highest of praise from many virtual drivers around the world, we can’t exactly ignore the newest addition to the game – the IMSA GTO bundle. Light on content but heavy on boost, the Audi Quattro, Nissan 300ZX, and Ford Mustang clearly display the fine craftsmanship sim racers have come to expect from Sector 3, however there are still a few aspects of this purchase you’ll need to be aware of.

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I didn’t get to try these cars until a few days after launch, as I had been busy rolling around town with a fellow sim racer, so the only preview of these vehicles I received beforehand was from the InsideSimRacing demonstration video featuring Sprint Car driver Billy Strange behind the wheel. As he struggled to put the power to the ground in a controlled manner, corner after corner, the impression I received was one of frustration and dismay – Strange couldn’t keep the car in a straight line on corner exit because the turbo boost would basically try and kill him. Going into my time spent with the three cars tonight, I expected to be met with a similar fate; the cars would be too powerful, I’d struggle to get around the track, and limp around wondering how the IMSA drivers of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s drove these beasts at locations such as Long Beach.

Instead, I bring only good news – if you see someone struggling with these cars, they’ve either neglected to touch the setup at all, or they’re just really bad and shouldn’t be talking about these cars to begin with. Yes, these engines send an absolutely insane amount of power to the rear wheels, and it can get kind of hectic on corner exit. I won’t deny that. However, you can dial this out almost completely in the garage menu with a super stiff front anti-roll bar setting, and a super soft rear anti-roll bar value. Pretty much everything else from our universal R3E tuning guide applies to these cars as well. The end result is a car that drives like a cross between a McLaren Mp4-12C GT3 entry, and a V8 Supercar. They’re a couple seconds slower than a GT3 car, and there’s just a teeny bit more concentration required in regards to throttle management, but they sound cool as fuck, and aren’t as difficult as the engine specifications make them out to be.

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Ford Mustang
Laguna Seca – 1:24.014

The slowest of the bunch is the Ford Mustang, a car I initially took to Mid-Ohio before messing around with at Laguna Seca. In terms of cockpit visibility, the Mustang is the best choice for newcomers, as you’ve got this massive cabin with no intrusive roll cage elements or windshield banners. Messing with the anti-roll bars to ensure a neutral-handling ride, it felt like I was driving a V8 Supercar that had lightning-quick acceleration. However, unlike a V8 Supercar, and something that’s been magnified by the changes to R3E’s physics over the past few months, if you’re wrong on the timing of your braking and throttle points, you’ll basically understeer off the track. There isn’t as much mechanical grip compared to what you’d find in modern race cars. I prefer the feel of this one the best, it’s just… slow…

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Nissan 300ZX
Norisring – 50.315

The Nissan 300ZX sits in the middle of the field, a vehicle that has fallen prey to the minimum downforce exploit which plagued GT3 cars in the previous build of Race Room Racing Experience. Even when you drop the rear wing setting to the minimum value, the car’s handling isn’t affected at all, and you’re instantly gifted a free 17 km/h. The cockpit view is extremely restricted thanks to the rising hood and massive windshield banner, but if you can configure your shit in a way where you can see out the slit of a front windshield, this car is no more difficult than a front engine GT3 entry. The turbo lag is minimal, and although the brakes are definitely from the 1980’s, if you’re going to buy this pack, start here.

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Audi 90 Quattro
Mid Ohio – 1:23.061

Of course, the Audi 90 Quattro eventually comes along and breaks the whole goddamn game. This car dominated the real world IMSA GTO series, so obviously it’s realistic to be decimating current leaderboard times by almost a full second, but I genuinely wonder how competitive rooms will play out once the IMSA pack gains traction, as this car is basically in a league of it’s own. Driving the Quattro requires a much different approach to each track’s unique driving line, as the four-wheel-drive system exhibits simultaneous oversteer and understeer characteristics. You can throw the car into a corner like a genuine idiot who’s being silly with braking points, roll on the throttle to kick the back end out ever so slightly, and then mash the accelerator to the floor to generate understeer as if you’re in a touring car. In short, if you get loose under power on corner exit, the solution is to apply more power.

It’s all sorts of fucked up, and you’ll realize just how unbalanced things are about to be online when you look in your mirror and see your previous ghost a full second behind you. When you’ve got your foot to the floor during the majority of the corner, and every other car in the class is forced to feather the throttle, it’s one of those deals where you almost don’t want realism because it’s straight up unfair. I know Sector 3 have attempted to balance the Daytona Prototype with the traditional open-cockpit vehicles in the P2 class, so maybe this is another area where things will be artificially tweaked to prevent the Audi from running away with things.

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Am I happy with these cars? I think it’s tough to answer that. On a personal level, I’ve already found balance issues that are going to severely mess things up online – which means I’ll be running the Audi online whether I want to or not. The poor default setup will also cause some problems, as these cars require a bit of tweaking by feel rather than us throwing a picture of the setup screen at our readers and saying “here’s or magic setup that fixes this car.” So I think the online following for these cars will mirror the Group 5 pack released last year; everyone wants to drive them for a day, realize they can’t handle the turbo lag without being four seconds off pace, and never touch them again.

Personal opinions pushed off to the side, the IMSA GTO pack is definitely a great example of Sector 3’s new development ideology, which is to simply build quality sim racing content and hope people come check it out. If you’ve been satisfied with previous content releases, you’ll probably be satisfied with this one as well.

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Getting Busy Behind the Scenes

For the readers of PRC.net who are able to do more than just bitch and moan about the current crop of modern racing simulators, now is the optimal chance to make use of your many talents! Earlier this afternoon,¬†Detroit’s Image Space Incorporated and Sweden’s Sector 3 Studios have announced that they are hiring several different programmers to begin the Spring of 2016.

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The news comes a bit out of left field, as Sector 3 have been hard at work preparing a massive patch for RaceRoom Racing Experience that includes the long-awaited Nurburgring Nordschleife, and Image Space Incorporated recently pushed out several updates for rFactor 2 that saw a heavy emphasis on accommodating American Stock Car Racing rules and functionality within the critically acclaimed simulator. As a result, I can’t really begin to speculate what’s occurred behind closed doors, as it appears both developers have been relatively busy behind the scenes. Only industry insiders know whether there is some sort of correlation between the two postings going live within mere hours of each other; all we can hope is that someone reaches out to us with more information.

Race2Play Handing Out Free Copies of Race 07 This Week

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Sim Racers looking to add yet another fantastic racing sim to their library are in luck this week, as online racing hub Race2Play has introduced a special promotion which will gift a free copy of SimBin’s Race07 to all new members of the website. While the online racing community residing on the service itself has moved on from Race 07 and into more modern offerings such as rFactor 2, Stock Car Extreme, and Race Room Racing Experience, the classic SimBin title is still a worthy addition to any sim racer’s collection.

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Race2Play as a website functions in a similar manner to the popular structured online racing service of iRacing.com, yet the core experience is centered around many recent isiMotor titles. Statistics and overall driver rankings are tracked in an equally detailed manner, but events happen on a less frequent basis, and users must manually join the private server through the in-game server browser of their preferred title. Despite the lack of popularity compared to iRacing.com, races featuring popular car & track combinations routinely manage to fill the list of available grid slots, and all major PC racing sims are supported. The site offers several tiers of memberships, each with their own unique level of benefits, though there is no financial barrier just to participate in races and have your statistics tracked.

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When Everything Works: The Review of Race 07

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Looking back on the period of time prior to the launch of Project CARS, I think the main reason I personally never bought into the insurmountable hype surrounding Slightly Mad Studios’ crowdfunded racer was because the game did little to distinguish itself from an already established racing sim. Landing on Steam in October of 2007, and seeing a console release on the Xbox 360 in the form of Race Pro, Race 07: The WTCC Game was an extremely competent and polished jack-of-all trades racing sim that succeeded in its attempts to condense all of your sim racing needs into one single experience. Created by the group that spawned the one-two punch of GTR 2 and GT Legends, Race 07 was not only an adequate and affordable introduction into the world of sim racing for curious PC gamers, but a highly detailed and sophisticated hardcore racing simulator that met the needs of die-hard virtual motorsports enthusiasts. Flawlessly integrating multiple layers of accessibility into Race 07 was a stunning accomplishment for SimBin during the very different sim racing landscape of the pre-Obama days, and their near-perfect execution of the title made the Project CARS disaster an even tougher pill to swallow. In theory, video games are supposed to get better as technology improves.

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In reality, the games got worse.

Project CARS was an abysmal attempt to re-make a Race 07-like game for next generation consoles. The lack of any real quality assurance testing forced Slightly Mad Studios to constantly churn out post-release patches in an effort to fix a never-ending list of bugs, glitches, and exploits, turning the once highly anticipated racing sim into the butt of many jokes on various sim racing message boards. Assetto Corsa also tried to improve on the jack-of-all trades recipe that made Race 07 so successful, yet after graduating Steam’s Early Access program fell victim to a misguided development trajectory once Kunos Simulazioni set their sights on the console crowd. Lastly, the team at SimBin went through a restructuring phase and re-branded themselves as Sector 3 studios, yet the forced reliance on micro-transactions by their overlords at RaceRoom stunted the growth of RaceRoom Racing Experience.

Many sim racers bought Race 07. Many sim racers played Race 07. The game indeed enjoyed a successful lifespan, featuring several official expansion packs released by SimBin, a healthy third party modification community, and countless online leagues using the title as a competitive platform. However, after hundreds of hours and obvious advances in gaming technology, sim racers wanted to move on from Race 07. And when they did, games like Project CARS, Assetto Corsa, and RaceRoom Racing Experience served not as ambassadors for the new generation of racing sims, but harsh reminders that the glory days of sim racing are now firmly in the past.

In a disappointing display of how backwards the sim racing genre has become as we enter 2016, Race 07 is still objectively the best racing sim you can purchase for the PC. Boasting a list of features that modern sim developers call customers “losers” and “entitled” for requesting, as well as a fundamentally sound driving model that uses every last line of code in the isiMotor engine that powers it, Race 07 and its multitude of expansion packs are more relevant than they’ve ever been. No longer just one of many racing sims populating the market in 2007, Race 07 is a blueprint that the current crop of developers creating realistic driving games for the PC should have been following since day one.

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Releasing a few years after the rFactor craze allowed Race 07 to gain immediate traction within the sim community. With the control options, graphics settings, and even the modding aspect retaining all the fundamental features of a sim powered by the isiMotor engine, stepping into Race 07 is no different than getting into a title like Stock Car Extreme. You’ve done it before. The familiarity allows your average sim racer to jump into the game and feel comfortable with the multitude of options and configuration settings, in some cases copying exact values from their rFactor install into Race 07 without any substantial tweaking needed. It’s nice to fire up a game and essentially be able to port my wheel setup across one game into another, down to the button assignments, as it means I can spend more time on the track, and less time browsing the forums looking for answers. With Race 07 running on a very common racing sim engine, my Catalyst Control Center graphics profile can simply be copied from Stock Car Extreme into the new Race 07 profile. For this review, I was able to re-configure my profile from the ground up, and get on the track to run a few test laps at Brands Hatch in less than five minutes.

The lack of configuration bullshit that plagues titles like Assetto Corsa, Project CARS, or rFactor extends past the initial configuration. I’m not fucking around with finding the latest version of the RealFeel or Track Map plugins, nor am I scrolling through the Player.INI file to make all of my preferred cockpit view and FPS tweaks. I don’t have to download a mod just for wet weather racing. I don’t have to download a specific version of SweetFX to make the game look like the preview screenshots, nor am I hunting for a memory patch to make the game compatible with modern hardware. I’m not messing with apps and dragging the various elements of my HUD around, nor am I digging through forum threads to learn about what each FFB configuration slider does. Hell, I even have a rudimentary crew chief barking at me through the in-car radio. Out of the box, Race 07 doesn’t want me to waste a few nights browsing sim racing message boards for supplementary information. Race 07 wants me to race.

The whole package feels as if SimBin were allowed to crack open the isiMotor engine and inject as much as they possibly could into to ensure a smooth gameplay experience. If this development approach sounds eerily familiar, that’s because the concept behind Race 07 is also the same concept which powered RaceRoom Racing Experience, NASCAR 09, and the upcoming Automobilista – pay Image Space Incorporated a hefty amount of money to go to town on their pride and joy. It is strange to see sim racers celebrating a developer like Reiza Studios purchasing the ability to modify the isiMotor engine, when they’re something like the fifth developer to do so, and the process has been around for about a decade.

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Despite being a racing sim that predominantly focuses on the World Touring Car Championship, Race 07 is much more than just a touring car game. The track list appears to concentrate solely on the worldwide journey of the world’s premiere touring car series, but due to the instability of the yearly WTCC calendar, every major European racing facility pops up at least once, leading to an extremely varied track roster. Iconic locations such as Monza and Brands Hatch compliment the truly odd-ball inclusions such as Marrakech and Macau, all of which are recreated to fairly decent standards. While Portimao obviously pales in comparison to the superior version found in RaceRoom Racing Experience, tracks such as Road America, Zolder, and Imola feature a surprising amount of detail for a game that should instead be making your eyes bleed.

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But Race 07 becomes much more than a touring car game upon the purchase of the several official expansion packs, usually available as a complete package for no more than $20 on CD key sites. Adding everything from amateur open wheel cars to an Assetto Corsa-like selection of production sports cars into Race 07, the highlight of these packs is without question the GTR Evolution bundle. Featuring three distinct classes of GT-spec sports cars, as well as the Nurburgring Nordschleife, the expansion pack is the closest SimBin has ever come to releasing a sequel to the critically acclaimed GTR 2. Even though it lacks entries from both Ferrari and Porsche due to licensing constraints, GTR Evolution was the original “Dream Pack DLC,” before Kunos Simulazioni were even a blip on the radar. Basically, this is what made people rush out and buy Race 07 if they hadn’t already.

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What’s important to note about Race 07, is the abundance of full classes as opposed to one or two cars from each racing series. This is not Assetto Corsa, where only Ayrton Senna’s Lotus 98T appears from the 1986 Formula One season. This is not Project CARS, where only a handful of GT2 cars have made the cut. You’re receiving full WTCC seasons, full STCC seasons, a huge selection of GT cars from all three sub-classes, and even a full fictional Formula One grid where each car performs in a slightly different manner. The trend of modern sim developers offering a pinch of cars from each major racing discipline is a concept that doesn’t exist in Race 07; the diverse roster of vehicles in each class is one of the game’s strong points, allowing brand loyalty and genuine rivalries to develop.

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Adding to the exceptional variety of official content is the vast array of quality third party mods available for Race 07. With rFactor being the more popular game between the two isiMotor sims, a lot of the junk mods quickly churned out by private leagues or communities made their way into the rFactor mod databases, whereas only the quality mods received an official conversion into Race 07. Digging through the TrippTeam archives and even NoGripRacing, the ratio of hits compared to misses when scoping out Race 07 mods is a lot more acceptable than it is for a title like rFactor, and it becomes significantly easier to amass a selection of quality mods in a shorter time frame.

The highlight of the third party mod selection for Race 07 is undoubtedly the conversions of stock content from both GTR 2 and GT Legends, as virtually nothing has been lost in translation from the two previous SimBin games of which the content has been ripped from. As the content has been built by SimBin themselves, and there’s a ton of different cars to pick from over three distinct eras of both GT and Touring Car racing, you’re left with two killer unofficial expansion packs that make use of the modern-ish technology powering Race 07. It’s nice to play with these cars in a sim that doesn’t feel too dated or suffer from obvious technological setbacks.

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Once it comes time to finally get your ass on the track, Race 07 makes things incredibly easy on the end user. While setting up a race, every setting you could possibly desire for either a quick session or full championship is at your disposal, including the ability to reverse a portion of the grid, swap between multiple qualifying formats, and even allow for variable weather. While modern sim developers scoff at the fact that people want the ability to jump the start, follow around a pace car, or receive penalties for rough driving, and fanboys bend over backwards to make inane excuses for unfinished and/or buggy games, Race 07 allows you to customize your experience each and every time you hit the track. And more importantly, the options work as they’re supposed to. You can begin your time in Race 07 by taking street legal Dodge Vipers across the pacific to Macau and racing in a monsoon a la Project Gotham Racing 4, and an hour later be competing in a near perfect replication of a GT3 event at Hockenheim, all without exiting the game.

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And turning competitive laps in Race 07 doesn’t require you to be a rocket scientist in the garage menu. To my surprise, the default setups the game ships with in both the vanilla content, as well as third party mods, are actually quite good. By default, the ride height is lowered to the minimum value, and the springs are as soft as they can go – a universal baseline setup in most isiMotor games. Being able to jump in a car, tweak only the steering lock, and immediately begin turning laps with a car that handled comfortably is something that more games need to look into doing. I know that learning how to build setups is a huge part of the fun that comes with diving head first into racing simulators, but at some point you have to realize that auto racing isn’t going on a Trans-Atlantic journey with a Boeing 747, and it’s okay if some of the fun comes out on the track itself.

But what sets Race 07 apart from many other modern sims, and actually makes this game still worth having installed and maintained, is the competent artificial intelligence. Now, I use the word “competent” because I’m not going to pretend they exhibit driving habits on par with the scholars seen in NASCAR Racing 2003 Season, but compared to the AI behavior in Project CARS or Assetto Corsa… You can actually race these guys and have yourself a bit of fun. The AI cars put up a fight, are aware of your position, and more often than not provide legitimate competition.

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In Assetto Corsa, taking screenshots of the artificial intelligence bugging the fuck out became a game unto itself – there’s no way something like this should have been released for public consumption. In Project CARS, my first race at the Nordschleife in a recent post-release version of the game with GT3 saw all AI cars spin and come to a complete stop in the Karussell at maximum difficulty, allowing me to win the race with ease. Finally, in RaceRoom Racing Experience, I was able to make an AI car lose control of all bowel movements upon pulling a sick crossover move at Sears Point. It’s disappointing to own three completely different racing sims, and have an entire portion of the game rendered useless by the same issues across each of them.

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By comparison, Race 07 allowed me to string together a captivating series of offline races and practice sessions with AI drivers that made my time invested into the sim worthwhile. Originally, I took the 2011 FIA GT3 series to Okayama, a track many iRacers will be familiar with as one of the rookie layouts for the Spec Miata cup. Instead of walking away with the victory after consistently turning faster laps than the AI due to a bug in a certain sector of the course that saw the AI slow the fuck down for no reason at all, I was treated to a crazy three car battle for the lead. Meanwhile, rFactor 2 players have to watch a 10 minute tutorial just to get the AI configured in a way where they won’t shit themselves.

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Afterwards, I started messing around with the GT Legends conversion mod, and basically spent an entire night running races at the short layout of Monza before moving to the Portimao circuit that I’ve grown accustomed to through RaceRoom Racing Experience. Instead of watching the AI struggle to make it around the track in cars that were no more technologically advanced than a bath tub on wheels, I was given several enjoyable battles with computer opponents who tried their best to put up a fight.

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No matter what combination I tried, whether it be a flock of Audi R8’s at the Nordschleife, or DTM cars at the modern Imola layout, the computer opponents made it perfectly clear that I was not playing a re-skinned rFactor, but a game that wanted to hold my attention for the long haul. I never felt immediately compelled to jump online and search for human opponents, because unlike modern sims, the first half of the game hadn’t been rendered completely useless. Lengthy single events, and even an offline championship, suddenly seemed like a viable option.

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So what, in particular, does Race 07 do right compared to all these other games you’re probably playing?

It starts with the list of content. Somehow, Race 07 expands on the selection of content seen in games like Assetto Corsa or Project CARS, making the backwards jump from modern sims into SimBin’s older offering an easy transition. Starting with the template of providing a mix of several different auto racing disciplines and street cars, Race 07 gives you more of the solid foundation upon which these games have been built. Assetto Corsa gives you an array of random street legal vehicles to select from, but Race 07 makes sure the street cars you can drive are desirable – you’re getting Dodge Chargers, Audi R8’s, and the elusive Koenigsegg CCX. Project CARS gives you a couple different touring cars from throughout the years, but SimBin has given you entire WTCC and STCC seasons – complete with the full calendar of tracks for your offline championship. An accurate Nordschleife has been all the rage over the past few months in the current sim racing landscape, and SimBin have thrown their own Nordschleife into the mix for good measure as part of the GTR Evolution expansion – though the textures are straight out of 2008. Yet despite the obvious reduction in texture resolution, downgrading to Race 07 from modern sims doesn’t feel like much of a downgrade, and in some aspects, you’re actually getting more content.

Out on the track, the game stands above other isiMotor games due to the extremely tangible edge of the tire model – something SimBin were able to do with total control of the isiMotor engine. Unlike rFactor or Stock Car Extreme, where throttle management is sometimes left to your own guesswork and experience, you can feel the outside rear tire skipping around under power as you exit a corner – and hold it there thanks to improved force feedback effects. In older cars (as well as the production vehicles), this makes it possible to really dance around with the car while still staying in complete control of your vehicle, and you can approach the limit of what your tires will allow with much more precision. Like Assetto Corsa, there is a pronounced understeer effect if you mess up your line, but the tire model refinements let you wheel the car to your advantage and dial the understeer out entirely. Objectively, the overall force feedback feeling isn’t better than RealFeel – it’s different – but the way the tires behave is one of those deals where you can tell this clearly isn’t just rFactor with a new coat of paint.

More pronounced brake fade was also an interesting curve ball I wasn’t quite ready for.

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But the overall polish is where Race 07 comes together. Booting up the game and seeing this kind of package presented with slick menus, catchy music, and rarely any bugs is where Race 07 really comes through in the clutch. On paper, Race 07 and Project CARS are basically the same game. However, Race 07 actually works. Yeah, the graphics are clearly dated, but cars don’t explode into the air, wet tires aren’t faster in dry conditions, pit stops don’t attach four blown tires onto my car, the AI plays by the same set of rules and moral obligations as I do, and the force feedback menu makes sense. I can race against the cars I want to race against, save my setups based on each track, play in the rain while watching the AI cars struggle with a damp track in the same manner I am, and view replays without the wrong car models showing up. After the disastrous display of modern racing sims, the fact that Race 07 boots up and does what I ask it to is something I no longer take for granted. The chunk of time I usually expect to spend browsing forums looking for fixes or downloading mods just to get the base game up and running is instead spent on the track blasting around with a field of AI cars.

I can turn laps behind a pace car without developers calling me a loser for implying that this feature should still be in a racing simulator ten years later. I am not told that being able to jump the start before the lights go green will be in Race 08 – because that functionality is already in the game. My crew chief barking lap times at me and warning me of on-track incidents is not listed as some groundbreaking feature – it’s just sort of there and enabled by default. I don’t have to wait for a mod just to calculate points and run an offline championship – the game offers several official schedules, and let’s me build my own if I’m bored. I don’t have to purposely drive as if the AI are special needs children, imposing my own set of superficial challenges to pretend the game is halfway playable – they’re competent enough to blow me out of the water and rub fenders with me if I’m in their way.

Oh, and I can pick the color of my car when I go jump into an online race. That’s really cool.

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It’s extremely gratifying to play a racing sim where I can sit down and focus on the actual racing. None of this bullshit where I’m sitting around on message boards waiting weeks or months for a future update to make the game playable, while attempting to kiss the asses of sim developers because they posted a blog thanking us for buying a couple DLC packs. Race 07 is still enjoyable in 2016, because it serves as the anti-thesis of all modern racing sims. Your time isn’t spent troubleshooting or searching for fixes to a bug or glitch that shouldn’t have been there in the first place. You boot up the executable, and you get right to racing, which is how it should be. How developers have strayed from such a solid template despite the superior technology available to develop something¬†more captivating than Race 07 is beyond me.

Sim Racing isn’t supposed to be an eternal science fair to see which developer can put out the most tire model fixes in a year, or who can get away with labeling their game Version 8.0 without fans asking “what the fuck is this bullshit?” And yet, just under a month into 2016, that is the reality of this entire genre. Another tire model. Another batch of bugs. Another science project sets up shop in the gymnasium, with no completion date listed.

Race 07 is a game that should have been permanently placed on the shelf long ago; serving as little more than a reminder of where sim racing as a genre had been prior to the arrival of Sebastien Vettel. Instead, Race 07 has now transcended into an elder figure; an elder statesman that scoffs at the misguided projects sold as fully-priced racing sims in 2016.