Feature: 2008 - Sim Year in Review
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by Jens "McGonigle" Lindblad
In real life IndyCar, CART, Champcar, that illustrious open wheel series for turbo-charged Formula cars finally succumbed and merged with the rival series from the Indy Racing League. 2009 should prove interesting as the unification teams have now had some time to adjust to their new chassis and engines. Watch for this series to grow stronger and perhaps take back some of the audience that defected to NASCAR.
Not that we watched much NASCAR this year as the channel distributor decided that everyone should pay large sums of money for one single sports channel with minimal NASCAR coverage instead of having 3 less expensive sports channels, one of which televised all the races, and IndyCar too.
Three cheers for www.IndyCar.com as they streamed the races live.
In Formula 1, Year One after Stepney-gate, the spying scandal where McLaren was found to have in their possession some technical papers the Intellectual Property of Scuderia Ferrari. In the early parts of the F1 season the scandal was being whipped around everywhere — if you catch my drift — but in the latter part of the European season no one raised an eyebrow or a bullwhip when Felipe Massa was not penalized for an unsafe exit from the Ferrari pits resulting in a near collision during the maiden Valencia GP.
On to Simulations!
Chunx and Weasel_Keeper showed us that a passion for sim racing follows you wherever you are, and whatever your profession.
Chunx and I brought back the popular SimHQ article series, "A Fast Lap at...". Lime Rock and Le Mans are the two latest installments. Watch for us to drive more courses in 2009.
One event for me as an enthusiast of racing simulations has overshadowed everything else and rocked my world almost to the extent that Grand Prix Legends (Happy Birthday GPL - 10 years old in 2008!) did all those years ago: iRacing is finally here and I find that it is the sim of my choice.
With extremely accurate real life race tracks tracks and faithful, credible renditions of the modeled cars concerning appearance and physics, iRacing provides two of the aspects I’m looking for in a racing sim.
It might not be everyone’s favorite treat though as AI is not included nor planned which means it totally lacks in single-player content and you pay approximately $15-20 USD per additional car and additional track, plus a $156 USD yearly subscription fee.
Any World of Warcraft player would laugh out loud at such humble fees but to a sim-racer, paying for the content this way is quite a new and unaccustomed experience.
The Sim Factory released ARCA Sim Racing and initially this title was being hailed as the best stock car sim ever to be released for the PC. Perhaps it was, and perhaps it still is. Apparently the glow diminished somewhat in the months that passed since the release as the intelligence of the AI as well as track accuracy has been debated.
Better known for flight sims, 777 Studios has announced it is publishing Turismo Carretera: Stock Cars Argentina by developer 2Pez Games. Based on the national stock car racing circuit of Argentina known as the ACTC, it has over 60 cars in authentic paint schemes and over a dozen GPS accurate tracks. This sim is powered by the advanced and respected rFactor racing engine developed by
Image Space, Inc. We encourage you racers out there to take a look at it.
The Simbin/Blimey conglomerate released Race 07 and brought this title from what was in reality a slightly under whelming unfinished experience up to a more satisfactory standard. GTR Evolution followed, and can be bought as a standalone game, or an expansion pack to Race 07 / GTR2. STCC (Swedish Touring Car Championship) also made release, making it a busy year for Simbin/Bilmey.
The Lizzard engine to be developed as Simbin’s own game-engine in replacement of the aging ISI platform will probably debut on the consoles with the release of Race Pro, and hopefully it will also make an appearance for the PC, because although I’m generally pro-recycling, I’m ready for a change.
As with a lot of simulations, it was the add-on’s and mods that really held the lane.
I have probably become a victim of the success and utter domination of the ISI engine during the last few years to the point where I just don’t give a Rhett Butler anymore about most of the releases for the current ISI gMotor’s, excepting one or two stand-out mods like Power & Glory Part 2 and The Historic GT & Touring Cars.
P&G Part One missed being SimHQ's Motorsports Mod of the Year 2007 by less than a cat’s whiskers and it has plagued me since that it didn’t receive equal honors with the SimHQ MotY07.
Ford vs Ford in Power & Glory v2.00
The Pits released the long awaited NAGT: North American GT Championship to great acclaim. However, It does not work with rFactor's "All Tracks and Vehicles", making it incompatible for online multiplayer racing with other rFactor mods. This capability was eliminated in favor of a custom GUI and other custom, non-standard mod elements (i.e. unnecessary features). Four years in development and again, a purely personal observation, I think it has missed the window of opportunity simply by being too long in the making.
Also long-awaited, the netKar PRO 1.03 patch made it's appearance at the very end of the year. Look for the SimHQ review on it soon.
What do we have to look forward to in 2009 then?
As the LFS team has now run out of letters in the alphabet designating development versions of S2, perhaps we can hope for Live for Speed Final in 2009. Or will it become S3A?
ISI are working on a follow-up to rFactor (properly titled, rFactor 2) and if it will be released at all in 2009, it will be in the latter-half of the year.
Let's not forget add-on tracks. With most sim racers looking at dashboards or just bumper cam views, the track graphics and fidelity — seen out the windshield and felt through the FF wheel — are where the "rubber meets the road" in any racing sim. And we had some good tracks offered up this year by the mod teams, most notably the VLM Mid Ohio, and a few others that we could mention later (like Katsuo's Fuji, Teretonga, Rouen Les Esarts, etc. Picking just about any track from 2008 that made rFactorCentral's "Hall of Fame" list would suffice. We always think about the car mods, but without well-modeled and skinned tracks, the car mods don't really "go" anywhere.
Codemasters acquired the license to make some game featuring some formula type cars, if I could only remember what they call these little screaming cars with wings and no roof. You know, the cars with billboard sized airboxes so the space can be sold for advertising to sponsors. What was that series called...? Nah, I just can’t remember the name of that series. It has eluded me completely…
The Motorsports Category Winners Are...
Best Motorsports Simulation
Best Motorsports Sim Mod or Add-on
Power & Glory Version 2.00
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