Joe met with Antonio Moro, Creative Director for Italian company Vae Victis, developers of Victory for PC. Our belief was that this was a MMO racing sim using the NetKar Pro engine. It turns out that this information is a bit inaccurate, but Joe after extensive discussion with the devs got all of the details.
Antonio explained to us that Victory is intended to be a halfway point between a casual racing game and a high-fidelity racing sim. The storyline is set in the 60s — the 2060s. The Aztec-predicted cataclysmic event of 2012 has occurred, resulting in a loss of most information contained in 100 years of technological history. Motorsports in this world takes the form of 1960s Formula 1, with treaded tires, cigar-shaped chassis, and exposed rear engines. However, certain elements of retained technology make these cars look slightly different than they actually looked 45 years ago.
The game’s physics are not based on NetKar Pro as previously reported. Instead, the same developer who coded the NetKar Pro physics coded the physics for Victory. We were told that not all of the detailed items in NetKar Pro would be seen in Victory, but that good physics were an important gameplay feature. At the same time, Antonio also told us that the product has been designed so that it can be driven with a keyboard. We asked about wheel support and driving aids; wheels will be supported (although to what extent is unknown) and driving aids can be enabled or disabled on a per-aid basis, as is the practice in most racing sims used by SimHQ members.
Vae Victis did not have a working game demo available that would have let us actually drive anything. What they did show us, in detail, was the module used to customize a player’s car. You can change almost anything you would like: car shape, color, placement of decals and paint jobs, different shapes, etc. Joe felt that although most “paint shops” found in racing titles are rather worthless, this concept was actually very interesting and functional. It’s possible to make a car that is entirely unique to an individual, and the system is very versatile.
When you “buy” your newly-liveried car, the paint job is stored as a set of shapes, colors, and locations. When connecting to a multiplayer race, other clients are able to see you exact livery because of the way the system is designed. Antonio explained that Victory includes a system that minimizes client join lag, the short pause that multiplayer clients can get when a new client joins the server. He said that at first the untextured car is displayed, then 256x256 textures are loaded, then 512x512, then finally 1024x1024. Hopefully this system will work as advertised.
Victory is a multiplayer-only title. Typical servers can host up to twelve clients, with the experience being best with four to six clients. We were told that up to 16 clients were possible on a dedicated server. The collisions are modeled so that wheel-to-wheel contact has an effect correct for open-wheel cars.
Victory certainly appears to be an interesting concept, and it’s unfortunate that Vae Victis did not have anything for us to drive. SimHQ hopes to review the title. Intended release is Q1 2010.
Over at the Codemasters display, DiRT 2 was running on several monitors, but once again the only control option was with an Xbox gamepad. Since that’s a non-starter for Chunx, he and Joe made their way back to the D-box motion-based simulation display area, where DiRT 2 was running on an Alienware PC using a twin Matrox triple-head setup driving six wide-screen monitors. Using a slightly abused and off-center G25 wheel, both he and Joe took turns driving in a mountain stage rally-cross event in a Subaru WRX Sti while seated in one of D-box’s two-actuator motion platform seats.
There wasn’t enough time for Joe and Chunx to get in a full assessment of the game, but Chunx’ initial impression was that DiRT 2 was a helluva lot of fun. The graphics looked really, really nice with a lot of depth and a wide color palate that adds emphasis to effects like billowing dust, cracked windshields, and crunched hoods, and this iteration of the DiRT series comes with a cockpit view that’s actually pretty nice.
But make no mistake, DiRT 2 is much more game than sim. Did it feel like a realistic physics model was in play? Nope. As with its predecessor, DiRT 2 is very light on realistic physics. It feels good in some areas (especially on gravel surfaces), and yet very dumbed down in others. if you crash into something it doesn’t seem to matter much, as visual damage is the predominant effect of contact with stationary objects. At least you need to use the brakes and feather the throttle in order to negotiate corners.
You also won’t catch the FIA’s WRC organizers ever running multi-car heat races with rally cars racing door-to-door around the cliffs on a mountain road (that‘s not how rally racing works, outside of the X-Games arena). But the gameplay felt very fluid, the action had a sustained intensity and the overall gaming experience was quite exciting and entertaining. There were elements of real car control involved here and there, but nothing that would place this game in simulation territory.
To get an idea of DiRT 2’s gameplay, check out this video of Chunx at the wheel:
So what’s the redeeming value of DiRT 2 to a hard-core sim racer like Chunx? It’s a fun diversion from life‘s tedium. Just as hard-core fans of land combat sims like ArmA 2 may also enjoy the occasional evening with Left 4 Dead or Call of Duty 4, so too race sim fans may occasionally enjoy an evening with a fun title like DiRT 2. There wasn’t time to delve into DiRT 2’s game modes or user interface options, but for a “run and gun” style of racing title with relaxed physics and lots of action, this one was certainly a hoot to drive — especially with a precision controller like the G25 wheel (even a damaged one), because if there‘s one thing Chunx has learned at E3 it is that the driving experience offered by a game title depends heavily on the quality of the controller being used.
Regarding the technology in play at the D-box display, Joe was surprised and disappointed that there was little-to-no D-box motion in DIRT 2. While the D-box unit connected to RACE On pitches under braking/acceleration, rolls in the corners, and jerks when shifting, about all the D-box driven by DiRT 2 does is give a significant jolt when the in-game car is driven into something solid. Joe also felt that the 6-monitor display was fun, but certainly not a practical expense for a title such as DiRT 2. If you construct one for yourself, however, it can potentially be used with many titles.
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