RACE 07: The Official WTCC Game
Everyone has a dream. Some people dream about becoming a race pilot. They think about how immensly thrilling it must be to overtake their biggest rival in the last turn of the last race and win the championship. Unfortunately not everyone is called Kimi and not everyone can be a race pilot. Enter SimBin, the developer that tries to bring our dreams a little bit closer.
Letting us live our dreams of being a racer is something the Swedish company SimBin is pretty experienced in. The last few years they have already brought us games like GTR2 en RACE: The Official WTCC Game, and this year they’re back with RACE 07. SimBin’s games are usually well recieved by simulation enthousiasts thanks to decent graphics, official licences and last but not least a great sense of realism. In Sweden they know this very well so they tried to improve on all of these points.
If we look at the graphics, you have to say that they succeeded. Admitted, compared to other racers, like for instance the ‘Need for Speed’-series, this game may not look very flashy or maybe even a bit boring, but for a racing simulator these are some of the best graphics I’ve ever seen. The only feature that’s not so good is the damage to the cars. It allmost seems like the developer was “censored” by the car manufacturers because when you crash a Formula BMW-car into a wall at 100mph, you won’t lose more than your front wing. The touring cars can be totaled, but they also seem a bit too sturdy to be realistic. This is something they could do a bit better on but the rest of the package like reflections, mirrors and so on look really good.
There is one more element that I’d really like to mention seperately, and that’s the rain. It’s fun that you’ll have to use your windscreen wipers when you’re driving around in the rain to retain a clear view on the track. When you’re driving an open car, you’ll have to us tear-offs (pieces of plastic that are applied to your visor) to remove squatted bugs and water from your sight.
I already told you, this time next to the traditional WTCC Touring Cars there are also other vehicles present. You’ll be able to race with Radicals, Caterhams, Minis and Formula BMW’s. As extra also some classic touring cars from ’87 as well as those from last season were added to the collection. The amount of tracks is also pretty good as you get those from this as well as last year, with a couple of special ones added on top. Both the cars and tracks are also very nicely created.
And then we come to the most important part of a simulation game: the gameplay. It’s clear that more attention has been given to that. First thing to get noticed is the way the cars react. Rear-wheel drivers will have oversteering while front wheel driven cars will stubbornly remain understeered when you’re not careful. If you put the game on “novice” this won’t bother you but on “pro” you’ll be occupied for a couple of hours before having total control over your vehicle. Therefore it’s also a shame that Simbin decided to remove the “racing school” as this will heighten the difficulty level for the mainstream gamer who’s used to only arcade racers.
Once you get the hang of it all it’s time for the real work. Single race, with training rounds and qualifications, full season, or even an adjusted season. The fun part of starting a championship yourself is that you can also choose which cars can compete. This way you can have vehicles from different classes taking on each other. To end the possibilities there’s also a time trial and practise mode that speak for themselves.
These same modes can be found also online. I’ve tested it quite thoroughly and must say I’ve never experienced lag or disconnects. There are also quite some servers to be found so you’ll always find someone online to race. On top of that there’s the possibility to fill the empty slots on a server with bots and this way also the online races are nicely filled. The AI is also quite alright and contrary to other games your virtual opponents won’t run into anyone that dares to cross their path. They even make mistakes that you can use to your advantage.
I can be quite brief on the rest of the game. The engines nicely roar, sometimes the screams of an engine will split your bones and that’s how it should be. The controls are quite standard on the keyboard but then you do get all the helping aids the game has to offer. If you want to fully enjoy this title a USB steering wheel is in my opinion the best choice but it’s quite weird that there’s quite a limited standard support for hardware. Still, that isn’t too bad as you’ll be able to configure your own controller quite quickly and easily. In the options you’ll also find an automatic quality system where you just have to set how many frames per second you want and the game will determine how far it can go.
Short said this is the best racing sim I’ve ever played. The many cars and tracks will keep you busy offline for hours and when you want a real challenge you can always go online to find real adversaries. A must-buy for all lovers of the genre!