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  1. #1
    Lesser Hivemind Node Kodeen's Avatar
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    Best race simulator for PC?

    Time to get a racing game again. To be perfectly honest, what I want is Gran Turismo for PC. What would the closest thing to that? I guess my priorities are as such:

    1) Accurate physics
    2) Good selection of tracks
    3) Good selection of cars
    4) Career mode and/or decent car tuning
    5) Rally mode if I can have it (without buying a different game)

    I think I'd like the Shift series if it wasn't as arcadey as it is. Iracing.com is out (what a bizarre business model), and Rfactor doesn't have any licensed anything. Race 07 and its various expansions/DLC's look like a good candidate, even if the pricing model is a bit odd ($6, or $80 if you want all of it).

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Have you ever tried Richard Burns Rally? It came out quite a while ago, but it has everything you listed with a particular emphasis on your first priority. Despite its age, the fanbase is still very active, which means there are plenty of tournaments held, but (more importantly) mods are still coming out regularly. One of the most popular and comprehensive is RSRBR which can be found here.

    Argh. And I completely disregarded that you're looking for a racing game. Well, if you ever find yourself in need to satisfy your rally needs, I heartily recommend you RBR.

    What about DiRT 3?

  3. #3
    Lesser Hivemind Node Kodeen's Avatar
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    I may end up getting Dirt 3 anyway if I can't find a good sim with it included, but I honestly prefer pavement racing a bit more.

  4. #4
    Give Live for Speed a try, there is a demo on the official site.

  5. #5
    Activated Node mpk's Avatar
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    I picked up GRID for about £4 just after the Steam sale. It's been a long time since I've connected with a racing game in such a way that I've actively tried to <i>race</i>, rather than just cut corners and barge through other cars. It's not a sim, more hardcore arcade, but it makes you want to drive properly, imo.

    No tuning options to speak of, but plenty of cars and tracks. Spa and the Nurburgring are awesome, although the game sends you to do Le Mans after every 5 events which quickly becomes <i>really</i> dull.

  6. #6
    Network Hub GraveyardJimmy's Avatar
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    You might want to take a look at Toca race driver 3, I quite like it. Less arcadey than grid too I think. (plus I got it cheap on GoG, but the graphics are quite nice too)

  7. #7
    Activated Node mpk's Avatar
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    I forgot I owned TOCA3 actually - thanks for reminding me. Installing again now! Since I bought a gamepad to make GRID actually playable, TOCA3 is bound to be improved too. Braw!

  8. #8
    Obscure Node DarkTAO's Avatar
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    The best racing games were made by SimBin. As it stands, nothing has beaten the GTR series in realism, difficulty, etc etc. IF you want a full race simulator that includes support for the best wheels on the market, go with the GTR Series. As for Richard Burn's Rally.. That game was amazing. It set the scene for the DiRT series also, most people don't know that. The first DiRT game is Richard Burn's DiRT. But RBR doesn't like Windows 7 too much. I haven't had much luck getting it to work on my system.
    I currently run a logitech G25, as I like the full driver support it carries over the G27. I'll take the decreased wheel buttons to keep my sequential rally style up/down shifter on the H-pattern, which the G-27 dropped.

    Anywho, go here, buy this:
    http://www.simbin.se/main/games.htm

    GTR Evolution is probably my choice for just getting a game. It's 20 USD on Steam right now for the complete Evolution pack. You really can't ask for a more well crafted race simulator than GTR-E. Some people like Live For Speed, as it's free to begin, but if you run any wheel with a clutch, it's a pain in the ass as the LFS engine hates the idea of a clutch not being off/on.

    Games to stay away from:
    Anything Need For Speed related
    TDU2
    Anything with a cheesy name ie Blur.

    That's all the advice I can give at the moment. I am about to hook up my G25 and go set some laptimes on the Nürburgring Nordschilfe.

  9. #9
    Activated Node J Arcane's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, you're going to find the PC market doesn't really have anything like Gran Turismo or Forza 3.

    It's pretty much all cruddy ports of console arcade racers, and ultra-hardcore impossible to play SimBin games that more resemble flight simulators than games.

    If I had to pick one, I think the closest you'll get is probably GRID. It's a very immersive game, the physics are reasonable, and while it's still difficult as hell, the rewind function helps and on the whole it's still actually fun, which is more than I can say for most PC racers.

    If you want something a bit more arcadey, Burnout Paradise is pretty much THE way to go in that department, and well worth a grab even if you do normally lean a touch more sim-lite like Gran Turismo. Another good pick in this department, though not nearly as pure awesome as Burnout, is Sega Rally Revo, which is a nice mid point between arcade and sim. Trackmania is also fun, but really bears little resemblance to any form of real racing.

    Otherwise, I must sadly suggest you get an Xbox and Forza 4 when it arrives in October. Forza 3 is already the pinnacle of it's genre, and I expect pretty darn good things from Forza 4. I'm looking forward to putting the Top Gear track through it's paces and might even get that "Virtual Top Gear" machinima project I was planning going, since GT5 wound up a colossal failure of a game.

    I might also note, that Gran Turismo 2 runs very, very well in ePSXe, so if you're willing to go the emulation route that's an option.

  10. #10
    Lesser Hivemind Node Kodeen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkTAO View Post
    The best racing games were made by SimBin
    Yeah, the more I research it the more I think Race 07 (GTR-E being an expansion pack for that, which I'm sure you know). Not sure which Steam pack I want, GTR-E (Nordschliefe!) or the Stcc/Race On bundle (better value).

  11. #11
    Activated Node J Arcane's Avatar
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    Demo it first. SimBin games are not for everyone. Steam has demos of Race 07 and GTR.

  12. #12
    Obscure Node DarkTAO's Avatar
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    Impossible to play? I never had that issue with the GTR series. But that might be because I did track days, Togue style, and autocross for years, so it translated well to SimBin games.

  13. #13
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    Not sure what's with all the hate towards NFS Shift 2. Post-patch I think the handling is great if you make sure you maintain a high enough framerate (otherwise the steering starts getting a bit laggy). From my experience patched Shift 2 PC feels much closer to GTR than Forza, for example.

    I agree with GTR Evolution if you're after a sim, though. It doesn't model 4WD all that well, but going around Nordschleife or Spa in a GT or super-light car is fantastic. There's also a fairly active mod community.

    Even though GRID, DIRT or TOCA are decent games, I wouldn't say they're very simmy.

  14. #14
    Activated Node J Arcane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkTAO View Post
    Impossible to play? I never had that issue with the GTR series. But that might be because I did track days, Togue style, and autocross for years, so it translated well to SimBin games.
    That probably helps. I've never been able to complete a lap in a SimBin game, save I think for that Volvo game they did. It's just so over the top hardcore.

    I love Forza 3 and I'm pretty decent at it, not leaderboard topping good but enough to win races, and the physics are pretty reasonably on point, but even with all assists off it's still playable for someone like me, whereas even with every bit of help I seem to just royally fail in every SimBin or similar type game I've tried.

    And I question just how "realistic" a game is when I'm having problems turning the car at 30mph, everything in their games just feels stiff and unresponsive and basically like trying to do the Nurburgring in an American dragster. Maybe I just need a wheel to be able to actually play them, I dunno, but they just don't do it for me.

  15. #15
    Obscure Node DarkTAO's Avatar
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    Yeah I'd never attempt playing a SimBin game without a decent wheel that comes with force feedback. I ended up playing GTRE earlier today, and remembered how much fun the game was, and how frakking tough it was too (stalling the car due to insane clutch sensitivity is.. not surprising)

  16. #16
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    First of all, check out the RaceSimCentral forums if you haven't already (http://racesimcentral.com/forum/forum.php) which have sub-forums for all the top racing simulator developers and their games, and discussions on them.

    As already mentioned, SimBin gams are a good start. If you are having trouble with the more high powered cars in GTR and RACE, I recommend you get GT Legends, a classic where you drive 60's and 70's race cars. The starting cars are much easier to drive for normal human beings (First car is a mini cooper), and so it's a good way to train for the beastly more powerful cars you can get later in the game (Like the Ford Capri, or the terrifying DeTomaso Pantera) and for the crazy cars in GTR. GT Legends is my personal go-to race simulator, since I am a fan of 60's and 70's race cars. EDIT: SimBin race games also have a career mode. GT Legends is the most Gran Turismo like in it's career mode.

    Grand Prix Legends, by Papyrus, is a 1960's F1 simulator with top notch physics, and is very cheap as it came out in 1998. It has a highly active mod scene though, which have updated the graphics immensley. One of the most loved and highly rated racing sims out there. EDIT: Also has a career mode, but where you just drive through a racing season.

    Otherwise, I can also recommend (though haven't tried it myself) rFactor (http://rfactor.net/), which is the game who's engine the SimBin games use for their physics. You can try before you buy, and there are mods for absolutely every car and track for that game. It's one of the most highly recommended race sims.

    There are also good simulators like Live For Speed, and various others.

    There's dozens of them! It's a shame RPS is often such an RPG/FPS centric site. The Racing Sim scene is a massive PC only community, with dozens of games and thousands of great mods.


    EDIT: Ooops, didn't read the OP correctly. There is nothing like Gran Turismo for the PC. It is all about the mods on PC. rFactor may not have anything licensed, but you can download just about anything for it. The closest thing to GT on PC is good old TOCA3, which has pretty basic physics, but is quite fun, though a bit outdated looking.
    Last edited by Binho; 13-08-2011 at 10:25 AM.

  17. #17
    Network Hub Capt. Eduardo del Mango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkTAO View Post
    The best racing games were made by SimBin. As it stands, nothing has beaten the GTR series in realism, difficulty, etc etc.
    I suspect you'd find enough disagreement on that claim!

    Note to OP - the problem with discussions on PC racing sims are the same problems as with discussions on all PC sims. If you're playing the most 'accurate' sim you are more like a real racing driver/fighter pilot/whatevs than I am. Which sim is most 'accurate' gets the teeth out. Obviously it's a bullshit perspective (not to say that I'm immune to it) - whatever game you're playing you're still playing a game - but just have that in mind when you get into the field. Equally, the top-end sims for PC are all pretty damn close in terms of the accuracy of simulating a car going around corners - it's usually just arguing over very fine points which the participants (again, myself included) aren't experienced enough to really comment on.

    So, in my opinion, SimBin make the best accessable sims. They're the ones I suggest to friends who're just starting on beardy-stroky PC racing games due to the relatively low level of faffing around that you have to do with them, and the handling of the cars is slightly more forgiving than you'll find in some other products. I find the tyre model doesn't seem to hold up with single seaters quite so well, but that's just, like, my opinion, man. They're not too pricey, so I'd suggest, first off, grabbing Race On and having a crack at it. It's got a good range of cars (for a PC sim, many of which are concentrated on a single series) and plenty of downloadable tracks.

    LFS has plenty of cars, limited number of tracks, always "felt a bit funny" to me with the tyres' slip angles (too easy to get a car sliding and then to bring it back under control) but the online play is very streamlined and works excellently.

    rFactor doesn't have a licenced anything, but it's all built around the modding community - I don't think anyone uses any of the default content for it. Have a dig around and you can find some gems - I always have a hoot with the 1979 F1 mod - but then the quality of the whole product is only equal to the quality of the mod team involved.

    Grand Prix Legends is the most awesomest thing ever ever ever and, thanks to a phenomenally dedicated mod team, still holds its own as a simulator against anything out at the moment. Except, uniquely, it simulates terrifying 1960s F1 cars screaming around terrifying 1960s racing circuits. Can't beat it, in my opinion, but setting the damn thing up is a massive pain in the arse. Maybe leave that one until later. Nascar Racing 2003, if you can get hold of a copy, is also superb, especially with the Redline GTP mod (late '80s/early '90s prototype sports car racing).

    iRacing - I tried a cracked version, felt pretty good, but no better than anything else. I'm sure the online community it has is great, but there's no way I could justify the price.

    Of the modern sims I reckon netKar Pro is the best by a long shot, especially for modern single seater cars. I've found the FFB to be so superbly responsive - I've got a better sense of what the car's doing underneath me than in anything since GPL. But nobody plays it, so, hey.

    For someone new to it, I'd say that Race On has to be the best starting point. Load it, spend a little bit of time fiddling with it, play it. Once you're enjoying that then consider branching out - LFS and netKar both have demos, rFactor does although presumably you can't try the mods in it.

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Smashbox's Avatar
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    I want the game that someone thinks of when the Test Drive series is described. Just not the relative badness of Test Drive.

  19. #19
    I like NFS Shift and Dirt 2 but I haven't tried Dirt 3 yet. Forza is also a game that's really good too but I'm not sure if it's for the PC.

  20. #20
    Network Hub Capt. Eduardo del Mango's Avatar
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    Oh, it's worth mentioning that if you want to have a go at GTR/Race On/LFS/rFactor/iRacing/GPL, you should really get hold of a wheel. Whilst you can play all of them with another control method, they're really designed for for a proper wheel - it'll make them much easier to get the hang of and much more rewarding.

    So far as I'm aware, at the moment, Logitech wheels are the only real option. The Driving Force Pro's the cheapest one (which is a great bit of kit and does the job perfectly well), then the Driving Force GT (bigger diameter wheel which does make a difference, smoother motors for better force feedback), then the G25 and G27 (haven't played with either of them but it's apparently a very significant step up). If anyone's got experience with non-Logitech products then let us know how you've gotten on with them.
    Last edited by Capt. Eduardo del Mango; 09-09-2011 at 01:22 PM.

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