rFactor encore

Posted by Ted Pollak on February 26th 2007 | Discuss
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Since downloading the top mods for the previously reviewed “rFactor” I find it necessary to continue. Fantastic is the only word that comes to mind.

The mod community for this game is so strong that many of the top downloads register in the hundreds of megabytes, with thousands of hours being devoted to their creation. People all over the world contribute to this game—often modeling their local tracks from actual gps and elevation data. From the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in Brazil to lesser known tracks like Cadwell Park in England and Kyalami in South Africa, they have built them all, hundreds of them.

I will focus on three “race class” mods that are so detailed and well programmed they deserve to be multi-million-dollar-profit games in themselves. But this is not about money to the creators; it’s all about passion—passion for driving, and passion for creative expression through programming and art.

F1 2005

Figure 1. F1 2005. (Source: rFactor Central)
Figure 2. Screenshot of Nordschleife from the PCC 2005 Germany mod. (Source: rFactor Central)

A group of enthusiast programmers calling themselves the Car and Track Development Project (or CTDP) released a mod called F1 2005. What makes this particular mod so impressive is that the actual 2005 Formula One lineup is perfectly replicated down to the paint jobs on the helmets. Furthermore, the precise flag and race rules from the 2005 season are also duplicated. For example, there were no in-race tire changes allowed in 2005.

This is only one mod by this programming group and they already are almost finished with F1 2006. Because I extensively covered “Formula One” in the previous article I will move on leaving you with the screenshot in Figure 1 and a recommendation that this is one of the best.

Porsche Carrera Cup 2005

Few things beat the feeling of punching through fourth gear in a 400-horsepower Porsche GT3, and few places are more perfect to experience it than the Nordschleife, a 23-kilometer track located in Nurburgring, Germany. A programming team calling themselves the German Sim Mod Foundation have produced a piece of software that is truly immersive. The sound of the engine and gearbox, the cheering of the crowds and their airhorns as you pass, and of course the stunning visuals all put you in the seat of a car that is the dream of millions. Even if you happen to be wealthy enough to own a car of this caliber—few would risk pushing them to the limit as you can in PCC 2005.

Figure 3. Track configuration of the urburgring/Nordschleife. (Source: Nürburgrung)

The previously mentioned track Nord-schleife (and its smaller brother, the Nurburgring) has auto racing history dating back to the 1920s. The rFactor model, created by a three-person team only known by their programming handles *Com8*, Genghis99, and Nor, is the best track, in my opinion, for PCC 2005.

Nicknamed “The Green Hell” by legendary racer Jackie Stewart, it is arguably the finest permanent road course in the world. What makes this twisty piece of pavement special beyond its brilliantly designed turns and stunning scenery is the fact that it is open to the public and in real life you can drive it with your own car for 16.

The realism in this scene is incredible (Figure 2). And when you downshift into that turn with the spectators you get a subwoofer pop from backfire (depending on your rpm’s), the crowd cheers and toots their airhorns.

Figure 4. G-Force in a Renault Turbo 2. (Source: rFactor Central)
Figure 5. Audi on a snowy mountain road. (Source: rFactor Central)

Historic rally cars

This mod holds a special place in my heart because of a short film that earns rally racing my designation as the supreme deity of all racing (except maybe motorcycles but two wheels are a different story). There are just more variables and danger in rally racing, bottom line. Swirling dust, choking mud, trees, cliffs, shadows, night, few opportunities to pit stop (if at all); these things require a special breed of driver.

The film is called Climb Dance, and it has won numerous awards at film festivals around the world. I highly recommend readers hunt this video down on the Internet, but if you can’t find it or prefer better quality than the YouTube version, shoot me an email and I’ll get all 66 glorious megs of it to you. It’s almost hard to believe what you are seeing—but indeed it documents the actual world rec-ord–breaking run up Pikes Peak that Ari Vatanen made in 1988, driving a four-wheel drive, four-wheel steer, Peugeot 405 Turbo.

For fans of rally, the HRC mod for rFactor can’t be missed.

Even since watching Climb Dance I’ve wanted to experience it, and, thanks to a programmer and track modeler known only as Frank 55, I have. Sim racers can drive the exact replica of Vatanen’s car—or choose from a diverse livery of other vehicles including Audis, Lancias, Toyotas, Fords, and my particular favorite after the Pikes Peak 405T16, the Renault Turbo 2 Maxi—a bulldog of a road gripper that I like driving on paved tracks. There’s also the classics like Alfa GTV’s, BMW 2002s, I could go on and on—too many to list.

What do we think?

So why is this game important to the computer and graphics industry? It pushes pixels faster than anything I’ve ever seen and is a good test for how a machine or card performs. They say the human eye cannot see (or is it the brain can’t process?) anything over 30 frames per second. That might be true for film or television but in this resource-hogging game I could detect jumpiness under 50.

Turn up your fan speeds and open your wallets—rFactor will rock even the best machine.

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