I have to say I was disappointed with the graphics in GTR 2. Yes yes, I know this game isn't about flashy looks but come on, when I compare this with Test Drive Unlimited or Project Gotham Racing it just isn't even in the same league. The scenery looks awful and I'd go so far as to say it would have been better not to include certain aspects of it, the flat 2D people for instance, are the worst spectators I have seen for many years and the design of the members of my pit crew is so bad that I actually felt sorry for them whilst I watch them, change my wheels.
Don't get me wrong, certain aspects of the graphics are pretty. The cars are modelled pretty well and look close to their real life counterparts (though if you flip them over they have no textures underneath them). On top of that the interior of the cars have some nice details which you can see in the screenshots. The lighting effects can at times be highly annoying, with rays of light sometimes blinding you as you approach a corner leaving you spinning out of a race.
The game offers you a whole host of graphical options to tinker with, more so than most games. This is slightly negated by the fact that you can run the game on full with a fairly modest system, anything above 3GHz Pentium IV, 1GB RAM, and any graphics card
with 256MB memory. Again I have to reiterate if you are looking for the most visually lush racing experience then look elsewhere, this is all about the simulation.
In many ways sound is more important than graphics in creating a realistic experience. Graphics are still a long way off looking photo-realistic and so we are generally far more forgiving, satisfied by something that is at least close to the mark. Sound on the other hand is a whole different ball game. If instead of hearing the roar of a supercar's engine we heard something resembling a farmyard tractor everyone would be fairly miffed.
It seems as though Simbin agree with me on this one and have done their best to replicate all the sounds as accurately at possible. Everything from the murmur of your pit crew as you fine tune your vehicle, to the exlposion of sound when you start up a race is terrific. Your heart will race when you hear the bark of a rival car's engine as he races alongside you attempting to overtake. I loved the music used in the splash screens too, high quality tunes that are racey, pacey and get the heart pumping. Exactly what you want in a driving game.
The biggest obstacle facing most gamers when trying to achieve the ultimate driving experience is the fact that they don't have a steering wheel, nor do they want to fork out the extra money to buy one. If you want to really enjoy this game however, then unfortunately you don't have a choice. Playing the game with the keyboard would be sacrilege and I'm a little disgusted that there is an option to control the cars with a mouse; it's unimaginable that anyone would choose to play like that.
Before we started playing with the steering wheel and pedals we tried out the wired 360 controller. Using the analogue sticks was far better than the keyboard, but was still far from perfect. Once we plugged in the office steering wheel (a Logitech Drive FX) the whole game becomes much more immersive. All of a sudden I really am behind the wheel, leaning into corners and slamming on the brakes. If you plan on playing GTR 2 properly you really need a steering wheel setup.
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For the target audience this game is aiming at then it probably couldn't get much better. This is about as a realistic as racing can get, short of actually getting in the car and driving yourself. Any critic analysing this game would have to accept that from this perspective the developers have created a masterpiece, comparable to Microsoft's Flight Simulator for realism and excellence.
My problem lies with the fact that most gamers probably won't enjoy this. For some (a few driving enthusiasts in the office, we found) this game was the gaming equivalent of sex. Most others, however, were infuriated and turned off by the steep difficulty curve and as such the score reflects this.
If you’re a driving enthusiast then you can pick this game up for £24.99 at Play
. The steering wheel we used will cost you around £50 which you can get from Scan
If you fancy trying the game now then download the demo here
and give it a spin.