Kalypso Media – Race On review

more racing action than you can shake an axle at
Photo of Kalypso Media – Race On
£29.99

Race On is actually a bundle of games built on Simbin’s respected simulation Race 07. It includes the original Race 07, along with the Swedish Touring Car Challenge game. Then there’s Race On itself, which adds some tarmac testosterone to the mix in the form of US muscle cars and a couple of American tracks.

Race 07 remains pretty much the same as when we reviewed it two years ago. Of course, it’s updated with the World Touring Car Championship 2008 season schedule and teams. Plus the graphics are starting to look a little stale now, which is true for both of the other games in this bundle, as they’re built on the same engine.

However, the good news is that with a decent modern PC you can totally max out all the visual details, and the result is certainly palatable, although the cars in the rear-view mirror still look like they’re made out of Lego or something equally blocky.

The Swedish Touring Car Challenge introduces exactly that, an eleven event championship on various Scandinavian tracks. Obviously these are fairly obscure circuits that you’ll never have heard of unless you’re a real racing buff, but there are some challenging little numbers here, twisty and bumpy affairs with some nasty cambers and suchlike.

However, the real challenge is the heart of this package; the additional Race On content itself. As we mentioned in the introduction, it brings American muscle cars into the pit, such as the Chevy Camaro, Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger SRT8 and Cadillac CTS-V. And when you first get behind the wheel of one of these beasts after driving a BMW, you really notice the difference.

Not only in the throaty roar of their massive engines – which is perfectly captured – but most notably in the way they handle. Namely, like a brick, although a very fast brick, granted. It’s a different skill cornering in these muscle cars, with earlier braking and firmer guidance needed, and it’s a fresh challenge to go alongside the touring and racing cars. Out of them all, we found the Camaro a particularly difficult vehicle to master. Only two US tracks are included, one of them being the famous Laguna Seca with its vicious corkscrew chicane.

So aside from the big American gas guzzlers, Swedish championship and the new 2008 season for the WTCC, the game’s essentially the same as Race 07. Sadly, old problems remain untouched: the unimaginative presentation, lacklustre damage modelling and erratic clipping detection (at one point we witnessed one car ghost clean through another).

Some better news came when we hopped online to see how active the game’s racing community is these days. Pretty active, as it turns out; we were able to find a race even in the morning on a weekday, with some particularly busy servers in the evenings. The lag seemed acceptable, with some spikes in packed races, but that’s to be expected with twenty players on the starting grid.

Company: Kalypso Media


Verdict
Race On is a good value for money package, with a colossal amount of cars and tracks on offer if you've not got the original game. It is feeling a bit dated now, but it's still a solid slice of racing simulation. Race 07 owners will have the new muscle cars to play around with, and the Swedish championship, but it's a slightly less compelling purchase for them.