I have a new racing addiction. It's called rFactor and it's got me hooked. I've never been a sim racer, arcade or semi-arcade racing has alway been more my style. Hop in and race.....I don't have the time to play with setups and sims just seemed too time consuming before you actuallly got to race. I did try GTR2 and found the online experience was horrific.....some people will disagree but it was bad for me......laggy, not intuitive. Then I discovered rFactor which just totally changed my ideas of sims. You can just hop in and race, by disabling setups and everyone races the default setup......or you can enable setups and let everyone play around with them. You can even install a setup on the server and force everyone to use it, like a better default setup. There is a huge number of mods for the game ranging from lawnmowers to Formula One.....there is even a Hydroplane boat mod under construction and a Roll Royce Silver Shadow racing mod.Some of them are good, some are great and some are very average. The same goes for tracks......I currently have over 120 tracks installed. But by far and away, the best feature of rFactor is the netcode.....the online racing is awesome. I have raced bumper to bumper in servers with 35 racers, collision on (you can't turn it off.....why would you when it is so good) with no lag. I have occasionally seen cars disappear but that is a problem at their end, not with rFactor. If you want to know more go to the Need For Better Speed forums (link above) and check out the rFactor forum.

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This is the latest version of the Codemasters V8 Supercars racing game. All the stuff below applies here except there are more cars and tracks and the online "user-friendliness" although different has been improved with a patch. If you want to race online you will need the patch ver 1.2. The handling and driveability has been improved over V8S2 (RD2) which in turn was an improvement over RD1. There are still a few issues with the flag system which gives warnings and penalties for going off track (shortcuts) and  careless driving (ramming). You get penalised if you go off the outside of the track because you tried to corner too fast. The fix is to lift off the gas while you are off-track. It is still better than nothing and there are a lot of different options in the flag/warning system including turning them off. I tend to have the warnings on normal or below but turn the gravel traps to pro-sim.....which makes them like glue if you try a shortcut. Overall I am very happy with the game.....it has totally replaced RD2 (not even installed now) as my racing game of choice. The next one that looks promising is Test Drive Unlimited......but if it is "pay-to-play" online I won't be doing it. The game is reputed to retail for around $115.00AUD....that's enough.

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Well, I have a new addiction. Someone has finally bought out a racing game that has captured the interest again. Codemasters latest offering is V8 Supercars 2, Toca Race Driver 2 in the USA and DTM Race Driver 2 in Europe. It is commonly being called Race Driver 2 or RD2.  RD2 offers an amazing variety of racing types: 15 different classes and styles, including stock cars, rally cars, formula cars, hot rods -- even pickups and semi trucks. Add to that, 48 tracks and 31 different championships and you have a wide range of choices. But of course for me, the deciding factor is the online experience. This one comes as close to the user-friendliness of the HS interface as I've come across. Although it uses the Gamespy interface, there are buddy lists that enable you to go straight to the pit your buddies are in, a choice of collision modes, none, forward only and full, continuous chat (the chat is still there after the race) and best of all, with a good connection from the host, virtually lag-free racing with up to 12 racers in a pit. It has a Sim mode and a Pro-Sim mode. I haven't tried Pro-Sim yet but Sim is somewhere between the arcade style of HS and the sim style of GPL.

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Need For Speed Underground is the latest game from Electronic Arts in the Need For Speed series. First the complaints......hehe. EA has continued their habit of ignoring the requests from their customers. This time they actually requested input from the people who have been buying their games for years.........and then ignored them completely. The main things on the wish list were a collision on/off option for online racing, a replay function, a records function and a better online interface than HP2. When the game came out there was no coll option, no replays, no records and a crappy disfunctional online interface..........so much for input. Having said all that the offline part of the game is a lot of fun. The physics are very similar to High Stakes, graphics are cool (even with a GE Force 2 MX 400 vid card), they've finally managed to work out how to use the tracks more than once without it getting too repetitive (the game is set in town so there is more than one way to get from A to B) and the interface is quite workable.

The game revolves around the small mostly four cylinder cars that the street racers are hotting up these days. You get a starter car and every time you win a race you get points and unlock cars, visual upgrades and performance upgrades that you can then purchase with your accumulated points. They are definitely no MacLaren F1 or Mercedes CLK but they are fun.

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The latest release from EA in the Need For Speed series is Hot Pursuit 2 which has now been out for a few months. As an offline game it is OK (but I did manage to get right through in a few days) but the online portion is gruesome in my view. All the good parts of HS are gone and the interface is terrible. It runs through the Gamespy system and has no continuity of chat (new chat after each race), no buddy list, no whisper facility, no way of finding your buddies online, no cheat protection and no stats board. Already people have been making patches to provide a stats board (and of course other people have found ways to hack the patch) and EA has been characteristically silent on the patches issue......good one again EA!

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Need For Speed - High Stakes is the 4th in a series of car racing games from Electronic Arts. Back in 1995 (remember Win95) I came across the demo for NFS 1. I installed it and rest is history. I was instantly hooked, bought the game and have had all versions up until NFS4. After about two months with High Stakes I had done all the levels, career, tournament, KO and Hot Pursuit and could beat the bots with my eyes shut. One day I was booting up the game for a little bot-bashing and I noticed a button labelled "Connect Players". Clicking on that led me to "EA Racing Online". I followed the links, created an account and waited for my emailed password. When that arrived I logged on and discovered the world of online car racing. Racing real people from all over the world.......now I was really hooked. That was back in late October 1999 and I'm still doing it. I have met friends from all over the world, there are probably more people call me Blak than I even know in the real world.

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The next big thing in online car racing from Electronic Arts is MotorCityOnline due to be released into Beta test soon. It will be an internet based game featuring some of the most awesome American muscle cars ever made. Cruising the streets with your buddies, illegal street racing for money or pink slips........reminds me of a cross between the movies American Graffitti and Two Lane Blacktop. Anyway, time will tell but the cars alone are enough to make me keen to have a look. With a background of drag racing, hotrodding and dirt circuit racing, this looks to be right up my alley. Hopefully all the beta testing we have done on HS will enable EA to get the MCO servers smooth and reliable.

An addition to this. The Beta is now over and the game has gone live and public. Personally it just didn't do it for me, but, there are many people who like it. So although I can't give my recommendation, if you don't mind paying a monthly (AU$20) fee (+ the purchase price) then sign up and try it.

Well it's quite some time since I wrote about MCO but the latest news is that EA have decided to close it down......which leaves all these people who have paid good money for the game (not to mention the monthly online charges) with a useless drink coaster as the game has no offline mode....good one EA

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