On Games and Real Life

I confess. I am excited for a new game release for the first time since Forza 2 (Back in 2006 or so.) Yes, I am just a big kid. (HECK, I still play with cars!)

After I raced Spec Miata, I’ve noticed that none of the so-called race simulators (even on the PC) simulated the experience very well. The sense of speed and acceleration was missing, as well as the sense of consequence (of the “OMFG I am going to die” kind), elevation changes on the track, the sheer confusion of having too many things to think about at the same time. That besides the obvious, more sensorial caveats, as the tightness of the cockpit, the G forces, the heat emanating from the fire wall and trans tunnel that keeps burning your crotch on the same spot over and over again for the full 30 minutes of racetime, and other dealios that will never be represented in a racing game at all.

Plus, cockpit views were also at fault. I could never race on cockpit views because of the Logitech steering wheel that I use to play. It always feels like I am racing from the back seat. I need to focus really well in order to trick my brain on thinking that the hands on the screen are my own, so in this way I could focus on the windshield and “outside world” and start racing. In reality, our eyes see as much as the top of the wheel only when we race. For everything else, you’re sitting so far forward on the cockpit that you need to look down to spot the gauges, or you end up loosing focus of everything else at speed and anything besides the racetrack turns into just noise. That’s why I found the cluster-top shift lights on that spec Miata so helpful. At speed, all I needed was to spot that red light at the bottom of my vision to know when to shift. Since the car sounded so different from my own, it was difficult to match revs to a precise gearshift. 

This new game sounds promising though. Developed by the nice grassroots racing folks at speedhunters.com, as well as those smart folks behind GTR2 and GT Legends, Need for Speed: SHIFT deals with most of those problems that I mentioned. The cockpit view is involving and fully simulates what you really see when racing. Every bump and elevation change is felt, your vision narrows down to the windshield as you accelerate (what will definitely help my wheel-controller conundrum.) your head bobs around, every corner seems too fast. All it is missing is the crotch burns.

Tracks are built using actual telemetry data. No high tech laser scanning or anything like that. What you feel REALLY happens on that track. Plus you can still tune, paint, and adjust your car to make it your own, a testament to the grassroots spirit behind the game, a spirit that I love and cultivate. It will be out for all platforms on the 15th of this month, and needless to say I’ll be 60 dollars shorter then. Here’s a video:

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