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ups: Direct X 9 graphical upgrades, unlockables and unlock feature, amazing driving model, phenomenal music and sound, Driving School is great
downs: menus are clunky, some sliders and options are confusing, very high learning curve

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GTR 2 Review
game: GTR 2 Fia GT
four star
posted by: Chris Martin
publisher: Viva Media
developer: 10tacle Studios / SimBin
view related website
ESRB rating: E (Everyone)
date posted: 10:55 AM Fri Nov 24th, 2006
last revision: 09:03 PM Fri Nov 24th, 2006

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Click to read.Sim or Arcade? With the driving genre so saturated with take-your-pick racers ? some humdrum, some brilliant ? this is the question asked even before purchasing another racing game. Do you like to take it slow and steady, or tear up the road and watch opponents struggle to see you with all that dust in their eyes? If you want something akin to Need for Speed, then stop reading this review right now: GTR 2 FIA GT is not that kind of racer. GTR 2 is a hardcore simulator.

Something like the Microsoft Flight Simulator of racing games, GTR puts you into 22 different real world vehicle types (over 140 total versions, most have different paint jobs) and tests your mettle on 15 real life racetracks (34 different versions of the tracks). The genius and bold ambition of GTR2 is that it attempts to train you to drive virtual racecars built around one of the most realistic automobile physics engines ever constructed in a game. It does this without patronizing the gamer, or making learning a chore, but a rewarding, and enjoyable, experience. The same was true for its predecessor (GTR) and its half-cousin (GT Legends) released only one year and one half year ago respectively.

So what does GTR 2 bring to the racing game field that these two other excellent racers do not? Differences in GTR 1 and 2 are not as astronomical as you might think, and that\'s GTR 2s fault. It doesn\'t distinguish itself enough from GTR 1. It is, essentially, the same game with a new coat of paint, a few new additions. It\'s still a deep game ? an excellent game, actually. The coat of paint, itself, is very attractive running in Direct X 9. And of course, the racing engine is still phenomenal, the AI is brilliant, the immersion is high... there are so many good things in this sequel, even if it\'s not that different from GTR 1 that I had a difficult time deciding what I can hold it responsible for.

If you picked up GTR 1 and GT Legends, GTR 2 might be still worth the purchase, but a few things should be taken into account. If you spent a long time configuring GTR 1 to your racing wheel or game-pad (please, use a racing wheel) then you\'ll have to do it again in GTR 2. The process of jumping into races, jumping out and reconfiguring, jumping back in to see if things had changed for the better, is long and agonizing. And the load times are still as lengthy as in GTR 1, so get a snack and a beer or two on hand for this one.

The game\'s menus can stand to get a bit of remodeling as well: that meandering dashboard is confusing and its button layout is strange. Even though the main page has been divided into \"Single Player\" and \"Multiplayer\" and we\'re given many options which blend together in an unattractive sort of way. Open Practice should just read \"Practice\" and you should be able to adjust the amount of opponent cars on a practice run. Time Trials should read \"Time Attack\" or \"Race Hot Lap\" (I always think that Time Trials are practice runs). Race Weekend should sound less like an excursion with my father and more like a \"Single Race\" or \"Single Circuit.\" 24 Hour Races should be titled \"Endurance Races\" and Championship should be able to be distinguished as a career path as apart from the 24 hour races and Race Weekend option. Here\'s where I\'m convinced that GTR 2 can learn from games like Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport: their menus are very clean and obvious. Also, I would like to see less sliders in the game modes, they look gaudy and overly technical, but in the tabs for Options, Controls and Realism they were acceptable. Just an example, I don\'t know the difference off-hand of 40% rainfall and \"Changeable\" rainfall. Also, I\'d like more clarification as to what \"Damage Sensitivity\" slider in the Realism tab actually means. Sure, it\'s a niche game, but clarity is essential.

If you\'re familiar with GTR 1s racing model you will be instantly familiar with GTR 2s. That is, not much has changed, as far as I can tell. The cars still control realistically. Many of the game\'s facets can be changed in the menus, including how easy or difficult (Novice, Semi-Pro, Simulation) the game will be. In GTR 1 I used one of my Xbox 360 controllers to test the game out and it worked really well. The same is true for GTR 2, only I wished that they found a way to use the rumble feature of the 360 controllers. Still, a racing wheel is my preferred mode of control.

In the game\'s defense, there are welcome changes. Most notably changed is the driving school, which now is much more forgiving and helpful. The game also unlocks different tracks and events as you complete events in the championship and driving school modes. As you go, things will unlock frequently, giving the gamer a real drive (excuse the pun) to completion. Also handy is that if you want to unlock a certain track or event, just find it, highlight it and click the \"unlock\" button. This will immediately jump you to the event or training mission needed to unlock the particular event you want to play. This is one of the only things that makes the menu system more manageable.

The in game sounds are still fantastic, so is the menu music. Overall, the immersion in the game is excellent. Some of the songs are particularly amazing. One new track in GTR 2 reminds me of Halo 1 and 2\'s sung choir theme.

Multiplayer in simulators are a touchy business. I usually don\'t like them because I\'m just not that good to play with some of the people online. Online there are only two types of drivers: really, really good ones, and horrible ones. When I went online, the split between those drivers was quickly obvious, but some were willing to race slower vehicles to keep the game interesting. Still, I\'m a single-player racing sim kind of guy. Good thing the single player is amazing.

But what makes the game worth picking up are the beautiful visuals. GTR 2 running in DX 9 is very sharp and the cars are so gorgeous. Seriously though, I don\'t really care much for graphics in racing games as long as the cars look respectable and the driving engine is top notch (this is why Gran Turismo 2 is my favorite from that series) but GTR 2s visuals are just fantastic. This is saying a lot since I\'ve been recently spoiled with the visuals in Gears of War. GTR 2\'s amazing graphics and an flawless driving engine make GTR 2 worth it, even if it isn\'t that much of a change in the series.

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