review – gtr reloaded part2

as promised, i’ve spent some more time with the latest release of the GTR series. my main focus was getting an impression about the realism, the overall performance and to have a look at the different features of the game. i won’t say it was a disappointing evening but to say the game is great would be too biased as well.

steering wheel:
no racing sim without steering wheel. since i wasn’t able to upgrade my current wheel i’ve had do go for the old logitech momo force racing wheel. this one is known as a little bit itchy to set up but compared to the G25 i really like the fat grip feeling which is much closer to my Raid i’m using for my real life roadster. anyway, the new option to create different control profiles is a real addition to the game. even if you’re not going to change your control device very frequent, the option to keep all your settings when you start the game without the wheel attached is really comfortable and depending on car, event or track, you can create different mappings as well, e.g for some cars, there is no multi screen motec display, so no need to waste a button for this option, so this button can be used for headlights if you’re going to race at night.
the momo started to rattle as usual, so the option to reduce engine vibration without editing a config file is very nice and balances the lack of preset for different wheels like in former titles. the feedback is not really different to older GTR games but this is quite hard to judge since it’s not the same car. the overall feeling is as usual, the feedback is strong and detailed and can be adjusted to personal needs very easy. maybe it’s based on my experience or the physics is a little bit less demanding compared to former titles, i found driving on the limit or with a more rough attempt is easier but i won’t bet something on this feeling until i’ve got a car which i’m used to drive. unfortunately, Barcelona is not included anymore and the Nordschleife layout is different to other versions, so i’m not able to compare lap times right now.

i went for some tests of this so called performance manager function. due to the quite simple graphics of GTR i thought it should possible to run at high or max settings. the performance manager works only for the preset settings like low, med, high, max so there is no chance to leave the balancing to the game while prefering some certain settings. for this, you have to finetune your settings like in the older versions. my main focus is the nordschleife with a field of cars which should be as big as possible. setting the preset to high, starting a race of 25 cars (which seems to be the maximum?!?!) and jumping to the practise session was done in a few minutes. i’ve had the windows task manager in background and i’ve started the nvidia system monitor to track the temperatures of the two cpu cores and the graphics card. the major surprise happens as i’ve hit the pitlane. the game was stuttering with lots of sound glitches and drops. i thought this may disappear after spending some minutes on the track but that’s not the case. on my 3.6 ghz E8500 with nvidia 8800gt card these setup is completly undriveable. the frame rate is very low and the prefered frame rate of 55-65 is not achievable. i have no idea what the performance manager tries to do but the difference between just selecting a preset with or without performance manager is minor. the only visible effect was the quality of the rear view mirrors and the impact is that ugly that no one really wants to go for that. to figure out if this is related to graphics, i’ve started a test session without any ai drivers and the performance was kind of fluid if not close to perfect. jumping back to the task manager and the nvidia system monitor was showing that just one core is utilized and the graphics card is not really pushed to it’s max performance. to proof this, i’ve started a race on a different track, Brno, and as expected, the performance is quite similar to Nordschleife. The more cars you add the worse the performance. even if i understand that the complexity of simulation can’t be compared to titles like GRID but taking into account that the visual appearance is much better in most of the current titles it is really hard to understand that this game is showing such a huge weakness on a system like mine. it seems like i have to spend more time on this issue.

my first comment about the bumbness of the track must be corrected. the track is really very detailed in terms of road conditions and curbs. especially with a stiff setup, the car tends to bounce and swing a lot which is especially at high speed a very demanding thing. leaving alone the graphics, in terms of layout, tarmac, curbs and bumps, i would tend to say that’s the best Nordschleife for GTR so far. from a visual perspective, there are better versions (3rd party) but taking into account the life track feature, i thing this track is worth buying the game. the different sound environments depending on which section you’re driving are nice but they require some sound tweaking because the car is too loud to get any notice of audience or pit sounds.

the huge amount of cars are interesting if you are keen on driving different classes or cups. the mini challenge is nice but is lacking the Salzburgring which may was not on the list for 2007. the feeling of the front wheel driven cars is really different to the rwd cars and this is offering a broad spectrum of challenges. the biggest disadvance is the lack of 24 hour races or endurance races. this eliminates the races at night as well. from a pure gt racing perspective, GTR2 offers the best package so far, especially if you keep in mind the huge amount of 3rd party tracks, cups and cars. the graphics are not really different and in terms of performance, there is no difference neither. if you are keen on driving a wide range of different cars on an uptodate Nordschleife or if you are a hardcore mini fan, then this package is indeed interesting and worth the money. but please keep in mind, this review is heavily biased because i’m just looking for gt class endurance races or custom elise cups, so the mix of tracks and the lack of races longer than 4 hours and the limited field size is disappointing but no one can expect that Simbin is going to produce gt sims only. i just wish for one which will address most of the issues GTR2 is showing 😉

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