"Gran Turismo 4 better watch its back"
Over the years Codemasters have built up their reputation as one of the premiere driving game developers around with franchises like Colin McRae and TOCA building them up, they reach this point. In May 2004, V8 Supercars 2 (Race Driver 2) will hit the Xbox and PC and after having gone hands on with some preview code, petrol heads around the land down under will not be disappointed.
When Codemasters created the original game they kept with what they are good at. In many ways the original game was a safe game for codemasters, they stuck to touring car championships which they had done so well in the past with TOCA. With V8 Supercars 2 they are going to expand their horizons and it's hard to see that any racer will be unhappy with the wide selection on offer to them in V8 Supercars 2.
V8 Supercars 2 will feature thirty one different championships in fifteen different styles of racing. As well as the formidable V8 Supercars series, the game will feature racing categories such as truck racing, open wheel racing, stockcar racing, GT racing, rally racing and many others. These championships will make up the single player campaign which has changed significantly. Rather then following the fortunes of Ryan McKane, the game is played with a first person view and therefore will give the impression that the team boss is talking to you or yelling at you about a recent performance. With thirty one championships to complete, its going to take quite some time to conquer once its released.
One of the biggest changes for Codemasters recent release Colin McRae Rally 4 was the physics engine. They implemented four pivot points for each car as it traveled along the track and this has been replicated in V8 Supercars 2. It does result in players having to take time to adjust to the new physics setup, but once accustomed there is no doubt that they will enjoy the game more and feel that the experience is more realistic. If you drive around a corner too slow, you may spin whilst go around the corner to fast and you will be off in the dirt. It is a fine line in the sequel between a hotlap and a car smashed into a wall.
Going with this is the damage engine which has had a major overhaul. In the original game hitting a wall would at times cause some incredibly destructive damage, wheels flew off, glass would shatter but the car would still move. With the new damage model, the panel damage is a lot more realistic. On the bottom of the HUD, there are a few icons which represent different parts of the car. Damage the part and it will turn yellow indicating there is a problem, hit it again and it will turn red and this is when you should really turn into the pits and get your car repaired. Another addition to the game is a fuel meter which will flash when you're running low. This will give players the opportunity to implement fuel strategies during long races which will mix up the gameplay even more.
Some of the biggest news for the Australian market has been recently announced and that is the addition of new tracks, teams and drivers for the sequel. Holden Racing Team are going to be featured as are the new teams Ford Performance Racing, Team Kiwi, Team Dynamik and Team Betta Electrical as well as the drivers such as Mark Skaife, Toddy Kelly, Simon Wills and others. This is in addition to the teams which were featured in the original game such as Stone Brothers Racing. The new teams aren't the only major addition for the V8 Supercar series. New tracks are going to be featured and old ones have been updated. The new tracks include Sandown, Surfers Paradise, Pukekohe Park Raceway, Hidden Valley and Barbagello Raceway. The famous Mount Panorma in Bathurst is set to be included again as well with graphical updates as are the older tracks such as Eastern Creek and Adelaide. Overall there will be forty eight different tracks inclusive of the V8 tracks. Famous circuits such as Hockenheim from Germany and Laguna Seca from the Indy Cars in the USA are also going to be included with the final game.
The code we played is 80% complete and even now the game looks stunning to look at. The draw distance has been upped since the initial title and you can see a lot more of the surrounding areas from the tracks. The cars are highly detailed and feature the 2003 liveries as well as the aforementioned impressive damage model. The tracks are accurate right down to signs which are actually posted around the circuits and the frame rate will be sixty frames per second upon release. During our play testing the experience remained smooth and not once did we experience significant frame rate drop, very impressive considering up to twenty one cars can be on the track at the same time. The cars are the very latest BA Falcons and VY Commodores where applicable such as with the Holden Racing Team (HRT) cars.
For those of you wanting to give your mates a hiding, the game won't disappoint either. Both the Xbox and PC version of the game will feature online play, however we do not know at this time how many drivers will be on the track at the same time for both versions online. System link is supported on the Xbox version as is split screen.
With the game set to launch on May 1st 2004 Australia wide, there is only a few more months to wait for the V8 Supercar game to end all V8 Supercar games. The depth of this game may remain unmatched for sometime to come and when you factor in online play, new teams and tracks for the V8 section of the game and a more personal single player experience, you realise that Codemasters just may have one of the most successful racing games ever on their hands. Mark May 1st in your calendars petrol heads and get ready to rock and roll in a whole new breed of V8 Supercar racing. Tony Cochrone from AVESCO commented that the second V8 game is due out one year before they had anticipated to release another one, with that in mind it looks like this franchise could be around for sometime to come yet.