RCU Review: Virtual Racing Industries Virtual RC Racing

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    Contributed by: Eric Hege | Published: March 2005 | Views: 28473 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    Virtual RC Racing

    Virtual Racing Industries

    Website: www.virtualrc.com

    Simulation Is Free
    Easy To Use Menus
    Excellent Graphics
    Very Realistic

    No Electrics

    Are you looking for a way to hone your on-road racing skills in the off-season? Do you want more time behind the wheel, but are afraid to get in the way of the seasoned veterans at your local track? If you answered yes to either of these two questions then Virtual Racing Industries thinks they have the answer for you. Even if you replied with a negative to those questions, you should still sit up and take notice of what Virtual Racing Industries is offering. As it's definitely worth checking out.

    What they're offering is their Virtual RC Racing simulator. The simulator itself is a free download, all you need to do is to register with the site. The free package comes with two tracks, and others can be additionally purchased if you desire. On top of that, you can also participate in on-line racing events as well. This is a way to drive and race on the tracks you would normally only be able to dream of.

    You might be asking what's so special about Virtual RC as video racing simulators and games are something that has been tried before. Up until this point however, they were more closely aligned with video games than providing anything that could be considered a realistic simulation that a seasoned veteran can use to hone their skills. Virtual Racing Industries hopes to shatter this train of thought, and when combined with the USB adapter and your radio, they are shooting for the most realistic racing experience yet.

    The first thing I should mention is that both the Virtual RC website, and documentation, refers to this as a game. However, it would be more aptly described by use of the word "simulation". With a combination of the realistic physics, handling, models to choose from, and detailed combinations possible, Virtual RC Racing is much more than a simple game. I prefer to consider it similar to a flight simulator for a pilot.

    Keep in mind though, that Virtual RC is a work in progress. There are a few issues, and items that need to be tweaked some. For instance, I had an issue with the intro movie not allowing the game to run. However, I walked through some of the information in the FAQ, and quickly had the problem resolved by removing the intro.wmv file. Following that change, I was quickly up and running. Regardless of some of the minor bugs that need to be worked out, Virtual RC is easily the best simulation I've seen of this nature. I expect things will only get better from here.

    I would also recommend that you go ahead and purchase the USB adapter as well. Trying to use a keyboard is asinine. You can use a joystick or steering wheel, but what's really the point. This is an RC simulator, you want to feel like you're driving a RC car. The only way to do that is to use your radio. The USB adapter will allow that, as it facilitates the use of a compatible radio with the simulation. I hooked my adapter up to a Hitec Aggressor CRX and it worked perfectly, and the fact that I didn't have to power the receiver with a separate pack made things even better.

    Minimum System Requirements
    Operating SystemWindows 98 or higher
    ProcessorPentium 4 1Ghz or better
    Memory128 Mb RAM
    Graphics CardGeForce 3, Radeon 9000 or similar card
    Internet Connection56K Dial-up connection

    Realistic R/C car physics
    Ability to save setups
    On and off-line play
    Replay mode
    Multiple views and camera modes
    Detailed features such as smoke and shadows
    Detailed amount of tuning variables
    1/8 and 1/10 scale cars
    Major brands are represented
    World renowned tracks

    I ran Virtual RC most of the time on a 2.8GHz computer using a GeForce MX440. Obviously, it ran perfectly with those criteria. However, I also ran it on a P3 866MHz computer as well, which was also equipped with the same GeForce video card. Despite the minimum requirements of needing a P4 1GHz or greater that's specified by Virtual Racing Industries, I was still pleased with the performance of the game. So those with older systems should be fine, provided they are using a compatible video card. Both of the computers use Windows XP as their operating system. The 2.8GHz computer has 1Gb of RAM installed, while the other had a total of 512Mb. As the graphic detail was turned up, the 866MHz machine's performance did start to suffer, so I moved it back to the default settings. Don't let that fool your however, because the default graphic settings are pretty good to begin with.

    The two default practice tracks were a fun to push your car to the limits on, and to see how you could improve your lap times. Since you could use them as much as you like, I spent my time on them getting used to the simulation and seeing what sort of differences the various changes would make. The oval track got old a little quickly, but the Oslo track was a great deal of fun. The various turns it offered were challenging enough to get you up to speed, and used to the various cars offered. However, should you want to race on additional tracks, or compete in on-line events, Virtual Racing Industries offers plenty of those as well.

    When it comes to cars, you're offered quite a selection. Certainly enough to keep you busy experimenting and testing before you make your mind on your favorite ones. You have many choice including models from Kyosho, Mugen, Schumacher, and Serpent. From there you get to choose between different body styles and tires you wish to use. You can even select among brands of fuel such as Trinity, Byron, and White Lightning. So you're sure to find something that suits your style, and the best part is they're all free. Think of it like winning the world's largest fully stocked RC garage!

    USB Adapter
    Tire Adjustments
    Shock Adjustments

    When it comes to actually running the tracks, it honestly feels like the real thing. Quite simplify it's the next best thing to being there. Although I didn't find the "Hey Dude, I'll buy you a slice of pizza if you help me with my setup" option in the menu, I did find that tweaking your setup affects the cars handling just as you would expect it to. I imagine that "pizza" menu choice may have gotten left on the cutting room floor though.

    You are provided several areas in which you can make adjustments, and this is where Virtual RC differs greatly from its predecessors. They cover about anything you'd ever want, or need, to adjust. The tabbed grouping format for the setup options is logically placed together, and everything is easy to find. Even the motor you chose is graphed on screen so you can visualize its power output, which helps you to provide a good pipe and header combination.

    When it comes to the adjustments available the amount offered is staggering. While you would expect to see items such as caster, one-ways, and toe, there are several options that may surprise you. Adjustments such as braking torque, clutch gap, and shock oil and can be adjusted as well. This adds to the realism, and while some of these settings may be more than some people want to use, there's a full spectrum of choices if you want to use them.

    1/8 Scale at Practice Oval
    1/10 Scale at Oslo
    Oslo Finish Line

    When driving, you're given several options in regards to camera positioning. Obviously you have the driver's stand view for those looking to maintain a perfect simulation of running at the track. However there are several other options to choose from as well. Some provide more of an arcade feel while others stick to a drivers stand style of viewpoint but zoom in so you can watch your car handle and see where you'd like to adjust it. The viewpoints also offer the ability to pan the track up or down, so you can position the camera closer to ground level or feel as if you're looking at the track from a much taller driver's stand.

    Realism abounds, although it will take a toll on a slower computer. I enjoyed having items such as the smoke trails turned on. My favorite part was zooming past the driver's stand and watching the smoke trail fade away as I ran down the track. The people in the background further added to the experience as they all looked as if they were talking amongst themselves, and some of them looked as if they were finishing up what they had just purchased at the refreshment stand. All of this made spending some time in the Virtual RC world a very pleasant experience.

    Virtual RC Racing is certainly a great addition to your computer if you love on-road racing. The simulation itself is free, although purchasing the USB adapter will run you around $30. The special events and extra tracks will cost more as well. However, the basic package allows you to run on the two default tracks as much as you want, while getting used to the game physics and diverse selection of cars available.

    I can say that I've had a ton of fun running around, and yes even crashing a few times, while playing in the Virtual RC Racing world. It's been a blast, and is certainly a way to help liven up the off-season when it's less than pleasant outside. Now I'm just holding out for Virtual Racing Industries to develop an off-road version!

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    The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.

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