A Closer Look at RaceRoom Racing Experience BETA

Do you have a need for speed? SimBin has shifted gears with a Free2Race option currently available to Steam members with their new game, RaceRoom Racing Experience (or RaceRoom for short)! The game is currently in Open BETA, so let’s dive in and see what this game will have in store for you!

The opening video features the cars available in the game, racing around different tracks and at different angles. It gives you a basic overview of what you’ll come to expect, and shows off its style a little while you get a glimpse at the names of the people behind the scene. Yes, the opening video is also the opening credits, and unlike most games that start with the opening credits first, it was an impressive way to introduce you to the team, without boring you to tears.

The premise of the game is simple: provide users with basic tracks, cars, and the ability to test their skills against the other players online. There is no character development or storyline here – RaceRoom drops you right into the action and doesn’t bother with all the fluff. While currently in its BETA form there are not that many tracks and cars available, but players can still get a good indication of what’s to come by downloading the Open BETA and giving RaceRoom a spin.

Currently there are five cars for you to test out: the Saleen S7R, the DMD P20, the Canhard R52, the Aquila CR1 Sports GT, and the 134 Judd VB. The variety gives players a chance to get a feel for the diverse ways cars can handle in their element. For instance, the 134 Judd VB is lightweight, with 550 horsepower, which makes it ideal for uphill races, but may fall flat with tracks that require a lot of twists and turns. In case you want to see how each car matches up with your racing style, there is also a Ghost Car that runs the race with you on Single Player mode, showing you what your best time was. This is very helpful as you can actually race yourself to the finish and watch your progress as it happens! It is also a good indicator of when you have a car that just isn’t cutting it on the track, or isn’t catering to the way you drive.

The mechanics may take some getting used to, as the feel is reminiscent of many harder racing games like Shift 2: Unleashed, or Race Driver: GRID. Albeit, I do not own a wheel, and used a keyboard instead of a controller, so my experience may have been more difficult by default. The analog sticks on a controller or the manoeuvrability of a wheel may make this game slightly easier to control, as the keyboard reacts slowly especially with regards to acceleration or deceleration and makes sharp turns nearly impossible.

Visually the game is what you’d expect of a high-end racing game – with RaceRoom Raceway and Lakeview Climb available to players for free. On the RaceRoom Raceway track, you’ll be speeding by a peaceful lakeside and moss-covered mountains with crisp, snowy peaks. Let’s not forget the fans cheering in the stands, as this always adds an extra distraction (or ego-boost) as you’re sailing around its tight corners. The Lakeview Climb features a more forested area, with a lake that travels with you. The Lakeview Climb is twice the length of the RaceRoom Raceway, and has a more rustic feel to its road with weathered lines and cracks in the pavement. Everything from the pylons to the fans is given meticulous detail, so you can be sure to feel like you’re in the front seat of a high-powered beast, stealing the victory and the glory from the other racers. You can also customize the view you’d prefer to drive with: third-person from the back or the sides; first-person view with only the windshield; or in the driver’s seat with the wheel, carriage, and dash visible. It’s up to the players which way they prefer to drive, as each angle and viewing mode gives a different driving experience and view of the track.

The opening video begins with a rock instrumental, but when you are on the track, the ambient music doesn’t kick in. Keep in mind they are currently tweaking things as this is only a BETA, so the music is something that will most likely be added later. The Audio Options are really neat though, as you can customize the volume of not just the music, but the basic sounds you’d hear while you race as well. Everything from the Engine to the Road sound-effects can be controlled – so if you really want to hear that Canhard R52 hum, you can make it drown out everything else quite easily.

Overall this looks like the kind of game that will be a challenge not for the faint of heart – and something that will make those at the top of the Leaderboards look like racing gods. While the mechanics are slightly more difficult than your average racer, it’s bound to be rewarding as you master each track separately and battle for the best track times. If you have a passion for racing, RaceRoom will be something you’ll want to try even just to prove to yourself how good you really are.

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February 20, 2013 - 8:00 am