In spirit, GTR Racing is a throwback to the heyday of the sim game. It’s not gentle on the casual gamer, sporting a brutally realistic physics model that will make hardcore race fans drool while sending others to the corner of their computer rooms to curl up in a fetal position and sob. If you’re the kind of person that will give up on a racing game the umpteenth time you go careening off of a turn or fishtailing into a wall, then you can stop reading now. This game is not for you. If you’re still with me at this point, get ready for one of the most realistic racers ever to sit on your hard drive. GTR is all about the racing. There’s no cutscene hype, no career mode, no unlockable videos of the developers talking about the game… just racing. Hardcore, sim racing.
GTR carries a license with FIA GT racing, a European league that races sports cars from Vipers to Ferraris. The tracks in the game are drawn straight from their real-world counterparts and consist of loops filled with an assortment of tight turns to navigate – no NASCAR ovals here.
To its credit, GTR does not force you to go all out right from the start. There is a mode of play that is only somewhat misleadingly titled “arcade” that is designed to ease you into the game. This mode removes a lot of the options available for fine-tuning your car, dumbs-down the competition, and eases up on the physics model. There is even a limiter on your engine to keep your speed down so you’re not tempted to go faster than you can handle. However, even in this mode you shouldn’t expect Burnout or Need for Speed style arcade racing. You still will need to control your speed and braking and approach turns with respect. This mode is really designed to ease players into the game and assumes that they will soon progress to the full simulation mode and not as a primary mode of play for racing newbies. Casual gamers will still find that they will spend a lot of time in the dirt on the edge of the track.
From there things can get as technical and correspondingly difficult as you like. The game allows you to play with the settings on everything from the engine to the suspension. You’re also given a full set of analytical tools based on those available to real race teams. All of this room for modification does have a serious impact on your car and its ability to contend for the flag (assuming that you can keep it on the track) and the realism of the game’s physics model can not be understated. As an acknowledgement that the driving can be difficult, GTR provides an AI driving assist that will allow you to call in the computer when you’re faced with a particularly difficult stretch of track. If you’d prefer to just race, though, GTR smartly allows you to download pre-set configurations so that you have the benefit of having someone who knows what they’re doing configure your car.
When on the track you’ll find the game’s graphics to be a step below the current generation of racing sims. They’re not bad by any means, just not quite as polished. The cockpits do get special mention though as each is a replica of the real-world version of the car that you’re racing. You can of course race from a chase camera view, but if you’re sticking with the game at this point then odds are that you’ll want the full sim experience. Damage is realistically modeled and as you take a few hits you’ll find pieces of your car hanging off or falling by the wayside. And yes, damage does affect the handling of your vehicle.