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Friday, February 5, 2016

EORG: The Winning Formula

John Marine | 7:32 PM |
Formula 1 in racing games can be tough. In some games, formula race cars represent the most capable vehicles to use in racing/driving games. So every effort to make and introduce formula cars in games is worth it for the ultimate experience. A lot of games deliver on these experiences. Some others, not so much. This blog post is all about formula cars in racing games, especially in those not entirely concentrated on formula-type racing cars.

Formula Cars in Games

This part of the blog post takes a look at fictional formula cars in games.

EORG Elements of Racing Games - The Winning Formula
Various racing and driving games have formula-type race cars to them in offering an ultimate racing experience.

To many people, formula cars represent the most capable and fastest cars to race. They are the machines that are the purest of racing vehicles. Anyone seeking the ultimate sort of racing usually look to formula cars and for good reason. There are those who believe that "real race cars do not have fenders." If that is the case, then the truest of race cars. Despite their performance capabilities, extreme care is needed using these machines. Formula cars are very fragile. You do not have the luxury of having strong bodies or fenders in wheel-to-wheel racing like you would with stock cars or touring cars or even prototypes. It doesn't take much to damage most formula race cars. So if you are going to race these machines for real or virtually, make sure you are very careful not to push these cars too hard.

For the life of me, I was never very good at any game featuring formula cars, especially Formula 1 games and F1 mods. Maybe it's the level of difficulty or me not taking full advantage of the handling capabilities of such cars. These racing machines still are among the best anyone can race. Even the most arcade-style racing games do a great job of showcasing the raw power and capability of such formula racing machines.

Do you NEED Formula Cars?

As many people consider formula cars to be the best of all racing machines, many of them will consider Formula 1 to be the premier category of not only formula car racing but also racing in general. Formula 1, however, is tough to pick up unless you have some sort of licensing deal with Formula 1 and from various bodies like the FIA, FOTA, and entities like them. Good luck trying to get approval to feature certain real F1 cars in games. Some have succeeded, but many others only wished they can get in Formula 1 machines. You can't even use the name "Formula 1" or "F1" in most cases because those too are licensed and copyrighted.

So what do you do when you want to provide those ultimate race car experiences but can't get your hands on Formula 1 or Formula 1 style cars? You make your own! You can still provide experiences even if you can't provide actually licensed content. As long as you can provide a sort of experience to others even without proper licensing, that is all that matters. Trying to provide as many racing experiences as possible through as many different disciplines is paramount in most racing/driving games for diversity and for enjoyment.

What you are about to see in the next section are examples of trying to provide formula racing experiences in games not entirely concentrated on formula racing.

Formula Cars in Games: Samples

I will offer descriptions and such regarding formula racing in games. Feel free to take a look around to see certain games that have dared to test racing formula cars.

Formula Cars: Gran Turismo Series.

Anyone who has followed the Gran Turismo series may have remembered seeing F1 cars first in Gran Turismo 3. Since Gran Turismo 4, Polyphony Digital supplanted their own formula race car. Gran Turismo 3 has about six formula cars to unlock. While they are not licensed cars, they do resemble a number of real F1 cars. For instance, the F687/S resembles the Lotus 97T. Speaking of the Lotus F1 cars, a later update for Gran Turismo 6 included a tribute to Ayrton Senna. Players of GT6 would be able to race two formula racing machines Ayrton Senna raced with including his go-kart from way back when.

Since Gran Turismo 3, the completely original Formula Gran Turismo car was the car for which people can enjoy formula-style racing. Gran Turismo 5 Prologue and Gran Turismo 5 both offered something many people didn't expect- two of Ferrari's F1 cars, let alone Ferrari in general. Because after all... Polyphony Digital is too concerned with kei cars and Skylines/GT-Rs than Ferraris, at least in the minds of lots of people. Gran Turismo 5 and Gran Turismo 6 are both interesting cases as far as formula cars are concerned. Both games feature the Red Bull X prototypes. These are formula-style cars offering some of the ultimate race car experiences. They are not traditional formula cars in any sense, but they are more like the formula racing product Gran Turismo wants to offer to its gamers. You have to credit these machines as providing some identity and appeal to the Gran Turismo series. But to be honest, I think Gran Turismo should feature more "realistic" formula cars. We have Indianapolis Motor Speedway- so why not include IndyCar Series cars, cars from the former Indy Racing League, Champ Cars... and things like that? I would be okay racing Formula Ford and especially Formula 3. Gran Turismo could even go the extra mile (so to speak) and include Super Formula (formerly Formula Nippon) or maybe even some GP2 Series cars. The new Formula E would be great also. Just spice up the formula racing a bit. It is also possible Gran Turismo could feature some more smaller formula cars like Formula Vee, Pro Mazda Championship (which I've always known as the Star Mazda series), or maybe also the Skip Barber Formula cars.

If it were up to me, I'd keep the Formula Gran Turismo car from Gran Turismo 4. However, I would make a new Formula Gran Turismo car inspired by today's crop of Formula 1 race cars. They may even try to bring back the fictional formula cars from Gran Turismo 3 but add some extra cars inspired by past F1 machines.

Formula Cars: Forza Motorsport Series.

There were never any formula race cars of any kind in the Forza Motorsport series until Forza Motorsport 5. Three different styles of formula cars were featured in Forza Motorsport 5- modern IndyCar Series cars, a modern F1 car, and a classic F1 car. The vintage F1 car is the Ferrari 315 raced by Niki Lauda in 1976. The Lotus E21 is the modern F1 car featured in the game. Forza Motorsport has also famously featured the Formula E race cars. Formula E is the series devoted to providing full-on pure electric race cars. I actually find it a bit surprising Forza hasn't featured any kind of formula car until Forza Motorsport 5.

JUST SO YOU KNOW... I actually thought of discussing what a formula-type race car exclusive to Forza Motorsport would be like. You may still see that as a topic of discussion in this blog in a future post. So stay tuned to "John's Race Space" if indeed I make that topic.

Formula Cars: ToCA Race Driver Series.

The ToCA Race Driver series broadened its motorsports appeal starting with ToCA Race Driver 2. The series has been predominantly about touring car racing prior to even the first ToCA Race Driver game. Formula cars in this game series ranged from the likes of Formula Ford to the Masters Grand Prix. ToCA Race Driver 2 was rather diverse with its array of formula cars. Racing the Masters Grand Prix cars was the ultimate destination in the game's story mode. The Masters Grand Prix was essentially the equivalent of Formula 1 based on the capabilities of these cars. The game does feature Formula Ford as one of the different formula series you can race. There is also a series called American 1000 in TRD2, and it is more along the lines of the IndyCar Series and the former Champ Cars.

ToCA Race Driver 3 has an entire discipline devoted to open-wheel formula race cars. However, there are also a few extra series featuring formula cars in some of the other disciplines. TRD3 allows you to start with go-karts and work your way to racing the BMW Williams FW27. You could even run an event in the Classic discipline that allows you to race different generations of Williams F1 cars. If you're feeling nostalgic, you can even race some cars like some of Mercedes-Benz's past formula cars and even the Lotus Type 49. If you want intense oval racing, take your open-wheel love to the Oval discipline and race the IndyCar Series in that game.

Formula Cars: GRID Series.

The GRID series from Codemasters features various kinds of formula cars. Excluding GRID 2, you could race a number of open-wheel cars in GRID and GRID Autosport. Nothing close to Formula 1 is among the formula cars. However, you do get to enjoy racing formula machines such as Formula J-1000, Formula Ford, Formula 3, and even the IndyCar Series. GRID is a series that is an evolution from the legendary ToCA series of games from Codemasters. However, GRID is more arcade-like. One thing to remember- you can still damage a formula car to terminal damage if you are not careful.

Formula Cars: rFactor.

rFactor offers three flavors of formula racing goodness. You can start off with the rTrainer cars, based on the Skip Barber Formula cars. You can then step up to rF3- the Formula 3 cars. I personally love racing these cars. Of rFactor's three main styles of formula cars, Formula IS is sort of the equivalent of Formula 1 in rFactor. You will need 2.1M Credits and a lot of experience to unlock and purchase Formula IS. Unless you want your own Formula IS car in rFactor, you can get the Team rFactor Formula IS car for free.

While rFactor has its own F1-style cars, you can race an actual F1 race car- the BMW Sauber F1 car. Of course, if you want a complete experience with formula cars, you can always download various mods for rFactor featuring all kinds of F1 seasons and drivers and such.

Formula Cars: Live for Speed.

When you first get Live for Speed, the only formula cars you get is the Formula BMW. There's nothing wrong with Formula BMW, but there are other kinds of formula cars available for you to race when you purchase other licenses. One of the first formula cars you get with the other licenses is the MRT5 after purchasing the S1 license in Live for Speed. The MRT5 is based on the Formula SAE race car of Canada's McGill University. It is an underpowered car mostly suited towards kart tracks and autocross tracks. When you purchase the S2 License in Live for Speed, you get three more formula cars to have a total of five formula cars to race. The Formula XR is one of the three formula cars offered only with the S2 license. It is a peppy formula car with very decent performance. One of the other formula cars in the S2 package is the powerful Formula V8. Even though the Live for Speed team is of three members, this team got the approval to feature the BMW Sauber F1 car. The inclusion of formula cars only adds to the already enticing appeal to this multiplayer sim racer.

Formula Cars: TORCS.

The open-source PC game TORCS (The Open Racing Car Simulator) features a formula-style car you can race. It has been a while since I played TORCS, so I won't comment much further on its performance or of any races you can run with it. There are no licensed formula cars to speak of here.

Formula Cars: Speed Dreams.

Speed Dreams, the successor to TORCS, has some vintage formula cars from the 1930s you can race. Since these are very old, they are quite the fussbudget to try to handle properly.

Formula Cars: Project CARS.

One of the many categories of competition in Project CARS is the Formula discipline. There are three levels of Formula car in Project CARS: Formula C, Formula B, and Formula A. Formula C features the sort of grassroots or amateur level racing machines. Formula C features cars like the Dallara Formula 3 race cars. Formula B race cars are more along the lines of the GP2 Series cars. Formula A is the ultimate class with machines more like modern Formula 1 race cars. Of course, due to licensing reasons, it can't be called Formula 1.

Formula Cars: Total Immersion Racing.

If you were able to unlock it, you can access the Rockingham Champ Car and be able to race it in the game. Even though Total Immersion Racing is about sportscar racing, it is a bit unusual to see any kind of formula-type cars in this game. One last note- the Rockingham here is of the Rockingham oval in England, not the Rockingham oval in North Carolina.

Formula Cars: Grand Tour Racing '98.

Grand Tour Racing '98 allows you to race for one team complete with five different kinds of cars. Among the kinds of cars you race with are Indy cars. The Indy cars in this game are the fastest and most capable machines with top speeds north of 200 mph.

Formula Cars: Ridge Racer Type 4.

You wouldn't expect to see a formula car in a Ridge Racer game. However in Ridge Racer Type 4, there was a car from Grip car specialist Terrazi called the Terrazi Starlight. This car is styled like a 1960s Formula 1 race car complete with a glass canopy and one headlight. This is a Grip car, so don't think you can go sideways into corners with a car like this.

Formula Cars: Burnout series.

One of the last sort of games you'd imagine seeing any kind of formula car is in the crash-happy Burnout series. To my knowledge, this is the only Burnout game I know of that has formula race cars among the list of vehicles. When I researched this section, I learned formula cars have been in the Burnout games besides Burnout Revenge. It's a good thing Burnout is an arcade-style racing game, because if you tried to put a car through the insanity Burnout provides, your formula car would easily be a heap of scrap metal.

Formula Cars: RUSH Series.

The RUSH series is all about insane, unrealistic racing along with cars having gravity as if they were on the moon. One car you can unlock among the different cars is the Formula car. In "RUSH 2: Extreme Racing," collecting enough keys will get you to unlock the Formula car for the track where you found enough keys to unlock it for. The car is very fast but hard to control. So this would be along the lines of the extreme-style cars.

Formula Cars: Stunts/4D Sports Driving.

Stunts featured an Indy car among its lineup of cars. You could race the Porsche March Indy car in this 1990 PC racing game. It is the fastest car in the game. Even when you put it through the varied stunt tracks in the game, you can still enjoy pushing this car to the limit as scenery zooms by.

There are many more games that have had formula-style cars in them, but these are among some of the many different racing/driving games to feature such cars. The reason why I didn't include games like iRacing, SimRaceway, and RaceRoom in this blog post was because I wanted to focus mostly on fictional or non-licensed formula cars.

The Winning Formula: Final Thoughts

Formula cars in racing games offer some of the finest racing experiences in terms of speed and handling. Despite their performance, these machines can be difficult to control if one isn't adept enough to harness the full fury of such racing machines. Many racing/driving games have had their own formula style racing cars. There is no shame in not having Formula 1 in some racing games that could benefit from having them included. For the most part, including formula-style racing cars is the best any racing/driving game can do especially for those looking to offer great racing experiences. Many of these machines are the best of the very best. So when you see certain games or mods for certain games featuring formula cars, feel free to enjoy the raw fury of these machines.

I really want to do more of these "Elements of Racing Games" posts, but I never get around to completing many of them. Do stay tuned to "John's Race Space" for more posts of mine in various categories and of many things. Thank you for reading! Take care and be well.

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