HL Rally Team Discovers Online Racing Ain’t Easy

The Original HL Rally

As seen at Blue’s News, the HL Rally 2 project, a rally racing mod for Half-Life 2, has been sadly dropped. Under development since early 2005, the mod planned to do for the sequel what HL Rally did for the original: namely, deliver some fun online racing action.

Given the stock game’s inclusion of reasonably realistic handling vehicles, one might be inclined to think that this would be even easier than the predecessor. That’s as may be when it comes to offline action, but it’s apparently in the online realm where things went wrong. The official HL Rally 2 site lists the problems they were encountering:

  • Vehicles were controlled by the server making them latent and not fun to play on the Internet
  • Predicting the vehicles on the client failed as the client and server simulate the physics differently, causing the vehicles to get rapidly out of sync
  • Correcting the predicted vehicles position made the game feel unresponsive and caused the vehicle to travel unexpected paths
  • Valve themselves said that it was currently impossible to predict and therefore network vphysics objects accurately (think of the barrels in CS).
  • The SDK does not allow for direct modification of physics
  • Could not implement manual transmission due to SDK limitations
  • RPM calculations were erratic and more often than not incorrect
  • RPM values could not be recalculated accurately

This list of issues should sound awfully familiar to those who have spent any time racing online in many ISI-based games like F1 2002 or GTR, namely warping and other related issues. It’s a shame this one won’t be available for offline racing at least.

Massive Richard Burns Rally Mod Released

Richard Burns Rally

As seen at SimHQ, a new mod for Richard Burns Rally called RSRBR IV has been released, a follow-up to the earlier RSRBR mods. This one includes a massive 120 cars and 108 stages in a 620 meg bundle. Installation, though, seems to be a bit on the complicated side, as should be expected with most RBR mods. Instructions are available below, while you can also download the mod, plus an update, at WWW.RALLYESIM.COM.

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Sony Launches Official English MotorStorm Site

MotorStorm on PS3

The game is out in Japan, where it’s scoring somewhat less than enthusiastic reviews. The online-enabled US version is not all that far off, and to celebrate this Sony has launched the official MotorStorm site. Hidden within its annoyingly flash-based innards are a series of new high-res screenshots, along with some new based videos of the game in action.

The title is currently (read: tentatively) penciled in for a late-February release here in the US. But, that is of course contingent on developer Evolution Studios getting the newly added online play squared away. That shouldn’t be much of an issue…assuming of course this doesn’t turn into another GT4 Online. Read on for more ludicrously high-res screens.

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GT4 Mobile = Vaporware

GT4 Crash

Wired has posted up their Vaporware awards for 2006, and while the winner of the contest may be no surprise for Duke Nukem fans, the #7 entry may be. That spot was awarded to Gran Turismo Mobile, the supposed PSP launch title that, well, seems to have never existed in the first place. Chris Kohler of Wired explains:

It’s not even so much the fact that it’s vaporware as the sheer hubris of the whole thing. It was one of the first PSP titles shown, and in fact it was the best thing PSP had going for it at E3 2004. They even showed the box and disc art as if it was already in manufacture. But it was later found out that it was basically just a mock-up video and that they aren’t even actively working on it.

The continued audacity and failures of Polyphony Digital are well beyond the point of laughable at this point. Most recently of course it was GT HD, not one but two fully featured online racing games that were initially said to be in our hands by now. What do we get instead? A 10 car demo…

Eurogamer’s Top 50 of 2006

Eurogamer is currently in the process of counting down their top 50 games of the year, having made it to just outside the top 10. Not surprisingly, there are a number of racers on there, starting with Test Drive Unlimited at #23, described as:

Flawed and clumsy in places, this was still the first truly original serious driving game since Gran Turismo. The sense of dangerous, barely controlled power in real-world conditions is totally exhilarating.

Next up is OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast at #20:

The purest example of what driving games should be, not what they are. Rather than being a bore-o-simulator mostly about simulating all the details of tarmac and brake ratios, it simulates only the sheer pleasure of jumping in a ludicrously fast sports car that you could never afford and driving faster than is humanly possible.

TOCA Race Driver 3 comes in at #18:

Motorsport done right. It’s a little overweight and not every class works, but when they do, TOCA serves up the best technical close racing on any console.

We should be seeing the top 10 here in the next day. What will be #1? We know it won’t be Gears of War at least…

Rally-X on Live

Rally-X
Rally-X

It was announced way back in September, and now Namco’s updated though still thoroughly retro version of Rally-X is available for download.

Single Player, HD (High Definition). Collect all the flags while avoiding enemy cars! With new features such as the Lucky Flag, which awards you points depending on your remaining fuel. Collect the Special Flag to double the points of all remaining flags! NEW RALLY-X, the sequel to RALLY-X, was released in 1981. It featured new courses and adjustments to the enemy cars, improving the overall game balance, as well as new graphics and BGM!

Pimp My Ride Reviewed

Pimp My Ride

IGN has reviewed the interactive version of Pimp My Ride. The reviewer’s findings are not surprising:

People have been wandering over to my desk all week, asking me what I think of the latest Activision Value title. The answer is always the same.

“Sucks.”

It’s too bad, too, because there’s potential in Pimp My Ride for a solid game. I also just sent a friend request on Myspace to Xzibit, the host of the MTV turn-your-hoopty-into-headturner reality show. And frankly I want him to accept so I can slip him casually into my Top 8 and be the envy of all my friends. Thankfully, his Myspace page is plastered on the back of the Pimp My Ride box, which may just be the best part about this misguided effort.