GTI Racing Hands-On - All Volkswagen, All the Time

Do you miss Fahrvergnügen? Well, don't worry, because this all-Volkswagen racing game features five generations of Golfs, as well as classic cars.

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Okay, let's get this out of the way right now: Fahrvergnügen. If you remember Volkswagen's old marketing slogan (which translates roughly to "driving pleasure"), then it'll seem appropriate once you learn about GTI Racing, the upcoming racing game that features Volkswagen cars and nothing but Volkswagen cars. That's right, this is an all-VW racing game, covering more than five generations of Golf models but also including classic cars such as the Beetle.

Did someone say, 'Driving pleasure?'
Did someone say, 'Driving pleasure?'

It's a bit fitting that GTI Racing comes from Poland's Techland, because this will be a very Eurocentric racing game. Not only is there the stable of German-made Volkswagen cars, but you'll race on fictional tracks set in Germany, France, and other European countries. The preview version we played had us zooming around what looked like the Bavarian countryside. There are more than 70 races, as well as 25 championships, and race types include closed circuit, highway, drift driving, baja, and drag racing. The stable of Volkswagen cars include 15 models of the Golf, from the original 1974 version to today's sleek Mk V design, as well as variants such as the GTI, the G60, and the R32. Then there's the legendary Beetle, Volkswagen's most iconic car. The preview version that we played with only had the classic and Baja Beetles. To round things out, the game will also include Volkswagen concept cars.

Techland touts that GTI Racing has a realistic driving model with dynamic race surroundings, and that's mostly true. The driving model leans a bit more toward the action arcade style of racing from what we can tell, but there's enough physics to give you the sensation of realistic physics. We powerslid around corners, spun out of control on grass, and generally had a blast playing bumper cars with our opponents, trying to nudge them into obstacles on the side of the road. (Better us than them, because the artificial intelligence won't hesitate about trying to do the same to you.) The gameworld is full of physical objects, such as road signs and barriers, as well as logs and hay bails, and they're persistent, so if you knock a few barriers onto the road, they'll still be on the roadway on the following lap.

GTI Racing also features damage modeling and car deformations, so you can take that pretty new car of yours and mess it up quite a bit. Windshields crack and dents and warps appear in the paneling, though we must admit that it took quite a bit of rubbing against other cars and side rails to inflict really noticeable damage. Of course, you'll want to avoid damage if possible in career mode, as it'll cost you to repair your cars in the garage between races. Speaking of the garage, you'll also be able to customize your cars a great deal. You can tune your car pretty much every way conceivable by adjusting the gear ratio, suspension height and stiffness, tire width, sports transmissions, and so on. To top it off, the game features real-world parts manufacturers such as Brebmo, Kamei, Remus, and Zender. And if bling's your thing, you can trick out your Volkswagen with xenon lights, spoilers, rims, and custom exhausts, to name but a few. And you can also give your car a custom paint job.

Now this is old school.
Now this is old school.

There'll be multiplayer support for up to four online and over a LAN, as well as a track editor so you can create your own courses. There's a fairly advanced graphics system in GTI Racing capable of some impressive lighting and shadowing effects, as well as a dynamic time and weather system. If you want to race at night, just adjust the race time. Same goes if you want a noontime race. You can also adjust the weather, toggling between clear weather and rain, though the "rain," from what we've seen, is a bit more like "overcast." Still, GTI Racing looks like a sharp racing game. And, in general, this feels like it's going to be a fairly competent game that'll appeal to Volkswagen fans, or anyone who likes Fahrvergnügen in general. GTI Racing will ship this year.

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