This is one of those games that, due to budgeting, has gotten next to no media attention whatsoever (which is usually the mark of a poor title), but seems to shine in almost every way regardless. If you're a racing, drifting, or just plain automotive fan, this is the game to have. Heck, I feel bad calling it a game, because it just feels so REAL!
The physics are years ahead of absolutely everything else on the market, and this comes as a total surprise because the load times are incredibly fast and the game runs smoothly on a moderate system, 100% of the time. Those with an understanding of weight transfer, traction, power, and the smooth application of carefully calculated movements and controls will love this game; it allows you to do exactly what you can do in the real world, with very little adjustment to your driving style. The physics alone make Live For Speed the perfect practice tool for real world racers or just plain old car lovers wanting to try out new tricks in a safe environment.
This title falls into the category of "hardcore simulation," making it terribly boring to anyone who isn't absolutely obsessed with racing and precise, 1 to 1, replication of real-world physics and handling characteristics. That said, if you ARE one those people who live and breath automotive performance (myself included), this game is a God-send. I have logged hundreds of hours and many late nights on the local drift, as well as grip, servers and will continue to follow the series because the realism makes it so immersive and addicting!
The one short-coming of Live for Speed rests in the graphics department. While the simulation has come a long way since its initial release, the visuals are still behind the competition. However, in the world of "hardcore simulation" where physics and true-to-life replication of what REALLY matters, the graphics don't really hold much weight. However, being a true gamer myself, the game would have scored closer to a "perfect 10" had the engine made use of some of the newer graphical technologies and effects. Im sure, as technology and the working budget of the developers expands and increases, we'll see billowing clouds of tire smoke, flaming engines from wrecks, and all the other great stuff we see at out local tracks. Only a matter of time, I suppose.
The sound, while decent enough to provide that essential audio feedback neccessary in modern racing, is somewhat behind the competition. Of course, one must take into account the limitations of the developer. As the title gains more popularity within the racing simulaiton community, I'm sure we'll see (or hear, rather) better sound quality to go along with the improved graphics. Only a matter of time, as with the graphical short comings. But, as I said with the visuals, it doesn't really matter. In a racing simulation its all about the physics.
Buy a wheel + pedal combo (I use the Logitech MOMO Force Feedback Racing Wheel & Pedal Combo and love it, but I'm sure there's better for people who are insanely dedicated to realism), make SURE it has force feedback, and then download the demo of Live For Speed if you haven't already. If you understand some of the things I have mentioned in this brief review, you'll apprecate this title. And if you like it, buy it - Some of the cars included are really fun!
I will admit that I have a heavy bias - I love racing, so naturally I'm going to go easier on the racing games. However, from a purist standpoint (which I am when it comes to simulations of ALL types - everything from aircraft to submarines), I rate games as fairly as possible. Regardless, YOU must be the final judge. Never let a review stop you from trying a game out for yourself.