You can play with real brands with flashy stuffs that handle like crap.. ..Or you can play it Real like LFS does.
You don't drive a real car with a D-Pad, you drive it with a wheel and this is why it's highly recommended to get a wheel before playing LFS. A G25 or Fanatek would be ideal but a good old Momo Racing will do the job or even a Driving Force Pro/GT with the pc drivers that said.
The S2 graphic engine is from 2005 so don't expect all the fireworks Dx10 can produce, that said with some high resolution textures from lfsdatabase and the HDR plugin the game is still very nice on the graphic side.
The gameplay is where LFS excels. The braking and especially the weight transfer on the car feels much more accurate than any other sims on the market to date. The is no help to get you through in LFS simply because you wouldn't have any in a real car.
The sound is where live for speed struggle most, it is sort of dynamic so you can tweak it the way you want but it stills feel bad compared with the old "wav sounds" method from every other titles on the market.
Multiplayer is the core of LFS. The netcode is brilliant. Even on a 56k modem you can set up a lag free server by deciding how much data per second can be sent, maximum cars allowed, AI cars etc etc.. You can race up to 32 racers at the same time with a maximum of 48 connections (spectating is of course an option)
A particular feat of lfs is the possibility to go wherever you want on the circuit at the exact inch you want. With so much camera freedom it gets quite easy to edit races the exact way you want and it explains the amazing videos of LFS we can find on the net.
LFS is dynamic compared with other sims on the market that feels static despite having more tracks.
Ive been playing all the sims out there, some more than others, but i always return to LFS because it seems like the only one who truly feels realistic without the monthly fees of iRacing.
Let's put it that way. There are much games with a nice look, this one is about substance and this is why it last and this is why people will still be playing LFS in 10 years. The development is still on with new patches/add ons while the community anxiously waits for the S3 to come.