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RACE On: The Official Review

Rhys Gardiner

Jul 8, 2008
Rhys Gardiner reviews SimBin's latest offering RACE On...

It's here...

It's been the subject of infinite speculation, it has raised eyebrows and discussions, and has divided the simracing community. Never in my mind has a single product created so much unrest and debate. And even on release, people still squabble and spar over it.​

Thus is the saga of Race On, the newest expansion pack for SimBin's popular - in simracing terms - RACE 07. Originally the official game of the FIA World Touring Car Championship, the game has since gone on to be the base for three official expansion packs and countless community-created mods and addon tracks, becoming one of the most content-rich sims on the PC. The first, the wildly-hyped GTR Evolution, added GT cars, among others, and the mighty N[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]ü[/FONT]rburgring Nordschleife to the RACE 07 base. The second pack, STCC - The Game, added the cars and tracks of the 2008 Swedish Touring Car Championship, and Swedish Camaro Cup. Then came a side release: the interesting Volvo - The Game, bringing Super Tourers to a SimBin game for the first time.​

And now, the infamous "Project TOAD" - Race On. It was at first considered an anti-climactic announcement, people originally speculating about content as varied as V8 Supercars, DTM and even Le Mans Prototypes. And the announced content - WTCC 2008, US Muscle Cars and the new International Formula Master open-wheel series, plus some new and updated tracks - provoked cries of "more of the same" from many members of the community.​

Well, after I was given the chance to review the final beta version of the game by the kind folks over at SimBin, and right here at RaceDepartment, I was eager to test the theories of these members. And after driving every car on nearly every track, I can say that those members are, in the most literal sense, wrong. While it is true that the little Swedish company's Touring Car-based series is getting on a bit (it's been just over two years since RACE 07 was released), the newest addon has made the franchise as strong as it will ever be, and is sure to provide some fun - not least in the sheer amount of default content.​

Since there are no incredibly big updates other than the most recent content, in the way of cars and tracks I have reviewed the new ones only; people who already have RACE 07 and the previous addons will find no surprises in the content originally from those games.​

So without further ado, here are my experiences and views while driving the Race On beta. I wish that the quality of my screenshots was better, but my system just ain't good enough - still, I reckon they communicate the game as well as they can. Enjoy...​


Lada 110 - "It looks... accurate, to say the least"​

Style? ...No. Substance? Oh yes.

Boxy, lumpy and outdated, the Lada 110 won't win any beauty contests. I approached it with curiosity, wondering whether it would bring me any enjoyment. As it turns out, the budget car from Russia impressed me immensely. Pounding it around Macau and Zandvoort, among other tracks, the little Soviet box of metal was surprisingly grippy, and a lot faster than first expected. Steering is responsive and very well-weighted, and braking is excellent - it really feels like you are driving a go-kart, as opposed to a Touring Car. Some may christen it the new "Noob-mobile," taking the place of the SEAT and Honda, but experienced drivers will also find it entertaining. A fun little car, and very worthwhile.​

SEAT Leon TDI - "And no, it doesn't sound like a tractor"​

SEAT's 2008 challenger isn't represented as realistically as I would have liked it to be, but it drives well enough.

Taking a look at the SEAT Leon TDI (diesel), I felt slightly cheated. If one looks at photographs of the real car, it can plainly be seen that the front airdam is much taller and slightly narrower than that of the FSI (petrol) Leon's. But SimBin have taken a shortcut, and re-used the petrol Leon car model. Apart from the livery (and of course the engine sound) you would have no idea if this was petrol or diesel. The airdam is my main visual clue to differentiate between the fuels the Leons use, and SimBin have failed to incorporate this feature. Nevertheless, the car's driving is very good. It took a little getting used to having to change gear at 4000rpm rather than 8500, but it's manageable. Steering feels heavier than the FSI, and there seems to be more of a hint of understeer, but overall, it's a great car to drive.​

US Muscle Cars - "The Good Ol' Boys just got with the program"​
You're gonna have your hands full in these things.

Many people discussing the game before its release were skeptical of the new US Muscle Cars. They represent SimBin's attempt to capture a slice of the US market, and whether that works or not remains to be seen, but they're pretty cool additions all the same. Both the road and race versions are predictably nose-heavy, due to the awesome V8s under the bonnet, but are heaps of fun. Their driving experience is somewhat reminiscent of the Camaro Cup cars from STCC - The Game, but more responsive and easy to drive. One thing is for sure, they love to slide, and correcting said oversteer is comparatively easy to do, should you grow tired of the tail-happiness (which you won't, I can assure you). The road versions are nice too - think of the road cars from GTR Evolution, but with heavier steering and slower cornering speeds. Another good job from SimBin.​

International Formula Master - "A Leopard in Wolves' clothing"​

WARNING: May blow you away

Most of the speculating public in the pre-release discussions dismissed these new open-wheelers as being underpowered. Say what? Indeed, they are less powerful than the F3000, but the cars which make up one of the premiere WTCC support acts are quite possibly the best cars SimBin has ever done. They are much faster than they seem, and darting around any track gives me far more of a rush than the F3000 does. They have grip by the bucketloads, and catching a slide really sets the heart beating. The steering feels perfect in response and weight, and cornering speeds are much higher than you would expect. Dare I say it, they are better to drive than the F3000s in almost every respect. Race On is worth picking up for these cars alone.​


When going on-track for the first time, three words should greet you first up, and they are Neon Grass Alert. No kidding, the grass on almost every circuit bar Laguna Seca looks radioactive. Yes, the grass on most racetracks is bright green in real life, but never this bright - SimBin should learn from VirtuaLM, and use a slightly more natural-looking colour palette for their tracks.​

That said, the tracks themselves are beautiful, graphically superior to the other games in SimBin's catalogue. Driving around them, even at speed, it's easy to see that there are more polygons and a general feeling of more detail. Bear in mind that this is only true for the tracks that come new with Race On - the ones from Race 07 and STCC remain untouched.​

A shot from inside the cockpit of a Formula Master at the 2008 version of Valencia, showing the extensive re-texturing and graphical updates of the newer tracks.

The update for the 2008 tracks seems to be quite extensive. Imola feels more accurate - true to life, they've gotten rid of the final chicane, and you'll be glad to know that the cutting rules have finally been eased (on the 08 version anyway). Estoril feels much higher in quality and atmosphere, and we can rejoice, for at long last, SimBin have fixed Puebla! Okayama is also a very high quality track, providing a challenge with its small but difficult elevation changes. But be all this as it may, I was still rather disappointed to find that Paddock Hill Bend at Brands Hatch is still grossly inaccurate.​

Joy of joys, they got Puebla right!

The other two completely new tracks, Laguna Seca and Road America - another way that SimBin hope to break into the American market - are simply excellent. With all due respect, they blow community-created tracks out of the water. Road America is nothing less than great, and SimBin's Laguna Seca is the best I've ever seen. For perhaps the first time in my gaming life, the infamous Corkscrew actually scared me. The second apex is completely blind, and requires a lot of guesswork. You enter it hoping that you'll get through unscathed - every single lap. That's something that the user-created Laguna Seca(s) don't do.​

SimBin's renditions of Road America (above) and Laguna Seca (below) are masterful.
[Video courtesy of Piotr Misiorek, cheers!]

So, there we are. I hope you've enjoyed reading this pile of words as much as I enjoyed writing it. It's been a pleasure driving this game and noting its fine details and freshening up of the RACE franchise. Anyway, a final opinion: Overall, cars and tracks-wise, Race On is a sterling effort. The Race series is starting to show its age, but SimBin have managed to get yet more good fun and challenging driving out of it. Some may beg to differ, but I reckon it's quite good value for the quality of the content. So, again, great job, Simbin. You've still got it.​

RaceDepartment Score: 8.9/10
Author: Rhys Gardiner​

Bert Van Waes

Rhys the man! great review, not to long and not to short. You made me interested in this addon. :)
Feb 17, 2008
Piotr as Rhys stated in his review based on his hardwear there is no higher quality possible but feel free to make some hd shoots and i bet Rhys will add them thankfully

Jason Halaby

Thanks Rhys, I was at Laguna Seca this weekend watching the ALMS finale. Can't wait to drive it virtually!

Philip Antonia

Jul 19, 2008
The Formula Masters are really amazing to drive:in-love:.

The big let down is that they didn't re-model the Seat TDi's. Though I don't generally use the Seats it's a real pity not to be able to see the real car in replays etc:question:.

The Lada is quite nice to drive. I tested it at Pau and I was quite impressed with it, but it is so damn ugly:puke:.

Great review mate:good:.

Keith Barrick

Feb 19, 2008
Incredible Review Rhys. I bought mine based on the quality of work in all other Simbin titles. Loved reading this.


Warren Dawes

Mar 1, 2007
Well written review Rhys, well done.
I notice you didn't include any comments about the new menu audio (that godaweful (IMO) screaming I hear on the Demo). I think that will be a "love it" or "hate it" addition, so I hope there is some way to remove it for those of us who can't stand it.

Péter Bártfai

Sep 18, 2008
Just as the others said, very nice review!
Am I the only guy who likes the looks of the Lada?
Warren, you can turn off the menu music in the options menu, I did that sometimes in Evo too.