Saturday, September 8, 2007

Back in the Saddle.

One of my favorite hobbies a few years ago was playing racing sims. My first experience at any type of online gaming was racing online in the game Grand Prix Legends.

Grand Prix Legends (GPL) is a simulation racing game that was released in 1998 by Sierra. It never was successful in terms of sales, in part because of its ultra-realistic driving physics and steep learning curve. It caught on in the sim racing community however, and is still being modded and played today. What made GPL unique was that it simulated Formula One racing of 1967, when the cars were little more than rolling gas tanks, and drivers such as Jim Clark, Graham Hill, and Jackie Stewart were household names even in the US.

In the last few years, a dedicated team of modders have expanded on GPL, introducing revised, more accurate physics models, and car sets to depict the cars from 1965 and the first winged cars of 1969. More mods are in the works, including one which represents Formula One of 1937, the heyday of Mercedes and Auto Union.

I recently decided to get back into sim racing and joined in an online race this morning. I must say I didn't realize how much I'd missed it. The guys I raced with back in the day are still going strong, and eagerly welcomed me back. My skills haven't deteriorated as much as I feared, and I placed a respectable third out of eight drivers, even though I did not have a good setup for my car. I even had a couple of "Oh Wow!" moments which brought back memories of some of my more exciting races. One was an awesome power slide around the first corner (pictured at the top of this post), and the other was when I threaded the needle between two spinning cars (below).

If you like driving or racing games, GPL can still be found online for next to nothing. It's a classic of the genre, and like all classics, it is timeless. There is a vigorous community of guys ready and willing to help out and welcome newcomers. Grab a copy, get a wheel and pedals, and give it a spin! See you on track.