A glance to my right reveals a pimped-up Mitsubishi Starion, its owner fond of white paint and gold wheels. In the brief moment that I'm looking ?his way, I see him turn to face me and honk his horn - if there was a button marked 'wave medallion' he'd have pressed that too.
Over my left shoulder is a guy in his Fiat Punto, its yellow paint making it stand out like only a yellow Punto can. I remember the car from the last race because it was weighed down with three passengers - two in the back, one up front. Best not to ask.
Some lengths behind is a car with a rumpled bonnet and the number plate UR SHIT. This was the guy who drove into the back of me after I made a poor start, who cursed like I'd reversed into him and who is gaining on me at ten times the speed of our previous encounter.
Five racers brake hard for the first corner ahead, rubber curving across the tarmac. Somewhere in the smoke a car goes sideways, scattering cones as it slides off the track. Starion man quickly puts a nose ahead, throwing me off my intended line and the party Punto gives us both a wide berth. As expected, Captain Hilarious in the UR SHIT missile rams me at full tilt, launching me into the Mitsubishi at my newly acquired speed of 110mph. Starion man is not happy with the redesign and a vote to kick me is started - within seconds I'm back at the main menu.
NEED TO BLEED
Welcome then, to Live For Speed, the only game to include a warning about the sons of bitches who play it. Of course, you can opt to race offline against AI cars, but that's being defeatist - it's also defeating ?the object of what is, on rare occasions, the most glorious multiplayer driving experience ever. In clean races you begin to appreciate just what the three-man development team has achieved: a promised land for petrol-heads. The new S2 version looks, sounds and feels more natural than any rival, though do make sure you use a feedback wheel and headphones.
S2 updates the existing S1 release site in numerous ways, most obviously refining the handling of the cars and including a damage model that contorts and deforms the cars to a degree that won't fail to make you laugh (side panels are shed, bumpers are mangled and dropped and so on). There are also eight fantasy cars added to the existing S1 line-up, plus three fantasy tracks and tons of new features.
All things considered, and bearing in mind that there isn't room to consider even one tenth of them here, Live For Speed is really very good indeed. Its main accomplishments are to make the car feel gratifyingly real ?and to do so in an authentic multiplayer environment. If only the servers weren't packed with equally authentic arseholes.
A remarkable achievement
- Feels so real
- Damage modelling
- Stability and compatibility
- Rally tracks are a hoot
- The people who play it
- Not revolutionary