“rFactor” (Image Space Incorporated, 2006)

rFactor 2006Decent F1 racing games are hard to come by these days.

Formula One Group, in all their wisdom, decided to flog the exclusive rights to the F1 franchise to Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. A five year deal was signed in 2003 at a value of around USD $70m (GBP ?é?ú35m).

If the F1 Group have done well out the deal, F1 fans have not. Unless you’ve got a Sony Playstation 2 or 3, you won’t be able to play the official F1 game. And even if you can play it, the game is rubbish.

Happily an independent group of enthusiasts have taken matters into their own hands and produced a game that’s much, much better: “rFactor”.

Anyone’s whose picked up one of SCEE’s official F1 titles will be well aware of their shortcomings. The games are typically rushed out halfway through an F1 season to get the most out of being the only game to feature the latest team and driver details.

As a result, they haven’t got anything like a full season’s data to work on.

The official F1 game is an exercise in graphical accomplishment and nothing else. It’s unchallenging, simplistic and unrealistic.

“rFactor” couldn’t be more different. Produced by a dedicated group of race sim fans, it’s unofficial, exceptional value and enormous fun.

rFactor 1979The advent of the internet has made it easier for small independent games makers to publish their titles. This is great news for fans of serious racing games, who are increasingly poorly served by mainstream titles.

The benchmark sim for Formula 1 for many years was Geoff Crammons’s exceptional ‘Grand Prix’ series. But SCEE’s exclusive deal with F1 Group put paid to that.

“rFactor” isn’t a dedicated F1 simulator – but it’s highly customisable and flexible core has been adapted by many dedicated fans to produce some excellent F1 material.

You can race the full 1979 season, for example, complete with exquisitely detailed tracks and cars, right down to the engine sounds.

A 2005 season is also available and so is a full-length N?»???¢rburgring Nordschleife. BMW, recognising the value of having their F1 brand represented in a proper racing simulator, had sponsor Intel work with the “rFactor” team to produce versions of their F1 cars that can be downloaded. Hopefully other teams will soon see the light.

And did I mention all these downloads are free? That’s right – having downloaded the game you can grab all the additional material you like. There’s Formula BMW, Renault Megane trophy racing, Australian V8s and tons more.

rFactor 2006 loading screenIt’s an immersive and detailed simulator. To get the most out of it you need a powerful computer and a proper wheels & pedals set up – and a lot of time for fine-tuning.

But it’s extremely playable and tons of fun online. The official game may have motion-captured drivers’ features, but “rFactor” has what really counts – a detailed, realistic game that’s rewarding to play.

F1Fanatic rating

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9 comments on “rFactor” (Image Space Incorporated, 2006)

  1. Nikos Darzentas said on 17th June 2007, 9:16

    Keith, you know I’m a f1fanatic fanatic, but if you don’t drop the score by a couple of points, I’m gone! :-D

    seriously, rFactor is certainly a step or two forward in some areas, but frustratingly incomplete in others… I’ve played the sim quite a lot, especially when investigating whether we should pick it up for our second season of our online F1 Championship (http://dax.atspace.org)

    graphics and sound are very good, as is the force feedback (apparently, because I’m not 100% convinced), but there are no arms on the wheels which I find totally crap, and there is no weather sytem, so you can only race while sunbathing – I mean, you should remember how well rain was simulated in the Grand Prix series, and what a challenge it was… well, not in rFactor

    granted, there are few good mods, but not for F1 in my view… and of course, many many stunning circuits, which I think is big plus, but again, if you cannot drive a decent array of F1 cars on them, what’s the point?

    apparently, rFactor 2.0 is being developed, as is a highly-anticipated F1 mod from the RH team (http://www.rfactorcentral.com/detail.cfm?ID=RH2006) – in the meantime, I would suggest FSONE 2006 (http://www.rfactorcentral.com/detail.cfm?ID=FSONE%202006)

  2. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th June 2007, 10:03

    Maybe I’ve been a little generous, but from F1 ’06 to playing this – it’s a revelation. The ’79 season mod does it for me, it’s just wonderful.

  3. Nikos Darzentas said on 17th June 2007, 10:24

    yeah ok

    and if only we had a game like this during our CUAC gaming nights in Cambridge… :-D

  4. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th June 2007, 10:29

    You’re just saying that ’cause I whupped you at Colin McRae…

  5. Nikos Darzentas said on 17th June 2007, 11:39

    ;)

  6. Hey I know it’s not F1 related, but Forza 2 is doing it for me at the moment, just make sure you have the steering wheel (the MS one), as the force feedback is insane!

  7. John said on 27th June 2007, 21:13

    I came across Rfactor in a Dell Computer booth at a local trade show and I’ve been on Rfactor since then. I could’nt aggree with you more ! I’d rate it 4.5.
    My friend is VP at ‘D-box’, a company that make sensory seats for the hi end movie fanatic (ie; George Lucas / FOX studios…)
    The chair is moved by 3 servos and they’ve programed it to run with Rfactor… I was asked to evaluate it, what a blast. (they have a website)
    Your head is kicked back on gear changes, you are thrust forward on braking, backwards on acceleration and bounced around when skidding off track.
    I use Logitech’s Momo racing wheel and pedals, working great. Also 22″ wide flat screen, large picture helps.
    Not everyone will agree, but remember, you’re sitting at home in front of a computer… Not IN a race car.

  8. Grand turismo 5 prologue is amazin online, you can race other drivers in this years ferrari f1 2007 car against other online players in the same f1 car.
    anyone fancy a race online? drop us a message here….

  9. John H said on 6th November 2008, 13:59

    GP4 – Monsoon conditions – At Spa.
    You still cannot beat it after 6 years! But I do love the rFactor community.

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