ajokay: yeah you’ll definitely want a wheel. The game is pretty much a simulator aiming for as close to realism as possible with both the physics and the progression through various series. So even though there are some “for fun” series for the higher cars like NASCAR and F1, otherwise you work your way up by earning your license for more powerful cars. The other difference is you do have to pay monthly as well as buy any cars and tracks beyond the first set you start with. But it’s not like console games such as Forza, GT5 or F1 2010 where it’s a crap-shoot on whether you’ll be up against trolls or people trying to ruin others fun. Everyone’s there to race fair and enjoy close competition. So IMO the money is not only worth the cars you get to drive on real tracks, but for the community you get to race against.
The premise is essentially this: you begin with a set of tracks and cars and with your Rookie license. This allows you to drive the Miatas (for road courses) and Legends Coupes (for ovals). You advance and earn new licenses by improving your safety rating. Race clean and finish well and your rating goes up. When it reaches a certain point, you advance to the next license and open up access to more series. The cars and tracks you get in the introduction package honestly could keep you racing without getting bored for quite a few months, so it’s not like you’ll find yourself feeling a need to spend the money on a new car constantly. Races in the lowest series are once every hour so there’s constantly races getting ready to start. The next 2 series up tend to be every other hour.
The idea behind it all is to teach you real life racing skills that are applicable if you ever get behind the wheel of a real race car (which is definitely doable in many of the lower series like the SCCA and such). And you’re rarely swamped or leaving everyone in the dust because you’re pitted in heats against racers with similar ratings. Racing is usually VERY close and I have yet to have a race where I didn’t wind up fighting someone for position on track at some point.
If you’re a casual racer, I’d say it’s probably not for you. But if you’re very much into sims being as true to life as possible, this is by far the most addicting one I’ve tried.