AKA: 'The thread that only myself, Stitch, and Kim, will probably only bother posting in"
Let's have a look at the prime players in this genre:
-iRacing. Arising from the ashes of the fabled Papyrus studios that was under the Sierra Online brand. Headed by the legendary Dave Kaemmer. This is an "online racing only" simulator (no AI), that uses the typical 'pay as you go' MMO-style pricing model. A bit pricey. But some would say it's still the best racing simulator on the market to date. iRacing 2.0 | The Premier Online Sim Racing Game
-RACE '07. Released back in October 2007. This, and rFactor (see below) have been considered the stalwarts of the sim-racing community outside of the "walled garden" environment of iRacing. Simbin has released quite a few expansion packs for this (GTR Evolution and GT Power being personal favorites of mine). Lot of choices here if tin-top racing is your thing. Be it BTCC, STCC, or WTCC. They've got you covered. It's technology is getting a bit long in the tooth. Although Simbin is planning on releasing newer sims using their LIZARD gaming engine (see below). SimBin | Award winning game development
- rFactor. Released in 2005 by Image Space Incorporated (ISI). Their "gMotor" game engine also is used in the Simbin titles mentioned above. Probably the most widely used racing simulator. Although it's due for a new version to be released soon. Image Space Incorporated | Software development studio from Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Some of the smaller and newer entries in the market.:
- Live For Speed. Released way back in 2003 and still being supported today. Not really sure what to make of this one. It always seemed to have an "unfinished" quality to it, and some woefully outdated graphics. But there's still a community that supports it, and you'll find more than a few online servers hosting races. Relatively inexpensive too. Live for Speed - Online racing simulator
- NetKar Pro. When this was released back in 2006. It received a lot of attention for it's realistic cockpits and tire modeling. But the development on this seems to have lost a lot of momentum. Which is a bit of a shame considering how intricate of a racing simulator it is. You even need to do the proper start up sequence in the cockpit, or the engine wont turn over! netKar PRO - Professional online racing simulator
- Game Stock Car. A new simulator from Reiza Studios, who are based in Brazil. It would seem it's also based on ISI's "gMotor" game engine. The sim is based on the 2010 Brazilian Stock Car championship (wasn't even aware there was one). Great selection of street and road courses. Already an expansion pack was released that contains additional circuits. Open wheeled racing is supported in this as well. A little more expensive than some of the other "gMotor" based offerings. But this is starting to become a better value with all the free additions. - Reiza Studios
On the horizion:
- rFactor 2 is looking very promising. ISI knows their place in the market. Not only should this be an impressive offering right out of the box. But this will more than likely just skyrocket once the modding community gets their hands on it.
- GTR3. I have to admit, I'm a bit uncertain how good this is going to be. The bottom line here is that this isn't the same Simbin that released GTR2, which essentially put them on the map. Also, they will be going at it by themselves with their LIZARD game engine. Which, quite frankly, didn't have a very good initial outing on the XBox 360 with their "Race Pro" title.
- C.A.R.S. The splintered off group from the original Simbin, now called "Slightly Mad Studios". Has begun an open development on this simulator. Not even a month after EA had canned the NFS: Shift franchise they were working on. It'll be interesting to see what Ian Bell and Co. can come up with . Some of the rolling code vids they've posted already looked very impressive. But without any real financial backing, how far is this really going to go? Having Ben Collins (former STIG) certainly doesn't hurt with the R&D side of things. C.A.R.S. – WMD Portal
Sweet! Tell me more about Forza 4.