Redline: Virtual Racing w/Fast Cars

Episode #69
Redline: Virtual Racing w/Fast Cars

In this episode, allow me to introduce you to an enjoyable game/simulation that won't do anything to improve your productivity, sex life, or looks, but is inexpensive, fun, and worth trying. It's called Redline and it's Ambrosia Software's excellent new race car simulation/game.

I'm a sucker for fast cars. I wish I could afford one and/or that my wife would allow me to drive one. But neither of those things seems likely in the foreseeable future, so Ambrosia's Redline car racing simulation/game is the next best thing.

I'm not a big gamer, but I do love to check out new games that pique my interest, so when I heard that Ambrosia had a new fast car game out I downloaded the (184MB) demo immediately and gave it a try.? Before I type another word, here's one (a word) for the wise: DO NOT download this demo if you have a deadline looming. Even though I don't usually waste a lot of time on games, I found myself wasting a LOT of time with Redline. I would quit and go back to work, but before long would find myself on the track again, trying to shave a few seconds off my lap times.

You can play Redline in three different variations -- simulation, arcade, and turbo arcade. In simulation, your car performs as realistically as possible, which is extremely realistic due to a superior physics engine. You can really feel the difference between a Mini Cooper and a Corvette when you choose simulation. Alas, I'm clumsy and lead-footed, so simulation is mostly too challenging for me. Arcade, on the other hand, is much easier to play and master, so it's more my speed (pun intended). The car responds reasonably realistically, but isn't nearly as twitchy as in simulation. Finally, turbo arcade is arcade on steroids, and much, much faster.?

Redline offers four different racing scenarios: Quick Race, Time Trial, Multiplayer, and Challenges. In Quick Race, you drive against one or more computer-generated opponents. In Figure 1, which shows Quick Race mode, I'm driving the blue Mini Cooper (which happens to be the car I drive in real life, by the way), racing against a single computer-controlled opponent in a red VW Golf.

Figure 1: I'm trailing the red Golf, but only by 7/10 of a second
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image)

I'm losing, but only by a hair. Or at least I was... Then, disaster struck, as shown in Figure 2, which was taken a few seconds after Figure 1. As you can clearly see, I'm in deep trouble and unlikely to win the race.

Figure 2: This is what happens when you take a curve a little too fast...
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image)

Moving right along (pun intended again), Time Trial mode is also very cool and a lot of fun. In this mode you race against the clock, trying to improve your lap times. The cool part is that after you complete at least one lap, Redline generates a ghost image of your car's best previous lap, as shown in Figure 3. This allows you to see where you went wrong (or right), and how you're doing time-wise versus your best previous lap.?

Figure 3: Time Trial mode: I'm driving the little red Corvette, chasing the ghost image that represents my best previous lap.
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image)

Challenge mode lets you compete against the clock for gold, silver, and bronze medals in tests of your prowess in tasks that include acceleration, braking, slalom, curves, and more.

Finally, Multiplayer mode lets you race against other Redline fanatics via the Internet or local area network. Since I still suck at Redline, I rarely race against others online. When I do, my handle is "Dr. Mac." (What else would it be?) So, if you race in Redline's Multiplayer mode and see "Dr. Mac" in the lobby, feel free to say "hi" before you kick my butt.

So there you have it. Ambrosia Software has done it again with another addicting, enjoyable, finely polished game that takes minutes to learn and months to master.

Download the fully-functional demo and give it a try. My guess is that many of you will find it necessary to pony up $25 to unlock the additional tracks, cars, challenges, and other good stuff that becomes available only after you pay to register.

See you on the track!

Redline - Ambrosia Software. $25

And that's all he wrote...