Published on February 6th, 2013 | by Jos Roder4
The Invisible Drifting Simulator
Live for Speed. Why are you not playing this in between drift events? Why do so few drift enthusiasts know about this simulator?!
This is the most realistic drifting simulator I have ever played. If you can’t afford to drift for real, then this is the game for you.
I have played many driving games over the years, but have always been left wanting when it came to realism, not just for drifting, but for driving physics in general.
I was then introduced to Live For Speed, which changed everything I knew and understood about realism in driving games. Live for Speed was a driving simulator born online via three guys interested in filling a void in online racing simulators. It was released online as a demo in 2002, with the intention of being a community based online simulator experience. The developers wanted to remain independent and own the content themselves, so they could continue to evolve the game and the physics the way they wanted to. They knew what they were doing, because it has become a cult classic for those who enjoy a realistic simulator.
Initially my friends and I used it for some racing, but very soon we of course started to experiment with going sideways and really enjoyed the feel and general behaviour of the car in a sideways state. The game uses generic made up models of car, with the XRT and the FZ5 being the two drift weapons of choice.
The XRT on the left reminds me of a Mitsubishi Starion. The FZ5 is a mix, probably half Jaguar and half Aston Martin perhaps?
The most important ability of this games physics is the way the car responds to your drifting input and techniques, just as in real life. Initiating a slide can be accomplished by a clutch kick, a handbrake, power over, braking drift or just weight shifting. Applying the handbrake drags the rear just as it should and if you get the timing wrong, transitioning the car from one direction to another will result in a snap and spin unless you are on the ball. The car runs out of lock and spins realistically as well resulting in more great practice that can in many cases cross over into real drifting. Further to this, the tyre physics are quite good, they do wear out and get slipperier at the end of their tether and will even pop given time. The car balance is well developed and you get a realistic feel of a normal FR car layout. Hitting bumps or big ripple strips will unsettle the car just as in real life as well. Want Want to tandem? Tandem drifting online is brilliant fun and you can waste hours dancing around in pairs or groups with friends.
This is a clip I took having some fun attempting to do a backwards entry a few years ago.
One other fun thing to practice is doing 360’s at speed. I was teaching people how to do 360’s on a large skid pan without having done one myself in real life. The theory seemed to work for them and once I got out there to practice what i was preaching, I pretty much pulled off my first 360 as a direct result of the game practice through Live for Speed.
A big part of this simulator working for you is having a steering wheel and pedals. Dipping the clutch and sliding the wheel through your hands just completes things. Don’t waste your time if you don’t have some form of steering wheel at minimum. Below is a recent example of all the physical elements being put to use, including a physical handbrake setup. It should give you a complete picture of the physics and the physical inputs coming together to complete the drift package.
As an aside, and as good as the physics are, it is let down in some other aspects. The online world of Live For Speed hit a peak some years ago and is now a shadow of previous days. There is some fun custom drift tracks modelled on some famous drift circuits and some racing still occurring if you are into that part of it, but it seems iRacing has stolen much of the thunder from Live for Speed in this regard. If you are just planning to play online with some friends though, it certainly passes the online playability test with no issues. A recent update has also improved the collision model and online multiplayer physics.
The other main gripe is probably the lack of general updates and support for the game. The graphics are looking a little dated, some of the promised updates have never eventuated and one issue some complain about is the lack of actual ‘real’ cars.
It is worth noting this game is for PC only, so that can be another negative for some.
Comparisons to other games? I cannot compare LFS to I-racing at this time as I have not played it, but I found the drifting in Gran Turismo 5 totally arcade based and nothing more than lightly entertaining for a short time.
I am amazed when I talk to drifters all around the country that they haven’t heard of, or played Live for Speed. Hopefully this review allows a few more drifters in Australia the chance to properly experience this amazing drifting simulator, and save some money at the same time! It is never going to be as good as the real thing, but it is as good as 0’s and 1’s can get right now for us drifters.
Final Word: If you just want a realistic simulator and are not too concerned about the rest of the superficial bullshit, sign up, download it and get drifting, you won’t regret it!
Download the game via www.lfs.net