“A browser-based simulation that petrol fans will eat up.”
Today I’m stepping back from console and PC video games and focusing on something very different called BATracer. While some people may not see the “game” aspect here, many people do including BATracer’s creators, hence the game’s official subtitle being “Browser Based Race Simulation.” Yes, BATracer is played entirely in your browser.
BATracer lacks the exhilarating thrill of physically driving a car around a track and instead replaces it with a page that lets you manage the settings for your car and then letting the game calculate your performance during each driving session.
How the game plays depends widely on which championship you choose to enter. There are countless ones to pick from and they are all inspired by real life racing series such as A1GP, BTCC, DTM, Formula 1, and more. Different championships require different skill levels. For example, all cars in the GP (Formula 1) championships have different performance levels and the best teams are likely to come out on top, while all cars are identical in performance in the Formula Nations (A1GP) championship.
Upon joining a championship, players get to pick their team. If the player is able to create their own team, they will be able to select their chassis, engine, team livery and name, and more. After setting the team options, the player gets to colour their helmet, choose a nationality, and select one or two driving characteristics. The characteristics are fairly important and define how you will perform under certain situations. The “wet weather warrior” characteristic will allow the player to drive extremely well in the rain, while “speed demon” will make the player drive exceptionally fast under almost all conditions, though this increases the chance of getting into accidents.
Between sessions such as practice, qualifying and race, players must perform setup changes to their car by moving sliders for various parts of the car such as downforce, brake bias, and more. Getting the best out of the car involves finding the optimum setup, which involves putting each slider on the “perfect” number. Each slider has one and the player must find the perfect number by moving the sliders and then doing a test lap. After the lap, the player’s engineer will offer suggestions on what to do with each slider, such as decreasing or increasing them. As the player gets closer and closer to the magic number, the range for each slider decreases. Sliders start at 0 to 100, but after several practice laps they usually drop down significantly. As an example, the range may be 25-40 after five or six laps, which indicates that the ideal number is between 25 and 40. The number is different for every part of the car, and finding each one is essential in getting to the top of the time sheets. Provided you have a good car and decent driver characteristics, it’s reasonable to assume that having a 100% perfect setup (all sliders on the optimum numbers) will put the player at the top of the tme table.
Perfecting your car setup is a lot of fun, especially if you’re in a championship that allows you to have team-mates, which will allow you to bounce setups off of each other and work with one another to make your have the absolute best setup it can possibly have. The only problem with this is that sometimes team-mates will stop playing during the championship season, leaving you to fend for yourself. Thankfully there is an option to give inactive players the boot.
BATracer is fairly well made for a browser game and it’s hard to fault it for much considering it’s simplistic but strategic nature. My only complaint is that the game will ultimately decide if you do well or not. BATracer is, unfortunately, a game of luck at times. It is not uncommon to be doing practice laps and then receiving a message stating that you crashed out of the session and destroyed your car. This can happen incredibly often, as well as a message that says that you pushed too hard and made mistakes on your last lap, which for some reason reduces your number of laps left by two or three most of the time. You can set yourself up to be the most conservative driver imaginable and these driving errors can and will still pop up frequently. I don’t know what sort of formula the game uses to determine if something bad happens, but if you are unlucky, then bad things will happen almost endlessly. Having disaster after disaster strike you is not very fun, even in what is supposedly a simulation. There are no options available to you to refine your car’s reliability or anything of the sort, which is just a huge kick in the teeth.
BATracer’s greatest feature, without a doubt, is the uploader. This unlocks when you make a donation to BATracer and acquire “Kool Tools” for your account. The uploader allows you to customize the game even further than you are normally allowed. While users without Kool Tools can only paint their helmets using RGB sliders, Kool Tools users are able to upload their own helmet designs that they’ve made in Photoshop or whatever. Championships with custom teams work the same way – normal users can only paint cars while Kool Tools users can upload their own liveries complete with sponsors or whatever else they stick on the design.
Players who love stats will have a lot to check out here as well. BATracer keeps track of all of your accomplishments and features world rankings and more. It’s a blast to check out your worldwide rank not only in championships won, but also other little things like fastest laps and points scored.
BATracer is a hugely customizable browser game that truly comes to life and becomes something very neat when Kool Tools are unlocked. For anyone interested in browser games or simulations, this is probably worth a look.
Official BATracer Website: http://batracer.com/
No screenshots due to this being a browser game with a mostly text-based interface.