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Navigate the curves of ‘Le Mans Ultimate’

Generic video game to add to your library
Le Mans Ultimate is a poor racing game.Rating: D Photo Credit: Studio 397
Le Mans Ultimate is a poor racing game.
Rating: D
Photo Credit: Studio 397

Back when video games were first introduced, nobody could have imagined that people would spend countless hours in front of a screen, simulating racing experiences with real steering wheels.

Ever since I purchased my first racing game, I have been hooked on gliding across pixelated roads at high speeds and racing around the world’s most famous tracks. One of the games I have been interested in since the announcement in November 2023 is “Le Mans Ultimate.” Though I have never watched the full 24 hours of Le Mans or the World Endurance Championship, it has always interested me how different classes of cars are racing at the same time on the same track. Le Mans Ultimate has some of the most famous tracks and racing teams in the world packed into one game with many interesting features.

An aspect I love about this game is the highly detailed tracks. Unlike most other games, Le Mans Ultimate has laser-scanned tracks which help you understand all of the bumps and how the racing line can affect grip on the tires. The grip model in the game overall, is really good. However, in some situations I found the car would randomly lose grip. Though these spots were limited, they could easily ruin the race. In a game where you’re supposed to be racing for a long time, this could be frustrating for some people, especially newer players who are trying to find a way into the world of simulated racing.

I also loved how much detail the developers at Studio 379 put into the cars. Most games that I have played just put detail into what the player is looking at and not what is surrounding them. Le Mans Ultimate has gone so far as to model in every single button and what even is written on them. They also spent the time making a detailed dashboard inside the car which shows enough information for all groups of players from people who have never played a racing game to players who race the real “Le Mans 24 hours.”

Despite these positives, there are more negatives to consider. One of the major issues with the game is its AI. For a game that people mostly play for the offline experience, the AI needs to be improved. Firstly, it i way too aggressive when taking turns around corners. For example, when driving around a sharp slow corner the AI will just fly right into you while trying to overtake, which can really mess up a race. Other times the AI is way too passive, leading to an easy overtake which in my opinion is boring. Another thing this can lead to is wide-open corners the AI does not go for, which eventually leads to players having no one also to race against.

Furthermore, if you are trying to play against real people, be ready to wait awhile for a race to start. Unlike other games, Le Mans Ultimate only has one race running at a time. After that race, the next practice and qualifying will start. If you’re concerned about competing against players who are significantly better than you, you can forget about those worries because you have the opportunity to progress through various racing tiers by winning races and driving safely.

Although the game has some of the most detailed cars and tracks, it struggles with variety. Within the launch of early access, there are only 12 cars with 7 tracks. Though there are not many other cars they could add, there are some other amazing tracks that would be cool to race around. One way they could add some cars in is to recreate some of the past years’ models and some vintage ones from the 80s. 

A key highlight of this game lies in its utilization of a proprietary state-of-the-art weather system developed for their previous title, “rFactor 2.” While the concept of the weather system is cool, it’s not without its drawbacks. One such flaw becomes apparent in the depiction of rain on the ground. Unlike other games which may show puddles on the track where water has been sitting for a long time, Le Mans Ultimate has none of this; the rain on the track looks evenly spread around the track. In other games similar to this one, there’s a common feature where during light rain, the racing line dries faster due to cars dispersing the water. However, in Le Mans Ultimate, the water on the racing line dissipates a bit quicker than usual, although not as fast as it ideally should. At times, it even dries as rapidly as the rest of the track.

Though this game has a very simple user interface, there are some major issues with it. The menu feature restricts the ability to alter the game’s appearance while actively racing. This can become a major issue for those with a lower-end computer because if they turn the visual effects a little too high, it could cause some major problems which can cause game crashes and loss of data. With only being able to change the major setting on the main menu, player will find two more huge problems with the game. One of these problems is the loading times and how it can take up to 10 minutes to load one track which can cause issues if you are just trying out new settings. The other issue is that there is no way to save mid-game or between sessions, so if you need to change anything all of your hard-earned progress is deleted. This also can be problematic if something happens with your computer because no one wants to spend three hours only for their game to turn off because of their pets or family.

Overall, Le Mans Ultimate is a very lackluster game. Many people, like myself, were expecting a game with a lot of features, but we got a game with very little animation, bad track grip, and most of all, limited tracks and cars. Though I will be watching the development of this game, I would not recommend it to people who are new to racing games or looking for a fast and fun online experience.

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