SimBin, a name once synonymous with the very best in racing games, is making a comeback with the opening of a new studio in the north west of England.
Scary. At 6.30 yesterday evening I fired-up GTR2 intending to grab a few swift screenshots, then quit and begin this review. Around seven that sensible plan somehow morphed into the much less wise 'Let's see how low I can get my TVR lap-times at Magny Cours, Monza, and Donigton Park'. In the end it was gone one by the time I finally managed to drag myself away to bed.
Consider the above anecdote - consider it carefully - before you let this exceptional race sim into your busy life. Your willpower might well be stronger than mine, your taste for shaving slithers of seconds off essentially meaningless lap-times less pronounced, but trust me, GTR2 will still grab you by the throat/knackers given half a chance. SimBin, - part-time modders turned full-time developers - have taken last year's most demanding motorsport recreation and, with a refinement here and an addition there, transformed it into 2006's most enjoyable and believable.
Top of the list of enhancements is the vastly improved grip physics. The tarmac ribbons in GTR often seemed to have the surface texture of freshly-buffed bowling lanes, while tyres had the adhesive properties of repositioned Post-It notes. Cornering with cool slicks, even at milk-float speeds, required surgical delicacy. Things are much more civilised now - dare I say it, much more realistic. You can sense weight shifts better and avert catastrophes far more consistently. When your rear end is planning to initiate a race-wrecking pirouette it now has the good manners to telegraph the fact. Exactly what SimBin have done I'm not sure I could tell you, but the result is less tentative, less exasperating racing. In layman's terms GTR2 is more fun than its punishing predecessor.
SimBin has released a demo of its forthcoming racing simulation sequel GTR 2, giving you the chance to put some of its professed improvements to the test.