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Work for grades, live for speed

Published: April 20, 2007
Section: Opinions


Shortly before I started my career as a Midyear here at Brandeis this past January, I contemplated deleting all of the games that I had stored on my computer.
“They'll just be a distraction,” I told my myself. “You won't have time for video games.” But I had saved up these games for years. I had found them for free online, burned them from friends, taken them from shareware CDs, and overall, I considered myself to have an impressive collection. So I compromised with myself. “You may keep them on the computer, but no playing during the school year.”

My plan worked successfully at first. Work got done on time, bedtime was at least sometimes reasonable, by college standards, self-discipline was great – until Tuesday night. The other day my roommate and I found ourselves with the rare situation of both being in the room and free to have fun. “Hey Dan, wanna see something cool?” I clicked on the Live for Speed logo on my desktop. Within two minutes the state of the art racing simulator had loaded and I found myself behind the wheel of an XF GTI, which looks somewhat like a mix between a Seat Ibiza (not sold in the U.S.), a Fiat Punto (also not sold in U.S.), and a VW Golf. I pulled away from the starting line, brought the engine to rev-line, then depressed and clutched into 2nd. None of my skills had atrophied.

Dan was taken aback. He quickly downloaded the game on his computer and, by connecting our computers to each other through an I.P. connection, we raced each other. It took him some time to get adjusted to the controls, but we were on.

Live For Speed is addicting for so many reasons. First off, it's just as much a simulator as it is a game. In manual mode, you have to depress the clutch and gently let go as you switch gears – just like in real life. You can adjust the tire pressures, mirror positions and how close to the steering wheel you sit. You can feel your performance affected by the wind or depending on how much gas you have left in the tank. And unlike in Gran Turismo, which for years has been designated the number one racing simulator, if you slam into a wall, the car becomes damaged accordingly.

The most fun aspect of the game, though, is a glitch. At certain points of one of the tracks, if you slam into the wall, your car goes flying tens of feet into the air, spinning around like a kindergartener attempting to strike a piata. This makes for spectacular crashes.

The real selling point of the game, though, is the multiplayer option. With it, one can find hundreds of other players squandering their lives learning how to take Turn 2 on one of the tracks just a tad faster. You can drag race, destruction derby, or do just about anything you want. Players are free from gamers attempting to sabotage competitions by crashing into racers, as some network games have settings that automatically disconnect participants for destructive behavior.

My GPA is looking pretty good right now. Two more weeks of gameplay though, and that could quickly end up in the pits.

Editor's Note: A demo version of the game can be downloaded for free at www.liveforspeed.com