Eutechnyx has been making racing games for a long time, but Auto Club Revolution is their first leap into the bold new world of the free to play online game. Featuring the sort of social features and slick front end interface you'd expect, the game offers simulation minded racing and a feature set that could give a lot of full priced racing games a run for their money.
Auto Club Revolution is a browser based game that runs via the Unity engine, a system that's increasingly proving itself capable of running impressive 3D graphics on even modest systems. Gameplay follows the model of most free to play games, offering lots of free content to people willing to grind a bit for in-game credits, while tapping those willing to spend a few bucks on things like new cars, tracks or special customization items. You gain experience and credits for each race, gaining new licenses and unlockables as you level up.
The game also features a full selection of upgrade parts and tuning options for simulation fans, while providing an auto tune option for people who prefer not to get their hands dirty. As in Forza, cars are ranked via their Vehicle Performance Rating, allowing racers to easily organize fair races and find people with similarly leveled cars. The car selection itself is quite promising, running the gamut from Mini Coopers to Pagani Zondas.
ACR's user interface is also pretty slick, making it easy to find other racers and friends via your browser. Essentially, everything except the actual racing is handled in your browser window, including the game's vehicle upgrading and visual modifications. There are plans to make sharing and swapping custom designs and tuning between players available, and we have a feeling creating custom vinyls will be a lot easier with a mouse than with a controller.
As the game is still in the second phase of its closed beta, there are only a few of the total completed courses and cars available, but we enjoyed what we saw. Silverstone and Spa are currently available along with the game's custom LA River course, which we quite enjoyed. Standard head to head races and time trials are currently available, while an autocross course that allows players to set up custom routes is on its way. The game's full suite of driver assists makes driving with the keyboard, gamepad or wheel possible, and we had no troubles getting the game to detect our 360 controller. The game looks good in action, though it clearly scales towards your system's spec; it looked very good and ran smoothly on our gaming rig, while it looked okay and ran a little choppy on our awful 2007 era work laptop.
If it's been a while since you've played a browser based game, ACR will likely impress you with what can be done with the Unity engine. It's looking surprisingly full featured for a free to play game, and the physics strike a nice balance between sim and arcade, though you can tweak them as necessary.
Auto Club Revolution is scheduled to go into open beta on January 1st, but we've got a few keys for the current closed Beta to give away right now. Leave a comment below and we'll send the keys to the first three responses.