Fast-forward a quarter-century, and now we have BeamNG.drive, a video game where there is nothing to do but crash. BeamNG.drive isn't a racing game, but a soft-body physics simulator—one that can realistically determine and illustrate damage to deformable objects (like, say, cars) in real time. Realistic handling behavior is modeled as well. The handling is great, but the crashes are spectacular—metal deforms, windows explode, and hubcaps and headlights assemblies go flying. The IIHS has nothing on BeamNG.drive.
The game has a few different modes, but the best mode is Free Roam. Free Roam is a mode where you can basically do whatever you want. One of the best parts about Free Roam is that you get money, which can be used to get new cars. BeamNG.drive provides a realistic simulation of driving and crashing vehicles. The game is heavily physics based and allows players to crash vehicles and watch the vehicles react accordingly. The game also provides a dynamic environment, where the player can change the terrain to their liking. Players can also change the weather and other atmospheric conditions.
Despite the content additions, this remains at its core a game about what happens when two or more objects collide with one another at high speed. BeamNG.drive is a meticulously detailed simulation of carnage, dropping into bullet time at the point of impact to treat the player to gory close-ups of metal panels popping and mangling, twisting and pinging off. Vans tumble over cliff edges and begin discarding their doors and tyres, like hot air balloonists desperately ejecting ballast in an attempt to stay airborne. The tinfoil chassis of luxury sports cars roll down canyons and become compressed like metal sausages as they go, each new impact revealing the hardened frame that sits skeleton-like beneath their lurid and aerodynamic, carbon fibre facade.
There's plenty more to do than just drive into walls: You can order up AI traffic and create mass chaos. You can conjure up a giant see-through compactor and crush your classic low-rider into a cube. You can shoot your car out of a cannon. Or you can fiddle with gravity, turning it up to the level of the sun, which will pancake most cars before they turn a single wheel.
The graphics are very realistic. The cars look great, and the damage looks even better. The graphics are very high quality, and are one of the best parts of the game in my opinion. BeamNG.drive is mostly a realistic simulation of driving and crashing vehicles. The graphics are fairly simplistic, as the game is still in its beta stage.
BeamNG.drive isn’t a complete or comprehensive racing game, rather it’s a powerful physics engine on which many enthusiastic modders have built beautiful and interesting things. It feels as bolted together as the vehicles it simulates, and at times about as ready to fall apart – clunky interfaces and performance issues can scupper the experience – but it’s a fascinating distraction to idle away a few hours, and a near perfect simulation of what was happening in my child-brain when I played with Matchbox cars.
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