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<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/bigfoot1.jpg” />When it comes to simulations, I’m very picky. I remember when I first played Microsoft Flight Simulator, I was so disappointed because the graphics were horrid and the plane was nearly impossible to fly. On the flip side, a few years later I played A-10 Tank Killer and was obsessed with it for months. When it comes to simulations, there are three things that I always look for to gauge quality – landscape graphics, realistic controls and of course the overall atmosphere.
As I was searching for software to review, I went through about five free online simulation games before stumbling upon the one that I’d like to share with you today called Rigs of Rods [No Longer Available].
Now, at MakeUseOf we’ve covered some cool simulations, like Google Earth Flight Simulator and Nemexia. However, Rigs of Rods isn’t your typical simulation software. It’s not only about cruising through an interesting landscape or test-driving various exotic cars (although that’s available too). The cool thing about Rigs of Rods is that it focuses representing realistic physics.
Rigs of Rods Takes Physics Into Account
The fact that the creators of this free online simulation game took actual physics into account for every little detail is remarkable. According to the website, the makers planned vehicle behavior based on “weight distribution, construction, and/or suspension.” The way planes or boats handle depends upon the physical dimensions, structure and the environment. When you first install the program, make sure to include the “content stream” with the vehicles that you want. Just keep in mind that some of them take a lot of space, and downloading the module can take a very long time during installation.
When you first launch the game, you can choose from different landscapes. In every case you will start out standing in front of a vehicle garage. If you’re more interested in a plane or boat, make sure to walk around and check to see whether there are any in the vicinity.
When you walk through the garage door, you enter the vehicle menu screen. This is where you can pick from a very wide range of vehicles, including sports cars, trucks, buses, and all-terrain vehicles. For my first vehicles, I chose a huge city bus.
The view when you are inside a vehicle is 3rd person, but you have the dashboard at the base of your window, so you can see current speed, RPMs and more. Driving these vehicles definitely has a lot of realism. Hit the curb and the whole bus bounces just as it would in real life. Drive on a slope that’s too steep, and the whole thing will roll right over.
Changing landscapes, I decided to cruise for a bit. I chose a nice, large mountainous region and then selected the coolest looking sports car I could find. I have to say, the sound effects are awesome – every time you hit the gas you’ll hear the engine rev. The only problem I found was that the steering was super touchy and I could barely keep the car on the road.
Switching to a huge 2 ton pick-up truck with double rear tires was a whole different story. Steering wasn’t quite as difficult, and this thing really has some power. Another cool touch to the simulation is that if your vehicle has large exhaust pipes, you’re going to actually see the smoke every time you hit the gas hard.
And if you have a bit too much fun peeling out and strike a dip in the road, you may end up exactly like I did.
I wanted to see if handling and behavior changed significantly between vehicles, and sure enough when I chose this monster (literally a monster truck), I found that the vehicle acted exactly as you’d expect a truck like this to behave. It bounced over small hills, climbed slowly up one side and raced down the other. The great thing about the monster truck is that when you flip over, all you have to do is hit the gas hard and it’ll spin and bounce upright again!
Exploring the simulation a bit further, I changed landscapes to an island and came across this beauty just parked in the middle of a runway. So what did I do?
I got in and flew it of course! You may find that the airplane controls take a little getting used to. It took three crashes, two of which the wings actually disintegrated in the air, until I realized that I had to ease off the throttle once I was in the air. You can switch between external and internal views by pressing “C”.
I have to say that exploring the virtual landscapes with these vehicles is a real blast. Seeing how objects interact and how the vehicles respond to different things is really fun – I could see easily burning several hours some Saturday afternoon playing around with this simulation – and I bet you could too!
Have you ever tried Rigs of Rods? What did you think? Do you know of any other cool, high quality simulator apps? Share your opinion and insight in the comments section below.