As we reported earlier today, RaceRoom has released its bonkers racing truck – the MF-Truck. RaceRoom is best known as a GT3 and touring car simulator, so it’s safe to say trucks are quite the departure for Swedish-based developer Sector 3 Studios.
That’s not to say you can’t have fun with these lumbering beasts, however, especially when they produce up to 1,100bhp. Impressive. And what better way to get acquainted with these diesel-powered delights than by giving one a test drive? Find out our thoughts below.
Portuguese Truck Simulator
Figuring it’s best to familiarise myself with the truck at a track with plenty of run-off, I select the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve’s (commonly referred to as Portimão Circuit) Grand Prix layout.
I jump into the virtual driver’s seat (presumably via a virtual step ladder), start the tachograph and I’m away, with my left arm hanging nonchalantly out of the window.
I get to Turn 1 and immediately understeer straight off towards the Atlantic Ocean…
It’s worth mentioning there’s a caveat to the RaceRoom MF Truck’s ludicrous power output of 1100bhp – it weighs over five tonnes (5300kg, to be exact). Therefore, it requires a degree of forward planning to slow it down, turn it into an apex and get it back on the power. I’d advise moving the brake bias rearwards a touch and increase the steering lock to speed up
Not only that, but it has a 16-speed H-pattern gearbox and water-cooled brakes, requiring three new key binds if you want the full, simulated truck racing experience (and of course, we do).
There are eight gears each divided into high and low ratios, giving us 16 in total. Say, for example, you’re in the low ratio of eighth gear; you can pre-select its high ratio by pressing the key bind for ‘Toggle Gear Split’. Lift the throttle, reapply it, and the high ratio will engage. The low ratio provides better acceleration, the high ratio provides better top speed.
Likewise ‘Toggle Gear Range’ converts gears 1-4 on your H-pattern ‘box to 5-8 (LO = 1-4, HI = 5-8). Pushing a button on your wheel to toggle the gear range isn’t intuitive, so a dedicated truck shifter peripheral is definitely recommended. Although, to be honest, except for race starts you’ll never require gears 1-4 anyway thanks to the truck’s torquey delivery.
Picking automatic gears, or manual gears with auto clutch, will result in the game selecting high-range and high-ratios by default, so this seems like the easiest way to proceed.
But, if you own a truck sim shifter this will add an extra layer of immersion to proceedings. I’d be intrigued to find out if changing gears like this results in quicker laptimes than shifting sequentially, however.
The truck’s inertia makes it tricky to get to grips with in the early stages. However, when you eventually tune your muscle memory into longer braking distances and earlier turn-in points, it becomes a blast to drive.
As explained earlier, gears 1-4 are largely redundant on-track, as even around Portimão’s tightest hairpin fifth gear provides plenty of power and traction. I mean, if low-down power is your thing, the RaceRoom MF-Truck is perfect, seeing as it supplies 5,000Nm of torque at ridiculously low revs.
Even in higher gears, it’s possible to spin up the truck’s rear wheels, meaning drifting is possible around most turns. And when you do break traction, slides can be held easily – it’s all very controllable and predictable.
The manual water spray for the brakes is a novel feature. Assigning a button to shoot a jet of water to the front discs is a new experience for me, but it makes the truck’s huge anchors work optimally, so I’m all for it. For best results, hit the water button under heavy braking to guard against early brake fade (the key bind is under ‘Brake Water Spray’).
There’s a 200l tank of water onboard to help, which the developers reckon is enough to last a whole 30-minute race. If you don’t fancy the hassle of pressing a button while braking, there’s an auto setting to help.
Smoke on the water
Naturally, the by-product of any diesel truck is black smoke, and thankfully it’s replicated in RaceRoom. Hopefully Sector 3 Studios has topped them all up with AdBlue beforehand…
One issue of note is that the trucks can tip over quite easily after a sausage kerb strike. Their high centre of gravity makes this more likely to happen than in cars, but it’s worth bearing in mind before you attempt to bludgeon through an apex. The top speed is limited to just under 100mph too, so tracks with long straights can be quite tedious.
In terms of racing, the trucks will provide tremendous momentum-based pack battling – ideally at venues with lots of run-off area.
Macau would be very interesting in these…
How does the RaceRoom MF-Truck feel?
The RaceRoom MF-Truck has turned out to be a solid diversion away from the sim’s usual fare, providing an engaging, and most of all, fun driving experience. The truck hops and bobs under extreme corner loads and also has realistic tyre scrubbing sounds straight out of an FIA European Truck Racing Championship meeting.
Compared to the trucks found in Automobilista 2’s (AMS2) Copa Truck class, I found RaceRoom’s to provide much cleaner force feedback out of the box, and therefore much more direct in its driving experience – the handling is much more forgiving as a result (and fun).
The engine, brake, turbo and gear change sounds from both sims are convincing enough, but AMS2’s are arguably more refined than RaceRoom’s. It’s close, though.
Conversely, RaceRoom’s graphics engine is showing its age in comparison to the ever-evolving beauty of AMS2. This shouldn’t detract from what is a very smooth – albeit functional – gaming experience, however.
It must also be pointed out that AMS2 simulates the real rules and regulations of Brazil’s Copa Truck series. RaceRoom’s truck, on the other hand, appears to be based on the FIA European Truck Racing Championship’s ruleset.
However, this series stipulates the use of a locked diff, and RaceRoom’s truck doesn’t behave as such, providing lovely on-power oversteer. This may have been a deliberate design decision by the developers.
Should you try RaceRoom’s MF-Truck?
Although the driving experience was by and large smooth and trouble-free, I did spot one bug where the dashboard didn’t show eight gear, remaining in seventh instead. This only occurred during replays, so not a huge issue.
RaceRoom’s MF-Truck is available to try for free, as is RaceRoom. It’s an utter delight to drive at times and real truck racer Sascha Lenz’s input shines through.
If you love truck racing, then you’ll love the RaceRoom MF-Truck. If you don’t love truck racing, you soon will.