01st Feb 2018 | 1,656 views
Viper Racing was a fairly popular racing sim in the late 90s, among those PC gamers who cared about this genre.
As the game title suggests, this game is all about Viper racing. Yes, only one car model, which is ironic because Viper Racing is such a great game despite this limitation.
I stumbled upon this game in '99 in a game exchange with my neighbour. The game cover looked generic, with screenshots from what looked like a graphically unimpressive game. Boy was I wrong! Viper Racing is probably one of the most technically advanced games of that time. Remember, this was a PC exclusive, so there were much less technical limitations than for multiplatform games, but back to it later.
The game features several tracks - from the Daytona oval to long and winding fantasy tracks which are grand in scale, and all tracks have the reverse versions, which doubles the track number available.
Viper Racing has one of the most addictive Career modes I have ever played in racing games. You get four career stages - Amateur, Club, Professional and Grand Touring - and in each stage you have to complete a full season and win in order to advance to the next stage. If you don't win the season, you have to play a new season again and again until you win.
As you complete races and seasons, you receive game money that you can spend on a big number of car upgrades. Car upgrading is very important in Viper Racing and surprisingly each upgrade really does change the behavior of your Viper. Do you want to drive faster and mostly choose the engine upgrades? Your car will be faster but harder to control now. Do you worry more about the stability? Handling is easier, but the opponents are faster than you. So balancing between the various upgrades is usually the best bet.
What makes Viper Racing truly special are the car physics and handling - you really feel like you are driving a supercar, in this case a Viper. When starting a new Career, you have to choose the mode - Arcade, Intermediate or Simulation. Honestly I always played Arcade because the other two were just too hardcore for me, but rest assured - even the Arcade mode is more sim than many other sim games ever were! Forget the slidy physics that were introduced in the racing games of the early 2000s and never left since. Of course today, if you want, you can find the modern sim of your liking in iRacing, Assetto Corsa, Project Cars and the likes, but Viper Racing is where it all started, and never aged! Just ask any sim racing fan who has played Viper Racing.
The game cover says that the AI opponents act like real drivers, and it is no lie. You really feel like you are racing against real people, but this time more or less decent ones, who don't try to push you out of the track every chance they get. But make no mistake - these AI drivers will make your heart race!
Viper Racing had and still has active fan communities who have made new tracks, new cars, graphics updates and patches for the latest Windows versions.
So is Viper Racing worth playing today for new and aspiring sim racing fans? Probably not, but it is still as great as it was back in '98 and personally I will keep replaying it from time to time, it's just that today it's all about online - competing against other players from all over the world. But the point still stands - Viper Racing gives you a great single player sim racing experience to this day. There is nothing like going down a winding highway in super high speed in your Viper with adrenaline pumping in your veins with a sharper turn in front - how well will you do this time?