One person who will definitely play Volvo - The Game is Swedish racing star Robert Dahlgren. He has achieved immense success for Volvo Car Corporation in the Swedish Touring Car Championship (STCC) since 2004. His current racing car is a Volvo C30.
Like most other professional racing drivers, Dahlgren uses virtual racing games to train when the racing season comes to an end. "Playing racing games helps me train my ability to concentrate and to maintain my level of concentration over many laps," says Dahlgren.
Volvo - The Game features six different cars and the race is run on two authentically reproduced racing tracks. The lead roles are played by the Volvo S60 Concept, the Volvo C30 that is currently competing in the STCC, the previous Volvo S60 that also competed in the STCC, the Volvo S40 that notched up many notable successes in the BTCC (the British Touring Car Championship), the Volvo 850- the estate car that became a legend in the BTCC - and finally a true racing classic from the past, a Volvo 240 Turbo Group A.
The two tracks are the Gothenburg Eco Drive Arena in Göteborg, Sweden and Chayka outside Kiev in the Ukraine. Volvo - The Game is the only virtual racing game in the world to feature the Ukrainian racing track.
STCC game inspired
The idea behind Volvo - The Game was born in autumn 2008 when the STCC game was released. The STCC game inspired Pontus Berger, who at the time worked with licensing issues at Volvo Cars. He contacted SimBin. His question was simple: "Can you make a PC-based racing game that has broad public appeal, features only Volvo models and introduces our new concept car, the Volvo S60 Concept?"
A team of 15-20 people worked together to create Volvo - The Game. The aim was to make it as realistic as possible. The game developers have invested huge numbers of hours in getting all the details exactly right. Just "building" a car for a racing game takes about one month.
True to form, the six cars each have different driving characteristics. It's almost like getting behind the wheel, which is rather unusual in car games. The classic Volvo 240 Turbo Group A, for instance, has entirely different driving characteristics compared with the latest newcomer, the Volvo S60 Concept.
In order to recreate the older cars' interiors as authentically as possible, the designers visited the Volvo Museum to study the former racing legends.
"In terms of audio quality we're also remarkably close to reality. One example is the S40. For that car we pulled one of the race cars out of hibernation last autumn and gave it a thorough full-speed workout, recording the engine sound straight from the racing track," explains Magnus Ling Executive Vice President at SimBin.
The two racing tracks have been reproduced with faithful detail and immense precision. It takes about 1000 hours to create a virtual racing track. Even the kerbs alongside the track have to be of exactly the right height. Many of the people playing the game are experts - and they are very particular about the tiniest details.
Dahlgren is convinced that his own Volvo C30 will be the best car in the game. But he will of course be testing them all, and one of the contenders seems to be exerting a particular attraction.
"How cool is it going to be to race the Volvo 240 on the Gothenburg track! When I was growing up, all my friends were driving 240s. But not me. I was out competing. Now I finally get the chance," says Dahlgren.
The aim of the game is to reach out to a broad public. A seven-year-old can have fun with it but in order to truly get the most out of the game's many advanced features, players really should be a few years older.
For the most authentic feel, Volvo - The Game should be played with a steering wheel and pedals connected to the computer. However, it is also possible to operate the car via the PC's keyboard or with a game-pad. The game offers a choice of skill levels: "novice with all the driver assistance technology activated such as ABS brakes, "semi-pro", and finally "pro" where there is no assistance whatsoever.
It is possible to select the Volvo of your choice, compete against your own best times and have the track all to yourself. Or you can compete against up to eleven computer-controlled competitors. There are several alternative settings for graphics and sound. For instance, the star, the Volvo S60 Concept, will be available in two versions - "natural" and racing.