Driving simulation

Trigger Rally

Thanks to Steam, Linux is now well-provided for when it comes to driving games. We can run best-in-class DiRT 4, it's older and more accessible cousin, Dirt Rally, and various incarnations of games in the F1 franchise. But there's also a surprising number of open source driving games. There are the driving simulations TORCS (which begat Torcs-NG and Speed Dreams) and VDrift, and of course there's the crazily addictive console-style SuperTuxKart. And if you want an arcade rallying experience, there's Trigger Rally. In Trigger Rally, you view your clunky kit car from above and behind its rear, using a joystick of the cursor keys to navigate the 3D terrain in front of you. What makes it unique is the brilliant physics engine that not only handles collisions with aplomb, but provides a very satisfying driving experience. In many ways, it feels like TuxRacer with a car rather than a penguin, and that's no bad thing.

The car has weight and what feels like realistic inertia, which is different when driving either the front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive vehicles in the game. You're forced to adopt the rallying driving style of turning into corners early and oversteering through their apex. This is counterintuitive at first, but hugely satisfying when you get it right. The rallying aspect in Trigger Rally comes from never really knowing where a course will take you. You steer after being prompted by arrows that appear as your virtual navigator and copilot. The variation is thanks to the huge number of courses the game includes, from mountains to the desert, from tarmac to sand. It means you never really get a chance to learn a course in the same way you might learn Spa-Francorchamps. Even better, it's easy to design your own courses with little more than a graphics editor and a text editor. Each level is little more than an image map for height, color, and foliage, and an XML file for checkpoints and locations, but the generated output is fantastic.

Project Website

There's even a WebGL version of Trigger Rally that you can play online – after getting plenty of offline practice!

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