GT Online, as it was known prior to announcing official FIA GT Championship licensing, was an innovative racing game that would allow the player to race against real life racing drivers in real-time, using GPS positional data during racing events to place the AI around the track within the software.
The software was quite visually impressive for the time, featuring realtime shadows, volumetric smoke, dynamic weather effects and environments, rain water effects with true refractive drops, headlight projection and cars created with 3000-6000 triangles.
Unfortunately much like the PC version of Kalisto’s 4 Wheel Thunder and a number of other announced and teased racing titles to follow the successful Ultim@te Race Pro, FIA GT would never release. In 2002 Kalisto Entertainment declared bankruptcy and were forced to pay a fine for misleading the French stock market. The licenses, the software… Gone.
As far as I’m aware there aren’t many screenshots available (the ones above came from a developer’s portfolio) and only two promotional videos were ever released (embedded below). Testers who tried the software reported that the AI were terrible, and honestly that makes sense if they were supposed to be driven by GPS data that is not available. Circuits in the early builds included Jarama and Anderstorp.
The FIA GT license is obviously still the major loss from this title, with SIMBIN’s 2002 mod and 2004 GTR – FIA GT Racing Game title becoming our first exposures to this amazing series years later. While we’re talking about SIMBIN it’s worth mentioning that they also made strides towards the same idea for GPS-driven multiplayer with a company called iOpener Media in 2009. They never released a title using the technology.
See videos below.
The technology trailer details the way the ‘Ultimate Race’ technology is sending data to the software from the race track. Footage of the FIA GT title begins at 1:11 and shows the Jarama track, menus and some real-life on-track footage. You also see some track modelling and promotional event footage, including an interview with Rickard Rydell (who won the 2001 race they were attending).
The gameplay trailer (below) shows off in-game menus, graphics and gameplay at the Jarama track as well as rain effects and night lighting.