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Kalisto’s Unreleased FIA GT World Championship Title

Tim Wheatley - Dec 9, 2021       4 Comments
Tim Wheatley - Dec 9, 2021
    4 Comments

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.

Screenshots:

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.

Videos:

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).

View on YouTube

The gameplay trailer (below) shows off in-game menus, graphics and gameplay at the Jarama track as well as rain effects and night lighting.

View on YouTube

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I was speaking to the ex-Kalisto developers, as was trying to source a copy of Ultim@te Race Rally. They sent me a demo of the GT racing game though. I should make a video of it someday! Or share it! They joked they'd be ready to start up on it again if I could help with funding :D

I also got hold of a copy of the unreleased PC version of 4 Wheel Thunder, see my video:

Reply 1 Like

Cool! Do you know what is happening with Ultimate Race vs. Ultimate Race Pro? I have a copy of UR from 1996, but it's not listed ANYWHERE that I can find. I scanned the box cover and use it here:

I need to get a copy of URP and see if there'a any actual differences or whether they just renamed UR to URP lol

Reply Like

Oh! Your video covers that. Was it really only released with the cards? I have a box and I really wouldn't have expected that to work in video card boxes...

Reply Like

Yeah, so it debuted as Ultim@te Race 1 track with PCX1 PowerVR cards (no texture filtering, one long 8km track only).

For the PCX2 PowerVR cards (with texture filtering) they released a 3-track version (there are also some variants like a Gateway one with PC cow branded car!) - I had this with my Videologic Apocalypse 3DX back in the day (as well as WipEout 2097 that got me into futuristic racing games!).

Ultim@te Race Pro is the full Microprose commercially released version, which adds another environment, plus an open world battle multiplayer area and a test oval-like track. Plus car damage and some other tweaks.

Ultima@te Race Rally was to be a sequel, but my video explains what happened.

p.s. my channel covers Every PC F1 Game, Every PC Rally Game, PC Futuristic Racers and Sega Arcade vs PC ports. With a lot more planned, if I live twice as long 🙃

p.p.s. I have a PCX2 Matrox M3D PowerVR card, and an Nvidia NV1... but they're both intended for future Sega Arcade vs PC ports videos mostly... I also have all the Ultim@te Race versions thanks to help from Vetz on VOGONS (aka RetroCompaqGuy on YouTube)

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