Video games are ace. They allow you to do so many things that otherwise wouldn't be possible; you can fight in wars, command armies, build giant skyscrapers, and race cars. Except there's still a barrier to entry there: a controller. It's that standardized interface that keeps you from becoming fully immersed in a game, especially when it comes to driving. I mean, how can a controller or even a plastic wheel even come close to the real thing?
The folks at I-Way World in Lyon, France, agree. They think that the best way to get a realistic driving experience without having to actually drive is to strap you into a giant, gutted car wearing Nomex and a helmet. Oh, and to hoist you 6 feet in the air on some pretty jazzy hydraulics.
I'll tell you something for free: I-Way World's version of gaming is far, far removed from Gran Turismo. Each of the three disciplines is very different, but very exciting. LMP1 is very fast indeed, Rally sees you sat in the shell of an actual Citroen C2 (the air vents are still in there) with all the relevant controls at your finger tips, and Formula 1? Well, the body shell is built by a race-car manufacturer in the U.K. and it feels very, very quick.
Each car's cockpit is surrounded by screens that give the "driver" a pretty wide view of what's going on in the virtual world. The tracks offered for each car have aspects taken from famous or well-known areas in the racing world. This means that the I-Way tracks are an amalgamation of all of the best bits racing has to offer. A "best of," if you will.
As an experience, the cars and track at I-Way are pretty good. They're very immersive and a blast to play. The hydraulics give you a lot of movement, which is nice, but there's no G-force or anything like that. It's a shame, but short of buying a race car, there's little else that comes close.
I-Way is a great day out and certainly tramples all over the likes of Forza 4 and Gran Turismo.
But is it anywhere near real driving, though? Not really, no.