The unrealistic expectations around Need for Speed

Discussion in 'Need For Speed' started by HyperSpeeder, Mar 8, 2020.

  1. HyperSpeeder

    HyperSpeeder

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    No idea how to start this post. NFS' decline has various reasons but one that always caught my interest was how the fanbase, the press and EA have set unrealistic expectations when it comes to what the game needs to be.

    1) Razor Callahan and Lina Navarro came from the same mold

    Being a racing game first and foremost, the story in NFS is there to set the atmosphere of the game. Yet there's no shortage of reviews criticising the "cringy" storyline and characters.

    Well, ever since Underground, NFS has been a pastiche of the latest The Fast and the Furious film. Underground itself exists because EA didn't have a FnF license, Carbon tried to ride on the popularity of Tokyo Drift, and other games shifted to action movie style when FnF changed to heists instead of cars.

    Ironically, it was in the break between 2F2F and Tokyo Drift that Black Box was able to come up with something better, which was the first Most Wanted. The Blacklist and its 15 cars were something not yet replicated in the franchise, but the story was still cringy, as if everyone around you (including Sgt. Cross) was fresh out of high school.

    The point is, people are expecting AAA-level quality from the script of a game in which the story really isn't the priority. Sure, EA lavishly spends their budget on second-rate actors and film tech instead of something more useful such as brand licensing, but in the end all we care about is having fun driving outrageously customized cars in spectacular fashion while being chased by the police.

    Story in NFS was cringy then and it's cringy now, so what's the problem? Why are reviewers now deducting points from the games because of the story? I'm not interested in Spike's existential conflict upon realizing the player is a better driver than he is, or in Jack Rourke's suppressed affection for Sam. All I want is to feel like I'm this badass driver whose car is somehow capable of taking down whole crime syndicates without firing a single bullet.

    2) Is it a car, or a tank from Battlefield?

    Ghost Games, in 2019, was still using the basic physics from Burnout Paradise, despite NFS having moved to Frostbite in 2013. All of these games play mostly the same. Brake to Drift was in Burnout Paradise and became the backbone of Criterion's handling in NFS. Ghost Games, which was Criterion but in Sweden, adapted the model to Frostbite, and now the franchise was handed back to Criterion, which will still be Ghost since most of the new staff will come from Ghost.

    With this summary I wanted to reveal the cold, harsh truth: the physics of NFS will remain this way while Criterion is in charge. That's all they can do. If you hate B2D, you'd better hope the next NFS has a red metascore. Personally, I don't hate B2D per se, but it's clear it works best in maps designed for it, that is, maps with long straights and sweeping, wide corners. Those were the traits of Hot Pursuit's map, after all, and the mountainous parts of NFS15 and Payback seem more suited to such physics.

    But this isn't supposed to be a rant on Criterion's inability to leave Burnout behind. The people who complain about the physics don't seem to realize that old NFS games didn't exactly have good physics either. If you drift too much in NFS Heat, well, in the 2005 Most Wanted you almost can't! In NFSU2 the AWD cars were hurt by severe understeer and the best drift car was the Golf, which was an FWD car. In NFS Undercover the cars were extremely grippy and cornered at F1-like speeds. Even NFS Shift, made by everyone's (least) favorite wookie, had its fair share of physics bugs. Finally, in NFS Carbon a Muscle (Corvette) would outhandle Exotics and Tuners when it wasn't supposed to.

    As an end note, B2D was in NFS2. Yes, that one, from more than 20 years ago. Select Arcade mode and watch as your car drifts under braking. And the handbrake was always a factor in NFS, way before the Hot Pursuit remake.

    3) Neon Baboon vs Rocket Bunny, who will win?

    Among the casual public, the solution to all of Need for Speed's many problems is one of two: Underground 3 or a (proper) Most Wanted remake. Which would be a step backwards...

    I know there were quite a few parts in the old Black Box games inspired by real ones, but seriously, do we want to go back to that low level of customization? Do we want to go back to having traffic car-tier whips such as Puntos, Audi A4s and the base trim Cadillac CTS in the car list? I played Underground 2 back in the day and looked at games such as Juiced with envy. Juiced had real parts, which looked better than Black Box's parts. In NFSU2 you were forced to upgrade your car due to progression and sometimes it was about making the least ugly car possible, not the prettiest.

    Meanwhile, today not only there's actual licensed body parts in NFS but also the fictional parts look really good and in some cases even better than the real ones. I would sell a kidney to have those diffusers and side skirts in Forza Horizon. I would do even more extreme things for those APR wings, which Forza doesn't license out of pure laziness, considering there's APR wings available for the Exocet Offroad, the Supra and the Funco F9. NFS lost RAYS in 2017 with Payback, but gained new cool BBS wheels in Heat.

    I remember putting a hood on my Audi TT and someone named it a "baboon's nose". We should rejoice, for now we at least have Rocket Bunnies.

    4) EA's draconian demands

    It's no secret that EA is one of the biggest forces dragging down NFS. Has been for a long time. They literally crunched Black Box to death when they forced the studio to release 6 yearly titles in sucession, some of which radically different from the one preceding them. They did the same with Ghost Games, even though Ghost had more time to develop their games.

    Which puts things into perspective. Ghost bounced back from Payback's (IMO unfairly) mediocre metascore of 62. Sure, Heat was in the bottom half of the 70s, a far cry from Forza Horizon 4's (IMO also unfairly) genre-topping 92, but it was an improvement. It got plenty of eights, nines and even tens. Even then, EA decided to bring back Criterion's name in an attempt to inject (false) hope into the minds of everyone.

    To which ends? All of Ghost Games' recent entries scream "we wish we'd had just a little bit more time". In fact, it was a problem Forza also faced with both FM7 and FH4, and even EA has other studios with similar issues, namely Bioware and its disastrous latest titles (Mass Effect Andromeda and Anthem). FIFA itself has began to struggle, and when FIFA is doing bad, you know EA is in a rut.

    Payback had already been rushed a lot, but Heat was the culmination of it. The game came out of nowhere and the impression I got was that it only got released because they "had to". You know, every two years, the year after Forza Horizon, because we're scared of the new kid in the block. Even Polygon pointed out that the complete lack of microtransactions in Heat were more a sign of EA's not giving a damn about it than a change of heart regarding business practices.

    EA hasn't yet realized their games will only get high scores if the studios are allowed to put effort into them. Such is the way of life. Dismantling Ghost because they weren't able to get an 80+ metascore despite not having had many resources to work with is the mark of incredibly dense bean counters who will eventually crumble under the might of their own company.

    5) The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence...

    The culmination of the unrealistic expectations people have towards a modern NFS game is how the NFS community seems to believe other games really have it perfect, when that's not really true. As a Forza Horizon player, I'm not entirely happy with the current state of the franchise, and I most certainly wasn't happy with many things about TDU, Burnout Paradise, Race Driver GRID and even older NFS. And DriveClub, even with its share of fans, ended up abandoned by Sony.

    All recent NFS games took time to become somewhat polished, but Forza Horizon 4 didn't have a smooth launch either. Sound bugs and many, many cut features, along with the inclusion of cosmetics and dances much akin to Fortnite, which took space in wheelspins, made Playground come under criticism, so much that most of the first year in the game's life was spent bringing back stuff from FH3 that Playground in all their wisdom cut from FH4 because "EVERYTHING'S COOL WHEN YOU PART OF A TEAM!!!": online multiplayer was exclusively built around team-based racing.

    Of course, there's the usual ass-kissers who think the game's perfect (every community has those), but the success of FH4 was largely a continuation of FH3's, with broken promises such as more bodykits and paintable calipers being swept under the rug in favor of amusing (and boring) oddities such as battle royale. One big reason why FH3 was so successful is that the PC community was starved of a good arcade racing game, so everyone flocked into FH3 because it sounded like NFS with proper physics. Now these people are playing FH4, they are vocal and Playground has to listen to them, instead of catering to their few unofficial community stewards on Discord, Reddit and various forums.

    Well, at least RetroKrystal, who spent a large amount of her time playing Fortnite and Apex Legends and plotting the addition of the Eliminator along with her old teammates, has left the company, which gives me hope the next game will bring back an ounce of car culture, which is the very foundation of Forza... But this ain't about Forza, it's about NFS and the things that, yes, it does have over Forza and other racing games.

    Outrun (H2H) races are far superior in NFS due to the game laying down checkpoints on the road. In Forza Horizon there's none of that, which makes H2H races a tree-dodging affair instead of grassroots street racing. The game loads much faster (all of them, whether it is NFS15, Payback or Heat), the mountain roads are superb, the soundtrack is leagues above Forza's even with the excess of hip hop, the map is easier to navigate, derelicts are a fun "barn find" mechanic and were blatantly copied by Forza in the Fortune Island expansion, the car sounds are mostly superior to Forza's, and there's police for all its worth, which makes a certain type of car very useful (heavy cruisers such as the Challenger and the Panamera).

    While overall I'd say Forza Horizon's quality is still at least two leagues above NFS, not all is lost for the franchise... It's not as if the games were completely unplayable and I can see why some people would even prefer NFS to Forza. BlackPanthaa might not be as much of a brainless fanboy after all (he still sucks).

    ...

    tl;dr Everyone has set an insurmountable bar for NFS to overcome and this overzealous, overdemanding attitude towards the games has only hurt the franchise. EA can't expect to spend little and profit much anymore, at least not with Forza Horizon as their main opponent. Rose-tinted nostalgia glasses suck. The competition ain't perfect either.
     
  2. T0MMY3688

    T0MMY3688

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    I don't think the hate is because it is B2D but more to it being ridiculously inconsistent or/and feels you are not in control, HP2010 was consistent but it feels scripted while MW2012 and NFS2015 feels weirdly inconsistent to me. Payback was fine but it wasn't fun but I think Heat got a nice balance on the B2D driving while being consistent. Underground to Carbon physics weren't amazing but it was consistent and it react whenever you wanted it, the mistakes you made in it felt more like it is your fault than the game physics is not reacting the way you expected.

    Assuming what gamesindustry.biz is saying is true, part of the reason they got dismantled/transfer to Criterion because

    I think it is a fair decision for NFS to be transfer back into UK for a chance to find better talent to make a better game, the last 3 NFS felt like it is the peak of what Ghost can do with the time frame EA allow and the limited team size they could get in Gothenburg.
     
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  3. MikeV27

    MikeV27 Premium

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    It's 2020 and you still can't map the DS4 buttons how you want. Progress...
     
  4. HyperSpeeder

    HyperSpeeder

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    That's very true, I fully agree! In NFS15 I wrestled something which had a 3D of a car, but wasn't a car... Didn't feel like the "car" was riding on actual tires. In any more "simulation" game such as Forza, GT, even GRID or TDU (sadly I don't own The Crew 2... yet), you're driving, not just steering.

    Since Manu's path was loaded with gymkhanas, which highlighted not only the difficulty in control but also the flaws in air physics, I understand why most people would simply ragequit. I usually kill all of NFS' drift scores with ease, but lots of people perform badly...

    EA will probably go shopping this time. There's several people with horror stories about the way EA does things, but there's also the prospect of a challenge. Snatching people from rival studios could be a possibility as well.

    Obviously, they have Playground as the main opponent, and a very difficult one, since Microsoft is an even bigger company than EA and Playground, the "Forza team" at least, already has more than 200 people in it. Not sure what they're gonna do with that many but with such a juggernaut in the market EA's life won't be easy.
     
  5. Sage Ages

    Sage Ages

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    The drift component that modern NFS games used is based around a few key forces:

    Yaw Torque - rotates the car in the direction of the drift
    Side Force - pushes the car sideways
    Maintain Speed Force - pushes the car forward, also known as "drift boost" or "drift recovery"

    These forces are applied onto the car when you enter a drift. The amount of force applied is dependent on the slip angle of your tires, and the angle of drift. When setup properly, the "drifting" can actually feel quite natural and intuitive. However, if it's not set up properly it can have some terrible feeling results:

    Too much yaw torque: car snaps into a drift instantly instead of a smooth and natural motion (2015, Heat)
    Too much side force: car wants to "crabwalk" sideways (2015 without drift stability assist, MW12 drift tires)
    Too little side force: car feels like it's rotating around a set point, promotes "fishtailing" instead of long, smooth drifts. (Payback)
    Too much maintain speed force: car lunges forward and suddenly gains speed during a drift, (MW12, 2015, Payback)
    Slip angles too low: car doesn't want to stay straight and drifts constantly (Payback's offroad driving, Heat's speedcross parts, MW12's Lancia Delta with drift tires)
    Slip angles too high: car doesn't want to drift, will understeer if there isn't an adequate amount of grip

    Criterion clearly knew what they were doing with the drift handling in MW12 and Rivals. I can't really say the same for Ghost's games, and the inability to do much in the way of tuning in Payback and Heat isn't helping the matter at all.
     
  6. T0MMY3688

    T0MMY3688

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    The Crew 2 handling was decent and it felt pretty close to what Black Box had but it comes with similar issue that the cars doesn't really slide but it was consistent. As for Forza I think something went wrong going to FH4, the high powered cars are weirdly unstable in most condition to the point that driving the same car in Assetto Corsa felt more stable and easier. Also the AWD system in FH4 is just awful, the lack of torque vectoring systems in game and made high powered AWD like the Rimac became as stiff as a brick.

    It won't be easy but I think it is the chance they needed and NFS seriously need more people in the team, 80 seems ridiculously tiny for a AAA IP. Even Codemasters has more people working on their games.
     
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  7. HyperSpeeder

    HyperSpeeder

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    After playing sims on PC I really miss torque vectoring in Forza... All they do is add a front diff and that's it. For cars like Nissan GT-R or Audi R8, that's not enough, far from it. The converted cars are even worse.

    In fact, Forza doesn't even have 4-way adjustable dampers yet. I think GT already does, and every serious sim does as well. It would overcomplicate things in Forza Horizon, but in Forza Motorsport, if they're really serious about tackling the sim market, they're gonna have to implement more detail in their engine.

    The tires also feel a bit like jelly, I agree. Fun to hoon around, but any form of grip racing makes it very bad when you're packing 600+ bhp on your rear wheels...

    Agreed.
     
  8. Sage Ages

    Sage Ages

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    I was told that a lot of the upgrades in Forza are copy-pasted across cars, including drivetrain swaps. I imagine this doesn't do any favors for how the cars handle.
     
  9. T0MMY3688

    T0MMY3688

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    It will overcomplicate things but I think it has reach a point where FH needs to pick a side to be slightly more bias towards, the weird middle ground it has right now makes a good chunk of cars handles really badly in racing conditions. It could partly be the roads are not designed for it, FH3 roads were ridiculously straight and I don't remember much of these issues.

    To me the FH4 physics itself has been a really weird mixture and it stops being fun for many occasions due to weird inconsistency. Despite Heat having the overly simplistic B2D physics, at the moment I much prefer the simplistic arcade physic in NFS than Forza weird mix.

    Not too sure on how Forza did its upgrade but I think that is true. When you upgraded 2 different cars to the same stats using the same drivetrain swaps, the feeling of the cars feels near identical.
     
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  10. LeGeNd-1

    LeGeNd-1 Premium

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    I don't really have any high expectations when it comes to NFS except for:

    1) The cars should handle like cars. Arcade is okay but it should be intuitive (e.g. Driveclub and Driver SF are the best examples, and I'd put Paradise/MW 2012 too but some people disagree with this).

    2) Proper Q&A and no game breaking bugs/glitches. Longer dev times would help but y'all know how EA is like. Also no microtransaction/preorder bonus/season pass but this is almost impossible nowadays and not an isolated issue with NFS.

    3) Most importantly, playing the game should make you feel like a superhero. To me this is the most distinctive feeling I get when playing the good NFS games compared to the bad NFS games, and the reason why I still follow the franchise despite me being predominantly a sim racer. As much as I love stringing a perfect Nordschleife lap, it doesn't give the same feeling as blasting down country roads in my supercar, hitting NOS and jumping off a ramp to escape the whole city's PD behind.

    The minutiae of details about handling, B2D, circuit/freeroam, customization etcetera aren't that important to me. At this point with such a long history and 20+ games NFS can basically be anything. Which is a strength and weakness in itself. I'm not one of those fans who demands "exotics or death" or "where is Underground 3 lololol". Honestly one of the most interesting facets of the series is it can pick which style it wants its next game to be, or even mix and match certain elements. The important thing is for that concept to be executed properly, and the CORE of the game has to be fun. That is all.
     
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  11. Sage Ages

    Sage Ages

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    The two year dev time is perfectly fine provided that there isn't any significant changes mid-development and/or overwhelmingly bad leadership. Pretty standard amount of time for a lot of games.
     
  12. strela

    strela

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    I know is OT but you really feel the same when AWD swap and tune to the same class a Vintage Racer, a Track Toy, a Truck or a Suv? There are a lot of things that determines the handling in FH. Like weight, tire dimensions and compound, engine position, ecc.
    As for any NFS game I always keep a bar low but than again I also get disappointed too.
     
  13. T0MMY3688

    T0MMY3688

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    I find it kills the characteristic of the car, having dump too many upgrade on a MK2 Golf doesnt feel too far off to a modern super car of the similar stats despite the size and weight of the cars. SUV obviously feel different due to higher weight but for standard cars from hot hatch, classic sports cars to supercars, Forza cars feels very similar the faster it get upgraded. That is what i felt after putting too much time in to FH4 since it released.
     
  14. ImaRobot

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    The converted cars are worse if untuned because you're basically removing weight from the front and shifting the balance of the vehicle completely, all the while sticking with a base-tune that was meant for it's respective drivetrain, weight/bias, and power.

    Changing the drivetrain completely of course is going to kill characteristics of a given car, I mean, shouldn't that be expected? I can say from experience that a maxed out golf has never handled like any modern super car in game. Usually when you overmod a lower class vehicle they become absolutely terrible, where as it's fairly easy to get around in the supercars in general.
     
  15. HyperSpeeder

    HyperSpeeder

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    There's AWD cars in Forza which IMO understeer way too much, one prime example is Lambo Huracan. The game has a "fixed" ratio for AWD drivetrains and doesn't allow for asymmetrical tunes, so what you drive in Forza is really very simplified next to a real car. But Forza Horizon can't really be used as a measure of realism. It's more realistic than NFS, but the tire physics is very relaxed compared to even Forza Motorsport, let alone Assetto Corsa and other PC simulators, which have deeper physics engines than either Forza.

    When you AWD convert, you add weight to the opposite end of the original diff but you gain lots of traction and if the game doesn't compensate for it the AWD car will always be more competitive. Forza Horizon has rain, uneven terrain, etc., that's the sort of road that made the Skyline GT-R's fame in Australia and an RWD car will struggle. In Forza Motorsport on the other hand not only is the AWD conversion heavily penalized but also the effect on weight distribution feels more pronounced, at least to me, and tracks tend to be much smoother.

    Usually the top AWD tunes are just variations of each other but that can be said of most Forza tunes, not just Horizon's problem.

    NFS franchise's problem is much different, the cars seem very difficult to handle in tight spaces, which also impacts swerving through traffic. This is a Burnout feature, to make you crash, but in NFS it hasn't yet been abandoned. NFS15 was peak heaviness and inexplicable next to Rivals' decent physics.
     
  16. ImaRobot

    ImaRobot

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    I don't disagree. Not only that, but they also just feel massively under powered IMO and just aren't viable competitively more often than not. It's a bit redundant to even say that it's not on par with actual simulators. That's an absolute given.

    Yes, I'm aware how transitioning to different drivetrain. In my experience though, the AWD converted vehicle has never been the more competitive vehicle outside of the obvious offroad races. However, it has been the safer choice, and maybe that's a placebo affect for some. If you're a capable driver, and I'm speaking generally here, then you'll likely have a better outcome without AWD converting on actual roads.

    It's something that turns me off from the series completely as of the last few iterations, and quite honestly, one of the only things from letting me appreciate the game.
     
  17. Sage Ages

    Sage Ages

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    It's not a "feature", it's just a slow steering rate compared to other games.
     
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  18. rcgldr

    rcgldr

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    Although Porsche Unleashed (2000) didn't allow for throttle induced oversteer, by reducing the rear tire pressures (in Porsche higher pressure => more grip), the cars could be made to drift when you lifted on the throttle, allowing speed to be scrubbed off during corner entry. U2 had throttle induced oversteer, especially on slick surfaces.

    Trivia - Porsche Unleashed factory driver mode made it the first NFS with a storyline.

    ProStreet cars are faster and have much more grip than F1 cars, using Willow Springs as an example, F1 cars from the 1980's had lap times around 1:06, and maybe current F1's around 1:00, while the Zonda in ProStreet could run under 0:46. Undercover's cars are faster still, with magical nitrous that increases downforce, so it's used to keep cars on the road over bumps and for higher cornering speeds.

    There is a bounce bug on the oval tracks, but that is an issue with the physics calculating that a car went through the surface of the track on an update (integration) step, resulting in a "crash" with the track and a bad bounce. For most tracks, the physics isn't an issue, although oversteer is exaggerated. Shift 2 physics had an issue with snap oversteer on the fastest cars since it calculated downforce shoved the car body into the track, lifting the tires.

    It had more acceleration, but slower cornering speeds. The Evo and Lemans have higher cornering speeds, most noticeable in the canyons, but the Z06 could wall ride with nitrous. Still at some tracks, like Condo Row, the Lemans is a bit faster. The Cop Z06, which needed an unlocker to put in to career garage or "my cars", was fastest overall, and didn't drift.
     
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  19. Sage Ages

    Sage Ages

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    Exaggerated grip/downforce is the case for most arcade racers. Gotta simplify things somehow.
     
  20. HyperSpeeder

    HyperSpeeder

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    Man, I admire your persistence with this franchise. I know your work from way back, you're almost a walking encyclopedia of NFS. It's amazing that 20 years later you're still active.

    I've always wondered why lower tire pressures in the front would help tame the 911s in NFS5, as it made no sense for it to be like that, but the buttons being reversed in the game is a good answer. Usually I went for stability so I would avoid drifting whenever possible, especially 911s which were vicious.
     
  21. rcgldr

    rcgldr

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    For the tires, higher pressure means higher grip, so normally front and rear tires set to 45 psi for maximum grip. NFS5 has messed up tuning. Toe in adjusts front / rear relative grip, with toe in == understeer, tow out = oversteer (so fix 911s handling with max toe in, not tire pressure). Front downforce increases drag, but doesn't increase downforce. Rear downforce increases downforce, but it only serves to reduce the height from jumps, there's no increase in grip from downforce (max cornering speed on the skid pad is not improved by downforce). Still the fastest cars benefit from the reduced height from jumps and can handle 70% to 80% rear downforce (front is always 0% downforce). The taller the gearing in top gear, the less aerodynamic drag, mostly useful for the race cars, where top gear is set as tall a possible, making it useless other than a glitch in the tuning, and using the remaining gears for actual racing.
     
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