Tony O'Kane | May 27, 2009

WE TOLD YOU about it last month, but now it's finally here. Volvo - The Game launched yesterday , and we decided to kill some time research it further by downloading a copy, dusting off the gaming wheel and donning our e-helmet.

Produced by renowned racing game studio SimBin, Volvo - The Game had the right pedigree to begin with. SimBin has made a name for itself as one of the premier racing sim companies, and the attention to detail really shows in this effort.

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The physics model rivals that of Gran Turismo, the two tracks - Gothenburg and Chayaka - are highly detailed, the vehicle models are a pleasure to look at and the sounds are exemplary. Exhaust pipes spit flames on the overrun, the brakes squeal during deceleration and there's an abundance of transmission noise within the cabin, all of which conspire to create a rather nice race car ambience.

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Players can choose to drive the iconic Volvo 850 Estate BTCC touring car, the current STCC C30, the old S40 and S60 touring cars from a few years back and, of course, the legendary Volvo 240 Turbo Group A. The game also gives players to drive the Volvo S60 concept, which comes in road-going (or should that be show-going) guise, or all stickered-up in race car trim.

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As quick as the later touring cars are, the real fun lies in that boxy 240 Turbo. The only rear-wheel-drive car on offer in Volvo - The Game, the 240 is a challenge to drive quickly thanks to that force-fed motor. Get the hang of drifting the thing, however, and you'll be enthralled for hours.

Like most racing sims, Volvo - The Game is best played with a wheel and pedals - particularly if you intend to get that 240 sideways. It's not too resource-heavy by contemporary standards though, and most reasonably up to date computers should have little issue running it.

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There are a few downsides, however. There's no damage model or scope for mechanical tweaking, which is a tad disappointing, and there's an abundance of advertisment-laden splash screens to wade through in the user interface. However, considering the entire game is a freebie, we can forgive the rather blatant ads.

That's right chaps, Volvo - The Game won't cost you a cent. Head over to Volvo's global website to get your mitts on a copy of your own, but you'd better set aside a couple of hours before you install it - that 240 Turbo is a bitch to master.

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