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Project Torque was the free North American version of Level-R. It is a multiplayer online racing game (MMORG) with partially chargeable content, or micro-transactions. It features gameplay elements such as tuning and customization. The game is titled as Level R in Europe with a slightly different game interface and menus. Europe, US, Russia, Indonesia, Thailand, China, and Japan versions, are developed by Invictus Games and are subject to Invictus copyright.
Level-R was originally developed for the Japan market in 2006, which was based on CRC2005. The Level-R versions across the world will all be the same with minor physics and content tweaks. The current build, Julia, was released on June 3, 2010. Beta versions from Invictus can be found on the Invictus Beta site.
The Level-R versions combined with the Project Torque version have 64 cars in total. None of the versions have all 64 cars due to licensing issues, and any version may not receive a certain car if it does not gain proper licensing.
As of July 31, 2010, the Project Torque service, hosted by Aeria Games Entertainment, is no longer in service. Invictus Games Ltd. signed a deal with Innologin Ltd. to publish a new North American service of Level-R, called Heat Online.
Project Torque features various cars, some of them being licensed version of actual production cars while others are imitations. It features a variety of game modes such as Simulation, Arcade, and Thunder Alley. CTF and Drift modes were removed after the release of version "Julia."
Simulation is a mode designed to portray the realism of racing. With recent updates, the mode has become a mix of arcade and simulation mechanics. Differences from arcade mode is less forgiving steering, cosmetic and mechanical damage, and bonus points rewarded for racing in simulation mode. This mode features up to 2-8 players and a variety of tracks that can be raced on 3, 5, or 7 lap segments.
Arcade is a mode similar to most other racing video games. Unlike simulation mode, it has an easier steering system, a "no collision" system, and no mechanical damage. This mode features up to 2-8 players and a variety of tracks that can be raced on 3, 5, or 7 lap segments. Newer players to the game will only be able to race in arcade mode until they unlock access to simulation mode tracks.
Thunder Alley is very similar to NASCAR. It is one of the most popular modes of Project Torque and includes three classes of cars: Rookie, Pro, and Intimidator. The Rookie class is similar to the NASCAR Featherlite Modified series, the Pro class to the NASCAR Sprint Cup (Car of Tomorrow car with wing), and the Intimidator class to the NASCAR Nationwide series.
Thunder Alley mode provides a wind tunnel mechanic and a fuel consumption mechanic that the other racing modes lack. Currently there are two tracks for this mode, one resembling Talladega, the other Bristol. The mode features the ability to race up to 20 players, and to run up to 60 laps a race. Unlike the NASCAR series where they have caution flags, Thunder Alley has a penalty system that forces a driver to do a pass through the pit lane when the driver breaks too many violations. This system, however, has been criticized for the inaccuracy of the penalties as it would penalize a victim of another driver's faults.
Drag is a mode where 2-4 players line up in a quarter or a half mile strip to smoke some rubber and see who is the fastest racer. You have to shift manually in Drag mode, as it requires shifting at the right RPM to gain a faster run. Drag mode also features a different engine damage system, compared to other modes, which makes the engine blow up from improper shifting. A drag race session can involve multiple heat runs, and the player with the best set of heats wins.
Capture the Flag
Capture the Flag is an arena "cat and mouse" type mode played with 2-8 players. One player grabs the flag and runs through checkpoints, while other players try to grab the flag away by running into the flag carrier. The flag holder can also lose the flag by repairing, recovering, or rolling their car over. The player who scores the most points wins. Players gain points by holding the flag for long periods, running through checkpoints with the flag, or stealing the flag.
Drifting is a 2-8 player mode that uses the same tracks as simulation and arcade modes, but lap times and position do not matter. Rather the winner of a drift round is determined by how many drift points the players can score. Drift points are determined by angle (of the car in the curve), speed, length of the drift, and the drift multiplier. A unique feature of the drift mode is the ability to use specialized drifting cars, one of which resembles the Falken Mustang driven by Vaughn Gittin.
In October 2009, the developer company of Project Torque, Invictus, issued an IP ban of all non-US accounts on Project Torque. The reason is to be believed that the Europe publisher of Level-R, Gamigo, filed a complaint concerning a breach in contract because Europe players were playing Project Torque which is claimed to be a North America only version. Aeria Games & Entertainment (AGE) had to comply with the IP ban, and as a result the player base of Project Torque dramatically decreased. Fellow users of Project Torque gathered together in an attempt to dodge the IP bans in forms of Proxies and VPN clients, but the tools used to dodge the IP Bans became blocked as well.
Soon after the IP ban was issued, Invictus stated that they would no longer support the "Project Torque" version of their game which was very different from the "Level-R" version.[ This means that Project Torque would not receive anymore special builds from Invictus. On May 24, 2010, AGE had announced that a new build, Julia, was coming to Project Torque. ] CTF and Drift modes would be removed from the game, there would be a GUI refresh, and a few new modes added. However, the patch did not promise a lift of the IP ban of non-US IPs. On the morning of June 3, 2010, the Julia build was released as a current, but "open beta," version of the game. There was much criticism from the build as it was similar to the Level-R version, and the patch removed all the unique features that had made Project Torque popular.
The general reception of reviewers is average, but many users tend to rate it highly regardless of what the reviews say. However, some users have complained about the change in steering mechanics from some builds, and the inability to sell cars.
MMO Hut gave Project Torque a "Good" rating saying, "Project Torque is a really polished and fun racing MMO." They also noted the beautiful graphics compared to other MMO games, and the solid gameplay. Users gave it a 3.99/5 rating.
MMORPG Center rated Project Torque a 8.0/10. "Overall Project Feature is a great online racing game, played in small sessions or sometimes you will want more and more."  Users on MMORPG Center gave Project Torque a 9.3/10.
Swift World rated Project Torque a 7/10 for great gameplay, but mentioned the lack of players during the time. Users of Swift World rated Project Torque a 9.7/10.
Kei Beneza of OnRPG said, "If I were to judge this game, I would say that the game is a lot better than most of the racing games out there."  He noted that the game had great graphics, was able to run on low end PCs, and had a simple solution to connection lag during races.
On July 8, 2010, Aeria Games announced that they could no longer support the running of Project Torque, and that the game would be completely shut down on August 2, 2010. Aeria also stated that they will hold a series of events, refund AP(Aeria cash currency) to players who had spent AP in the past 90 days, and even grant access to "hidden content" that had never been released before.
On July 29, 2010, Invictus announced a new publisher for Project Torque. The game would be called HEAT Online, and would be hosted by the publisher, Innologin Ltd. The publishers are allowing people to try the game as guest accounts before registering under the Innologin service.
On July 31, 2010, Aeria Games shut down the servers for Project Torque. The download for the game was taken down shortly after.
On August 1, 2010, the Project Torque forums were shut down except the general discussion area. Aeria Games left open a "Project Torque Community" section on their forums for the players to stay in touch.
- Official Project Torque site
- Project Torque Information and User Reporting site
- Level R Official site
- Turkish Fan Site
- ↑ Invictus Games Ltd. (July 29, 2010). Level-R: new service in North America. Retrieved on August 3, 2010.
- ↑ Aeria Games & Entertainment. Game Modes - Project Torque. Retrieved on June 3, 2010.
- ↑ Aeria Games & Entertainment (October 9, 2009). Invictus Announcement of IP Blocking. Retrieved on June 3, 2010.
- ↑ Invictus Games Ltd. (October 8, 2009). Licensed Territory Compliance Program. Retrieved on June 7, 2010.
- ↑ Nerion (Gamigo Product Manager) (October 12, 2009). Licensed Territory Compliance Program. Retrieved on August 3, 2010.
- ↑ Nerion (Gamigo Product Manager) (November 10, 2009). Opinion on the IP block. Retrieved on June 7, 2010.
- ↑ Aeria Games & Entertainment (May 24, 2010). New Update coming to PT. Retrieved on June 3, 2010.
- ↑ Aeria Games & Entertainment (June 3, 2010). Julia is here!. Retrieved on June 3, 2010.
- ↑ Altay, Omer (MMO Hut). Project Torque Game Review. Retrieved on June 3, 2010.
- ↑ MMORPG Center (June 8, 2008). Project Torque - Review. Retrieved on June 3, 2010.
- ↑ Swift (Swift World) (October 28, 2007). Project Torque Review. Retrieved on June 3, 2010.
- ↑ Kei Beneza (OnRPG). Project Torque Review: Better Than Most Racing Games. Retrieved on June 6, 2010.
- ↑ Aeria Games (July 8, 2010). Project Torque Notice - Servers will be Closing. Retrieved on June 12, 2010.
- ↑ GM_1fastcrx (July 8, 2010). Project Torque Notice - Servers will be Closing(Forum Thread). Retrieved on June 12, 2010.
- ↑ Invictus Ltd. (July 29, 2010). Level-R: new service in North America. Retrieved on June 30, 2010.
- ↑ Innologin Ltd. (July 29, 2010). HEAT Online. Retrieved on June 30, 2010.