Live for Speed's main focuses are on creating various realistic racing modes for online play over thePC, including road racing, rallycross, autocross, and drag racing. There is also a secondary focus on creating AI tough and intelligent enough for single player racing. The realism creates a sharp learning curve, and there are no driving aids to assist a player (save for automatic shifting). While it is technically possible to play using a keyboard or mouse, a steering wheel joystick is highly recommended for optimal control and enjoyment.
The creation of Live for Speed (or LFS for short) began in 2001, when Scawen Roberts left Lionhead Studios to create a realistic racing simulator. Shortly after, he was joined by another former Lionhead employee in Eric Bailey, and Victor van Vlaardigen, whom both had worked with in the past. These three make up the LFS development team, aptly called Live for Speed Team.
The first public beta of Live for Speed was released in 2002. The first purchasable version, LFS S1, was made available on July 13th, 2003, and featured four tracks and roughly seven cars. The next expansion of content, LFS S2, featured three more tracks and several more cars, and came out on June 24th, 2005.
All the tracks in LFS are fantasy. Some, like Blackwood and South City, have undergone significant graphical and design changes since S1's release to improve the quality of racing.
Often the first track drivers will experience, Blackwood offers one road course "grand prix" layout, and a rallycross track. Blackwood features a combination of sweeping curves and 90 degree bends, which allow for many passing opportunities. Blackwood also has a parking lot that can be used for autocross races.
This fictional English city features six different street course layouts, each with sharp turns amongst city streets, freeway on ramps, and some brick. Its most popular layout among online users is the South City "Classic", featuring a hairpin, tricky chicane, and high speed final turn.
Set in Jamaica, Fern Bay features many tricky sets of turns and esses, and uses part of a former railway in three of its four road course layouts. It also features two rallycross tracks.
An elaborate and complex track located in England, Aston features seven different road course layouts of immensely varying length. The shortest, the "Cadet" circuit, is 1.2 miles in length, while the "Grand Prix" circuit is 5.5 miles, currently the longest track in Live for Speed.
This Japanese raceway features a 1.8 mile tri-oval, an infield road course that uses three quarters of the oval track, and a road course outside of the oval with a design similar to the real-life Suzuka track in Japan.
Unique for Live for Speed in that it only has one layout, Westhill is a spectacularly fast track with elevation changes, a fast hairpin, and a few deceptive 90 degree turns.
The Autocross is a test area featuring three sections: a large autocross pad, a skidpad for testing, and a drag strip that can be configured for two or eight cars.
Most of Live for Speed's cars are fictional, with four exceptions: two university-developed cars and two BMW open-wheel race cars.
The slowest car in LFS, the UF 1000 looks remarkably like a Mini Cooper. While it's extremely sluggish in speed, it can also easily outmaneuver slightly faster cars in corners. Good for close, fun races on short tracks.
A race-prepped version of the UF 1000, the UF GTR is much faster than its street counterpart, and is suitable for racing against the XF GTR. Its handling is excellent, but it lacks power for straightaways. Not suitable for rallycross.
A slow front-wheel drive vehicle, similar in appearance to a Volkswagen Golf GTi. It is competitive against XR GTs, albeit slightly less powerful.
A race-ready version of the XF GTi, the XF GTR is the most powerful front-wheel drive vehicle in the game. It's more powerful than its competitor, the UF GTR, but it doesn't handle turns as well. Not suitable for rallycross.
The XR GT's good practice for the faster members of the XR GT family. It's competitive against XF GTis, and will generally pull away from them if handled well.
XR GT Turbo
A long-time favorite for LFS racers and drifters alike, the turbocharged version of the XR GT has a lot more power, and becomes that much more challenging through the turns as a result. A fun car to get the hang of driving, and competitive against FXO Turbos and RB4 GTs.
An insanely powerful race-prepped version of the XR GT Turbo. It's competitive against FXO GTRs and FZ50 GTR, and tends to be the wildest and hardest to control of the trio. Not suitable for rallycross.
A four-wheel drive car, which makes it a good choice for higher-end rallycross races. On the road only, however, its heavy weight leads many drivers to pass it up for one of its competitors (The XR GT Turbo or FXO Turbo).
A solid front-wheel drive car with a good amount of stability, drivers frustrated with the XR GT Turbo or RB4 GT often wind up enjoying the FXO Turbo.
Upgraded from front-wheel drive to four-wheel drive, the race-ready FXO GTR is the most stable of its GTR class against the XR GTR and FZ50 GTR, but often suffers from sluggish response in comparison. Not suitable for rallycross.
A hefty, solid rear-wheel drive car that carries many of the same concerns as an XR GT Turbo -- just not as drastically.
A good balance between the XR GTR and FXO GTR, this race-ready FZ50 is competitive and swift through the turns.
A real-life sports car project of some university students from Helsinki, Finland. They must have done a good job, as it's a fun car to drive. Its competitiveness with other cars is debatable, though.
A car that looks remarkably like a Caterham 7, the LX4 is a nimble car, but can be a handful to twitchy drivers. Good practice for the LX6.
The LX6 is a monster, and is somewhat beefier in looks and power than the LX4. It's very fast, but also extremely difficult to control. Smooth driving is a must, bar none.
A real-life Formula SAE car designed by students at McGill University. While it's most ideal for autocross due to its twitchy behavior, it used to be a popular choice for road courses before the other Formula cars were added. Not suitable for rallycross.
The Formula XR is a fast car with great handling, good for learning the smooth input necessary for Formula V8s. Not suitable for rallycross.
Another beast of a car, the Formula V8 is extremely fast, and feels very easy to drive until you push it to the limit for the first time. Seriously not suitable for rallycross.
The real-life car used in the Formula BMW series, the Formula BMW is a swift and forgiving car, great for learning how to handle a formula machine. Not suitable for rallycross.
F1 BMW Sauber '06
The real-life F1 car the BMW Sauber team used in 2006. A beast of a car that demands smooth driving and pedal input. TOTALLY not suitable for rallycross.
The breakdown between currently downloadable versions of LFS is as follows:
- All the S1 content
- Cars: UF 1000, UF GTR, XF GTR, XR GTR, FXO GTR, FZ50, FZ50 GTR, RaceAbout, Formula XR, Formula V8 and F1 BMW Sauber '06
- Tracks: Aston, Kyoto Ring, Westhill
- All the S2 content
- Cars: vehicle mods
- Tracks: Rockingham, Layout Square