Smash, Drive & Build: 3 Awesome Physics Sandboxes Simulators

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Smash, Drive & Build: 3 Awesome Physics Sandboxes Simulators

Remember those old Java physics applets than enable you to mix water, sand, and various other materials together, with gravity and “realistic” physics being the desired end result? I used to spend hours caught with those. Back when physics in games was a relatively simple affair and damage models were a novelty, the freedom to just play around with materials was exciting.

Fast toward 2013, and that we’ve got ultra-realistic ragdoll physics, volumetric blood and gore and dynamic lighting thats liable to bring any dull and boring scene alive. We’ve also got the latest league of physics sandbox simulations - beautiful 3D worlds, level editors and stupidly realistic damage.

Here are 3 of my favourites, in addition to a newcomer that’s set to change the way you imagine driving simulators.



BeamNG DRIVE can be a physics simulation like few other. Currently it’s inside the alpha stages of development (that’s one stage before “very not ready” to the uninitiated) but it still seems to knock the socks off anything else available. The “game” currently costs $15 for the pre-release edition, which suggests a guaranteed upgrade to the full edition when it’s released, however you can also download the tech demo totally free to try against each other first.

Essentially, BeamNG DRIVE is a soft-body physics sandbox running on Crytek’s CryEngine 3 (depending on Crysis 3), which can be technical speak for “holy crap look at that damage model!”. The alpha comes pre-loaded with 5 fully destructible vehicles, 6 terrains to discover and modify along with the keys to the modding tools. 




As a Mac user, I’m spitting teeth in the part in the FAQ that says “Currently we only focus for the PC platform and we cannot say if or when we will support Mac” and Linux users will be equally disappointed. The fault here lies more with Crytek, that have yet to port their engine to your platform besides Windows.

Regardless, Windows users needs to be frothing at the mouth at this time, particularly as the team intend to add a whole host of “game” extras on their creation including destruction derbies (how can you not?) and police chases. Even if you can’t listen to it right now, browse the LazyGameReviews preview above for the detailed look with the future of video game physics.



Before the BeamNG DRIVE developers started work with their current project this year, they had another baby in development called Rigs of Rods. We’ve featured the app before this year, and never again since. This is because the development appears to have ceased on Rigs of Rods to ensure BeamNG DRIVE can carry on the tradition. While BeamNG DRIVE is created with car-on-car collisions planned, Rigs of Rods certainly wasn’t.

The game is open source and cross platform, the Windows version received one of the most work (with Linux and Mac versions also obtaining a look in, albeit with even less polish). All versions were built with a soft-body sandbox simulation in mind though, and vehicles react according for their construction, weight, suspension and collisions.



While the overall game was initially meant to accommodate trucks - Over The Top style - the game received an incredible amount of additional content from the developers and community members. These include cars, a monster truck, cranes (that may actually lift things), off-road buggies, helicopters and planes. All at no cost.

Sure, it's like an unfinished three-year old game that’s not been touched for a while, and that’s probably which is. It will crash, and glitch, and things go very wrong, nevertheless it’s still an unbeatable experience free of charge.



An absolute work of genius, Garry’s Mod has received so many updates and extras over the years you’ll be forgiven for not recognising it if you haven’t played for any while. Using Valve’s Source engine, Garry’s Mod is a Half-Life 2 mod which suggests that it will take a copy of a Half-Life 2 powered game (like Half-Life 2 or Counter-Strike: Source) as well as the exchange of 10 measly dollars.

For you money you get unfettered use of a huge variety of Source engine resources including models, weapons and the legendary Garry’s Mod toolbox for constructing weird and wonderful creations. The whole thing could be taken online, either like a co-op knowledge about friends, or like a rather chaotic public server experience.



What makes Garry’s Mod special is its versatility and near-infinite applications. Not only is it plain and simple fun to play around with physics objects like rocket boosters, weights, ropes, axles and wheels a big a creative side behind it. Many purchased Garry’s Mod to create Rube Goldberg machines, comic strips and also whole web series.

Above you will discover Half-Life: Full-Life Consequences, a piece of poorly worded fan-fiction brought to life with thanks to Garry’s Mod and a few excellent voice acting.


Have Fun


BeamNG DRIVE is arguably one of the most exciting of the bunch right now, as well as my money it’s the most effective use from the Crytek 3 engine we’ve seen so far. I’ve also spent far too many hilarious nights sliding down mountains in rocket-propelled bathtubs never to heartily recommend all of you purchase a replica of Garry’s Mod too. The best thing about these simulations could be the level of freedom you’re given. They won’t appeal to everyone, but in case you’re the person who is definitely tinkering and pushing your existing games to the limit, these titles will likely be right among your interests.

Do you have any other favourite sandbox games we should take a look at? Leave your thoughts within the comments below.


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