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5:13 AM on 09.12.2009

The Beatles Rock Band: My Two Cents

I never try and pretend like Iím the biggest Beatles fan. I enjoy their music quite a lot, but Iím not a raging maniac like my sister is whenever she sees Paul McCartneyís. I can understand why the band was so popular and why it has been put up on such a high pedestal, though. If you canít, then youíre an imbecile. They were pioneers.

Now, I donít know if this is just my high from recently finishing it, but if it is thatís completely irrelevant. Iíve played music games and apart from making me feel like a rock star even while Iím standing in the middle of my room in underwear, I never really got anything more from them. Understandably so since these games are designed to do that. Most party games donít really care if you get a deep emotional response. Theyíre just concerned with fun, and thatĎs great!

What Beatles Rock Band managed to do was not only make an informative tribute to the band, but they also managed to push a few extra buttons. I obviously didnít cry. Iím a man for goodness sake. Men donít cry.

No -- what Harmonix did was successfully present players this extraordinary band, and show you why it is that these four talented men are so beloved. Just think about the era that this band came from and how their music evolved. They Pop rock stars that were allowed to be experimental, and you get to witness key points through a rhythm game.

There wasnít on key design choice that made it all great, though. It was the entire package, The music, the visuals, the way the game progressed. Everything from the character models to the all the littlest of details like the studio audio playing while a song loads. The game just feels like a labor of love. It has soul. It was made passionately. It makes me glad Harmonix were the ones doing this game and not Neversoft. That would have been disastrous.

Sorry for the my blogís length and quality (or lack thereof) but I just had to say something. It isnít hyperbole when I (shockingly) say that this has been one of the greatest emotional gaming and music listening experiences of my life.

While I was jotting down my thoughts I came across Deathofthedead's blog. It's similar to mine but vastly better articulated. Go read it.   read

1:24 PM on 08.22.2009

Would You Look At What the Mailman Delivered!

I really don't know what has come over me. I've recently gone into some retro buying frenzy. I've bought an original Gameboy, a red Gameboy Pocket, a teal Gameboy Color, a Game Gear, and blue Neo Geo Pocket Color. I've also bought games for the systems I've purchased. The Game Gear I ordered itself came with around 11 carts, and the blue Neo Geo came with Sonic Pocket Adventure and SNK vs. Capcom.

As you can see, my new obsession has remained strictly handheld and I don't know why. With the exception of the Neo Geo Pocket color (which is amazing) I don't really play with them. I guess I'm just interested in the old technology. It can't be nostalgia. Apart from the Gameboy Color, I never owned any of these other consoles.

At any rate, I got two new handhelds (plus games) added to my collection.

I'm actually quite shocked at how heavy this thing feels considering its size. This is actually my new favorite Gameboy. It came with Sonic Advanced, but I'm about as interested in Sonic the Hedgehog as I am listening to Republicans on AM radio.

Another Neo Geo Pokcet! I actually bought this because the first one I got wasn't in excellent condition. I mean, it isn't awful, but the small scratches were distracting.

It came with 3 games in their original boxes. They weren't sealed and nor was the the Neo Geo Pocket, but they were all in like-new conditioned with no cosmetic damage at all.   read

1:22 AM on 07.25.2009

DSi: My Two Cents

My DS was stolen a few days ago. Pity me right now, please.

I was originally going to replace my Lite with an identical one, but I began looking into the DSi. The initial reason I became interested in the DSi was purely superficial. I hate gloss electronics with a passion (I blame Apple), and the slightly smaller, sleeker, matte finish beckoned me

The major complaint people have is the lack of GBA support, and to be quite honest, Iím not interested in that noise. I donít mean to sound like a DSi apologist, but I never really liked or played my GBA games on my Lite. It stuck out of the console awkwardly. I also had a Micro. If I ever felt like playing a GBA game Iíd bust that out. Itís not like Iím ever in a situation away from home where I get the urge to play an older game. I never carry one around, anyway.

This thing comes fully equipped with a lot of gimmicky features. A horrible music player that doesnít support the dominant MP3 format, a silly audio recorder, and a camera that can only really compete with the one on my phone (which isnĎt really good - 2.0MP).

The upgraded firmware does come with some noticeable fixes, including the ability to update it. You can load a game when the console is on, you can change system options without having to restart the system, you can change the screenís brightness in-game, and it has WPA support. Unfortunately, WPA will not work on older games, so that really hasnít helped much. I donít think itís possible for Nintendo to fuck up online on any of their consoles anymore.

The prospect of the DSiware shop is probably the only noticeable thing, but itís riddled with shit. Calculators, cell phone caliber games, and clocks. Even the Nintendo developed games are awful. WarioWare: Snapped is one of the most atrocious unresponsive games Iíve ever played. It tries using one of the cameras on the DSi in place of buttons or a touch screen, but it does not work. My skin is brown and my wall is white, and yet it canít seem to find me. Am I going to need some bright orange Natal jumpsuits to play it?

At least I got Dr. Mario out of thisÖ

I myself am satisfied with the purchase, but you can probably tell that itís not necessarily because the console is $50 better. It could be once the store begins to find its stride, or if Nintendo decides to continue upgrading and improving the firmware. A DSi version of the Virtual Console would be exquisite.

I did appreciate the free 1,000 Nintendo points, of which IĎm sure will not entice all of you R4 owners. Even if people design a cart similar to the R4 for the DSi, the fact that Nintendo can patch the console whenever they please can be troubling. It could render your $30 thief machine useless. I donít really care, though. Buy games, you jerk offs.

So, I really paid $50 for aesthetics and $10 worth of fixes - satisfied, though!   read

7:27 PM on 07.17.2009

ďDon't Cry Because It's Over - Smile Because It HappenedĒ

Practically every purchase we make goes through a checklist that we subconsciously and consciously make up. We know ourselves more than anyone and buy only the things that we feel weíll like. However, thereís one thing Iíd like for all of us to remove from the aforementioned list; length. More specifically (and to avoid any sexual innuendos), length in video games.

Itís extremely narrow thinking, and sort of countermands the whole ďgames are artĒ argument. We donít even treat food like this, or at least I donít. If Iím going out to eat Iíll take a smaller, better made burger than a Big Mac at McDonaldís. If Iím going to buy a video game, Iíll take the shorter, more focused gaming experience over this forty hour grind-fest.

You associate a lengthy title with money ďwell spentĒ because youíre more clearly able to see what your hard earned dollar is going to. Unfortunately, length is a blind measurement of worth. Deciding to purchase a game based on quality requires much more thought, and so we donĎt do it despite ourselves.

I used to bring up the argument of movies and books. We donít pay attention to length in those mediums, and Iíd always get the same response that quintessentially makes my point. Iíd tell them that no one puts that type of thought into movies, and theyíd say, ďitís because movies arenít as expensive.Ē Duh!

So weíre in agreement that putting much more thought into a more expensive means of entertainment is a good thing, but your contemplation is in the wrong area. You should be paying more attention to quality if thatís the case. You forget that length and entertainment do not always mean the same thing. Transformers 2 is a great testament to that statement. Length is impartial, and its importance amongst gamers is a detriment to the mediumís evolution and acceptance.

It isnít something we should completely ignore, obviously. Itís just something we should move down our list of priorities; even below graphics (though I do think graphics are more important than most people - art style). Let us not make it a prerequisite anymore.

I haven't done a preachy blog. Thought I'd make it short.   read

1:25 AM on 07.16.2009

Turn 10 Blog Shows Off SUVs In Forza 3

When I first set my eyes on some of the Forza 3 leaked images, one thing caught my eye. There was an outline of a SUV on the vehicle select screen. Tonight, Turn 10ís bi-weekly announcement blog made it official. SUVs confirmed for Forza 3. That may sound like the least interesting thing in the world to some of you. Understandable even though youíre wrong.

As explained in one of my blogs, I love challenging myself in games like these. A heavy, tall vehicle is going to be new, hard, and suh-weet; especially down some winding Italian road. Itís going to be fun just seeing how theyíll be able to compete with the Ferraris and the Lamborghinis that will probably climb the leader boards within the day.

Fortunately, these arenít your typical Cadillac Escalades or Hummer H2s. American trash, if you will. These are sports luxury SUVs; bred to climb a muddy road with ease and style. We have the Land Rover Range Rover Sport, the Mercedes Ml63 AMG, the BMW X5 xDrive 4.8i, the Audi Q7 V12 TDI, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, and the Volkswagen Touraq R50. Doesnít this list make you mad, environmentalists? Your tiny green hearts must be throbbing with rage.

All the vehicles will be fully upgradeable like their sports car brethren, so you may be able to tune that X5 into one bad mother. It may even be formidable opponent to its skinnier and much more nimble sister - the BMW M3.

There may be some whiners in the house tonight. That wonít be a surprise. SUVs in a serious racing game like this seems a bit sacrilege. The great thing about it all is that Forza 3 is quickly becoming the thing Turn 10 set out to do. ItĎs a celebration of all things cars.

There are also a few other screenshots of some sports cars and luxury cars newly released today. Go check Ďem out on Forzaís website. Employ self-control. Thereís a lot of car porn on that site.   read

8:57 PM on 07.08.2009

Earthbound - The Perspective of Someone Who Isn't Into JRPGs

No matter how much you dislike a certain genre of games, there are just some that you must play. Itís like that for me, at least. Whether itís to contribute to an interesting conversation, or just simply expanding my gaming repertoire, games like Earthbound and Chrono Trigger are high up on my to do list. If it means diving headfirst into a particular genre I know I have little fervor for, so be it. I hate hearing about how great something is and not having an opinion on it.

The few that know me well understand that Iím not the biggest fan of Japanese role playing games, or most things that have to do with Japanese culture for that matter. Iím not totally opposed to them, but my patience wears thin. There are some prerequisites when purchasing a new JRPG for me. It must be something extraordinary, or it must have Pokťmon.

What prompted me to jump into Earthbound before any other games in the genre was the strong Western vibe. It wasnít set in a fantasy land and it wasnít set in Tokyo, or whatever irrelevant Japanese location. It oozes 80s and 90s American cinema. You know, back when a childís adventure flick meant the Goonies and not Hannah Montana.

After a few hours of play, Iím happy to announce that I like it. Itís not necessarily because Iím enamored with the battle system. On the contrary. I absolutely despise the combat system. It is overly simple and utterly monotonous. Even upon looking back at other JRPGs released during and before Earthboundís release, you canít say that it was one of the strongest. It also didnít help that the game wasnít very clear about telling me what to do. Iíd run back and forth trying to figure out what to do and having to fend off the same enemies because theyíd reset once I moved screens.

Itís interesting when I look back at all the games Iíve played. Not many have been able to pull off what this one has. As a game, Earthbound fails. The mechanics - the combat; it isnít fun, and no amount of convincing will change my mind. As a story telling platform, itís such a palatable experience.

The closest thing I can really compare Earthbound to is Uncharted, but even thatís sort of a stretch. I didnít hate its gameplay, but it wasnít what Iíd call ďgoodĒ. My attention was kept because of the charm that the digital actors had, and such was the case with Earthbound. The world was an absolute joy to traverse. Luckily, some of the same charm that you get from walking around and interacting with things sometimes sneaks into the combat in Earthbound.

There were many things that makes everything outside of battle an absolute joy, but the most prominent part was the music. Lately Iíve opened up to the music in older games, and this oneís up there with the likes of Megaman 3 and the original Metroid soundtrack. However, it isnít just the music thatís astonishingly good. The entire audio department did a fantastic job; especially with sound effects.

Your party members walking around with you is another aspect of the game Iím quite happy with. I wish Japanese developers would do it all the time. It does so much for immersion when I donít see my characters disappear after battle, even with a game whose graphics require much more imagination.

Iím sitting at a crossroad. I canít tell you that I hate this game, because I donít. It just sits in a spot where it relies on narrative, but thatís usually there to back gameplay. Itís just not easy to be black and white with this one, and itís something I can respect.
[embed]139062:20462[/embed]   read

2:33 PM on 06.27.2009

I love you, but you're just too much...

There arenít very many multiplayer games in which Iíve strived to attain perfection, or at least attempted to be good at them. Unfortunately, there arenít enough hours in the week for me to devote time to everything, and that bothers me. It isnít because I want to pursue a lifestyle like that of Mr. Fatal1ty. Itís because you need to be competent in order to have fun with most games.

There are many situations in which I am enjoying a game but I donít have the patience to learn all of the strategic nuances and the gameĎs vocabulary. This has recently happened with Demigod. I donít hate the it or think itĎs bad. I even had fun with it the few times I played. I just donít care enough to be good at it, and itís gotten to the point where me being a novice makes it a chore to play. Having fun suddenly becomes hard. I get an uncomfortable feeling that everyone is sighing at my every move, which probably isnĎt true (IĎm self-centered like that). In fact, itís probably quite the opposite and not one person is noticing my fumbling idiocy.

More difficult is trying to get into games with an established multiplayer community. Everyone knows what to do, and everyone seems like they know how to do it well. Youíll find that new words have been added to the English language to define actions and things in the game. Itís a confusing, cold, and lonely environment. It will either scare you away, or youíll love it enough to fight into it. That is, if you care enough to do so.

Itís a battle for attention. If there isnít something that I find extremely appealing, it gets tossed aside. It happened with Gears of War, Killzone 2, Grand Theft Auto IV and a collection of many other games I care not to mention. Iím often mystified by the immeasurable number of video games that add multiplayer components to their game that didnĎt need it. It is especially baffling when it looks like they went halfway on it. Itís like they cared, but didnít have the resources or time to flesh it out, or probably added it just to check off something for the back of the box. Instead weíre getting watered down versions of both the single player and multiplayer.

I donít mind it if I can see that resources went where they should have, but I always feel like I could have gotten more out of one experience if the other wasnít there. It sometimes isnít even the fault of a developer. Iíve seen and played a lot of games with new and interesting ideas that I should be paying attention to. I, however, already play games that Iíve invested so much time in that giving them up for that is difficult. To actually love something enough for a commitment is something that transcends innovation for me, unfortunately.

There was a case in which I was given the option to purchase a game without a multiplayer portion. It was the recently released Ghostbusters. I donít think it was something that was intended to work in favor of the costumer, but it did for me at least. The PC version of the game was released without multiplayer and priced for half of what it cost to purchase the console releases. A few people looked on this as a negative, but I jumped in knowing that I was dropping something I never would have played for very long anyway.

Itís just difficult trying to be competitive in an environment where the bar continues to grow higher and higher while youíre off trying to have a life. The guys (and girls) who constantly play these games with an indefatigable commitment will constantly create barriers for new gamers to come in and enjoy themselves. What Iím essentially trying to get across is that people who are good at video games are fun ruining assholes that need to be dragged from their entrails and hung on crosses.   read

6:38 AM on 06.19.2009

Ghostbusters the Videogame: I'm One of the Guys


Licensed games are a surfeit commodity in the video games industry, and ninety percent of them fail to make you feel like youíre living in the established universes. Movie games especially fall flat and itís rather disappointing. Thereís nothing Iíd love more after watching a film than going back home and living it. Who wouldnít want to thrash about in a city as a Transformer, explore a mystical and imaginative world in Spike Jonzeís interpretation of Where the Wild Things Are, or even partake in a robbery after watching Heat?

Fortunately, many games are influenced by our favorite movies and we get to experience our favorite cinematic moments through these knock-offs. It isnít bad, but you canít really imitate something distinct like the Ghostbusters.

In theory, a Ghostbusters game shouldnít really work. The movies relied on a cast of lovable and funny characters with small bits of action sprinkled here and there. My concerns when I first heard that this game was being made was that I would eventually get tired of the same ghost catching mechanics very early in. I mean, you never really expect a licensed product to focus heavily on the world, story, and characters. Usually if it isnít a direct movie tie-in, the story is almost a direct copy of whatever the franchiseís source material was; throwaway stuff.

As my title infers, Terminal Reality succeeds in dragging in an adored universe into video games elegantly. The narrative, the voice work, the gameplay, and constant nods to the first two movies (you can talk to the Vigo painting at Ghostbusters HQ) all meshed excellently to bring me into this world and not let go Ďtill the end.

Admittedly, the gameplay on its own would not keep me going as much as Iíd like it to, but it holds up well. if you can enjoy a game like Killzone 2 in terms of mechanics repetition for a long length of time, you wouldnít have a problem with it. You are for the most part just zapping and trapping ghouls with your heavy and nicely detailed proton packs. Iím sort of happy that they added some upgrades to your pack, tough minute.

So, trapping ghosts? Really, really rad, but what I really wanted to focus on was that strange sense of comradeship between me and these A.I. characters.

Iím going to pull back to something Anthony Burch said in one of his previous ďRev RantsĒ in which character empathy was discussed. He (much more eloquently) stated that some games writers, or people hired to write for video games, often try to force compassion for secondary characters with very little success. Oddly enough, the original Ghostbusters are secondary video game characters in this game. Fortunately for the writers, these characters have already been established, and us nerds know them well. The only challenge was making sure that the characters were brought in gracefully; doing them justice.

It isnít perfect, and I can understand where people come from when they say, ďit just isnĎt the same.Ē The story ends with an incredibly weak cinematic, and some of the dialogue could have been spruced up. Vankman is the most disappointing one of the group. Thereís just something about the way his voice sounds that doesnít bring that same charm. Thereís too much indifference in his tone, making it sound like Bill Murray tried too hard.

Thereís something that just clicked with me, though. It happened the moment I met my first ghosts and me and my supernatural battling chums began zapping them into our traps with them shouting giggle worthy quips. It was all I needed. I went from environment to environment working with the Ghostbusters as we unraveled this mystery as the new guy, and boy did they let me know it. Iím glad that they didnít give the playerís character any dialogue. I was able to formulate my own responses to what was going around in the game in my head.

Sure, a lot of the story was same-ish and not as good as Ghostbusters II, and some of the in-game dialogue repeated at times, but I was a fucking Ghostbuster. I was one of the guys.   read

6:55 AM on 06.04.2009

Left 4 Dead 2 E3 Announcement: My Two Cents

Humans are wired to react negatively to things that arenít ďbusiness as usualĒ. Reaction to Valveís announcement of Left 4 Dead 2 really was kind of expected, and there really is no reason why you shouldnít question it. Itís a very odd move for a company that takes years to release titles and is known (with TF2) to have a strong long-lasting support for their games through free updates.

I myself will admit to confusion and a slight disappointment when I first heard about L4D2, but I cooled down after I thought about it. I started asking myself if my reaction would have been different if it were another developer. Then I began to think about the entertainment per dollar that the original game gave me, and suddenly the news didnít seem so bad.

I totaled around 60 hours of gameplay for a $50 game (on PC). I donít know about any of you, but thatís an exuberant amount of playtime. If you really didnít play this much, then you either disliked the game, didnít have the time, or youíre simply a lonely person. And if you disliked the game, then this news shouldnít affect you at all. The gameís core mechanic and gameplay goals arenít going to change with time.

If you did enjoy Left 4 Dead as much as I did, I donĎt see how you canĎt be looking at the outweighing positives. According to the E3 press releases, the game is going to ship with five campaigns, and is actually bringing a few noticeable changes.

But they havenít even released Half-Life Episode: 3 and theyĎre announcing L4D2? Cash-in!

Valve isnít as small as youíd think. Youíve got to remember that Valve acquired Turtle Rock Studios and theyíre the ones doing most of the development work for this game (as well as developing the original L4D). Itís the same ignorant complaint people had for Halo ODST. ďWhy isnít Bungie making other games?Ē Well, they are. This game was handed down to a smaller more focused team.

A year is still too early for another a sequel.

Left 4 Dead was never a game about narrative. It relied on its gameplay for entertainment, and since thatís already established, there really only can be improvements and feature additions to the game. The reason weíre really upset, is because weíre so used to getting things as free updates from this company.

That isnít to say you wonít be getting that. In a recent interview, asked Valve if there was a chance of new content coming to the original L4D.

ďYeah, thereís certainly a chance of that, and weíre not announcing any of the specifics of that today. Like I say, stay tuned, thereís more coming, thereís more information weíre going to talk about for the sequel, thereís more content coming for Left 4 Dead in the fairly near term, that I think will sort of add to this picture and hopefully change some peopleís opinions of whatís happening right now.ď

In that very same interview, Dough Lombardi revealed exactly how L4D2 came about, and reprised Gabe NewellĎs stance on ďentertainment as a serviceď. Lombardi publicized that L4D2ís conception wasnít a matter of them wanting to shove a sequel out before Christmas. The creation of L4D2 came from ideas being tossed out, and the appropriate ways to distribute them to the public. Smaller ideas better fitting for updates, are just that. Updates. The more grandiose ideas were/are being saved for the sequel as theyíre obviously going to take time to develop.

Call me crazy, but that kindaí seems totally fair to me.

But Team Fortress 2 gets all of these updates and it's a much older game. Why can't L4D2 just be a L4D update?

I hate to say, but Team Fortress 2 is a much simpler game to update. You get class updates sprinkled throughout the year, and a couple of game-type modes and maps added. That isn't the same as adding actual campaign maps, characters with thousands of lines of dialogue, or any other of the bigger updates being released.

Left 4 Dead isn't just a multiplayer versus game.

So youíre saying I should be excited and not skeptical?

I personally am. Iím not saying you shouldnít have doubts. You should always have doubts, but sprinkle in some optimism; especially for a company that rarely seems to let its fans down. This obviously is something new, but we shouldnít be so quick to jump down on Valveís throat when we donít know any of the specifics. This goes for any game.

I got my moneyís worth from Left 4 Dead and then some. Iím perfectly fine with paying another $50 for an enhanced version with new content of a game I had a blast with. I loved the crap out of Fallout 3, and Iíve already paid $45 to expand my experience. This doesnít seem much different.

I guess when youíre used to something, it hurts slightly more.

My name is Kyousuke Nanbu.

Youíre just here to remind us that you hate Valve like you do in any post relating to them, arenít you?   read

8:20 PM on 06.01.2009

Forza 3 E3 Announcement: My Two Cents

Like sports games fans, simulation racing games enthusiasts are a minority on sites like these. The idea behind racing games is very simple concept, and as a result it has led to a surfeit of releases in the genre. It has gotten very easy to pass by a simulator and think, ďthis is just another derivative cash-inĒ. You can over generalize, look past all the physics modeling and attention to detail in the tracks, and find another game that forces you around a track that youíre not very good at. You really can do that, but in this rare case, youĎre doing it wrong.

These games are in a different league to your first person shooters and role-playing games. These games are about subtle physics fixes and improvements, graphic updates, audio updates, an increased number of cars and tracks; car love.

This doesnít mean that games in this genre canít be bad, or developed helter-scepter. As much as I do love Forza 2, it was rushed out. Turn 10 worked heavily on the more important aspects of the game (physics and online features), but I canít ignore all of the things they dropped that were in the original game as well as some new established features in the genre (drift points system - in car camera).

I appreciated where their priorities were, but I was largely bitter about the exclusion of point-to-point races; especially downhill races. Although itís one of my favorite games this generation, it did feel like ďForza 1.5Ē. The awesome-factor of all of this is that Polyphony decided to release a .5 release of their series, but that ended up being way more overpriced than Forza 2. It lacked features, lacked cars, and lacked any real indication that Polyphony has decided to stop being so conservative with their game. It was like, ďhey, pretty graphics and GTTV! Go nuts!Ē

It sort of feels like Turn 10 did the opposite of what Polyphony did. They released a game that was solely focused on the core mechanics, while the Gran Turismo crew decided aesthetics were more important. Though, I donít disagree that the way a car looks plays a large role in car fandom I just think that the feeling of tires meeting road is slightly more important.

So, after pouring over all the details in Turn 10ís press release, Iíve come to the conclusion that this wonít be another .5 release. There are plenty of new features and recurring ones that Iím exuberantly waiting on.

I guess I can start on the basic love of vehicles. Shallow, yes, but what anyone first sees in a car is, well - the carís look. You canít help it. Cars are our major use of transportation and they've become a norm.. It isn't a surprise that what we most care about is the car's look. We know they're a tool used to get us from point A to Point B. What we want is something more. They're something that one wants to admire, or something that a person wants to bring attention to oneself. They've turned into an accessory for a lot of people.

Did Turn 10 properly capture these carís appearance? Hell to the mother frigginí yeah!

Car porn would not be an incorrect term to use in this occasion. The cars are gorgeous, and so are the roads theyíre racing in. It was a vast improvement over the original, and Iím actually shocked that they did it. They were so hell bent on getting the framerate of the second game to remain at 60. I really hope thatís still their goal. The game looking that good and running that smooth will surely give Polyphony and the PS3 a run for their money.

Thereís also hope for an improved damage model. The one in Forza 2 is outdated and silly. I noticed that in one of the trailers, a Ford GT went airborne and did a flip. I did see the press conference, and from what I saw it seems like that's confirmed. The original game would not allow you to flip your vehicle. Turn 10ís excuse was that car manufacturers were being very protective. Though, I guess now when everyoneís hurting, theyíre kind of OK as long as their cars get some exposure.

The things Iím really more excited about are the tracks. It was announced that 50 plus courses would be shipping with the game, and when I noticed that they werenít all just plain circuit tracks, I lost my brains (and my ability to control my erections). Downhill and uphill roads are back!

I am glad they are going to expand on the different race types. Forza 2 had a very large and dedicated drifting crowd, but because there was no points system, it had to be judged by other players. It worked out well, but trying to record drift competitions was a pain in the ass. Forza 2ís replay cameras were dreadful. They were forced to set cars on off the road to record in places where the set replay camera failed to capture the action.

The last bit of news I want to highlight is the Porsche branded racing wheel that includes a clutch. Those out of the loop wonít notice or care, but clutch control in a game like this is big. You can get even more precise, even more control (especially for drifting), and even more realism now that itís possible to use one. It also has a 900 degree turn radius which is a massive improvement over the old wheel. It wouldnít even allow you to do a full turn. Oh, and it has a 6-speed stick instead of those obnoxious floppy paddles!

Color me excited, folks.


Need help with simulation racing games? Check out my guide. Part one is complete, and part two will be out sometime this month. Check back soon.   read

8:59 PM on 05.11.2009

Sim Racing Guide - Part One: Racing Theory

Unlike most RPGs, stats donít mean a thing in motorsports. A high horse power supercharged V8 wonít win you any races if your rear is constantly going out in the corners. Winning relies on you taking whatever it is youíre given to work with and pushing it to its full potential, and thatís also where the excitement comes from for me.

Itís understandable that the realism can be frustrating, and I get why people find arcade racers much more entertaining. Sucking isnít fun, but I personally get much more gratification out of seeing myself get better with time and practice. I certainly do prefer it over the artificial experience you get from other games. Oddly enough, I mostly only feel this way with games like Gran Turismo and Forza.

To quell your frustration, I felt it was my duty to try and help those who just donít ďget itĒ. Thereís only so much that the game manuals can teach you. With Gran Turismo 5 and Forza 3 in the works, I thought it was decent timing for a guide. That, and the fact that you can buy the top simulation racers on both PS3 and XBOX 360 for under $20.

Iíll explain some basic racing terms as friendly as possible, teach you how to deal with those nasty turns, and Iíll also lay down a few pointers on tuning all in a two part community blog.

Let us start with the basics; ďRacing TheoryĒ.

Now, the first thing youíd really want to do isÖwell, go! Youíd think it would be as simple as slamming on the throttle, but things are never this easy in real life. Remember that weíre trying to squeeze as much speed as possible, so every little thing counts. Traction Control System or not, simply smashing the throttle will most likely give you far too much tire slip than youíd want. Itís nice to keep yourself in a safe zone, which means youíll have to keep the revs low enough that youíll get as little slip as possible, and high enough so that you wont pull out too slowly. Keep your eye on the tachometer and experiment because every car will react differently depending on many variables.

Lamentably, getting the perfect launch isnít done uniformly. Youíll have to figure out your perfect start by trial and error, but as long as you donít overdo your throttling or arenĎt too slow, you should do a well enough job.

Traction Control System (TCS) - ďDeveloped to minimize wheel slippage through turns and low grip surfaces, Traction Control works by using the ABS wheel sensors to detect if any of the wheels is spinning uncontrollably and individually brake it or even reduce engine power until the grip is restored.Ē

Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) - ďThe ABS prevents wheel lock-up during braking maneuvers by using sensors which can determine if any wheel is slowing down more than the others and computer-controlled valves which can limit the pressure delivered to each brake cylinder on demand. The whole system is controlled via a master ECU (Electronic Control Unit).Ē

Revs - ďA single revolution of a vehicle's engine (informal) (usually plural).Ē

Tachometer - ďA device used to determine speed of rotation, typically of a vehicle's crankshaft, usually measured in revolutions per minute.Ē

Thereís a very simple concept a lot of us ďpetrol headsĒ like to use when explaining the basics of sports driving. ďSlow in -- fast out.Ē I know, I know. It sounds obvious and Iím not being condescending. This is just laying down the groundwork. Actually doing it is a whole other story.

I canĎt stress enough the goal weĎre trying achieve here. Track racing is about taking turns as efficiently as possible, and to do that, youíre going to need a lesson in braking. Itís quite possibly the most important thing you must do throughout a race. Fouling that up sets up a domino effect of failure.

A lot of newcomers always make the mistake of braking far too late, or have been brainwashed by arcade racers into thinking that itís OK to do the majority of your braking while turning. Tires currently donít have the level of traction to do that efficiently. Itís a good thing, too. At those speeds youíd probably lose your head (skip to 5:30) .

If you begin to brake during a turn youíre dividing the tireís grip in half between turning and braking. This eventually leads to understeer, which will more than likely have you missing the turnís apex and quite possibly send you head-on into a wall.

Understeer - ďUndersteer is the condition in which the vehicle does not follow the trajectory the driver is trying to impose while taking the corner because the effective slip angle at the front is larger than that at the rear, instead following a less curved trajectory.Ē

Apex - ďThe apex is often but not always, the geometric center of the turn. Hitting the apex allows the vehicle to take the straightest line and maintain the highest speed through that specific corner. It is also the tightest part of a corner.Ē

Braking is done before the turn, and not necessarily during it, though it is understandable that youíll sometimes overshoot it. In that case, donít panic and slam on the brakes. Turning will shave off some speed, so while you may miss the intended apex, youíll at least make it through without smashing into the outside wall or run off the track. Applying gentle pressure to the brakes (this is why face buttons on controllers are no good) so that you shift some weight up to the front and get a bit more grip from those tires (more on weight transfer soon) is mighty wise too.

That very same logic should be applied towards acceleration. Stepping on the throttle during a turn is a big no-no. Youíll get the worst of both worlds that way. So, just like major braking needs to be done before a turn, acceleration should be done right after you hit that apex. Just remember not to slam down on the throttle too hard. Youíre still exiting a turn. Depending on what car youíre in, this could lead to some bad understeer or oversteer. Ease into it. Baby it.

Oversteer - ďOversteer is a phenomenon that can occur in an automobile while attempting to corner or while already cornering. The car is said to oversteer when the rear wheels do not track behind the front wheels but instead slide out toward the outside of the turn. Oversteer can throw the car into a spin. The effect is opposite to that of understeer.Ē

If you do get into a situation where youíre a victim to heavy oversteer and your rear is slipping far too much, shift your tires in the opposite direction (countersteer) to catch the rear. Youíll royally screw up the turn, but at least youíre not spinning out.

After youíve got your timing right on braking, turning properly is just a matter of positioning. Always enter a turn from the outside and then squeeze on down into the inside of the turn (the apex) as best as possible. Right after youíve reached the apex (or close to it if youĎve missed it), move to the outside of the turn.

Hereís where weight transfer comes in. When in acceleration, your car will have most of the weight on the rear tires. When braking, your car will have most of the weight up front. More weight on the rear tires means better traction for speeding up, and more weight on the front tires means you get better traction for turns.

This is where things get tricky. Trying to gauge when to release your brakes is difficult. While you donít want to divide up your tireís traction so much that you lose grip for turning, sometimes itís OK to apply a light bit of pressure to your brakes. It just takes practice, and like I said before, you normally wouldnít do that. Sometimes you just end up breaking even and all that extra effort went to waste. With practice, youíll begin to witness your carís potential (try doing a few laps and check if your time improves with each method).

The amount of weight transfer when coasting, speeding up, and braking varies between different cars and their different engine placements and drive train types. This is why I say that it may or may not be so effective.

Weíve got three different types of engine placements and three different drive train types. Weíve got front-engine, mid-engine, and rear-engine (though only Porscheís really have that). And weíve also got front-wheel drive (FWD), rear-wheel drive (RWD), and all-wheel drive (AWD) drive train types. Either difference will have a dramatic effect on a vehicle.

Engine placements affect the carís balance heavily. Most Front-engine cars will carry a lot of weight up front unless something was done to keep the rear as heavy. Mid-engine cars strive for a perfect fifty-fifty balance, which is found in most super cars. Rear-engine cars try and keep the rear down, giving the vehicle great traction under acceleration, but this may mean that youíve sacrificed some traction up front when turning.

Equally important to know are the different drive train types.

FWD vehicles give you a bit more stability, but have trouble handling speed. Because the vehicles run with the front tires, using the weight transfer logic means the tires youíre accelerating under have less traction (theyĎre in the front -- most of the weight is on the rear).

RWD vehicles do take advantage of weight transfer when it comes to acceleration. As the weight shifts to the rear, those tires get more grip. Unfortunately, this aid in acceleration comes with a price; oversteer. You give up stability for speed.

AWD vehicles come with the best and worst of both worlds. Since all tires work towards acceleration, youíll have the advantage when taking off. You gain around one hundred percent more grip when pulling off the start line. Sadly, like FWD vehicles, youíre going to learn how to deal with some heavy under steer, or quite possibly tune it so that torque is distributed appropriately

Torque - ďforce that causes twisting or turning, e.g. the force generated by an internal-combustion engine to turn a vehicle's drive shaft.Ē

So there you have it! The basics of sports driving!

Part two will focus on tuning your car, as well as a few other miscellaneous bits of information. I do understand it was a lot to swallow, but if youíve read this much you have no idea how happy youíve made me. Hopefully youíll have learned something new, or perhaps youíve gained some new respect for the genre.

See you out on the virtual race track!   read

2:06 PM on 04.30.2009

Best Resignation Letter Ever!

Jarrad Woods of 2K Australia has turned into one of coolest people this year.

After three and a half years of working for 2K Australia, the man wanted a change of pace. To announce that he made a phenomenal resignation letter in the form of a platformer. It's probably the coolest way anyone has quit a job, and I'll stand by that statement. Go ahead. Try and find something that's even remotely cooler.

This thing seems like a modified Super Mario Bros. rom with a level from his game "Polychromatic Funk Monkey". There really isn't much of a "game" here, though, as the point of it is to get a message across. I guess he's moving away from big daddy 2K and going off to work independently. Much respect to that.

Also, he ended the letter/game with Daft Punk's One More Time! Awesome!

Check here to "play":

[Via: Neogaf]   read

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