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Racing games

Need for Speed photo
Need for Speed

Sign up for EA's Need for Speed beta

Or don't
Sep 13
// Kyle MacGregor
The new Need for Speed reboot is one of those always-online abominations, so you can bet your sweet ass there is going to be a beta. Gotta stress test those severs/promote that product. If you'd like to take th...

Review: Forza Motorsport 6

Sep 08 // Chris Carter
Forza Motorsport 6 (Xbox One)Developer: Turn 10 StudiosPublisher: Microsoft StudiosRelease Date: September 15, 2015MSRP: $59.99 After a few minutes with the 2017 Ford GT in the tutorial (which is actually rather affordable in-game), you'll kick off three qualifying matches, which subsequently unlock the rest of the game. I started with a modest '97 Mazda RX7, with a small degree of CPU assistance to get my bearings again. This is probably my favorite part of Forza -- yes, it's a simulator, but you can fine-tune the experience to cater to your needs. If you haven't touched a racer in years, the game can show you exactly where to take turns with arrow paths on the ground that change colors based on the appropriate speed. You can also have Forza operate your braking procedures for you, so you won't fly off course or crash into walls all that often. Of course, the excellent rewind feature is back, so you can re-do a fateful turn that may have cost you the race. If you disable all of these options though, it's probably the most advanced racing simulator yet. The Xbox One controller is still by far the best standard controller for racers, with the nuanced haptic feedback system actually providing kickback. I also had an opportunity to play Forza 6 with the Logitech's G29 Driving Force, and my experience far surpassed that of its PS4 counterparts. If you've been waiting to pick up a wheel, this is probably the game to do it with. [embed]309093:60245:0[/embed] The Drivatar system also returns, which, as we know at this point, is less a gimmick and more of a proven idea. What's amazing about this mechanic is that we've had data collected for years from Forza 5 and Horizon 2, so when I jumped into Forza 6, I was immediately greeted by these AI/player combo drivers. They're still just as fun to race against as they were in the past, mostly because of erratic behavior that separates them from the orderly AI. The visual enhancements of Forza 5 have been perfected, up to and including the working odometer for each car interior. The game is still 1080p60, but the level of detail on tracks (which Forza 6 has a lot more of) is insane. This is heightened by the research Turn 10 did on the effect of rain on each track, and as a result, puddles form exactly where they would in real life. It really forces you to know (and trust) your vehicle, and you'll have to not only learn each track's ins and outs, but the rain element as well. Sometimes I found that I could sprint over it at certain angles, and in other instances, I hydroplaned the crap out of my car. Sim fans will love that they have to master yet another element of each track, even if they're already familiar. The flow of Forza 6 involves a career mode, separated by street, sport, touring, pro, and ultimate tiers. The concept here to break up the relatively standard career is "Stories of Motorsport," a loving tribute to historical races mixed in with other gamey challenges. I'm talking showcase events like racing an IndyCar at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway taking curves at over 200 mph, reliving the birth of Grand Prix racing, bowling for pins, or going up against The Stig from Top Gear. Speaking of Top Gear, it does return in a minimal capacity, but the lack of Jeremy Clarkson stings a bit. Although I had limited access to multiplayer, there is support for up to 24 players across seven modes, including your standard race setting and tag. There's also league support and a free-play mode that supports split-screen play. If you're interested in trying out any car you want, you can rent it without a charge to in-game currency -- you just won't get any experience for that race. So let's talk cars and tracks. Straight-up, Forza 6 feels like a more complete game, hosting over 450 vehicles at launch (without paid DLC), as opposed to Forza 5's roughly 200. You can still tune them up, customize their look, and download/upload new patterns -- of which there are hundreds, spanning multiple games at this point. The running theme with Forza 6 is that it's very easy to pick up for newcomers, since it basically functions as a new game and a "GOTY" edition of sorts, sporting tons of content from past titles without resorting to add-ons. This is partially because Turn 10 brought back the prize wheel from Horizon 2, which allows players to randomly earn a prize after leveling up, up to and including million-credit cars. Even though I only earned a supercar once, the other rewards are generally pretty great, so I still felt like I was progressing credits-wise. And this leads into another important element of Forza 6 -- there are no microtransactions to speak of, at least at launch. If you can't buy a car with your credits, tough, you'll have to earn them. This also goes for the new "mod" system, which kind of plays out like Titanfall's Burn Cards. You can activate one-use mods to better your handling or grip after buying packs of mods, or take "dares," which are like challenges of sorts, which provide their own rewards. Again, this thankfully doesn't feel necessary (it isn't even enabled online), and it's not linked to a microtransaction system...yet. There are also 25 tracks, each with multiple variations, which kicks Forza 5's 14 to the curb. With the aforementioned new details (especially with refreshing levels like Rio de Janeiro, which hasn't appeared since the first game) and the new rain, even the old ones feel new. Despite a lot of these upgrades, Forza 6 does feel somewhat like an apology letter for the last main iteration. It's important to note that if you don't really love the idea of reworked rain effects, you probably won't find a whole lot that's fundamentally new outside of the fact that there's just more to do in general. For me though, it was enough to outright bring me back into the racing fold. I found myself racing for hours, racking up credits, ferociously buying new cars to add to my garage, and cursing at my friend's Drivatars. Forza 6 is the new king of simulation racing. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Forza 6 review photo
Turn 10 turns a new leaf
Although I used to play racing games for hundreds of hours, it really takes something special to get me hooked again. Recently, after the somewhat rushed release of Forza 5, I naturally gravitated toward other racers, including the Horizon series. But even still, I wasn't crazy about them. That is, until I played Forza Motorsport 6.

Forza 6 photo
Forza 6

As an old school racing fan, I dig this Forza 6 commercial

Pole Position <3
Sep 07
// Chris Carter
This Forza Motorsport 6 commercial is worth a watch, if you can remember the olden days of racing games. The retro imagery brings me back to a simpler time, where you could hop into an eight-person cabinet, double-tap, ...

Crazy racer has you drive multiple cars at once

Sep 06 // Kyle MacGregor
It's controlled chaos, though. Luckily, you need only take control of one vehicle at a time. However, in what might be one of the better "it's a feature" excuses yet, the computer in this game is as dumb as a post. AI-controlled cars (both yours and your opponents') are largely incompetent. This requires players to hop from one track to the next, either taking the lead or putting the computer in a position to do so before moving on to the next track. The challenge is more about management and strategy, rather than pure driving skill. And given there can be up to six tracks on any raceway, all of which sport differing speeds, steering your team to victory can be quite a handful. While Drive!Drive!Drive! is still somewhat early in development, it can be a  pretty rough ride. During my time in the driver's seat last week in Seattle, I discovered the title doesn't handle anywhere near as well as, well, any mainstream racers I've had the pleasure of playing in recent years. [embed]309532:60259:0[/embed] Midwood was the first to admit the experience could use some fine tuning, as sharp turns often resulted in messy pile-ups and ramps can send your vehicle flying onto another track with no means of returning to the correct one. But there's still time to fix mechanical issues and tighten up the controls, especially since the concept and aesthetics are already so attractive. The visuals are minimalist, but the pastel color palette and otherworldly track layouts more than make up for some technically unimpressive graphics. The trippy vibe is also enhanced by a trippy soundtrack, courtesy of synth artist Zombi, giving the game a distinctive look and feel. On top of that, there's a track creator, which should give the experience some legs, allowing players to build and share their own designs with the community, should one ever form around the game.  Drive!Drive!Drive! is targeting a 2016 launch on PlayStation 4, Vita, PC, and maybe more systems.
Drive!Drive!Drive! photo
On your marks, get set, go, go, go!
Game designers rarely go off-road when creating racing games and eschew lesser-traveled paths in favor of more established, familiar routes. Not Gordon Midwood, though; the one lone developer at indie studio Different Cloth i...

Racing photo

Can video games make you a better driver?

It works for F1 drivers
Aug 27
// Vikki Blake
F1 driver Max Verstappen has been honing his driving skills by way of racing sims. By using simulators like Assetto Corsa, iRacing and rFactor 2, Verstappen's been able to familiarise himself with the F1 c...
Need for Speed photo
The experience is built around Autolog
The new Need for Speed reboot is an always-online experience, which might be a bit of a damper if you live in an area with a less than stellar Internet connection. But them's the breaks, I guess. According to executive produc...

Logitech G29 photo
Logitech G29

Logitech's G29 Driving Force PS4 wheel is expensive, but functional

Just be aware of the lack of PS4 racers
Aug 06
// Chris Carter
I've only had one racing wheel in my life outside of the one Logitech just sent me for testing. It was really cumbersome unit for the original PlayStation, and as a kid, it was tough to find room for it long term. By the time I left for college, it was lost to the void. During the past week or so I've been re-introduced to wheel life, and my god, the tech has come a long way.
Need for Speed photo
Need for Speed

Need for Speed trailer shows us some surprisingly good FMVs

We're well above Night Trap quality now
Aug 05
// Joe Parlock
EA has released a new trailer for the upcoming Need for Speed, showing off some of the FMVs that will be featured in the game and some of the main characters who we’ll meet in it. I’m not a big driving game fan, ...
Forza Motorsport 6 photo
Forza Motorsport 6

The Forza 6 team is way too hyped about rain

They recreated every damn puddle y'all
Aug 04
// Kyle MacGregor
Look, Forza Motorsport 6's dynamic rain features might be all well and good, but to your average dude that just wants to race cars real fast, these guys are way too stoked about some puddles.
Driveclub photo

Sony has sold over 2M copies of Driveclub

No, that doesn't include PS+ copies
Aug 03
// Vikki Blake
We've bought over 2 million copies of Driveclub. Game director Paul Rustchynsky tweeted about the milestone on Twitter and shared an image of a snazzy award thing.  It's thought the game reached the milestone ...
Steam photo

I miss Monkey Ball, so I'll probably play Polyball

Watch the trailer
Jul 27
// Jordan Devore
I miss Super Monkey Ball so much. Granted, I still have my copy, and I'm into Monkey Target now more than ever, but a proper new console game would also be nice, y'know? If it ended up being junk, I could always just return t...

Review: F1 2015

Jul 23 // Brett Makedonski
F1 2015 (PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Codemasters BirminghamPublisher: Bandai NamcoMSRP: $54.99 (PC), $59.99 (PS4, Xbox One)Released: July 10, 2015 (Europe), July 21, 2015 (North America) Most of F1 2015's missing horsepower comes in the form of features. Only the barest of essentials are to be found, and even those feel further stripped-down. The mode that everyone will get the most mileage out of is a single season of play (either 2014 or 2015). Pick a driver from the pre-set list of real racers, practice, qualify, and race. Repeat 18 more times, and F1 2015's longest goal has been completed. There's no career mode, creation tools, or management simulator present, so season play has to carry a strong sense of progression. Unfortunately, that's almost completely absent apart from watching you and your teammate earn points after each race. There are no contracts to chase or sponsors to keep happy. Your crew assigns goals, but they are absolutely pointless. After they're achieved or failed, they're never spoken of again and they don't affect anything. There isn't even a calendar to keep track of how many races are left; I had to look it up on F1's official site. [embed]296540:59670:0[/embed] Compounding matters is the race length. The shortest possible race in season mode is 25 percent of a real race. This usually works out to about half an hour. If you add in practice and qualifying, it's upward of an hour. That's quite the time commitment to a game that doesn't adequately reward you for playing. It becomes a slog before long. Other modes offer little reprieve from the tedium. Time trial puts you on a track alone. Quick race is a better suit for seeing the different tracks than anything else. Multiplayer is plagued by a litany of bugs -- one of my first races there saw a player finish last by more than 30 seconds only for the game to award him first place by more than a minute, with a best lap time of 457 minutes. This lack of polish isn't isolated to the netcode. F1 2015 is an uninspired-looking game. Driver models are almost offensively bland. Several of the tracks are adorned by blocky, blurry backdrops. Crowds are completely static. The screen tears regularly, which thankfully isn't always easily noticed due to concentrating on racing. There are exceptions to this, though. Codemasters put in care in the most obvious spots -- where it knew players would look for it. Iconic courses in Monaco, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi are absolutely fantastic. The claustrophobic streets of Monaco almost feel like an entirely different game given the attention to detail on all the close-quarters buildings. And, like in real life, it's where F1 is at its most exciting. Strangely, for a title that's supposed to simulate the highest tier of performance racing, F1 2015's cars handle remarkably easily. There's a disconcerting disconnect to the road. The pavement offers little in the way of challenge, as simply steering in the correct direction at full throttle works flawlessly. Brake for those tight corners and then slam the gas back down. It's nowhere near as nuanced as one would expect, and it takes a lot of skill out of what should be the most skilled driving in the world. The saving grace for the driving mechanics -- and I say this without an iota of sarcasm or irony -- is the tire wear. Over the course of a race, the tires degrade to the point of being nearly useless. The turns you once took efficiently suddenly have you pointing in the wrong direction. It adds a sense of tension around the midway point and final laps. You'll know that you have to pit as you're losing time on each circuit, but when's the best time? Have your opponents pitted yet? Can you squeeze out one more lap? Similarly, rain adds a lot to the driving. While it's visually unimpressive, it certainly negates the problem of cars being too easy to steer. All of a sudden, these vehicles might as well be on ice. If it starts pouring, it's paramount to tell the crew to switch to a different style of tire and hit the pits as soon as possible. Otherwise, drivers who have already adjusted will overtake you in no time at all. One last mode in F1 2015 also takes care of the "too easy to drive" issue. Pro Season is the most simulation-like the game has to offer, and it's only for the most hardcore of players. It ramps the difficulty up to the highest degree, turns off all assists, locks the view to cockpit, and sets everything to full length. It's intense. Realistically, only a small percentage of people will care enough to attempt this, and those are the ones dedicated enough to the genre that they have much better offerings with way more options in several other games. But, it's not only those racing enthusiasts who will see F1 2015 as lacking. Everyone who tries it will. Its development was short-sighted, and its appeal is thusly short-lived. This is a game that excels in a very small handful of areas -- imagine how thrilling it is when your tires wear away in Monaco! -- but is mediocre or bad almost everywhere else. As centuries of racing have taught us, no one remembers the guy who finishes toward the back of the pack. That will be F1 2015's legacy: a forgotten one.  [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
F1 review photo
Caution's out
No matter the length of race chosen, F1 2015 mandates at least one pit stop per outing. When pulling into the pits, control of the car is seized from the player and the steering wheel displays the words "pit limiter." Th...

Rocket League gif photo
Rocket League gif

This might be the best/worst goal in Rocket League

That's it, I'm downloading the game
Jul 22
// Jordan Devore
Rocket League is inescapable. Everywhere I look, people are praising the game, a fusion of soccer and cars, for being accessible, rewarding, and endlessly entertaining. I have resisted. I'm not much of a gearhead, and the cl...
Project CARS photo
Project CARS

Project CARS on Wii U earns a DNF, officially cancelled

Did not finish
Jul 21
// Brett Makedonski
While Slightly Mad Studios' Project CARS has been zooming past one million sales on PC, PS4, and Xbox One, it won't get off the starting line on Wii U. That had been the murmured whisper around town, but the studio has n...
DriveClub photo

Here's what's new in the latest DriveClub update

There's new DLC packs, too
Jul 20
// Vikki Blake
Two further DLC packs are headed to DriveClub next week. The first pack - The Horsepower Expansion Pack - will drop on Tuesday, July 28 and includes 11 new events, five new cars and five new trophies. It includes the Fer...
Trials Fusion DLC photo
Trials Fusion DLC

That wacky unicorn DLC for Trials Fusion is here

Out now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One
Jul 15
// Jordan Devore
I didn't stick with Trials Fusion for very long despite generally liking the game. While the user-made tracks are reason enough to check back in, there's also this ridiculous Awesome Level Max DLC ($9.99) with a gun-wielding ...

Review: Rocket League

Jul 14 // Zack Furniss
Rocket League (PlayStation 4 [reviewed], PC)Developer: PsyonixPublisher: PsyonixMSRP: $19.99Released: July 7, 2015 Rocket League is Psyonix's follow-up to Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, which had entirely too many hyphens. By dropping the hyphens and making every facet of their concept as simple and accessible as possible, they've made something undoubtedly focused. You are a car, and you must knock a large ball into the opposing team's goal. It never gets more complicated than that. You can play one on one (though I can't imagine that'd be terribly fun), or up to four on four with players around the world or bots. There are different modes available: Exhibition is for local games with four-player split-screen or bots, Season allows you to set up consecutive bot matches over complete with playoffs, and Training teaches you the basics of movement. Starting with Training is a swell, yet ultimately unnecessary idea since you'll have a feel for the driving by the end of your first match. You can accelerate, reverse, jump, double-jump, and boost all over the field and it all feels crunchy and responsive in the best way. The arenas all have just the right amount of friction to feel like you're completely in control of your vehicle at all times. When you try to boost into the ball to score a goal and you careen right past it, you have no one to blame but yourself. The perfectly-tuned controls lend themselves to a desire to acquire mastery, a feeling that seems rare as of late. If you master one skill, proper use of boosting is the one to pick. Since boost juice is finite, you have to drive over boost pads to keep it topped off. Whether you use said juice to dart from the goalie to position to attempt a risky goal or you boost long enough to crash into someone to temporarily destroy them, you'll learn to love judiciously tapping and holding that circle button. Exploding a member of the opposing team only takes them out for a second but can be a viable strategy when things get hectic. While you can play with four players per team, it tends to be too chaotic. You'd think with more players that one person would designate themselves as the goalie, but instead each person gets caught up in an offensive. With a dedicated team it'd probably be a viable mode, but I was playing mostly pick-up games. 3 on 3 seems like the definite sweet spot and is recommended when playing online. Since Rocket League has cross-platform play between the PlayStation 4 and PC, I was always able to find a match within a minute or two. The loading screens are always brief so it's a little too easy to find yourself starting up another match even after telling yourself it's 2 in the morning and you need to texture a patch of drywall tomorrow (that's a normal thing, right?). There's also a carrot on a stick to keep you playing in the form of car customizations. By playing well, you can enter the garage to customize your car's body type, decal, paint job, wheels, boost trail color, antenna, and topper. I rocked a pirate hat on my little pick-up truck for the majority of my matches. These are all purely cosmetic so as not to distort game balance. It would take quite awhile to unlock all customizations, but they're a nice little bonus for the already fun core gameplay. There are seven arenas (though a few of them are the same, with different weather) that are all gorgeous. Watching your little car zip over billowing grass as it rains down on you all in a crisp, smooth frame rate is more aesthetically pleasing than you'd expect from soccer car smash fusion. Though I sort of expected different obstacles or boost pad placement on each arena, I ended up appreciating that these changes are only cosmetic. You always know exactly what you're playing with. I didn't go in expecting much from Rocket League since I'm usually not a huge fan of driving and sports games. Instead of walking away with a confirmed bias, Psyonix's laser-focused concept gave me something fun to whip out the next time I have friends over. I imagine with a bunch of awful beer and willing companions, we'll have a great time. What's next, will I enjoy a game that mixes Metroids and Soccer? We'll see. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Rocket League review photo
I will only call it 'soccar' once
A good chunk of today's onslaught of complex games has convoluted controls, alienating lore, and feature creep that can sometimes be overwhelming. Every so often, a developer comes along and makes something that just seems nice and digestible -- no need to research the best character build or wiki-scan to catch up on the plot. And sometimes that tasty little morsel is a driving/soccer sandwich.

TrackMania Turbo photo
TrackMania Turbo

TrackMania Turbo looks out of control

As it should
Jul 10
// Jordan Devore
Long-time series players are used to it by now, but good lord is TrackMania Turbo ridiculous. In this PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC game, races commence with your car dropping from a helicopter and there's a strange cooper...
Super Impossible Road photo
Super Impossible Road

Super Impossible Road is the Mario Kart 64 Rainbow Road shortcut over and over

Coming to PlayStation 4
Jul 07
// Darren Nakamura
Mario Kart 64. Rainbow Road. Lakitu flashes the green light. The kart gets a boost of speed due to a well-timed acceleration. The track starts to curve down. The driver careens to the left and floats off into space. If done ...

Forza Motorsport 6 certainly plans on making a big splash

Jul 02 // Brett Makedonski
Did you think the rabbit hole ended there? Turn 10's not offering water physics just anywhere -- only in the places that it makes sense. An example Cooper gave us was that it never rains in Dubai so players will never see rainfall there. From our understanding, there isn't even the option to set up a custom race with rain on that track. If Turn 10's obsession with water sounds a bit like overkill, well yeah, maybe it is. It got to the point where another journalist and I just said "Rain" to one another whenever we crossed paths for the rest of E3. I attribute it to what I call the "EA Sports Complex." The racing in Forza has been carefully honed over the course of a decade now. Just like EA Sports and its titles such as Madden and FIFA, Turn 10 can afford to focus on the smaller facets of its game in an effort to inch ever closer to realism. We have no real indication how well all this rain will actually turn out. The hands-off demo we saw looked great, but it was obviously a tightly-controlled environment. Notably,Project CARS attempt at rain was where the game was visually at its best, but it also took a significant toll on the Xbox One and caused gameplay issues. If anyone has the best chance of skirting that problem, it's Turn 10 who's a first-party developer and presumably has the full support of Microsoft's resources. If the game isn't optimized well enough to handle all these effects, you'd have to assume they wouldn't be such a priority -- not yet, at least.  Rain usually means gloom for most people in real life. Turn 10's pinning its hopes on rain making for a fun and realistic experience in its video game. After all, who doesn't love speeding through giant puddles? And, all that water should have those cars at their absolute shiniest.
Forza Motorsport 6 photo
Raindrops keep fallin' on my hood
When I looked at my E3 schedule this year and saw I had a Forza Motorsport 6 meeting at the Microsoft booth, I expected they wanted to talk to me about cars. That's the crux of Forza after all: cars racing real...

Gold wheel photo
Gold wheel

Ride in style with this blinged-out Mario Kart 8 wheel

Link's sponsored by the Big Tymers
Jun 30
// Brett Makedonski
Somewhere along the way, Link traded Epona for a sleek sportbike. It's unconventional, but probably necessary in the high-octane world of Mario Kart 8. I mean, Epona is literally one horsepower. That doesn't quite cut it. Lin...
Driveclub photo

Driveclub PS Plus Edition is out tomorrow, but...

Just the offline mode at first
Jun 24
// Jordan Devore
The Driveclub PS Plus Edition saga is nearing its end. After months of delays, the trial version for PlayStation Plus subscribers released on the store yesterday only to be pulled. It was "premature," according to Evolution S...
Forza photo

There's a blue Forza Xbox One coming

Jun 24
// Laura Kate Dale
If you've been waiting to buy an Xbox One but were tuned off by the lack of VROOOOOOMMMM and SCHREEEEEEE engine noises made by the console, then I have some exciting news for you. A new Xbox One bundle has been announced and ...
Project CARS 2 photo
Project CARS 2

What is this, a race? Project CARS 2 announced

Slightly Mad promises continued support
Jun 22
// Jordan Devore
It was only last month that I read Brett's review of Project CARS, and now Slightly Mad Studios is out there talking up a sequel for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and SteamOS. Only thing that's missing is a call for pre-orders but, worr...

Need For Speed is back with double spoilers and customization galore

Jun 21 // Jed Whitaker
While the cosmetic customization in the build I played was deep, it was nowhere near as in depth as the beloved Need for Speed: Underground. The car tuning was fantastic and simple enough for a none car guy like myself to understand. There is a slider that allows you to make cars control more like modern games in the series (drift handling), or more like classic games in the series (grip handling). You can also manually adjust features of cars to make them control as you see fit.  Hundreds of events are scattered around a large open world, and players just need to pull up and hit a button to start the event. Other players can fill out the roster as competing racers. Completing the events advances one of five stories based on different types of driving: speed, style, customization, hanging with your crew, and messing with the cops. It is still unclear how exactly these stories will be advanced, but story is rarely important in racing games. Need for Speed is looking like it really could be the definitive game in the series. Get your hype engines revving. 
Need For Speed preview photo
Definitive version of NFS
The upcoming Need for Speed doesn't have a subtitle because it wants to be the definitive game in the series, according to Craig Sullivan of Ghost Games. The developers have cherry picked the best parts of the previous subtit...

Forza 6 photo
Forza 6

Forza 6 reps American muscle for Xbox One

Leak details confirmed
Jun 15
// Steven Hansen
Microsoft Euro-trashed the pop fun of Forza Horizon with a somber, American muscle-y showing of Forza 6 at its press conference, confirming all the details that leaked last week: "over 450 cars, 1080p60 visuals, 3D puddle effects, night racing, 26 'world-famous' locales, 2-player split screen, 24-player races, and the return of the Drivatar AI system." It releases September 15.
Runbow photo

Runbow for Wii U is freaking weird and I kind of love it

Do a chicken dance as a red muscle-man
Jun 15
// Chris Carter
When I first heard of Runbow, I didn't know what to make of it. It's a nine player "runner," a subgenre that's become way too over-saturated with the dawn of the mobile market. But after actually playing it, I can definitely ...

Review: The Next Penelope

Jun 10 // Chris Carter
The Next Penelope (PC [reviewed], Wii U)Developer: Aurelien RegardPublisher: Plug In DigitalMSRP: $12.99Release Date: May 29, 2015 (PC) / TBA (Wii U) It's the year 3044, in Ithaca. Odysseus has been away at sea for 10 years, and his kingdom is now under attack by Poseidon, father of the Cyclopes race. As a result, it's up to Odysseus' wife Penelope to find him. If you couldn't tell by the year marker, all of this is set to the tone of a futuristic epic -- spaceships are prevalent throughout Penelope's universe, and Poseidon is basically a member of an alien race. A lot of people probably won't even pay attention to the ties to Homer's Odyssey, but it works for the most part. All of this setup brings us to the main event -- racing. Yep, somehow, someway, this is a classic top-down racer reminiscent of the Micro Machines games or Blizzard's Rock'n'Roll Racing. As such, the visuals are retro-centric, and I have to say, they look excellent. Everything from the animated anime-like portraits during cutscenes and the colorful, flashy in-game graphics are painstakingly detailed. The controls take no time at all to learn, as they mostly consist of just altering your direction by way of the arrow keys or the gamepad's triggers, but they'll take quite a while to master. Acceleration is automatic, but weapons and power-ups can be enacted by pressing a specific button (in the case of a keyboard, the up arrow). These range from things like boosts to bullets, which you'll often need to blow away enemies or blast through hazards like boulders. They're fun to use, but since the general gameplay is so fast, they don't have as big of an impact as they should. [embed]293674:58914:0[/embed] Power-ups also bring another classic racing mechanic into play -- energy zones from F-Zero. While micromanaging your abilities, staying on track, and fighting off foes, you'll also have to occasionally steer yourself into the way of energy areas to sap up more power-up meter. It's fast, frantic, and fun, especially since individual stages are roughly a minute or two long. What's amazing to me is that The Next Penelope hosts a four-hour campaign. Heck, with its old-school flair it didn't even really need to go this extra mile, but it did. The campaign is even further augmented by a full galaxy map, the power to choose what stats to level-up (including upgrades to steering, defensive capabilities, and more outwards camera zoom). Boss battles on top of all this madness make things even more interesting, turning the game into a full-on shooter. It's crazy how much variety there is. The four-person multiplayer mode also has a mini-story involving Penelope's suitors, who are battling each other for glory. It's not a fully-fledged campaign or anything, but it's a neat little way to justify its inclusion. The gist is that all four racers, CPU or player-controlled, are attempting to blow each other up while they struggle to stay on one screen. If you're left behind, you're dead, and the last ship standing takes it all. It's a good old-fashioned slugfest across nine maps, and given the way it works, all four players can feasibly share the same keyboard. It's important to note that no online play of any kind is supported. The Next Penelope is a blast to play on PC, and will probably be a massive hit at parties when it arrives on Wii U later this year. It's a shame more old-school racers aren't around, but with games like this and 90s Arcade Racer, the scene is seeing a revival that brings a huge smile to my face. [This review is based on a retail build provided by the publisher.]
Next Penelope review photo
My, how mortals take the gods to task
If I told you that I wanted to mix Greek mythology with the racing and shoot-'em-up genres, you'd probably call me crazy. But that's just what developer Aurelien Regard did with his one-man show The Next Penelope, and for the...

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