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The best and worst games of the week

Review Round-up: Week ending 11/9
Nov 09
// Wesley Ruscher
November is here and the holidays are just around the corner. And while most of this year's major blockbusters have already hit, as we gear up for the inevitable onslaught of the next generation, there are still some surprise...

Review: F1 2013

Nov 03 // Dale North
F1 2013 (Xbox 360 [reviewed], PS3, PC)Developer: CodemastersPublisher: CodemastersRelease Date: October 8, 2013MSRP: $59.99 If anything, F1 2012 taught me that squeezing full-down on the right trigger was not the best way to have a good time in a Formula 1 game, so I was fully prepared for that as well as whatever F1 2013 had to throw my way. I'd like to think of Codemasters as teachers that are working to broaden my racing game horizons beyond just street and rally racing.  F1 2013's Young Drivers' Test is somewhat successful at teaching new (or not-great) drivers the F1 ropes. While it runs through everything you'd need to know, from basics like braking and cornering to more advanced bits like energy return systems, it's not exactly exciting stuff all the time. It does do a good job of hitting home one underlying theme: go fast and don't mess up. Learning the ropes for a racing simulation can take a lot out of you if you're not the patient type. [embed]264208:51147:0[/embed] After learning the basics, Career Mode has you working your way up the ranks. This is the meat of the game, and it's where you'll spend most of your time. While your time on the track is rarely dull, the presentation and menu-based navigation for this and other modes are a bit of a drag as they're dry and lacking in excitement. If it wasn't for the first-person pre-race pit scenes, the dull presentation would have had me feeling completely disconnected to my racing career. This lack of personality isn't a huge concern, though, as you'll be too busy racing to get hung up on it. Again, patience is the name of the game. Events have you watching everything from tire wear to fuel levels while trying to keep your racing lines clean. I found myself so wrapped up in trying not to screw up that I noticed I was holding my breath and sweating. That patience and concentration pays off in a big way for a win, but I think it also makes mistakes more frustrating. I found myself more comfortable in the Grand Prix mode, where jumping into a race is easy, and endurance is less of a requirement. This mode is more about minding your opponents than it is your car. If you don't have the patience for trials, or the stamina for long races, you'll get the most out of this mode. This kind of player might also dig Scenario mode. In what is the closest you'll get to a mission mode in a racing game, Scenarios take bits from other races and asks you to run through them. These are fun little nuggets of racing that you can take on at your own pace. New for this outing, F1 Classics lets you hop into the cockpit of some famous cars from racing past to hit some famous tracks. Fans of F1 racing will get more out of the mode than I did, though I will say that it was fun to go a few rounds in some of the monsters this mode provides. Finally, on the online side, F1 2013 offers two-player splitscreen and 16-player online multiplayer modes.  I don't know that the Xbox 360 controller's analog sticks do F1 full justice. Codemasters' handling has your cars staying fully obedient under careful play; they go where you want them to go as long as you mind that balance between power and control. But, lose your concentration for even a split second, and you're spinning, or are off in the gravel. The dead zone for the Xbox 360 controller saw the bulk of my blame when I ended up off the track. A racing wheel would be ideal for F1 2013. To be fair, the thrill of F1 racing is closely tied to moving incredibly fast, and it's a given that, at these speeds, you can easily loose control. It's just that I never felt fully in control with F1 2013. There's room for error -- if you need it -- in the handling control settings. On full assist, you don't have to do anything but steer, keeping the gas pedal down fully, as everything else is handled for you. If you're having a hard time getting the feel down, these assists are a life saver. But well-versed racers may be surprised at how the assists fight them for control of the car, which is why I recommend shutting them off.  Where there isn't room for error is around other cars in a race, which is sad as this is where you'll spend most of your time. There are times that F1 2013 felt just like state-fair bumper cars when up against CPU opponents. Getting stuck with penalties for something I felt like I didn't do was frustrating. There were times where I'd end up on the side of the track from one of these situations, and more than once I felt like I should take a walk to calm down before I broke a controller. On a more positive note, F1 2013 looks and sounds great. While we'll give the tracks a polite nod for their clean and glossy, there real attraction is the crazy level of detail in the car models. They're all shiny, sharp, and fantastic looking. F1 2013's weather effects are also very impressive. My first race in the rain was a memorable one with its splashing, sliding, and super realistic windshield raindrops. The rain looked great in the Xbox 360 version, but it was stunning on a PC with graphics settings on high. I've never had the pleasure of taking an F1 car for a spin, but it seems that the sound design for F1 2013 has at least brought my ears really close to the actual experience. These vehicles make all manner of noises when you push them, from mumbles to screams. It's thrilling to hear the different ways these cars sing out in the heat of the race. Somehow, even with some of the criticisms I had, I enjoyed F1 2013. For me, it was less about the technical side, like managing tire wear, or learning the kinectic energy return system, and more about just going really fast. That said, there were times that I was somehow able to hone in and sort of fall into the zone, which made it feel like I was going even faster. F1 2013 is rewarding in a way that an arcade racer could never be.  While I'd have a hard time recommending this game to casual fans of racing, those that like steep, technical challenges will be thrilled, as will fans of the sport. I want to be clear, though. You will have to have a lot of patience and time on your hands to make F1 2013 a rewarding experience. It's tough.
F1 2013 review photo
Furiously fast
Look, you're never going to get to drive a Formula 1 car, so you should be grateful that these simulations exist. And if you (virtually) drive like I do, you should be glad that you'll never drive a F1 car -- we'd all be dead...

Review: Grid 2

Jul 02 // Casey B
GRID 2 (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Codemasters SouthamPublisher: CodemastersReleased:  May 28, 2013 (NA) / May 31, 2013 (EU) / July 25, 2013 (JP)MSRP: $59.99 On the surface, Grid 2 is still a beautiful race for the finish line with hot cars and plenty of thrilling matches against aggressive AI opponents that will give as good as they take. Unfortunately, beyond these surface details, the actual game suffers deeply from sequel-itis. Ignoring the glaring issue of a complete lack of cockpit view for the time being, there are many other smaller problems with Grid 2 that surmount to something that falls way short of what the first game even aspired to be. The first thing one has to understand about this game is that it follows more closely in the footsteps of Dirt 3 -- or even the series spin-off Dirt Showdown -- with all pomp and circumstance, and then notches up the douchiness just a bit more to really get on any gamer's nerves. Instead of having the game narrated by managers who give constructive criticism and generally have a positive vibe, you're left with a middle manager of your promoter, the mysterious Patrick Callahan, who might as well be the Illusive Man for all of his underling's dickishness. Your narrator relishes in taking credit for your wins, talks creepily about how he can't wait to get into your new car, and admonishes you for a 'mistake' even when it has actually helped you out in your race. The biggest issue with this new narrator is that he is implemented sloppily -- he's inconsistent and unhelpful throughout. In one race, he told me more than three times that my front wheel was damaged and thus I would have performance issues, even as I crossed the finish line in first. In the next race as I drove my vehicle like a bumper car against guard rails, he was mysteriously silent until he spouted a generic line about getting ahead of the pack early. In fact, the narrator will even spout lines more suitable to a completely different event, such as telling you to get ahead of the pack when you're the only one in a time trial race. Between this shitty, inconsistent narrator and lazy interface issues that show all of your opponent drivers saying the exact same thing about the next race, the game reeks of a certain kind of laziness that its predecessor would not dream of attempting. [embed]256980:49413:0[/embed] Another example of how Grid 2 seems to want to destroy your enjoyment of it comes from the fans in each race except for the World Series Race events. I can't count the number of times I took a sharp turn and noticed that the cardboard cutout fans all seemed to be incredibly bored with anything around them, at times not even facing the track and on their cell phones. I guess this was supposed to be a nod towards realism, but it's the wrong kind of realism as it destroys the whole idea of playing games for escapism where you're supposed to be the rising star, not some asshole on a race track that's being promoted by an even bigger asshole. The noises from the fans themselves are outright bizarre, and I could swear that around just about every other curve was the drunk chick from Family Guy, yelling out a very inebriated "WOOOooOoooo!" I'm not really sure why the fans are as terrible as they are besides a certain kind of cynicism, as the game doesn't rely on winning actual currency but instead garnering social currency, and even at beyond four million fans it seemed like many of my races still had a lot of bored, terrible people. Before the game was released, the new "Liveroutes" system was touted as something fresh and original, an idea that had never been introduced in racing games before. The thought behind this new system of randomized turns in the tracks of certain races was that it would truly test your reflexes and skills as a racer. While I actually did enjoy the Liveroutes racing during my time with Grid 2, I found it to be the easiest event to complete throughout. Even up until the late game I was able to get several seconds ahead of the second-place opponent long before the race ended. At first, I figured it was because I've gotten relatively skilled behind the virtual wheel -- but as I lost tragically to events in other disciplines, I started to get a feeling that the whole Liveroutes thing was still a bit undercooked. I'm not sure whether it was Codemasters' intention to make the AI during these races become dumber to appear to be more 'real' or whether they actually do struggle more with randomized tracks, but in any case, the biggest disappointment I had with the new system was that it didn't really challenge me in the same way other events did. And speaking of the other events, while the one big positive I can say about Grid 2 is that the races are generally still pretty solid and fun, the difficulty curve is all over the place, even within the same discipline. This was also present in the first game, but with so many choices then, the player had a lot of agency to practice or skip certain events altogether until he or she was skilled enough to move on. Here, the first three seasons of races move in a very linear fashion, forcing you to beat a race in a certain discipline before opening up the series. This becomes a barrier to entry for races that aren't even necessarily as challenging as the first race in the first discipline. When the game introduces Togue, that first race is a complete shift in difficulty from earlier races and I nearly threw my controller through the TV screen in frustration at the sudden change. Imagine my surprise when I finally mastered it and decided to try the next Togue event for shits and giggles, only to realize that it was a cake-walk compared to that first one, and not because of my own improved abilities. Further expounding this issue is the unfairness of the AI drivers. While I actually love aggressive driving and really dug the first Grid for the way it was implemented within the spectacle-filled races, I really hate what they've done with it in this game. The drivers now find the absolute cheapest moments to take you out, and their vehicles are ALWAYS heavier than yours, even when you're driving a muscle car and they're in a dinky formula one-type go-kart. I spent hours in several races attempting to repeat the exact same move that a driver pulled on me to destroy my race, only to see myself ping-ponging off the other car's tank-like exterior. I believe it was only once that I actually managed to take down another car, though I took myself down in the process. The car even flipped and as I watched him disappear helplessly in my rear-view mirror, through some black magic he got back on the track and caught up to me, only to take me out of the race completely just before the finish line. Of course, I have to also mention the lack of cockpit view and how it affects the game, because no matter what Codemasters might argue, it changes everything in a fundamental way. The lack of that view from behind the steering wheel really kills the realism of the first game. While hood view is a tolerable enough substitution, for some reason the developers decided to make just about every car hood incredibly shiny and reflective (despite whatever paint job the car has), so that EVERY LITTLE THING is reflected on the car hood. While it's a very pretty idea for a tech demo, in an actual race it is incredibly distracting and doesn't really add anything useful to the game. Added to this is a much floatier handling in just about every vehicle, whether they're balanced or drift vehicles. The game plays a lot more like a Need For Speed/Ridge Racer hybrid than its own roots, and though it makes for a more accessible game, it also disappoints with its further lack of simulation. When the dust settles, Grid 2 serves as a solid enough racing game with generally strong opponent AI. What it does not serve as is a worthy successor to the first game -- instead offering a stripped-down version of itself that is filled with lazy design, unfair AI opponents, special ESPN 'live' broadcasts that no one really asked for, and to top it all off, its bizarrely irritating narrator and loudly drunk or completely apathetic fans. If this is what racing in the modern age is, maybe it's time to hang up the helmet and find another hobby.
Grid 2 review photo
Less cockpit, more douchiness
Codemasters' original Race Driver: Grid was -- and still is -- a pinnacle of automobile racing games. Back when it was released in 2008, I spent literally hundreds of hours with the game trying to rack up cars, medals, sponso...

GRID 2 photo

Codemasters introducing LiveRoute system in GRID 2

Round and round they go, where they stop...
May 03
// Jason Cabral
Since the dawn of racing, man has asked himself but one simple question: "How can we mess with the drivers during the course of a race?" Codemasters has listened and pondered over this question for many restless nights, and ...
GRID 2 photo

Indianapolis Motor Speedway makes its way into GRID 2

Suspenseful commenting music still a thing
Apr 26
// Jason Cabral
Codemasters has dropped another multiplayer trailer for the upcoming GRID 2. This one focuses more on the cars and customization than the social network aspect. While Codemasters' RaceNet is still featured prominently in the...
GRID 2 photo

On the grid: GRID 2 multiplayer integrates RaceNet

Now with suspenseful music as you receive comments!
Apr 16
// Jason Cabral
Integrated statistic tracking and social networking features with videogames is no new concept, even in the racing genre, but the road warriors at Codematers look to be adding a lot more to their RaceNet with the upcoming re...
GRID 2 photo

GRID 2 lifts the hood on its multiplayer system

It's all based around a deep progression scheme
Apr 11
// Brett Makedonski
Like any proud owner, Codemasters is parking its car, popping the hood, and letting jealous bystanders take a peek at its baby. Today, the multiplayer modes are in the spotlight. GRID 2's multiplayer features will be entirely...
GRID 2 photo

Developer outlines plans for GRID 2 in new video

Learn more about Codemasters' latest driving game
Mar 15
// Chris Carter
Codemasters talks a bit about their creative vision for GRID 2 in this newest trailer for the game, set to launch this May. The developer is going for something called "TrueFeel" with their physics engine, which supposedly w...
Codemasters on PS4 photo
Codemasters on PS4

Codemasters dev talks PS4, racing games going social

New hardware leads to innovation
Feb 28
// Jordan Devore
Speaking to Edge, Codemasters senior executive producer Clive Moody has given his two cents regarding the PlayStation 4 and what the future holds for racing games. Despite the obvious improvements to visual fidelity that come...
GRID 2 photo

Here's some shiny gameplay footage of GRID 2

So shiny it hurts
Feb 15
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Not including downloadable content, ports, and offbeat racers like Mario Kart, there's really no major racing games slated for this year from a major publisher or pre-existing brand other than GRID 2 here. That puts Codemast...

Preview: The four major gameplay tweaks in GRID 2

Feb 14 // Casey B
GRID 2 (PC [previewed], PlayStation 3,  Xbox 360)Developer: Codemasters Southam Publisher: CodemastersRelease: August 20, 2013 My hands-on preview involved three separate styles of races. These included an elimination-style street race in Barcelona, a BAC Mono car Red Bull Ring track race in Europe, and a checkpoint street race in Chicago. I spent a good deal of time with each race, as I was determined to come in first each time. It took quite a while to get back into the feel of the GRID series with its realistic physics modelling and aggressive A.I. opponents, but once I got back into the swing of things, I felt right at home. The races felt very familiar to those found in GRID in terms of high-speed tension and careful maneuvering around hairpin turns. In fact, the biggest and most exciting notable difference that I found throughout the races came in the opponents' artificial intelligence. If you thought the other drivers were aggressive in the first game, be ready for some very clever moves by other drivers. In both of the street races, I was knocked out a few times by a well-aimed nudge while taking on a turn. You can bet that I used every hairpin to my advantage for this exact same purpose. Beyond this, much of GRID 2 remains incredibly faithful to its predecessor. However, some important tweaks to the formula have been made, and whether these work for or against the game really may depend on your own preferences. The new Liveroutes system As Clive Moody puts it, "Liveroutes is a mechanism by which we can -- in real time -- dynamically and seamlessly change the route that you're driving. The corners change [so] as you're going around a circuit you come back to what may have been a left turn, now it goes straight on, or now goes right -- so you get a real unpredictability with the racing." The core principle behind Liveroutes is that it keeps the "unpredictability of open-world races" while still focusing on the close and aggressive nature of the GRID series. During my playtime, I didn't notice the Liveroutes system in action though I did notice that there were a lot of points in streetbound races (Chicago and Barcelona) where I could choose between two lanes that broke up the drivers. At the same time, this caused the tension to ramp up even more as the drivers that I faced off against now scraped my bumper into some pretty hairy turns. Sponsorships remain, Teammates are gone The structure of GRID 2 differs greatly from GRID primarily in its focus on a fictional character known as Patrick Callahan who is a self-made multimillionaire looking to kick off an exciting new Motorsports series. With help from the player and sponsorships, the idea is that you're the star being promoted by Callahan as you make your way (thanks in part to broadcasting by ESPN) to becoming world famous. Due to this structure, GRID 2 will not have the same focus on teammates. In fact, teammates have been taken out completely, so gaining money through a teammate's better driving skills is no longer an option. In my discussion with Moody about how sponsorships work, it became increasingly clear that GRID 2's structure seems to be aping the structure found in the DiRT series, most notably in DiRT 2 and 3. Much like in that franchise, as you gain prestige, you also gain access to better sponsors with higher payouts and better liveries to flaunt on your chosen vehicle. Personally, I don't mind this structural change too much. While I did enjoy the process of hiring and firing teammates based on their skills and how much money they made me when I failed to do well in a particular race, I trust in Codemasters to still retain a similar sponsorship model that doesn't focus primarily on winning. As Moody reassured me later, sponsorship challenges focus once again on a variety of goals, from taking no damage to overtaking a specific opponent within the race regardless of final standings. I also asked about whether 24 Hour Le Mans would be making an appearance, and Moody told me that it was something the team was still tossing around, dependent on fan reaction. Personally, I wouldn't miss its absence. As much as endurance races are great for hardcore racing fans, GRID is the most enjoyable when taking on different styles of racing with tough opponents. More Realistic Damage Modeling In a European Red Bull Ring race that featured small, lightweight, and barely street-legal vehicles known as BAC Mono cars (think Formula 1 meets go-kart), I took a few misjudged turns and really smashed up my vehicle. Moody took the opportunity to demonstrate how the damage modelling system in GRID 2 has really advanced since the first game. In the first GRID, a lot of emphasis in damage modeling was focused on body deformation. However, the developers came to the realization that not all vehicles are made of the same material and therefore they won't fall apart in the same way. In the carbon-fiber vehicle I was racing in, I witnessed large chunks and smaller pieces of the vehicle simply break away and fly off. I asked Moody if the damage modeling would be only cosmetic or if it would be internal as well, and he explained that unlike the first game, GRID 2's internal damaging would be entirely optional, though he suggested the best experience involved putting full damage modeling on. No Cockpit View One of the biggest draws of the first GRID that really appealed to hardcore racing fans was the excellent cockpit/driver's seat view that allowed you to see from directly behind the driver's eyes, rather than out on the hood of the car or as some floating viewpoint in front of the car. Though this view had been implemented in racing games before, GRID really brought it home with the way the driver reacted and certain camera tricks to make you really feel the impact of collision or an awkward turn. Sadly, GRID 2 is lacking this feature and it is certainly no accident. As Moody told me, "We knew we'd get fan backlash ...they need to just get their hands on the game and play it...the core principles of GRID 2 are still there, and we're sticking by it." In the preview of the three different race types (road, street, track) I was able to check out, I couldn't argue this fact. The racing is still aggressive with improved A.I. and the game still straddles that perfect line between all-out arcade racer and pinpoint precise simulation. I spent a good 20 minutes just racing before I even realized that I hadn't switched between views to get an idea of what was there. I have to admit that I will miss having that amazing driver's seat view and I find its absence a little curious. I just hope that the developers really have focused great effort into the thrill of the races themselves in lieu of designing a cockpit view for each and every car, and that this isn't just an excuse for focusing efforts on more onerous ideas, such as a future deluge of DLC that would've already been on the disc in GRID. From an overall impression, I'm optimistic about GRID 2 and can't wait to get back into some thrilling races all over the country, including my own favorite place to drive: the California coastline. The first GRID provided a racing dream for me, as I absolutely loved a game where being an aggressive driver is not just encouraged but essential as the A.I. reacts realistically and will take you out on a hairpin turn. From what I previewed in GRID 2, this same core element remains perfectly intact, with even smarter A.I. opponents.
GRID 2 preview photo
If it ain't broke...
Five long years have passed since the original Race Driver: GRID offered racing fans an excellent hybrid racer with edge-of-your seat thrills in a great variety of racing styles. While the DiRT series has branched out a bit i...

GRID 2 photo

GRID 2 gets a new gameplay teaser trailer

Drive cars real fast and stuff
Feb 08
// Chris Carter
Some time ago, we got a nondescript trailer for GRID 2 that showed nothing more than cars doing car-like things. As of today however, a new trailer has surfaced, showing a bit of gameplay. When asked about the drifting aspec...
GRID returns in May photo
GRID returns in May

Decisions: GRID 2 has retailer-exclusive preorder bonuses

Release date set for May
Jan 31
// Jordan Devore
Codemasters has slapped a release date on GRID 2: May 28 in North America, and May 31 in Europe. This will once again be a multiplatform game, hitting up the usual PlayStation 3, PC, and Xbox 360 trio. Maybe we'll see a Wii U...

GRID 2 travels to Chicago and California in latest videos

Sep 27
// Jordan Devore
While this isn't our first glimpse at Codemasters' GRID 2, it is a nice, no-nonsense demonstration of the sim racing title spread across two separate videos. The first centers around a Chicago street race, while the second v...

GRID 2 is headed to Xbox 360, PS3, and PC in 2013

Aug 08
// Jordan Devore
Among the four-letter racing games to come out in the last five years, I never did get around to playing GRID, despite generally liking the work Codemasters does in the genre. We knew a follow-up game was in order, and thank...

Codemasters teases Grid 2

Aug 04
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
The Codemasters Twitter account teased this trailer recently that hints at a new Grid sequel. The Grid 2 teaser simply has a car about the peel out, followed by the Grid logo and the number 2. The trailer ends with the date "8.8.12" and the Twitter hashtag "#TheRaceReturns." Looks like we can expect the full trailer reveal and official announcement on August 8. Neat.

Review: DiRT Showdown

Jul 11 // Ian Bonds
DiRT Showdown (Xbox 360 [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PC)Developer: CodemastersPublisher: CodemastersReleased: May 29, 2012MSRP: $49.99 For fans out there looking for DiRT 4, this simply isn't it. In fact, this title bares absolutely no resemblance to the games in the series' past. Gone is the Rally career mode, dirt tracks, and racing career. Sadly, gone also are the realistic car physics as well. When you're able to do donuts by simply laying on the accelerator -- "Look, mom, no hands on the analog stick!" -- you know you're in for some floaty car behavior. So what is left? Well, from jump, DiRT Showdown is actually more of a destruction derby title, with occasional Gymkhana events thrown in. There are traditional races too, but honestly they're peppered throughout with the focus on wrecking other cars in derby or figure-8 races being the main focus. This is further hampered by not only the car physics being so off kilter, but also by the cars themselves. The majority of the vehicles are all non-licensed generic cars that, for the most part, handle and accelerate the same. There's no real "tuning" involved, but you can upgrade your cars' performance with money earned in events -- though, to be frank, even after doing so, I only noticed a small change in acceleration or handling. At least everything looks nice. The floating sponges you'll be driving all appear sleek and sharp, with excellent particle effects as you hurtle over jumps, boosting with your constantly renewing nitrous meter. Damage effects are especially nice as you lose doors, fenders, and more smashing about each course. The menus are also sleek, but the constant "Look how extreme we are!" feel of every menu option falling from the sky as a giant metal block gets old after three or four screens. The same can be said of the unavoidable announcer, who spouts off such gems as "T-bone-arama!" as cars slam into each other. The Gymkhana events have a separate challenge mode, where players are tasked with increasingly difficult moves, such as drifting under scaffolding, clearing jumps, performing donuts, and the like. However, the word "challenge" is used loosely here, as once again the bizarre physics allow you to unintentionally complete these moves before you've realized what you've done. There is an online mode, which the developers would have you think is the main meat-and-potatoes of the title, but sadly, this seems slightly broken as well. The RaceNet matchmaking servers don't allow for much customization or choice over who you compete against or how you want to race, and the load and wait times are excruciating. Even once you finally get into a match, you can't select what you want to play -- you just keep downvoting what appears until hopefully you land on an event you want to actually play. It's like the developers only made this title to keep the license alive while they worked on the next "real" iteration of the series. DiRT Showdown is not a broken game; it's just very slap-dash, seemingly thrown together from pieces of ideas but never made fully whole. Courses repeat over and over and the difficulty never gets too high where events become a challenge, thus leaving the player almost bored with the task of completing each event. It looks nice, but it's clearly a shell of its former self, with no real connections to the series that everyone knows past the name itself.

The DiRT series is well-known for its Rally-style racing, accurate and realistic physics, and bare-knuckle driving action. Spawned from the Colin McCrae series of Rally games, DiRT took off on next-gen consoles for fans looking for something a little different than the regular slew of gearhead and arcade racing games available on the market. This is not your father's DiRT game.


DiRT Showdown console release pushed back to June 12

May 16
// Conrad Zimmerman
[Update: We transposed a number. DiRT Showdown will arrive on June 12, not June 15 as previously stated in this article. The post has been updated to reflect the changes and we apologize for the error] Codemasters has announc...

DiRT Showdown arriving on May 29th, have a trailer

Apr 20
// Brett Zeidler
It's crazy to think DiRT: Showdown is finally almost here. Wait, didn't DiRT 3 just come out? The "Complete Edition" of it just came out last month as well. Wow, Codemasters are not wasting any time these days. DiRT Showdown...

DiRT Showdown's damage is massive

Mar 15
// Liam Fisher
Oh hey, it's a new trailer for DiRT: Showdown, the next entry to the long running rally series from Codemasters. After DiRT 3 ruffled some feathers with it's diminished focus on pure rally racing, Codemasters decided to...

Review: F1 2011 (Vita)

Mar 12 // Ian Bonds
F1 2011 (PS Vita)Developer: Sumo DigitalPublisher: CodemastersReleased: February 15, 2012MSRP: $39.99 When you first boot up the title, the opening cinematic showcases exciting races, celebratory cut scenes, and bright, vibrant graphics. It's only after starting up a race that you realize that this footage is directly ported from the home console version and does not reflect the product you are now playing. To put it simply, F1 on Vita is not a good showcase for the graphical capabilities of the system. In fact, that opening cinematic is doubly misleading, as the CG racers are nowhere to be seen in the handheld version at all outside that intro movie. For most people -- especially for those playing a portable racing title -- this isn't a big deal, and it wasn't for me either. It was just a bit jarring at first to expect such crispness and detail and then seeing what the game actually offered. When in the game proper, players will experience the best and sharpest-looking menu screens a racing fan could ever ask for ... if a racing fan wanted menu screens, that is. When it comes to the actual game, however, that's something else entirely. The sharpness of the opening cinematic gives way to muddy, pixelated cars with very little detail, even in cockpit mode. The courses are bland, spectator-less ghost villages that somehow have the sounds of screaming fans. It's as if they took the home version and weren't fully convinced they could fit all the content onto the portable version. At least it looks better than the 3DS port. That said, there is a remarkable amount of content here. Single races, tournaments, time trails, challenges, and the three-season, 60-race career mode are all here for Formula 1 fans to enjoy, though again, I use "enjoy" as a loose term. Each vehicle seems to handle the same, and races don't seem to offer the same visual feel as the speed of the cars ought to be expressing. Career mode itself is fairly deep -- players begin as an unknown racer working their way to the championship through trials and race auditions for different teams. Still, there's an awful lot of time spent navigating menus and clicking the "advance time" button to move things along. So, there's a lot to do but not a lot of fun to be had while doing it. F1 2011 seems to have been scaled down in every way except the raw content count, and that may have hurt the game in the long run. Races have no music, each engine sounds the same as the last, and the controls are atrocious (I can't count the number of times I turned the wheel only to see my vehicle continue straight down its original path). One wonders what racing fan would enjoy this at all. Sure, there are plenty of single-player and online modes, but who wants to experience them in such a watered-down format? F1 fans will be drawn in by the licensed racers and circuits from the 2011 Formula 1 season, the idea of using the DRS rear-wing control, and KERS boosting abilities. They may even be entranced by the depth of the career mode or the number of race options both online and off. But when it comes down to the presentation -- endless menus, muted graphics, and the races themselves -- many will lose interest in F1 2011 very quickly.

I love arcade racing games. The sense of speed, the excitement of hairpin turns, and the hum of the engine get my blood pumping in a fast and fun way. Racing sims can offer the same enjoyment yet allow for more customization ...


DiRT 3 Complete Edition announced, adds $30 of content

Feb 09
// Brett Zeidler
I really like these re-release packages that seem to come out these days, especially when I'm not able to get around to picking up every game I want to. When the re-release package comes with a substantial amount of new conte...

Preview: Collisions are a glorious thing in DiRT Showdown

Jan 27 // Casey B
DiRT Showdown (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360) Developer: Codemasters Publisher: Codemasters Release: May 2012 Just to clarify, DiRT Showdown is not a direct sequel to DiRT 3. In fact, as the Codemasters guys were quick to tell me, after getting feedback from their fans on how jarring the differences between the Gymkhana events and the regular rally events in DiRT 3 were, the team decided on offering players two entirely separate games that focused on these different aspects. The next true iteration of DiRT will be focused on the deep rally racing experience while DiRT Showdown should appease the demolition and stunt junkies who appreciated where Gymkhana took the series. DiRT Showdown isn't just some expansion, nor should it be considered DiRT 3.5. The game is a fully fledged beast with around 52 events spanning 19 locations and three different play styles -- Speed, Style, and Destruction. Many will be happy to know that pretty much every event can either be played via two-player split screen or online with up to eight players. Speed encompasses DiRT Showdown's racing modes, which include Race-offs, Lap Attacks, and Eliminator and Dominator. I was able to get some hands-on time with a Nevada track in Race-off mode called "8 Ball" due to the figure eight shape of the track. Immediately after getting my hands on the controller, I noticed how much faster the game generally felt than previous entries, with boosting being an important part of getting ahead amidst aggressive drivers. The handling veers more towards arcade than simulation, so much so that I at first found myself swerving around the gravel track, kicking up dust, because I've been so accustomed to the weightier feeling of previous DiRT cars. The race itself was both fast-paced and thrilling, and at one point I got into a collision with several cars, causing my own vehicle to do several barrel rolls before somehow making it back onto the track to still come out in the lead. Style introduces the new Ken Block-branded Hoonigan events that take place in large stadiums and allow a lot of exploration. Hoonigan events include Smash Hunter, Trick Rush, and Head 2 Head mode, and all generally focus on allowing a player to wander around a stadium pulling off awesome stunts or smashing a number of blocks with finesse. I didn't get a chance to check out any Hoonigan events, though from what I'm told, they're a much more varied version of the free-roam stadiums one could unlock in DiRT 3, each with their own specific goals and career progression. Finally, Destruction is heavily influenced by the Demolition Derby events found in GRID. The modes include Rampage, Hard Target, and Knockout. I had a chance to check out a Rampage event on the San Francisco track "Golden Gate." Rampage is a pure Demolition Derby mode with a variety of interestingly designed vehicles (including a hearse) where garnering the most points involves smashing into cars with as much force and strategy as possible, then making use of the last 30 seconds of the match to garner even more points. While T-boning and colliding hard with other vehicles and causing massive damage to pretty much everything in my path, I could quickly see how this may be the favorite party mode for gamers, both online and off. While the difficulty settings in DiRT Showdown can be adjusted to ramp up A.I. intelligence (i.e. cruelty towards you and others on the track), the real focus through the career mode will be on upgrading your vehicle so that it fits your play style. If you go with a heavier vehicle, you'll probably be focusing on speed and damage upgrades, but if you go with a lighter vehicle, you may find yourself along an upgrade path towards acceleration and agility. Succeeding in events earns you the cash to access these upgrades, so Codemasters wants to make sure the game is challenging and engaging enough for anyone on any difficulty level. DiRT Showdown won't be the game to appease fans of pure rally racing, but it's gearing up to be an exciting spin-off for the stunt junkie who wants demolition, pyrotechnics, and awesome stunt-filled races to the tune of cheering crowds.

Codemaster's DiRT series has always been known for offering gamers a rally racing series with a great physics engine and smart A.I. opponents that push back as aggressively as the player pushes them. Perhaps the greatest si...


Dizzy: Prince of the Yolk Folk trailer is egg egg egg egg

Dec 02
// Jim Sterling
Egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg egg e...

Sigh: 'New' Dizzy game is an iOS/Android remake

Nov 23
// Jim Sterling
Seems the "eggciting" Dizzy adventure promised yesterday isn't very eggciting at all, with Codemasters revealing that the egg's grand return will actually be a remake of Dizzy: Prince of the Yolkfolk on iOS devices and Androi...


Nov 22
// Jim Sterling
Now, I don't expect too many of you to be excited, especially if you're not British, but DIZZY THE EGG IS COMING BACK! The ancient mascot of Codemasters (before the studio went a bit rubbish), Dizzy starred in a series of tax...

Bodycount developer closing down

Sep 14
// Fraser Brown
In a move that's unlikely to surprise anyone, Codemasters have started the process of closing its Guildford Studio, creator of Bodycount. The UK developer wants to focus on its racing properties and is encouraging the 66 empl...

Review: Bodycount

Sep 06 // Jim Sterling
Bodycount (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Guildford StudioPublisher: CodemastersReleased: August 30, 2011MSRP: $59.99 (PS3, 360) / $49.99 (PC) Bodycount places you in the shoes of a member of The Network, which bills itself as a "modern solution" to "modern problems." Apparently, the "problem" in this game is an African civil war, and the "solution" is to encourage peace by decimating both sides with big guns. Eventually, some group called The Target shows up and you have to destroy it for no good reason by shooting more people with more guns.  That, in a nutshell is the plot of Bodycount. There's almost literally nothing else to it. Africa has a war, and then some bad people are bad for reasons that are never explained. I hope you like your violence unjustified! Like its spiritual predecessor, Bodycount is a game that puts the focus squarely on gun porn and endless amounts of action. However, like Black, the action in question feels rather lackluster, as if the developers were painting by numbers rather than striving to stand out. There's a rudimentary cover system, where aiming with the gun forces the player to stand still and manually control his peeking/crouching with the left stick, and combat is broken up only briefly by backtracking tasks such as "Run to door, find it's locked, run to computer, unlock door." The one way in which Bodycount tries to appear unique is, itself, something we've already seen before. Players are graded and rewarded for performing "Skill Shots" during combat. Chaining together particularly impressive or accurate kills rack up a combo meter -- the higher the combo, the better the score. It would be a very cool idea ... if Bulletstorm hadn't launched first, with a much better game.  Whereas Bulletstorm constantly rewarded players with all manner of exotic kills, ranging from groin shots to electrocutions and more, Bodycount's kills are so vanilla that it doesn't even begin to compare. In Bulletstorm, you can lasso an enemy, kick him in the air, and shoot the poor victim in his throat. In Bodycount, you can ... score headshots and shoot explosive barrels. The "Skill" shots in question are nothing we haven't seen in every first-person-shooter over the past ten years, and to release in the same year as Bulletstorm only drives home how uninventive the developers were. Enemies drop "Intel" upon defeat, which is used to initiate special abilities. The four abilities include temporary invulnerability, explosive bullets, the power to highlight enemies for better targeting, and a devastating airstrike. While useful in the game, it's yet another case where Bodycount is doing things we've all seen before. Outside of the Skill Shot system, we're left with a mediocre first-person-shooter that doesn't do anything to earn a player's attention. Levels are little more than big arenas full of enemies that feature only the most rudimentary of A.I, guns consist only of shotgun, assault rifile and SMG variants, and even the destructible environments fail to stand out as particularly impressive in a generation that gave us Red Faction: Guerrilla. Every mission is the same, and even when you're given the interesting objective of negotiating or apprehending a target, that goal invariably changes halfway through, turning into the same old assassination mission. Don't believe the game when it tells you to keep an enemy alive or simply talk to someone, because it never happens. Such objectives only exist to drive home how repetitive and monotonous the game actually is. I'm all for games where you just need to kill things, but if the killing in question is this flavorless, some mission variety is essential.  It's not like the game's four-hour campaign is crushingly unpleasant to play. It's just so mundane that to play it feels like a chore. Repeating levels full of repeating missions, churning down clone armies of repeating enemies with a range of repeating firearms. Bodycount typifies the phrase "One trick pony," with the added insult that the trick in question isn't even a good one.  As if to truly emphasize how uncreative the game is, it features the kind of typical, cynical, shoehorned multiplayer that manages to be exceptional only due to my wondering why anybody would bother developing it. Multiplayer consists of Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch across a small range of maps, and about five people are playing it. Slightly more interesting is the game's co-op feature, a fairly standard wave-based survival mode. Once again, however, it does only the bare minimum and there are simply better survival modes out there.  The game's not ugly, but it's definitely no stunner. If Bodycount does one commendable thing, it's the presentation of a rather colorful visual style in an industry full of brown shooters. Environments are brightly lit, or at least feature strong color contrast, and there's even some nice music to accompany them. Character design is from the science fiction bargain basement, however, and each level is rather flat and lifeless in spite of the color. Like so much about this game, it feels as if the developers only went far enough to make the graphics bearable, and went no further.   Bodycount might have gotten more attention five years ago, but even compared to Black, it's unexceptional. The word "generic" has become quite overused in recent years, but if ever a game truly deserved it, Bodycount would definitely be a top contender. It's about the only thing it could hope to contend in, because compared to the dozens of other, superior FPS titles on the market, Bodycount is just another shooter in a market that already has far too many of them. 

When Black was released in 2006, I found it a most frustrating experience. It was incredibly stylish and looked gorgeous for its time, featuring some amazing environmental destruction and a bold artistic approach. However, so...


Bodycount gets its final developer diary: The Demo

Aug 24
// Liam Fisher
The fourth and final entry in Codemasters' super serious look at its not-so-serious shooter Bodycount has made its way to the public. I don't know what other incentive you need though; they've already used the phrase "kick t...

Codemasters' new F1 online game is free to play

Aug 23
// Dale North
Codemasters announces that F1 Online: The Game is a thing. It's coming to a browser near you, and it's a free-to-play affair, set to launch in the first quarter of 2012. This game will let you be both the driver and the race ...

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