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racing

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...

Ubisoft photo
Ubisoft

Ubisoft announces The Crew: Wild Run, coming Nov. 17


Start your engines
Jun 15
// Kyle MacGregor
  The Crew is getting its first expansion come November 17 with Wild Run, Ubisoft just announced. The new content revolves around an event called "The Summit," a gathering where thousands of mechanics and drivers come to...
Need for Speed photo
Need for Speed

EA's Need for Speed reboot coming November 3


Hot racing action
Jun 15
// Kyle MacGregor
The new Need for Speed, which is apparently twice the size of Need for Speed: Rivals, is coming November 3 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC, EA announced today as part of its E3 media showcase. Need for Speed executive producer and...

BIOS photo
BIOS

Who put racing in my FPS?


These guys did!
Jun 05
// Vikki Blake
Former Far Cry 2 developers Julien Cuny & Louis-Pierre Pharand have formed a new studio to release their new take on first-person shooters... by adding racing into the mix. The Montreal-based developers describe the...
Project CARS photo
Project CARS

Here is your Project CARS full car listing


Jay Leno says hi
Apr 30
// Robert Summa
The upcoming racing sim Project CARS has been on the radar for many of those who live and breathe the genre. Slated for release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on May 8, here is the full car list that we know about so far (65 of which will come with the standard edition).
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Rocket League

Rocket League on PS4: You should be playing this


Closed beta extended through weekend, ends May 3
Apr 30
// Robert Summa
If you haven't heard about Rocket League yet for the PlayStation 4, then let me sum it up for you in just three words: soccer with cars. The game is the sequel to the PlayStation 3's Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle...
Driveclub photo
Driveclub

You'd think Driveclub would want to stay away from the word 'buggy'


It's more tolerable in this context, though
Apr 01
// Brett Makedonski
Driveclub will most likely be remembered for its promised, yet non-existent free PlayStation Plus version. The primary reason this never came to fruition is because Evolution Studios had to spend a significant amount of...
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NBA

Minnesota Timberwolves go old school with Rubio Kart 64


Nobody tell Nintendo
Mar 31
// Robert Summa
Since Nintendo loves content creators so much, let's keep this Mario Kart 64-inspired video by the Minnesota Timberwolves on the down low. Ricky Rubio must love it, though, because it's going to be the only chance he has to actually win something meaningful. [Via Facebook]
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F1

F1 2015 coming this June, but only on current gen


Yes, this is a good thing
Mar 26
// Robert Summa
Fans of F1 and actual racing can breathe a sigh of relief regarding two facts about the upcoming F1 2015. One, it will be out this June. And two, it's only going to be on current gen consoles and PC -- that's right, no dumbin...
Driver Speedboat Paradise photo
Driver Speedboat Paradise

Ubisoft brings Driver back as a speedboat racer


Mobile speedboat racing
Mar 20
// Jed Whitaker
  Ubisoft is bringing back the classic series Driver as a speedboat racing game for mobile devices in April. I'm not quite sure how the series developed from a game about a getaway driver to racing speedboats, but they can't just let an IP die a peaceful death -- it has to buried alive.

Review: Harold

Feb 20 // Conrad Zimmerman
Harold (PC)Developer: Moon Spider StudioPublisher: Moon Spider StudioReleased: February 12, 2015MSRP: $19.99 The premise of Harold is centered in a school where angels are trained to become guardians of humanity. For their final exam, students are tasked with safely guiding a human as they race through deadly obstacle courses, working to ensure their human not only survives but is at the head of the pack. Players assume the role of Gabe, a top student who has coasted by on natural talent and needs only to place third in the final exam races to earn a coveted scholarship to Archangel Academy. In a cruel twist, Gabe has been matched up with Harold, a determined but physically inept racer. Where other angels are paired with athletes able to nimbly hop around obstacles, Harold will run straight into them and die without intervention, taking Gabe's hopes of higher education with him. Harold himself isn't so much controlled as he is prompted to act. In the vein of an auto-running platformer, he trundles straight along the path until he's compelled to jump by a button press or sent into a brief sprint with the expenditure of the "Puff Power" collected during the race (also used as extra lives for Harold). A sprint extends the length of a jump, but that's the extent of Harold's physical prowess, far from enough to safely navigate a course alone. To succeed, the player must manage Harold and his environment simultaneously to finish each of the game's twelve races. [embed]287901:57417:0[/embed] Each race is presented as a series of screens which Harold crosses from left to right, typically containing one or more objects that can be moved or manipulated for his benefit. There is considerable variety in environmental objects and how they're interacted with, using different applications of the left analog stick. Platforms can be pushed and pulled, quick flicks bash barriers with a wispy battering ram, and gears turn with rotations. Some objects, like wooden bridges and snare traps, won't stop Harold but offer opportunities to propel him forward more quickly. When multiple objects exist, pulling the triggers allows the player to switch between interactive elements. These objects are not only helpful to Harold, they can be a hindrance to the other racers. Every manipulable object has the potential to disrupt other racers and slow them down while additionally rewarding the player with more Puff Power for sprinting and mishaps of their own.  It's an exercise similar to plate spinning. Under the constant pressure of advancement through the course, the player has to remain mindful of Harold's position to time sprints and jumps, while ensuring that the coming challenges are prepared for his arrival. There is barely enough time to recognize what actions need to be taken before those actions must be performed, which makes it exhilarating to play when some confidence has been gained. As the courses become more difficult and introduce more complex configuration of objects, the game even grants the ability to pan ahead one race segment and get greater lead time on establishing the course. This is yet another plate. Moving ahead means leaving Harold to his own devices until the player returns to the prior screen or Harold catches up, further dividing focus. It also means additional opportunities to create interference for opponents ahead of Harold, which quickly becomes as important as keeping him alive if he's going to finish third or better. It would be horrible to leap into one of these races cold. Certainly, learning the intricacies of a course is one of the great pleasures of a racing game, but Harold is so demanding of the player's focus that running a stage without some knowledge of its contents would probably frustrate most players into quickly quitting. Moon Spider has wisely implemented a progression system which prevents this by putting the player through a practice mode on new stages before the race can be attempted. The practice mode presents the segments of the course individually as exercises, making sure the player can get Harold through each segment while also providing indications of optimal paths achievable by collecting the three stars on each screen. After completing a race, an even more difficult "challenge" mode becomes available for the stage in which Harold must navigate the course and collect stars while running at top speed. If Harold dies in this mode, that's the end of the attempt, making the stages extremely hard. Mastering a stage's challenge mode all but guarantees one has the skill to take first place in a replay of the main race, if desired. Harold is a satisfying challenge, but it may be a little too demanding of accuracy at times. I found rotating actions to be particularly difficult to perform evenly and had frequent issues getting back and forth flicks to register correctly. While I, as the player, am perfectly willing to accept the most responsibility for this, it's worth keeping in mind for the easily frustrated, especially as the game offers no means of reassigning controls nor allows for any input method other than a controller. Harold is also a looker of a game. Employing a hand-drawn animation style, it's bright and colorful, with exquisite detail. The visuals are almost wasted on a game where the player barely has a chance to observe their surroundings. Cutscenes before stages are not nearly as impressive from an animation standpoint, but do enjoy well performed narration and Harold's escalating pre-race mishaps are generally funny. Between its charming premise, beautiful graphics, and demanding gameplay, Harold is a winner in the end. Players who appreciate auto-running platform games should find it to be a fresh approach to the concepts found in such titles and a worthy challenge. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Harold review photo
Divine interference
Moon Spider Studio has released its debut title, Harold, an endearing and challenging race game about the most incompetent runner ever to need protection from a guardian angel. With some quick thinking, quicker thumbs, and an opportunistic eye, players guide the titular Harold to victory against all odds. Who doesn't love an underdog?

Driveclub photo
Driveclub

Upcoming Driveclub car will peel your face off


Not quite ludicrous speed though
Feb 12
// Robert Summa
To tease one of the upcoming cars arriving for Driveclub this month, the developers decided to give us a sneak peak via a video showing off the terrifying speed the unnamed four-wheeled machine can do -- at least 242 mph. You got what it takes to hit that kind of speed and not end up a stain on the road? We'll have to see in the coming weeks.  
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Forza Horizon 2

Time to get your Stig on


Forza gets Top Gear love
Feb 03
// Robert Summa
If you're a car junkie, then you should be very familiar with Top Gear. Microsoft is hoping that familiarity will lead to DLC sales as the Forza Horizon 2 Top Gear Car Pack has just been made available to Xbox One racers for $5. Have a look at the list of cars available (including a freebie):
RIDE photo
RIDE

Take a ride with RIDE


Or just ride it out
Jan 27
// Robert Summa
As a daily rider, when I first heard a game like RIDE was announced, I got a little excited. Not too excited, but just a little. Sometimes I need a virtual motorcycle fix and that's just not easy to get in a car-dominated ra...

Review: The Crew

Dec 22 // Brittany Vincent
The Crew (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, PlayStation 4 [reviewed])Developer: Ivory Tower, Ubisoft ReflectionsPublisher: UbisoftReleased: December 2, 2014MSRP: $59.99 The Crew was arresting ever since I became entangled within its narrative, which is surprisingly gripping for the genre. Its deliciously cheesy and lightweight criminal protagonist’s plight gave me something to shoot for: revenge. Kyuss’ “Demon Cleaner” blared from my television as I burned rubber to tail the dirty FBI agent who murdered Alex Taylor’s brother, years after his being framed. With the law on my side, I was absolutely ready to exact my sweet, sweet revenge by working my way to the top of the gangs who put me away and took my brother from me. Sure, it’s cliched. You’ve heard this story before, namely within the realm of Need for Speed and its ilk, but I didn’t care. I related to it. I probably would have done much of the same given the situation. So I couldn’t have cared less who I was playing as after The Crew motivated me to drive cross-country in-game, winning races, delivering cars, and taking out leaders in the name of justice along the way. [embed]285043:56708:0[/embed] That’s why with all of its shortcomings I was able to genuinely sit back, relax, and enjoy The Crew. Most importantly, I did it without the influence or necessity of other people. And looking back on my time with the game now, like in real life, other people would only have tainted what I was able to accomplish. Let’s get down to brass tacks, though. The bread and butter of any racer is of course car mechanics, and there’s a comfortable mix of arcade-style handling with simulation-styled controls. You can alter the controls to your liking so it feels more familiar and workable, but for the most part the game is quite forgiving, even if you tend to bump into that car in front of you or the signpost on the side of the road. This actually tends to work in your favor, especially during timed events where clipping a guard rail and spinning out in another game could mean the difference between starting the race over entirely and losing a couple of seconds. All of the cars have a very basic “stock” feel to them in the beginning, which you can liken to the very same feeling arcade racers pack. You’ll need to tune them accordingly before they begin to feel more like wieldy vehicles, and this is done by purchasing additional upgrades with points earned throughout the game as you progress. There’s a robust if uninspired system in place to ensure your earnings are tracked in every way they can be, so there are plenty of opportunities for you to earn additional points here and there to make your muscle car or humble sedan roadworthy. But without somewhere to drive, where would we be in a racer? The vast open world of The Crew is its biggest asset, and despite the dozens of missions and races you can drive to from the start of the game, you’ll undoubtedly spend most of your time checking out the U.S. countryside, just like a virtual road trip. You can hit up Manhattan and check out the Rocky Mountains with no loading times between, spending hours upon hours exploring every little nook and cranny the game has to offer. Sprinkled throughout the countryside are a smattering of missions you can complete, ranging from a couple of minutes long to a few hours. You might spend some time speeding through gates for experience. In another area you might be charged with delivering a car as a gift for one of the gang members’ contacts. There’s always something to do, even if a good part of it consists of single-player missions that are best enjoyed alone. That’s where things get a little confusing. Unfortunately, Ubisoft opted for the boneheaded decision to force The Crew players to remain online at all times to play this game. Effectively, that makes it a racing MMORPG, given the fact that experience is earned through said missions and whatnot. That also means other players are sharing the map with you at any given time. Luckily, you aren’t forced to get buddy buddy with others in order to complete missions and progress, though if you want to reach out, you can form your own crews to conquer instances you just can’t best. You can even reach out at any time to complete a mission with a second player, which can get you through some pretty tight spots. If either player wins, both participants receive experience, which makes playing with others a lucrative offer. But what really happens is a flood of notifications declaring that RiffRaff420blAzEiT wants to race against you, or YesImAGirlPlayingAVideoGame wants to complete a mission together. In more congested areas you’ll find that everyone just wants in on the multiplayer experience, which only got worse as the days piled up after release date. Some might find this an alright problem to have, given the fact that online-only games need their players to participate. But as someone who prefers to play solo, period, it was tiring and jarring, especially since I wished only to spin the narrative of my choosing, and that was being a lone wolf on a cross-country journey to avenge my brother. I didn’t want anyone getting in the way. Of course, for the review’s sake, I had to participate in multiplayer events, which worked quite smoothly. It can still be difficult at times to find players for races or assistance (if that’s your kind of thing) but I didn’t have any issues establishing or maintaining a connection once I made the decision to. It’s a helpful addition when and if you choose to take advantage of it, but if all you’re concerned with is a solo career as a driver, you’ll want to turn notifications off and speed through the desert on your lonesome. Unfortunately, sometimes the solo grind can be difficult. Unless you challenge nearly every mission you come across and rack up the experience points, you won’t have reached the best level at which you can best your competition. This will call for an abundance of experience farming, which does tend to give a “homework” sort of feel to the game at some points, but with so many places to explore, you can take it one play session at a time. No need for rushing — you’ve got the whole of the the States to explore. With an insanely large world it had to be assumed there would be at least some sort of hit in visual fidelity as well, and while the game looks competent at least in the current-gen department, it’s not as great-looking as it could have been. The trade-off for minimal load times and such an expansive world more than makes up for it, however, and visually impressive cut scenes prove time was spent on making characters and cars impressive where the effort could be more concentrated. The Crew offers you the entire countryside to explore solo or with friends (or strangers), plenty of cars, customization options, and a narrative that extends a purpose beyond “being the best” to get your motor running. Ubisoft’s familiar structural pitfalls like microtransactions, online-only play, and other trappings hinder rather than enhance, but those things have become par for the course by now. Thankfully, they don’t mar the overall experience, and that was an overtly positive one for me. I don’t need a crew to cruise downtown Chicago or the west coast. I was just fine going it alone. And if you settle in for a few hours and let the game take you, I surmise you will be, too. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
The Crew review photo
Me and my crew, we swaggin' in the room
A great racer to me doesn’t focus on an abundance of customization options or entire garages of cars. It doesn’t even serve up solid multiplayer modes or an interesting soundtrack. It keeps me playing. And let me ...

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Project Cars delayed to March 2015


Traffic delays
Oct 17
// Dale North
Bandai Namco sends word that Slightly Mad Studios' upcoming racer, Project Cars, has been pushed back to March 20, 2015. This goes for all versions: PS4, Xbox One, and PC.  They say the move helps them break away from th...

Review: Driveclub

Oct 07 // Dale North
Driveclub (PS4)Developer: Evolution StudiosPublisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentReleased: October 7, 2014MSRP: $59.99 Evolution Studios, the folks behind the MotorStorm games, wanted to create a racer where everyone would play together in one big racing hangout. Driveclub is that. Its strongest point is that it is smartly networked so that even single-player events' scores and times are automatically compared to your friends' results, making for instant competition fuel. Leaderboards exist for nearly every trackable aspect of Driveclub, and the game's Social Hub keeps you up to date on yours and others' stats. Being online also adds pop-up challenges to just about every race. The connective-ness of it all really does have it feeling like a big, digital hangout.  And then there's the actual club aspect of the game, which lets you team up with five friends to work through the game as a group. Your successes benefit the rest of the team along the way, with points going to each member for taking on challenges. When you earn new rides or access, your club members do, too.  Driveclub has a single-player mode that branches into single races and a full career mode, and a multiplayer mode that relies heavily on the social system. All of these modes will eventually put you into about four dozen of the hottest cars and just as many tracks, based on locations around the world. With its challenges and face-offs, slick environmental system, strong course visuals, and constant online connectivity, it always feels like there's something to do or see. But when you boil it down, you're only really taking on three race types in Driveclub: time trials, standard races, and drifting challenges -- a pretty short list. There's nothing like rally or snow racing to mix things up. That all said, even after a couple of weeks of play, I have yet to grow bored of the racing. I suppose this is a testament to the strength of Driveclub's connectivity and social features. For as big as it is, there's a refreshing core that makes Driveclub incredibly accessible. You simply get in the car and drive; there's nothing in the way of tuning or customization, save for a few color/coat options. In fact, outside of Auto/Manual transmission selection, there isn't anything you can change. Everyone is on the same page. Those that like the tinker under the hood may be disappointed at how locked down Driveclub is, but I'd bet that the majority of those that will play the game wouldn't bother if the option did exist. That's not to say that you can't change any options.  Driveclub has six camera views to choose from, all of which have their uses. There are two third-person views, a clean first-person view, a hood view, and two interior views. The two in-car views (cockpit and hood/partial dashboard) are among the best I've ever seen in a racing game. Both sport slick reflective modeling on the windshield, making the view impressively realistic. Under bright light the reflection is sometimes a bit too strong, though. And I wish the height of the behind-glass hood view was a tad bit higher.  The single-player tour has you on the path Evolution has picked, in the cars they've chosen, racing on the the track they've set up. In other words, this is a pretty straightforward career mode. While it branches out a bit with more event types after a few events have been completed, you're still basically on the course they've set. Each of the events has its own requirements, which, when completed successfully, earns you a star. Subsequent event groups are unlocked at set star levels.  Aside from stars, every event and challenge earns you Fame points. These points are at the heart of the game's leveling system, allowing you to unlock more of the game as you play. The better you play, the more points you earn. In classic form, you'll race, eventually place, and then earn new cars and tracks with these points. Club activities also earn you points. Multiplayer has a few different faces in Driveclub. Asynchronous functionality lets you send your just-completed races as challenges, essentially copying your exact race for others to go up against when they're ready to. They've made it really easy to issue a challenge, making for nearly endless competitive play. Conversely, the social system lets you browse others' accomplishments and tackle them as you please. It's kind of like picking a fight. Of course, there's also live multiplayer races to take part in. Driveclub digs through your friends list and tells you who is playing, making matches very easy to put together. The game does a nice job of keeping what's going on in your face at all times, again, making you feel like you're hanging out in a big racing event with everyone else.  The panel-based menu system that lets you do all of this is sufficient, but I wouldn't call it elegant. Sometimes you'll find yourself in a menu loop when trying to find how to accomplish a task, especially on the social side. To be fair, there's a lot of information to be presented. But it would be nice to, say, be able to sort through the list of friends' results by race type. The system could use a bit more polish. There are some bugs, too. I ran into plenty of errors and stalls while trying to join or create multiplayer sessions. Hopefully these will be ironed out in patch releases. The driving feel of Driveclub rides a pretty confident line between simulation and arcade racing, which is impressive to this fan of both sides of racing games. I immediately grinned at the super-assisted cornering and braking as I barreled into my first corner at too-fast speeds without consequence. This means that those just looking for some casual fun will have no problems here. But, unlike some of the more casual arcade racers, Driveclub is respectably responsive and seems to have some solid physics foundations under the hood. This all means that you can approach things like drafting and cornering by the book, or you can just go nuts with the drifting and sliding. You can't please everyone, but this racing fan was mostly satisfied. I found myself completely in the zone when it came to time attacks and other driving challenges, as Driveclub's feel is very easy to get into. But I was literally knocked out of the zone by the constant AI car bashing. This is my biggest problem with Driveclub -- the constant crashing from the single-player AI cars.  Yes, avoiding collisions is a part of racing, but there were too many instances during my time with Driveclub where they felt unavoidable. Pretty much every single race I took part in had me playing what felt like bumper cars with AI cars in some way. At best, I'd get an unfair bump off the road by a passing car during the last stretch of the last lap of a race, knocking me off the road, taking my chances of a podium finish off the table. At worst, AI cars would ram me from behind, smashing me into a wall, making the time spent racing up until that point fully wasted. There have been several instances of an unexpected, unwarranted AI car crash resulting in me earning a collision or cornering penalty. Imagine having your car temporarily throttled for something you didn't do. That's not fun at all. Constant, senseless crashing made Driveclub's single-player tour mode feel like being stuck in the worst version of online racing at times. Crashing is a part of racing -- sure. But the frequency in this case is highly frustrating, so much so that having to take on any challenge against other cars really started to feel like a chore. Thankfully, after unlocking cars and courses, you can play Driveclub against real people and not have to worry about the crashy AI. If you're not fully leveled up, the game will loan you cars until you are. Even with as much as I dislike the constant crashing in the tour mode, Driveclub still has legs with the wealth of multiplayer and challenge options.  It helps that Driveclub is very nice to look at. The cars models are highly detailed and very easy on the eyes. But the courses take the cake here. The beauty of the sun beams flooding the spaces between the trees in the surrounding forests are almost distracting in one course. Snowy mountain passes, dirty back roads, lakeside drives -- all of it lovely, and all serve to show what the next generation of racers should look like.  It's too bad about the infrequent weird visual bugs, especially in the in-car views. Floating gauges and highlights from the environment looked to be pasted on the windshield at times, like weird decorative stickers. Other times I saw floating semi-transparent boxes obscuring the race view in first-person modes, sometimes way in the distance, and others just at the corner of my view. When glitches distract from or obscure the player's view like this, it's hard to overlook them. But it always sounds good. The sound coming from some of the cars in Driveclub is so good that gear heads might fight themselves salivating. Engines roar convincingly, always making beautiful noise as you race. Equally impressive is the treatment of car sounds to fit the visuals. The in-car views in particular have it sounding like the car's machinery is just beyond the monitor.  For racing wheel fans, Driveclub only supports PS4-compatible wheels.  Driveclub is fast and easy to get into, nice to look at, and it has a lot going on in the background to keep you connected and competitive with your club members and other individuals. But that doesn't change the issues in the foreground. Its approachable and enjoyable racing is marred by AI cars that love to unfairly bash and crash on the single-player side. And bugs with the interface and the networking kept me from fully enjoying the multiplayer side. Beyond all of this, it feels like Driveclub needs more race and event types. What it offers has kept me going for a couple of weeks, but how much longer will it continue to do so? It's then fitting that Driveclub will be offered in a free form for PlayStation Plus users. The offering gives players about a fifth of the full game's total cars and tracks, but is otherwise unlocked for exploration both offline and on. Players can see for themselves if Driveclub has enough to offer over other new and upcoming racing alternatives out there.
Driveclub review photo
In the Club
Driveclub was supposed to be a launch day title for the PS4, but it was delayed for a while, pushing back until now. We got our hands on it at the E3 following the PS4 announcement last year and thought it needed more time in the oven, so a delay was actually welcome. But that was a long delay. So, how much of a difference has a year made? 

If I made my own racing game...

Oct 02 // Dale North
Sim or arcade? Uhh... Both? No, I don't want that and you wouldn't either. But I believe there's a middle ground between simulation racer and arcade that would make fans of both sides happy as well as serve new players with accessibility.  Cornering and braking would be realistic -- sim-ish -- but would be somewhat assisted so that, say, hitting corners at too high a speed wouldn't be as ridiculous of a situation as it is for new players of fully unassisted sim play. I'd want it to be comfortable for everyone to get in and zip around, though also accurate enough that highly skilled racing game players would still have a good time. It's possible. Physics are weird in racing games. You have some of the most accurate simulations ever for things like traction, turning, and braking in some games, but the same title will have you bouncing like a rubber ball against a guard rail. It makes no sense. I'd rather have the whole experience approachable and acceptable than have the uneven response we've seen lately. I'd lean more toward fun than realism, but I'd want it all to be at least somewhat anchored in reality. Crash damage? You can take it or leave it, I say. While I don't mind either way about my car showing dents and scrapes, I think too much time is spent building this part of racing games. And for what? At 150MPH you're looking at the road, not your car. When there's modeling for how damage affects performance, I look at that as an open invitation for your opponents to crash into you. And that makes a bumper cars game, which no one wants. More on that later. Keep it simple. No turbo/nitro, no boosts, no launch pads, no stunts bonuses, no upgrades -- nothing like that. Just a bunch of great cars that can go fast and look cool doing it. Gas, brake, e-brake, steering wheel, speed. That's all you need. But none of those on-the-ground racing guide lines.  One size fits all I like to compete on a level playing field, so for my racing game I'd have nothing in the way of drive tuning or parts customization. An eight-player match with all racers using Dodge Neons should have them all on the same level, right? How is it fair if one of them gets to change out exhausts to gain 25 horsepower?  There might be a better way to work up to being able to buy new parts now, but everything up to this point has seemed like a bit of a grind. Wouldn't you rather just get/earn another car? Acquiring a new car is more fun than clicking through arbitrary parts packs that add minimal improvements to the vehicles. No 'buying' vehicles I understand the need for a progression -- it keeps you playing. Most racing games have you jumping into a starter car or two, with more being unlocked as you progress through increasingly more challenging races. I suppose that's fine, though I'd rather you have access to every car, straight away (see Forza Motorsport 5).  But having to work up to unlocking cars, and then working up the virtual cash to buy them? And then, having to buy parts for upgrades? Stepping back, it seems so unnecessary. I think this all gets in the way of the whole point: racing.  I'd have a system that recommends cars for races, and I'd definitely unlock special cars at points, but for the most part I'd have them all available at game's start, for free. And while I'm thinking about it, let's calm down on the car counts. Why do we need 8 versions of the same car? Lots of tracks That should go without saying, right? Lately, some games have launched with what gamers might consider not enough tracks for the cost of entry. There's only so much you can do with race types and track reversal. And saving some tracks for DLC later? Gross. Go with lots of tracks. Go nuts. We're talking Mario Kart numbers here. Who says you can't do that in a real-world racer. Variety is the spice of life. There's no need for every track to be based on a real-world locale, or for them to be painstakingly laser scanned, either. Just make some good tracks with some fun S-curves and plenty of straightaways. Put a cornering nightmare in there. License Laguna Seca. Do that one track with the tree canopy that has the sunlight rays peeking through. I love that.  No fucking bumpercars Nothing ruins a racing game faster than poor AI. No one liked the brainless, pre-scripted choo-choo train of cars in older racers, and having an opponent magically teleport next to you as you near the finish line (read: rubber banding) is just as bad.  Thankfully, those problems are fading. There's only one really large problem left to deal with: bumper cars. This refers to how AI cars will bash and crash against you in single-player challenges. Some of the Gran Turismo games were horrible about this, to the point where your skill played only a small part in winning a race. You had to pray that you wouldn't get rammed off the course. Restarting after a senseless bashing is the norm in these games. Having cars that bash into you for no good reason (read: as part of the simulation) in your game doesn't get you there. It's miserable. Turn 10 has made progress on this issue with their latest titles with the introduction of their Drivatar system. It's not perfect yet, but at least you're more apt to blame your friends than the AI when you get slammed into. Forza Motorsport 5 was the first time that racing against a computer felt real to me. So I'd want something like Drivatar in my racing game. Right stick gas/brake, full controller/wheel support A few years back, I tested my lap times in Gran Turismo to compare the traditional right and left trigger gas/brake control scheme to their optional right analog stick scheme. Though it's far from proper testing, I can say that I always fared better using the analog stick. My reaction time improves greatly, my cornering looks nicer, and I'm less distracted by having my fingers constantly gripping down. This leaves the fingers open for bumpers to serve as paddle shifters, which just feels cool.  As for controller and wheel support, I know that's easier said than done. But if we're talking dream game here, I'd want all the wheels to work. Remember the Namco NeGcon twistable controller? Yes, support that. Put the Jogcon in there, too. Hell, get that Sega Saturn Nights analog controller in there. Customizations of the right type I get that customizability is a big deal in racing games. It's one of the key marketing bullet points, sure. You want a pink car with a pixelated ninja turtle on it? Fine. I'll be out on the track while you do that.  I'm fine with leaving in customization options for car decorations, but I'd rather racing game makers spend more time on the customizations that I can really use. How about a variable height setting for the in-car views? I can't be the first person that has dreamed of this. I'd love to be able to change the size of the rearview mirror, or have variable reflectivity settings for the car glass. Now about some kind of option for visual alerts for oncoming cars with in-car views selected? My racing game would let you do things to the UI to make the view make more sense for the player.  [embed]281930:55824:0[/embed] Personality, please How did racing games become the most sterile and boring genre of games? Everything is shiny and simulated and cold and flat. How about some personality? Remember Ridge Racer 4? It had that killer intro song, the crazy color scheme, and that pit crew guy with the great facial hair. Great story-based career mode, too.  I'm not saying I'd copy Ridge Racer, but I'd certainly go farther than some have lately. I like Forza Horizon, but the club culture is more of a design inspiration than genuine personality. We need more. We don't need a generic avatar, and you can keep that creepy, faceless driver from the simulation games. Either do it well or don't do it at all. I don't think it would take much to inject some personality into these racers. Make it funny. Fart jokes or something. Make the cars talk. I dunno. Just do something! [embed]281930:55838:0[/embed] Music to my ears I'd find a way to get Falcom Sound Team jdk to do all of the music. How fucking incredible would that be? And I'd actually have the team write theme songs for each of the tracks so that the music would fit the feel. I know they do that in character-based kart racers, but why can't we do that in street racing games? But I'd take anything over the shallow, mindless random playlist of go-fast electronic tunes. We need big playlists for the hundreds of hours of play these games will get. Remember how Snoop Dogg did a track for Gran Turismo 3? That was fantastic. And in the same session you could get some cool acid jazz, and then a track that rocked. Nice music in that game for sure. Ridge Racer almost never disappoints; the fifth game had music from Boom Boom Satellites.  I'm not saying that the songs need to be licensed. Sometimes that's exactly the wrong thing. I'm saying that game makers should think about their game and have music made specifically for it. Crazy, right? Multiplayer doesn't have to be that hard I think too much goes into creating multiplayer in racing games. I'd stay mostly asynchronous as it keeps things easy. I love time challenges, and those are perfect for asynchronous match- ups. I'd definitely want a challenge system like that of upcoming PS4 game Driveclub. You can take your performance from a single-player race and send that out immediately after as a challenge to friends and others. Constantly running leaderboards track the times and performance of all your friends. That's all you really need. Of course, group matches are different beasts. I'd want the ability for 8 or more players to go at it in roll-your-own race events of their choosing. That's it. It's my experience that racing game players are out on their own. We'll see how Driveclub does, but I've found that it's usually every man for himself in online racing. There could be some way to have multiplayer matches figure into rankings, but unless that way makes sense to the players, they'll stick to their personal times and leaderboard rankings. And that's fine by me. No Paid DLC This is my game, right? If it is, then I'm giving customers the full game right out of the gate. All the cars, all the tracks, and all of the options, with no surprises later. Maybe that's crazy. ----- Go ahead. Tell me you wouldn't play my racing game.  My dream game? Its core would be something like a new OutRun game with lots of licensed cars and more tracks, with some rally racing added in. It would be slightly more competitive, with sharper driving control. It would probably be a huge mess of a game that no one would dig. To be fair, we're spoiled these days with all of the great racing offerings out there. There's something to love in just about all of them. And they'll only get better. If you're not thinking too hard you can have fun with any racing game. I'm itching to play some Virtua Racing right now for some strange reason.
Dream racing game photo
Like that would ever happen
With both Driveclub and Forza Horizon 2 hitting the streets this month my mind is fully in racing game mode. We racing fans are spoiled this month with two very nice titles, and I'm racing my days away in them. As of late I a...

Trials Fusion photo
Trials Fusion

Trials Fusion's 'Welcome to the Abyss' DLC is coming on October 7th


For $4.99 or part of the Season Pass
Sep 24
// Chris Carter
Ubisoft is releasing the third DLC for Trials Fusion on October 7th, which is set for a $4.99 pricepoint and part of the Season Pass (which is $19.99). It's titled Welcome to the Abyss, and it'll bring 10 new tracks, 24 ...
Collider launch trailer photo
Collider launch trailer

Possibly seizure-inducing arcade racer The Collider smashes into Steam today


It's mildly nauseating, but in a good way
Sep 16
// Rob Morrow
Shortbreak Studios, a part of Techland (Dead Island, Call of Juarez), has just released its PC port of the iOS and Android arcade racer The Collider today on Steam. You might recognize that name as the studio behind the mobi...
Distance photo
Distance

Survival racer Distance speeds to Steam Early Access this fall


They had me at self-regenerating, bifurcated cars
Sep 13
// Rob Morrow
Seattle-based independent games studio Refract's experimental survival racer Distance will be coming to Steam Early Access this fall as an open beta. Until now, access to the futuristic arcade racer has been limited to a pri...
 photo

Project CARS lists supported steering wheels


And even 12K display support
Aug 29
// Dale North
Project CARS wants you to use your existing racing gaming hardware. That's great news for this racing game enthusiast. But they really mean it: wheels, controllers, VR headsets, 4K televisions...hell, even 12K displays. You'l...
Driveclub photo
Driveclub

I'm not the first to say this but Driveclub looks gorgeous


Team-based racing sounds really appealing
Aug 12
// Alasdair Duncan
The last racing game to really hook me was Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit thanks, in no small measure, to the Autolog. Racing against friends was compulsive and really fun, so if Driveclub can do the same but let me race with m...
Forza Horizon 2 photo
Forza Horizon 2

Forza Horizon 2 will have a digital personal assistant named ANNA


Interesting
Jul 03
// Chris Carter
Forza Horizon 2 is coming to the Xbox One and Xbox 360 later this year, and more details are starting to arise with every passing week. The latest development is "ANNA," the "digital personal assistant" of Forza Horizon 2, w...
Driveclub photo
Driveclub

Driveclub doesn't want you to rage quit if you suck, loser


It's not all about winning
Jun 02
// Steven Hansen
Losing is a lot more interesting than winning, but the win -- in games and in life -- is incentivized and held up high. Driveclub is aiming to stick a shiny participation medal on your coat for the things that got you into f...
Nintendo photo
Nintendo

Mario Kart 8 drives Wii U hardware sales up 666% in the UK


The blue shell was thrown by Nintendo
Jun 02
// Alessandro Fillari
After nearly two years of being on the ropes, Nintendo's troubled console has finally gotten a pick-me-up. And a major one at that. With the release of Mario Kart 8, which secured the #2 spot in the UK for most sales during t...

Review: Mario Kart 8

May 30 // Chris Carter
Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)Developer: Nintendo EAD Group No. 1Publisher: NintendoRelease Date: May 30, 2014MSRP: $59.99 Once again Mario and friends are suiting up and tearing up the track, with 16 all-new courses and 16 remakes. Although a number of Mario Kart games have featured track reworks in the past, this time around they're depicted in glorious HD, which makes a world of difference and utterly transforms them in a way that wasn't previously possible. Mario Kart 8's main gimmick is the anti-grav mechanic, and it does a great job of making the eighth outing feel truly different from its predecessors. It's very F-Zero-like at times, and the new track pieces open up a completely different way of approaching shortcuts. In some instances, you can literally drive off the track and onto a sideways wall while everyone else races below, and in a few cases you'll be racing upside-down with half the cast on another inverted track above you. Mario Kart 7 staples also return, including the power to glide when jumping off certain areas and underwater driving. You can fully control your kart while gliding as well as pull up and dive, which is particularly useful for sailing to shortcuts. Where Mario Kart 8 also shines is bringing back "tricks" -- the ability to press the hop/powerslide button right before a jump to get an extra boost. [embed]274239:53735:0[/embed] It's a nuance that you may use roughly 50 times throughout each race, and though it's not a major advantage, doing it every time and recognizing proper jumps will help you get ahead ever so slightly. There's also the matter of coins, which increase your speed up to a maximum of 10. You'll drop coins after getting hit and falling off an edge, so it's in your best interest to pick them up as you race and avoid unnecessary damage. Item balancing is much better this time around, as I noticed that higher places don't tend to get as many powerful items as past games. You also have the massive addition of the Sonic Horn item -- the first item in Mario Kart history designed specifically for stopping the blue shell. As you use the item, the horn will enact an area-of-effect circular explosion that's used for stopping items, and here's the kicker: you can get it in first place. It's for all these reasons and more that items feel just as fun as they ever were, but not so ridiculous that you stop having fun because of them. As a side note, the Sonic Horn (or something like it) should be in every game going forward, full stop. This time around Mario Kart 8 features full GamePad support (which can double as tactile or motion controls, as well as Remote Play if you touch the screen and enable the option). Other players can also spring for a Wii U Pro controller, Wii Remote + Classic Controller Pro, Wii Remote, Wii Remote + Nunchuk, all with tactile and motion settings. Just like Mario Kart Wii, you can choose to ride in any number of karts, including old-fashioned buggies, motorcycles, and some more unique choices like crab karts. So how about those tracks? I'm pleased to say that I heartily enjoyed all 16 new additions, as each of them has their own signature charm, gimmick, or kickin' tune to accompany them. Every track is memorable in its own way, especially the new Rainbow Road, which is a giant collective of space stations, and the soundtrack as a whole is so good that I'd be interested in buying it. The new art direction and stunning visuals really go a long way to showing off every nuance of every level, and I'd go so far as to say that it's one of the best-looking games out there right now on any system. It sports insane details like particle effects, and the little things like headlights that turn on when you're in dark rooms. Sometimes I'll look in the rear view mirror just to get a glimpse of more track while going off jumps, which I've never done before in any Mario Kart. The classic tracks often aren't as elaborate, but the team has done an amazing job adapting them for Mario Kart 8. A few of the courses are from older, more dated systems like the Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 so they look better by comparison, but even the remakes of newer iterations like Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7 look incredible. You can also expect some changes that bring a little Mario Kart 8 spice, most notably the anti-grav walls installed in Toad's Turnpike. You'll have plenty to do besides the 32 included tracks as time trials (with online ghost support) return, as well as a battle mode, online play for up to 12 players (and split-screen support that allows two players to go online together), 50, 100, and 150cc modes, and the ever-classic four-player local split-screen mode. You can also set your own rules on occasion outside of Gran Prix races, restricting item sets and the like. But as much as I was sucked into Mario Kart 8's racing aspect, I did experience one massive disappointment: the lackluster battle mode. There are no arenas in sight in Mario Kart 8 -- instead, you'll have to make due with eight regular tracks from the core game. These tracks aren't even modified for battle mode, mind you. They're the entire course copy and pasted into battle. Although there are some customization options available to morph battles into elimination competitions and such, I found myself loathing it so much that I have no desire to ever play again. The lowest moment was one particular battle on the remake of Yoshi Valley, a map so large that when it came down to just two karts left, we didn't even find each other until time ran out. Whoever thought this was a good idea must have been out of their mind that day, and it's an unwelcome blemish on an otherwise incredible package. Thankfully you'll have the opportunity to unlock a boat load of content, like new characters (including the new Koopa Kids and Miis), and new vehicle customization options, ranging from the cart itself to wheels to gliders. Many unlocks are done by way of collecting coins during races, which gives you even more incentive to hunt for them. I've actually become attached to the Koopa Kids far more than I thought I would, as I've worked Roy into my new character rotation, and I love seeing the crazy antics of Ludwig and Iggy on a constant basis. You'll also have Mario Kart TV, which is basically a built-in app that lets you record, edit, and save highlights from your races to either share online or upload to YouTube. They're mainly just reels of the most exciting moments, and the editing options are fairly basic, but it gets the job done for those of you out there who don't have professional capturing equipment. I don't see myself using it that often (out of the hundreds of races I ran I only really wanted to save one), but it's great to see Nintendo making a concerted effort for those who do enjoy the feature. Mario Kart 8 is my favorite series entry since Double Dash, and if it gets arena battle tracks at some point by way of DLC, it will be a near-perfect package. Its vibrant visuals will hold up for years to come, ensuring that the game will withstand the test of time, and it will be a staple in my household for a long, long while.
Mario Kart 8 reviewed! photo
Karting never looked this good
After the first three console entries, Mario Kart and I have had a semi-bumpy ride. After hundreds, possibly thousands of hours spent playing Super Mario Kart, 64, and Double Dash, I didn't have the same fervor as I...

Arma photo
Arma

Arma 3 go karts are no longer an April Fools' Day gag


They're being sold as DLC
May 29
// Jordan Devore
I have a real love-hate relationship with April Fools' Day. I love the creativity on display, but hate that most of the cool things "announced" on that day are often just videos. Sometimes, the gags are real, and the results ...

It looks like Iíll be playing Driveclub this fall

May 22 // Dale North
Driveclub (PS4)Developer: Evolution StudiosPublisher: Sony Computer EntertaimentRelease Date: October 7, 2014 I played a challenge race sent directly from the game’s director. He had just finished a race and used the post-event prompt to instantly create a challenge for his friends and opponents. Though you can create challenges like this at any time, it’s pretty neat to be able to do so off the back of a race. Imagine feeling especially good about your times and being able to use your performance a challenge to all others. You can also search through your race history and start a challenge from any past performances. I took on his time in an Audi V8 R10, racing around a nice looking mountain/forest course against other AI opponents. I found that the racing feel sat heavily on the arcade racing side, being less fussy with turns and braking than a sim racer. It feels something like a forgiving sim racer with all assists switched on, so you won’t have to worry about spinning out much. But I appreciated that its roots are still grounded in realism somewhere, at least enough so that it won’t disappoint fans of, say, Gran Turismo or Forza. I also enjoyed that Driveclub has nothing in the way of racing lines available as an assist, though those used to following them might not be as pleased with the omission. It wasn’t long before I raced past the AI pack in my first time around the track. Evolution says that they’ve spent a lot of the development time on the game’s AI, working to make it dynamic and aggressive. I was only able to play a few races, but I found it almost too easy to take positions, blowing past all but the top three or so racers. Granted, I was driving an incredibly fast car. I’m glad to say that I had no issues with locked trains of cars, and that there was no evidence of rubber banding in the top positions. I’m really not that worried about the AI anyway as I’m hoping to take on other real racers.  A bit down the road, the track threw a curve at me — literally. A short length of the course called a challenge zone had me trying to drift through it for score. I didn’t know it was coming up, but was more than ready for it the second race.  Driveclub constantly scores racers, with point notices going up with just about any action. Overtaking a car for position gets you 500 points, for example. But going off-track will dock your score the same amount. Vehicle impacts seemed to range from 100 points up to 600 or more. And in that second time around, my drafting attempts were adding to my score with smaller numbers. So you’re racing for time, as always, but you’re also racing for score.  It sounds like the bulk of the work put into Driveclub is on its social and connectivity sides. Evolution is aiming for immediacy and seamlessness with online play. They want it so that it’s as easy as possible to connect online, join friends, create clubs, and race the day away.   We got a full walkthrough of the Driveclub dash and online features, and it looks like the options to connect and play are pretty robust, but we’ll have to get it in our office to really get a feel for how buddying up will work. We do know that all players are instantly put into a party, and that you’ll sat in one at all times. Through the game’s always active social hub you’ll be able to jump into an activity that interests you. With that running party already active, those in yours will automatically be prompted to join the activity you’ve chosen. If you’re not out to create your own races or challenges, events will be suggested for you, putting you up against racers of a similar level, or against others in your club. A mobile app called My Driveclub will let you live stream the gameplay of your friends or club mates, All of your stats and placements will also be available in the app, giving you plenty of updates to keep you in the game even when you’re out. You’ll be able to create and schedule events as you please, with the backend taking care of invitations to your party and friends. Through the event creation options you’ll be able to set locations, difficulty, opponent types, and much more. Even the time of day can be set, and through time lapse options you can even set the speed of how day turns to night.  I saw a custom day/night cycle in my test laps, complete with some pretty incredible lighting and reflections. The reflection of the track on my car’s hood was easily the best I’ve seen on a console — I could easily make out trackside features like trees and road markers. Driveclub runs at 1080p, with no scaling tricks. But it runs at 30 frames per second, a choice which Evolution Studios says lets them push visual distances as well as beef up physics and audio.  A couple of challenge races around a single track was enough to have me feeling better about that first showing at E3 last year. This version of Driveclub looks and plays much better, and has plenty of social connectivity hooks that I’m sure I’ll be getting into. I had a good time going up against other previewers last week — I quickly tuned into the driving feel and was able to place second by my second lap, and was happy to jump back in again to try to top it. If I got that much from just one challenge, I could see getting much more out of the full experience. 
Driveclub hands-on photo
Hands-on with the latest build
It’s been about a year since I’ve played upcoming PS4 racer Driveclub. It debuted at E3 last year; I found myself rushing to my PlayStation appointment to get my hands on it. I can’t tell you how disappointe...

DriveClub photo
DriveClub

Driveclub will have microtransactions, because of course it will


It seems like it's a new staple for racing games
May 13
// Chris Carter
Remember that one conference where that guy was lovingly talking about how realistic Driveclub was, down to the real looking leather on the seats? That's how I imagine executives talking about microtransactions. There's proba...

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