Categories
Miscellaneous

WRC 2010 Game Review

The first thing to say about this game, is that it is a very long way from perfect. When I first played the demo for the game, I was astounded by how terrible the graphics, voice acting and engine sounds among other things were. In my first play through one of the stages in the demo I couldn’t believe I was witnessing a game that was so far short of the likes of Dirt 2, Gran Turismo 5 and F1 2010 in so many key areas.

After playing the demo a couple of times on the two available stages, I was about ready to write a blog post blasting the game completely. I didn’t, and I came back to it a week or so later after my passion for rallying had been firmly reignited. The second time through the handling of the cars really started to click with me and I started enjoying myself. I looked online to see if I could find the game for as much less than the usual £40 as possible, as I didn’t feel the game was worth even half that. Luckily, and perhaps not surprisingly, I found Amazon were selling it for £15 and I decided it was worth the gamble on for that price.

It was one of my best game purchasing decisions. Despite all of it’s problems, WRC 2010 is an incredibly fun game to play and is equally rewarding if you put the time in to really perfect the handling of the cars. I should mention that only huge rally fans with a big interest in WRC need apply as there are so many other better options out there. Dirt 3 is right around the corner and will be far and away the better game in all areas where this game fails. Gran Turismo 5 also has a rally aspect in it, but the handling in that game is far less fun and takes a long time to get into. This is much more approachable and has a greater sense of speed.

Going back to this game though, there is a wide variety of modes in single player. Chief among these is the Road to the WRC. This is the main career mode in which you create your own team from scratch. You must progress through all of the lower divisions of world rallying in order to impress WRC teams in order to get a drive with them. While I like the idea of it, and I like how they haven’t excluded J-WRC, S-WRC and P-WRC cars from the game, the mode drags on forever and it takes many hours of play before you can actually drive a WRC car other than the odd one-off wildcard event. However, even these only become available after you get to level 4 or 5 of the events.

What makes this delay worse is the fact that the lesser cars in the game are just not as fun to drive. The 4WD cars are serviceable, but the front wheel drive J-WRC cars are just not fun to control as they don’t drift easily and the gearing on them doesn’t feel right. Most people who buy this game are going to be itching to drive Loeb’s C4 or Hirvonen’s Focus, and even though you can do it in the single player championship mode, most will probably want to do it in the main career mode first, and that’s a problem.

You could say that the delay prolongs the length of the game, but after a while it just becomes cheap and repetitive. Once you do get to the WRC cars, you will enjoy it even more as you finally get to ditch the front wheel drive cars in favour of ones which are always on the edge of control and put you on the edge of your seat.

Going back to the negative points quickly though, it seems that some car engine sounds are better than others. For example, the Ford Focus sounds quite good and won’t get on your nerves too much. The Citroen C4 on the other hand will drive you insane if you don’t turn the sounds down in the audio settings. Likewise, the co-driver voices are unbelievably bad. They only have a few things to say in each situation and after a while of hearing “you drive like a champion” after winning a stage, you’ll be very sick of it. However, the most annoying call has to be when you make a considerable impact with a barrier or something else solid. The male co-drive will yell “aaaahhhh”. The first few times you’ll laugh at it but after that you’ll be cringing just before you hit a wall when you know it’s coming. Obviously, as you get better at the game you’ll hear it less, but I found the female voice to be far less irritating so I’ve stuck with her regardless.

The other final problem with the game is that despite there being 6 stages per rally, in reality, there are only 2 or 3 truly unique stages. The others are either reverse runs of the others or are created by copy and pasting different elements of stages together to create the illusion of uniqueness. This is lazy game development but it’s not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things. Even if you halve the number of stages in the game, there is still a considerable number of stages which differ enough to keep the experience fresh for quite a while. It would of course be great to have a game with exact replications of every stage run in the entire championship, but whether that’s actually realistic is unknown. I suppose when you look at how many tracks and cars are in GT5, you could see how it could well be possible with this generation’s hardware, but we just have to hope this happens at some point.

Overall though, if you can get past the abysmal voice acting, comparatively terrible graphics and engine sounds that remind you more of the drone of a go-kart than a roaring rally car, then you’ll really enjoy the fun handling and the full list of drivers, cars and rallys that the WRC license provides. It’s the first official WRC game for several years and while it’s by no means a great game technically, it does the job until hopefully WRC hire Codemasters to make a truly great official WRC game. Either that, or this developer produces something of far higher quality. I really hope we see one of those this year.

Categories
Miscellaneous

Nascar the game 2011 will go Unreleased in UK

Eutechnyx looking into region-free release of NASCAR 2011 in the UK

Thanks activision…. Good thing I was just able to snag a cheap copy of EA’s last attempt at the license, NASCAR 09 to quench my thirst for the sport for the time being. The game is actually not bad, especially considering what I paid for it.

However, that doesn’t stop me being fed up at this news. There are multiple reasons this is happening. The first is that Activision aren’t willing to take any risks whatsoever, even on a small scale release. EA sold Nascar games in the UK, not to mention Madden NFL. Baseball games don’t come out here which is another travesty but that’s a topic for another day.

The second reason in my opinion is that because Brits are generally so hostile towards Nascar in mocking it’s supposed simplicity that only the most hardcore of fans will want to try it. It’s a great shame that people want to ruin it for the rest of us who appreciate all forms of racing, including the predominantly oval variety. Admittedly, I was one of the doubters at one time but when you grow up you realise that you are brainwashed into a certain way of thinking due to the culture.

The third and final reason I can think of that would cause Activision to not release the game here is because Gran Turismo 5 features Nascar, albeit to a fairly limited degree. You get only two tracks, even if they are the two most famous tracks. You also have access to pretty much all of the top drivers you could want.

Because fans here are very sceptical of the sport, they may not see the value in a standalone game as they don’t understand that the season takes place on many different tracks of varying shape and length. I agree to a point, but just from playing the 3 year old Nascar 09 I can clearly see the benefits a full game brings. An in-depth career mode, customisation and many more cars on the track at one time. You also have access to all of the Nascar divisions and can work your way up the ranks.

Apparently Eutechnyx, the ironically UK based developer working on the game are said to be thinking about a small scale distribution themselves if demand is high enough. They will also be making the game region-free so that UK Nascar fans will be able to import the title from the states. It’s not an ideal situation, but at least there will be some a way to play it if all else fails. This is all providing that the game is good and worth playing, which I really hope it is.

Categories
Miscellaneous

Gran Turismo 5 Review

Gran Turismo 5

GT5 was highly anticipated for many years until its eventual release a few months ago. It’s not a game for everyone as a lot of gamers tend to either not enjoy or understand realistic racing simulations. Burnout this is most definitely not. I’m a huge Burnout fan too but this is a very different game, but we all know that.

This game, like the previous ones in the series demands absolute precision and rewards skill and practice. The 200 or so premium cars are things to behold. Stunningly detailed, with interior views that really make you feel like you’re driving the car. They even simulate the G-Forces and car shaking in this view. Sometimes it can be too intense to look at, especially on the oval tracks. It brings home to you the kind of punishment these professional drivers put themselves through.

Because I’m not a big fan of the other camera views the 800 standard cars, all without the cockpit view and in lower resolutions are almost worthless to me. They look awful most of the time and aren’t as fun to drive. It’s a real shame, especially as there are some great cars that are only available in standard versions, such as the Bugatti Veyron. 1000 cars is a great thing to be able to say in advertising, but in practise it’s a let down.

With this said, 200 cars is still more than almost any other video-game. I believe Forza 3 has approximately 500 in the special edition of that game. I wish Polyphony had cut the number of cars in half to that same number if they could have made them all premium quality.

Cars are nothing without tracks, and there is a great diverse collection of tracks in the game. From randomly generated Rally Stages to American Ovals, Le Mans and Suzuka, there’s something for every type of racing fan. There are even a selection of imaginary city tracks based on what could be possible if street races were held in those venues. As usual in Gran Turismo games, there are also some imaginary tracks designed to test driving skill to the maximum. These tracks are okay but they aren’t the best looking and sometimes the layouts aren’t entirely to my liking, but it’s a personal taste issue.

As far as gameplay, the cars handle brilliantly. They all handle slightly differently and you can feel this different when you race. Set-up changes, including tyre choice can make huge differences as well. Using the wrong tyre compound can cost you dearly, especially in b-spec races where the drivers can’t handle the cars and spin out.

Reviewers have been critical of GT5 as an actual game rather than a pure simulator, by saying that it’s essentially a 10 out of 10 simulator, wrapped up in a  5/10 game. It is true that some elements of the game are not entirely imaginative, and they could have made the interface a bit better, but it’s by no means broken and in my opinion I think those reviewers are being too picky. If you’re a fan of simulation racing, you will know exactly what you’re getting yourself into with GT5, and despite it’s few shortcomings, this is a very fine game that you’ll undoubtedly love.

I’ve spent a lot of time with it since it came out and I still don’t feel finished. I’ve got almost all the cars in the game I could wish for. I’ve driven every track many times and got about as far as I can with the special events as well as the regular A-Spec and B-Spec modes.

Why then would I want to continue further? Well, in a recent update, Polyphony added a new mode called Seasonal Events. This mode is updated every week with 5 new special event races for particular cars, as well as time trial and drift trial challenges with online leaderboards. It adds a lot of replay value to the game by making you interested in buying, tuning and racing cars you may have otherwise have overlooked. The rewards for these races far outweigh the cost of buying and tuning the cars. They also offer great XP to allow players to level up to the max of 40 a bit more easily by reducing the amount of grinding you’ll have to do. I assume that they’ll be doing these special events with almost all, if not all of the premium cars over time, so the game could continue to provide new reasons to play for many months to come.

Not only this, but Polyphony have stated that they plan to upgrade some standard cars to premium ones in future updates, as well as enable their online remote-racing service which you can use in a web-browser to play B-Spec races remotely. Your PS3 does have to be running and playing the game, but it’s still a nice and unique concept.

Just to mention some other small issues with the game, I feel that the online racing is below par and it’s disappointingly clunky to use. So much so that I don’t really want to bother with it until they patch it to make it much more streamlined and faster loading. Then again, most people, myself included will never race online and still play the game for months consistently and have a great time, so it won’t be a big deal for many people.

I can’t wait to see what else Kazinori and Polyphony have up their sleeves for us in future updates. In the meantime, if you don’t own this game, or even don’t own a PS3, you should pick this this game up if you think it’s your type of thing. I would also suggest buying an HD TV as well, since this game really gets the most out of it.

In general, it’s a brilliant driving game that just about met incredibly lofty expectations and you shouldn’t miss it.