Big Week for Formula 1

F1 2009 (video game)
Last year's cover art. Image via Wikipedia

This week is going to be really exciting in the world of F1, especially for gamers. The Singapore Grand Prix starts on Friday with practice and continues over the weekend as normal. However, the new F1 game by Codemasters comes out on the same day and it’s going to be hard to put it down while the real action takes place. While I am excited about the race, the championship and the changes in track and decoration in Singapore, I’ll get to that in a later post.

I got the F1 2009 game on the Wii last year and am still loving playing it. The graphics are pretty awful and there’s no online at all but it’s just pure fun. This new game looks to have all of the fun of last year’s version, but adds amazing graphics, online, a better career mode and much more.

It’s so much more realistic this time around that it’s almost indistinguishable from before. So many details make this as true to life as has ever been achieved before. From amazing weather effects, season upgrades, realistic car performances, track evolution and much more. It’s all in there.

You would think I would have left all of the compliments until after I actually get a chance to play the game, but from all of the stuff I’ve seen on YouTube and elsewhere I don’t think there will be any nasty surprises.

I would go as far as to say that there is only one game that can come close to this as my personal game of the year, and that’s unsurprisingly Gran Turismo 5, which looks absolutely mind blowing. The amount of content that they’ve managed to fit on one blu-ray is almost beyond comprehension.

With that said, in terms of actual racing fun, they may be tied in that respect, but we’ll have to wait and see. All I know is that I’ve never been more excited about two games before than these, and I’ve been playing games since I had a big yellow brick of a gameboy when I must have been around 8 years old.


Playstation Move: The Early Reviews

PlayStation Move
Image via Wikipedia

IGN today posted their reviews of all of the Playstation Move launch games, as well as the hardware itself. Overall I’m quite disappointed. Not only are there no launch games that stand out as a must play, the hardware, despite a good review, is said to sometimes suffer from needing to be recalibrated. This is something that plagued the Wii Motion Plus and I hoped it wouldn’t do the same for the Move. I hope this is simply based on playing in a bright room, and that in normal conditions it will fare better. We’ll have to see.

Sports Champions initially seemed to be the only game that would appeal to me. It just doesn’t do anything I care about now. I have Wii Sports Resort and I want something different. I don’t think it offers anything that will stay fun for long at all, and three of the sports are exactly the same.

EyePet is technically the best of the games and may prove to be the most successful as well. The augmented reality aspect seems to work really well and will have great casual appeal, but only if the move catches on. I can’t see many families, especially ones who don’t already own a PS3, going and buying the bundle pack for I think $400 just to play EyePet. With that said, it’s still by far and away the best launch game for Move.

Personally I’m going to wait to pick up the hardware until EA brings out their Grand Slam Tennis game on PS3 with move support. We haven’t heard anything about the game for a while, but if it lives up to what I hope it will be, then it’ll be the only game I’ll need to make the move controllers worth the price for me personally.

I’d also love to see a Harry Potter game with move support as it seems perfectly suited to it. We’ve already had a taster of what it could be like with the game Sorcery which was demo’d at E3 this year.

Aside from those wishes, I’d just generally like to see the development community get behind the move and really support it with lots of quality titles. If they don’t, we may never see the full potential of the device come to light, which would be a huge shame.


Playstation Move – A Perspective

Sony announced what was then known tentatively as the “Playstation Motion Controller” at E3 last year. Back then, while we didn’t know a lot of the finer details, what we did know was that it appeared to be far more accurate than the Wii Remote, even with motion-plus and that it could provide a more tactile control system for possibly more hardcore type games as well as casual ones. Something that Natal can’t really claim.

A couple of names have been rumoured for the final product since then. Those were Arc and Gem. In the end Sony decided on a simple name that clearly described the purpose of the device.

One of my initial concerns about the move was that they never showed a supplementary device to hold in the other hand with an analogue stick, as Nintendo have with the nunchuk. I feel as if motion control, to be used in a more hardcore way and to provide the best experience, you need to have elements of classic control as part of the overall setup. Sony now have announced their take on the nunchuk formula in the shape of the subcontroller which boasts and analogue stick, a couple of face buttons and possibly a trigger on the back as well as being wireless.

While many will simply say that Sony have stooped to simply copying Nintendo, my view is that a device like this is practically a must have for many types of games. For example, I was a big fan of Grand Slam Tennis on Wii which used a motion-plus remote and nunchuk combo for the optimum control. Having precise analogue stick control of your character makes it easier to focus on your shots and not where your character is standing. My hope is that now EA Sports will be able to simply translate across the same control scheme essentially, but the Move will allow greater accuracy and a more fun tennis experience, while also providing HD graphics and probably better online play. For this type of game, it really removes any chance of me buying the Wii version.

I also loved Tiger Woods 10 on Wii last year. It made great use of motion-plus as well and didn’t use the nunchuk which allowed complete freedom of movement. I expect the PS3 version, which has already been confirmed to support the Move when it is released, to take all the great elements of the Wii version and multiply them.

Of course, not all games are suited to motion control and it’s really personal preference as to whether or not you feel you would rather use classic or motion for different genres. I personally prefer classic control on a lot of my Wii games when given the choice. Mario Kart, F1 and more are much more fun with the more precise duel analogue setup of the classic controller. On the other hand, I can’t imagine playing Excite Truck, Wii Sport and Wii Sports Resort, Boom Blox (and bash party) and others any other way.

Gamers shouldn’t feel threatened by motion control because I’m confident that they won’t become the norm. They will be great in some ways, limiting in others but I think there will be a choice for gamers as to how they play.


Nintendo News

So in the last couple of days Nintendo have been holding press conferences in Australia and the US where they’ve announced several things. The most obvious being the release date of the DSi XL in the US while the surprises were that Mario Galaxy 2 and Metroid Other M have both been given release dates, and not just release dates in the autumn like we all expected, release dates in the May to June timeframe, with Galaxy 2 coming first and Metroid no more than a couple of months after. These are also presumably coordinated worldwide launches for both.

Whether or not I actually buy these games when they come out or not (Mario Galaxy 2 is more likely but I need to play more of the first before that), I am excited for everyone who is either a hardcore Nintendo fan or just a gamer wanting good stuff to play regardless of platform. Nintendo could have easily just done what we’re so used to seeing in the games industry, which would be to just put out both games in the Autumn / Winter timeframe and just rely on the long term successes like Wii Fit and Mario Kart and all the others to carry them through the year until then. After all, New Super Mario bros. will eternally have new in the name so therefore it will continue to sell.

However, Nintendo haven’t sat back and let the profits roll in for once and instead are being really aggressive by putting both these big games out in mid-year. Of course, they’re partly doing this to leave room in their release schedule for Zelda and possibly another game or two later on in 2010.

The sceptics will surely be pointing out that with the massive profits they make on hardware and software (which costs far less to develop than for other systems) they should have been making much more great games since it became clear that the Wii was going to be a runaway success, which of course it has.

While that is true, take solace in the fact that Nintendo are seemingly finally getting their act together.