Monday, September 28, 2009

Driving Daze

I’ve recently been playing a lot of racing games and I’ve got blurred vision to prove it. The mark of a good racing game is one where I have to remind myself to blink. I’ve played through Dirt 2 and got most of my way through Need For Speed Shift in the past couple of weeks.

Dirt 2 is made by Codemasters who is notorious for long load times similar to that of the Mass Effect elevators. However in this installation, their load times drastically improved. I did install it to my hard drive but it was fast even before that. Dirt 2 has you going all around the world driving every kind of offroad vehicle imaginable. All the car controls are smooth and you can feel how much power you’re giving it when you’re sliding through turns. The scenery is pretty as usual and the dirt and mud effects just as pretty. This game is harder on the brakes. That is, you don’t need to worry about the racing line as long as you’re braking at the right time. Other times you don’t need to worry about the brake at all and hope that physics will do its’ job to keep you alive. The game’s more arcade like than simulation which just lets you care less about your car sometimes. The damage a car can take can be unforgiving and you really want your lights to stay working through some of the night rallycross courses. Overall, I really don’t have anything bad to say about the game. Whether playing online or off, it’s a whole lot of fun.

Need for Speed Shift is a whole different animal. Although the series is headed in the right direction, they still need some work on the playability. A lot of the cars like to sway their back ends and it’s hard for a novice driver to keep the cars going straight. It’s one of those games where you have to buy your car, keep it in your garage, and upgrade its’ individual parts if you want to. There is a slight Forza feel to it but the damage is unrealistic. Once you upgrade the car, it can become too powerful and undriveable. This is a good example of trying to make an arcade and simulation game and getting something in between that is just mediocre. Yes, you have to ease the triggers for braking and accelerating but that doesn’t stop your car’s rear end from sliding. Thankfully you can adjust the downforce but that doesn’t help too much. The idea of the single player is to level up by two methods; precision driving or aggressive driving. You get points for clean passes as well as bumping someone and then passing. This makes the online a joke, filled with drivers who would rather take you out than drive on the road. The upgrading can be pretty enjoyable. You will soon have enough money for any car but the limited garage spaces (which can only be unlocked through leveling up) keep your car buying frenzy in check. The game is $40 now and at this point it’s at most a rental because Forza 3 is coming out in late October.

Monday, September 21, 2009

ODST... Soon.

Tonight's the big night. Halo 3: ODST drops at midnight and I plan to be there. It's been a good long while since I showed up for a midnight release. I believe the last one I attended was with Josh for Halo 2 (Combat Evlovederer?). But tonight, I return to the land of ultimate nerdom that is the midnight launch. I'll be at the Price Plaza Best Buy Location in Katy. I'm hoping to take some pictures and post them tomorrow... which means I'm also hoping for a good crowd to make that possible. Stay tuned... or you know... read this if you stumble across it while trying to look for directions on how to invert your Y axis in whatever game you're playing.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Storm's A'comin.

Well folks, the Holiday season is almost upon us, and it's looking like it's going to be great. I'm not entirely sure what all this talk is about "no games being released"... I feel like I'll already have more than enough to play. Maybe I should even consider finishing up Assassin's Creed before Assassin's Creed 2 hits the shelves... maybe.

All members of The Axis have spent a significant amount of time with Arkham Asylum, and the conclusions about it drawn here are very similar to what you'll read pretty much anywhere right now... that is to say, it's very good. What we can't seem to figure out are the combat challenges. Who are these degenerates scoring high enough to earn the high score medals. Maybe we're not flashy enough... maybe we're just not good enough. Either way, I don't think I have the energy to earn those medals, and I think my friends here are in agreement. However, the game as a whole is a must buy, must play. It been a while since a game has kept me playing that many hours without a break.

I'd say that the game that has me most pumped up at the moment is Halo 3: ODST... I can't even totally understand why myself. I've never been the "fanboy" type when it came to the Halo games. I played them, I enjoyed them. I even spent my fair share of time being called racial slurs by 14 year olds... but I stopped playing Halo 3 about 3 months after the release (and that's a generous estimate). I think what got me most excited about ODST is the new firefight mode... and the moment it hooked me was in Tycho's post over at Penny Arcade. I've become a fan of these non-story co-op modes that seem to be becoming very popular. It started with the Horde Mode in Gears of War 2... I played the SHIT out of that for several months. The best part about it is that if you have a few friends willing to hop in, you don't have to deal with a single 14 year old or racial slur... ok, there are still a lot of racial slurs, but it's from people you know... and sometimes they're even clever! After Gears of War 2 there was Left 4 Dead, which was essentially a Horde Mode all dressed up with a "story." What it really was, was a 4 part Zombie grinder with "get the fuck out of Ryan's way because he will team kill your ass in a heartbeat" written all over it. I blamed all the friendly fire incidents on the fact that I used the old guy... his vision was going to shit. Now, the fun of this non-story co-op trend is coming to Halo... say what you will about the series, or about the community... but there is a lot Bungie has done right when it comes to multiplayer. I'm excited to see what they can do here. Also, and I apologize for making this an after thought, the story sounds pretty interesting. Read this article over at Kotaku for a look into that aspect of the game.

Outside of this we have things like Borderlands, Assassin's Creed 2, Modern Warfare 2, Uncharted 2 all coming to us in the very near future. I know Barry is pretty excited for a few racing games on the horizon... and I believe he picked up a copy of Need For Speed Shift today. I'll try to get him to say a little something about it later. All this, and I didn't even mention Shadow Complex... I'll just say this: Buy It. Play It.

Aight, I'm out!