Tag Archives: Racing

WipEout HD

You can’t deny that Sony has been worlds ahead of Microsoft and Nintendo in terms of digitally distributing its games this gen. Not only does PSN let me buy stuff in real money – incidentally, that makes me more likely to make an impulse purchase than one that requires me to work out how much I’m actually paying – it’s also let me download ‘proper’, fully featured games. Warhawk, Gran Turismo 5: Prologue, Siren: Blood Curse, Burnout Paradise, and now WipEout HD – all impossible with Microsoft’s backwards size limit for downloadable games and, for many reasons, impossible on the Wii.

© MrTroubleMaker

Mini-rant aside, WipEout HD is just the kind of thing that we should be getting as downloads. It’s relatively slim on content with only a few tracks from the PSP versions, but it’s 60fps at 1080p (almost), tight and addictive to play, and it’s only £11.99. I defended the pricing of Braid when I posted about it, and while I appreciate that WipEout is less of a commercial risk than a self-funded indie project, this does kind of make it look bad.

WipEout’s been something of a fringe series for a while now, having only two PSP games and a poorly received PS2 iteration since the series’ glory days on the PS1, with most fans still considering WipEout 2097 – the American title, WipEout XL, sounds too much like washing powder for me – to be the high point. It’s a shame because it was one of the titles largely credited with being responsible for the establishment of the PlayStation, and, quite remarkably, it’s managed to remain both cool and futuristic over a decade later. The design work on show here was so far ahead of its time that real life hasn’t managed to catch up yet. That’s pretty much this series and Blade Runner that can boast that. Continue reading WipEout HD

Going Off-Road

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I hate driving games, but I love racing games. There’s a subtle yet important difference, and the distinction is enough to make me thoroughly enjoy a Burnout, or even something more real-life like PGR or GRID, while rendering Gran Turismo as gaming kryptonite. The former are all A Few Good Men; the latter is sitting in on a trial for shoplifting.

MotorStorm: Pacific Rift

Off-road racers, though, are a slightly more difficult beast. Even if it contains such vile language as ‘gear ratio’ and tries to make me consider the state of my virtual vehicle’s suspension, thrashing around in the mud is undeniably fun – we’ve all known this since the first time it rained in our back gardens – and the fact that there are very few serious off-road racers gives it a hit ratio with me that’s far above straight racing games. How much fun could a game where your rider breaks his back on a ten-foot fall really be, anyway? If I’m racing along a mountain, I bloody well want to be jumping off it. Continue reading Going Off-Road

Race Driver: GRID

Sandwiched between two little morsels known as Grand Theft Auto IV and Metal Gear Solid 4, Codemasters is either extremely bullish or extremely naive about Race Driver: GRID, a kind of spiritual successor to the good old TOCA series. Based purely on its critical reception – including a 9 from Edge in the same issue that MGS4 received an 8 – it has every reason to be the former, but we all know that things don’t always work that way.

Race Driver: GRID

Despite these reviews, I have to admit that I wasn’t blown away with GRID’s demo a couple of weeks ago. On the positive side it ran like butter and was good fun online, but on the negative side I likened the handling to a slot car race, the muted colours and bloom lighting was like every next-gen graphical cliché in one place, and it wasn’t particularly fun to get wiped out on the first bend so that you have to sit out the entire race. Oh, and EBAY the EBAY product EBAY placement EBAY was EBAY a EBAY bit EBAY prominent.

Now that I’ve played with the full game, though, I have to admit that the game’s better than I gave it credit for. This is what you’d get if Michael Bay made a racing game – a fast, fun, loud, slick, very pretty pure racing game. With the product placement down, it might even be made under a pseudonym. Continue reading Race Driver: GRID

Sega Rally Review

Being that it’s now available for as little as £30 (apparently going up against Halo 3 wasn’t such a good move), I’ve posted a review of Sega Rally. I personally thought it was better than PGR4 which got nothing but top reviews and briefly lit up my friends list in the way that big new 360 releases tend to do, so I implore you to try the demo and jump in if you like it.

I had a great time with it even without being a big racing fan.

A Day with Sega Rally

Sega Europe HQ

I spent today up at Sega’s headquarters in London at a bloggers’ event to check out the new Sega Rally (aka Sega Rally Revo) which is due next month. Free stuff and the opportunity to play a new game is the only thing that will get me up in time to catch the 6:56am train.

However, when the last time that Sega attempted to bring a classic series into the next generation with its original title we got that Sonic abomination, so you could be forgiven for approaching this one with trepidation. Particularly so when Sega Rally had already had its equivalent of Sonic Adventure 2 – the warning that all was not well, if you will – but now that I’ve stretched that metaphor as far as it will go I can safely say that this won’t be another disaster. Far from it, in my opinion.

Since graphics are often the most salient feature in this generation, I’ll touch on those first. Sega Rally looks good, if only verging on great. The framerate could have done with some tweaking (bear in mind that the build wasn’t final and it was running on the PS3) and overall I didn’t feel like it had all the graphical bells and whistles of DiRT, the most obvious comparison to make. Even so, it certainly didn’t look unimpressive and importantly looked like Sega Rally, complete with the vivid primary colours and flamboyant touches that typified the old Sega arcade racers. Speedboats in the trackside water, gliders and helicopters popping up as you pass, etc. Alas no suicidal spectators like in Sega Rally 2, but you can’t have everything.

Sega Rally in action

The USP here is terrain deformation which, as they took great pains to point out to us, is the real thing here. Motorstorm’s wasn’t persistent, apparently, and other games don’t have it modelled in such intricate detail and with such great impact on the gameplay. It was definitely striking to watch cars carving grooves and divots into the track which were still there on the final lap, affecting racing lines and sending vehicles bouncing around as they negotiated turns and in turn affecting the lines taken by the AI, which in this relatively unbalanced build was monstrously hard. We played with the seriously impressive (and equally expensive) Logitech G25 wheel which went a long way towards completing the effect.

Most importantly, though, it still plays like Sega Rally. Despite the effort poured into the realistic track physics, it has no pretensions of being a sim which I find highly appealing. Racing against other cars rather than the clock, arcadey handling that realises that sliding around in the mud is fun and not something to be punished if you can’t do it perfectly, and proper online multiplayer (I’m looking at you, DiRT). Incidentally we were playing network games over the Internet with no discernible lag.

So for me Sega Rally has gone from a game that was barely on the radar – there’s some other 360 game out in late September, remember? – to a very probable purchase. I feel like I need something different in a Q4 that’s overflowing with shooters and a blast from the past like this could be just the thing.

Oh, and I can’t let this go without bringing up the little competition that they put on for us to compete for a huge trophy and a Sega racing jacket. They say a picture speaks a thousand words; this one speaks six. Out of a possible six :D

And they also may or may not have accidentally let slip what everyone knows but Sony won’t confirm: that a Sixaxis with force feedback is on the way. Someone mentioned supporting it in the PS3 version, at least.