PlayStation Future has a preview of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 with a useful and informative video as well. I might give the demo a whirl myself.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed on PlayStation Platforms Next Week– I’ve played on a demo of The Force Unleashed, and I had a right blast (pardon the pun). Not quite sure if it justifies £40 though. I’m simply torn, as the plot looks quite juicy.
Regular followers of my humble ramblings will have noticed of late that I am obsessed with Race Driver: GRID. I just thought I’d post some of my initial impressions and experiences of the game, along with my reasoning for getting the game in the first place.
Quite simply, it all started with the demo for Race Driver: GRID. The handling of the cars was a bit tricky, but once I had mastered the controls it was good. Real good. I wanted more. I suppose the GRID demo has been one of the rare few demos that I have hammered. Then the reviews started coming in; 9/10 and 10/10 from most magazines and online publications. I was getting good vibes, and so I swiftly placed my order with Play.com and got a bonus Aston Martin DBR9 as well!
Initially you race for other teams in order to scrape a bit of cash together to repair your first ride, and to finance your own racing team. You’ll compete in a mixture of varied racing environments from racing muscle cars in the USA, to drifting high performance cars in Japan. There’s so much to do. The game starts to ‘kick up a gear’ (pardon my pun) when you get your own team together; from choosing your team colours and sponsors, to climbing the ranks of world teams and drivers. What’s very refreshing is that your objective isn’t always to come first. A team or sponsor may only want you to come at least 3rd or 5th, and some only want you to finish the race!
The difficulty is adjustable. Keep coming last in a racing style you’re not comfortable with? Kick it down a notch. Conversely if you’re wiping the floor with all the other drivers in one of your best events, then kick it up a notch to spice things up a bit and give yourself a real challenge. For me, what really distinguishes Race Driver: GRID from Gran Turismo 5 Prologue is your other drivers. Here, they are (depending on the difficulty level) just as likely as you to clip a corner, spin out of control or brake too late. The damage is fully realistic and very satisfying when you scream past another driver who clips the side and totals their car.
Whilst the behaviour of your competitors (mentioned above) certainly adds to the atmosphere, your pit crew communicates important information to you, such as the state your car is in and who you need to beat in order to secure the current objective. The most amazing feeling I have ever experienced in a racing game has been compteting in Le Mans 24 Hour on GRID. It’s just epic. Unlike racing for hours on Gran Turismo (boring, tedious) time is speeded up dramatically, allowing you to experience the full day and night cycle.
So what do I think after my initial hands-on with Race Driver: GRID? It’s racing- as it should be. In a way, it’s all I had hoped for and more. Codemasters really deserve credit for a fantastic job. I’ve not mentioned everything, such as licences, reputation, the art of touge etc., but I never intended to (also I’ve not tried out multiplayer yet, but when I do, I might provide an update further down the line). Hopefully this has just given you a brief overview of my thoughts and experiences on this game, and a taster of what awaits you, should you decide to take the wallet for a walk. Highly recommended for both PS3 and Xbox 360 owners.
I’ve been enjoying Collin McRae: DiRT for a while now, but have started looking around for my next driving fix. I’ve totally skipped Burnout Paradise because I don’t like driving games trying to be role-playing games. I don’t want to cruise around a huge city looking for a set of traffic lights which has the event I want. Instead I just want to select the car and the event on a menu and then race. Period. DiRT does this perfectly, as does the entire Gran Turismo series and all previous Burnout games.
Sooo… I have Gran Turismo 5 Prologue. Am I enjoying it? Not particularly. Sure, the graphics are impressive but it’s quite tough and doesn’t ‘feel’ fun. It just doesn’t. Heck- it’s even billed as ‘the real driving simulator’. I want a fun racing game, not a simulator. On the PS2 the World Rally Championship series and the Burnout series satisfied my appetite.
So what game will be the worthy successor to my current driving game of choice- DiRT? I feel that it just HAS to be Race Driver: GRID. I’ve played on a demo and it is amazing- I’ll be buying it as soon as it is released. Ok, so why am I hyping this game up? The demo I played borrowed certain menu effects from DiRT (which is no bad thing), and seems to have bags of personality (ala Burnout) that seemed sorely lacking in TOCA. The visual style and handling seems to be the result of putting Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, Burnout Paradise and DiRT into a smoothie maker and achieving the perfect blend. What’s surprising is it’s actually the successor to the competent TOCA Touring Car series; a series which I’ve played occasionally on demos, but not actually bothered to buy.
When I get Race Driver: GRID soon, I’m sure I’ll post some more thoughts up here. This game should be on the radar of both PS3 and Xbox 360 owners. Better still, try the demo!
I thought I’d give my own take on this story as I have played Burnout right from the beginning and have some good memories from past games in the series. I’d just like to mention before I go any further, that I have 1) read Criterion’s response, and 2) played the demo in question.
The gist is that players have taken the Burnout Paradise demo for a spin (on both the PS3 and Xbox 360 I believe) and (more or less) universally condemned it. Kokatu’s rather nicely-worded article ‘Criterion Responds To Burnout Paradise Criticism‘ reveals a rather more accurate summery:
‘The Burnout Team have written a rather grumbly Christmas card to fans who have found one too many things to complain about in the demo version of Burnout Paradise.’
I still think that’s putting it mildly. The Burnout Team are probably hacked off that they’ve spent so much time and effort on Burnout Paradise, only to have a fair amount of criticism levelled at their beloved. When reading Criterion’s response I get the overwhelming feeling of despise for the critical gamer out there. People have good reason- as consumers (in the UK anyway), next gen games cost £40-50 which is no pocket change. Gamers are more critical than ever these days with good reason.
Next you will see how Criterion gets this totally wrong, and so here’s a choice quote from the Burnout Team themselves:
As to those who can proclaim from a taste of the demo that Burnout 2 was the best game (always nice to see all those Gamecube owners on the internet who haven’t played the game since B2! ) or that B3 is the better game – again, I can only smile. Those of us who have made the games dearly love those games but we’re confident that if you love those games too then you will love Paradise.
And therein I think, lies the problem. All the Burnout games that have preceded Paradise have gone along the path of evolution- creating a better game with minor changes for the best. Burnout was the ultimate in arcade racing in my opinion. However Paradise seems to have taken the revolution approach- starting from scratch, and offering a completely revamped experience. Whilst this is no bad thing, gamers that have followed the series from the beginning do not like such a great change.
I also totally agree with what Matt Brett has to say on this matter in his post ‘Burnout Paridise, a great franchise ruined‘. Whilst gamers brand-new to the franchise will love it, it is fundamentally different to what most of us have known and enjoyed playing.