Suzuki Goes 360 at San Diego Auto Show

Suzuki Xbox

Suzuki is showing off a 360-infused version of their new AWD SX4 model, the car they’ll be bringing to the WRC in the near future. Is it a hopped up beast with a massive turbo, re-worked internals, and trick differentials? Sadly, no. As usual in the California tuning scene it’s all about the look, and with this one the look is at least functional. The “concept” car, called the SXBox, has an integrated Xbox 360 and a series of screens that allow gamers in the rear seats to play on headrest-mounted LCDs, while gamers in the front can play on the pop-up hood’s projector screen. Very slick…for those who want a car that’s more fun when sitting in parking lots than when on the road.

You can read more about the SXBox at Team Xbox, or see more pictures at Jalopnik from its earlier LA Auto Show debut. The San Diego Auto Show runs until January 1.

GT HD Demo Now Available for Download

GT HD For Free

Yes, indeed, PS3 owning racing fans finally have something to get excited about. The free demo of Gran Turismo HD is now available in the Playstation Store for download worldwide. As we detailed earlier in the week, the 625 meg (give or take) demo includes 10 cars and one track. Good luck with the downloading. Word on the proverbial street is that Sony’s servers are a wee bit hammered right now.

Happy holidays.

In-Game Ads in PGR 3 Fail at Life

Caddy in PGR3

GamesIndustry.biz is reporting that in-game advertising in titles like Project Gotham Racing 3 and Gran Turismo 3 has failed to serve any value for the advertisers.

Bunnyfoot sampled 120 players, aged 18 or over, who were assigned sports titles including Gran Turismo 3, NBA Live and Project Gotham Racing 3.

According to the firm, recall and recognition of in-game ads was low across the board. NBA Live and WWE Smackdown Vs RAW came out on top in the survey, while Project Gotham Racing 3 elicited no consumer engagement at all.

Will advertisers take heed and run for the hills so that we can stop having to buy EA games with racetracks and game modes sponsored by soaps and department stores? Sadly, that’s rather unlikely. Numerous studies have shown the lack of power of other means of advertising, yet we’re still inundated with it everywhere. In-game ads, whether they be billboards or downloadable car packs, are here to stay. The only question is: how long until we’re stuck watching 30 second commercials during “Now Loading” screens?

Novadrome Doesn’t Live Up to the Hype

Novadrome

And yes, I confess, I was helping to fuel that hype with the Carmageddon talk. But, with a series as once beloved as that, I guess color me a little optimistic that it’d be coming back to life. However, in the time I’ve spent with Novadrome, it has nothing at all in common with Stainless Games’ earlier, more notable title other than the fact that it has cars that crash into each other. Novadrome just feels clumsy to me, with floaty and un-fun physics combined with some a little too clean looking graphics.

GameSpot has similar opinions in their review, scoring it just 5.6/10:

Novadrome certainly means well. This addition to the Xbox Live Arcade library is a 3D car combat game in which you speed around futuristic arenas in one of a variety of laser-spewing vehicles, crashing into and blowing up your rivals while grabbing different power-ups and trying to stay alive. Even the premise is pretty cool, as thin as it is: Evil robots have taken over Earth and forced us into this profoundly sinister competition if we want to live. Throw in a variety of game modes and online multiplayer support for up to eight players and you have what seems like a winning recipe for a fun little pick-up-and-play driving-and-shooting game. Unfortunately, Novadrome doesn’t deliver on its promising concept, between its flatly generic presentation and its limp action.

Oh well…we can continue to hope for a proper successor to the Carmageddon line.

IGN Gets In On the Voting Too

IGN has posted up their Overall Readers’ Choice poll, asking you to vote for your favorite game in a variety of genres like action, adventure, fighting, shooter, and of course driving. Unlike Blackhole Motorsports awards, IGN is letting you vote for just about any driving game that was released this year, including charmers like Harley-Davidson: Race to the Rally and GT Pro Series. Yes, GTR 2 makes an appearance.

New Gran Turismo HD Demo Info

GT HD For Free

IGN has received (and translated) the latest issue of Famitsu magazine, which contains an interview with Kazunori Yamauchi of Gran Turismo fame, who delivers some information about the upcoming demo. Its one track will be called Eiger Nordwand, which among climbers is referred to as the “biggest, baddest north face in the Alps.” This is the tarmac rally track we showed you pics of earlier this year twisting between quaint villas and snowy peaks.

Additionally, ten cars will be included, though surprisingly no bikes. The list is:

  • Suzuki Cappuccino ’95
  • Mazda Eunos Roadster ’89
  • Honda Integra Type R’04
  • Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV GSR’96
  • Infinity G35 Coupe
  • Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX GSR’05
  • Lotus Elise 111R’04
  • Nissan Sky Liner GT-R V Spec II ’94
  • Toyota Celica GT-FOUR Rally Car ’95
  • Ferrari 599’06

Kazunori also spoke about plans for Gran Turismo 5, unfortunately not giving a solid answer about whether the game will include the controversial pay-per-car scheme:

Yamauchi spoke vaguely on the relationship between GT5 and GTHD. While not getting into specifics, he stated that his team wants to put both GTHD Premium and GTHD Classic into the new title. Asked if Sony intends on carrying out its ambitious plans for downloadable content, Yamauchi stated that there has yet to be a decision on whether or not to carry the business model over.

The biggest question is, of course, when will non-Japanese PS3 gamers get their hands on the demo, releasing at home on December 24? An American release has not been confirmed, but don’t be surprised if there’s a little bonus waiting in the Playstation Store for us, too, before Christmas.

Eurogamer Reviews GT Pro Series – “Dire”

GT Pro Series on Wii

Yeah, the game has been on shelves for awhile, both in the US and in Europe, but it’s hard to pass on a Eurogamer review, isn’t it?

Like Ubi’s other Wii racer, Monster 4×4, it’s a quick fix, a cheap and dirty port of a title previously available only in one region: in this case, MTO’s three-and-a-half year old Japanese GameCube game, GT Cube. Unlike the professionally solid (if desperately uninspired) American game though, GT Pro Series is a mess with all the brief, appalling fascination of a motorway pile-up.

Carmageddon’s Spiritual Successor

Novadrome

Okay, so there wasn’t much spiritual when it came to Carmageddon, but that doesn’t mean its spirit can’t live on. Developer Stainless Games has released a game called Novadrome onto Xbox Live Arcade this morning, an arena-based car combat game that lacks the carnage and piledriver bonuses that made Carmageddon so great, but appears to have the looks and gameplay to be successful in its own right. And, with eight-player Xbox Live matches, 15 arenas, and 20 cars, it’s pretty good value for your 800 points.

We’ll be back with more detailed impressions later once we get a chance to get our hands on the game. Oh, and the above screen, while pretty close to the 360 version, actually dates back to 2004 when the game was going to be hitting the PS2, Xbox, and GameCube. Seems it never found a publisher back then!

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