For many of us, at least those of us who have reached a certain age, our first experience driving a Ferrari came in the Sega classic Out Run. Just a few arcade tokens earned you the opportunity to race down a perfectly smooth road along a perfectly scenic beach with your perfectly blonde mistress cheering you on from the lone passenger seat. Drifting past slower traffic without crashing wasn’t particularly difficult, but should you manage to hit a palm tree there was still no reason to fret. The car would tumble, safely deposit you and your significant other by the side of the road and then magically re-appear, right-side up and ready to resume.
Things are rather less perfect in the real world, where the roads are rarely smooth and the weather rarely pristine. Likewise, though your passenger may have lustrous blonde hair, you may very well find yourself needing seating for more than two. In this uncomfortably real world we also find ourselves hauling groceries in the back and maybe even some luggage for a long weekend in the country.
Believe it or not, here in the real world there exists a Ferrari that is equally at home screaming around perfectly smooth tracks as it is making its way across cracked and crumbling roads. It has a 651 horsepower V-12, accelerates from 0 – 60 in 3.7 seconds, can take you down the road at 208 MPH, seats four (reasonably) comfortably, and has one of the most technologically advanced transmission and differential setups ever seen in a car. Can it possibly be worth its asking price of $300,000? Put those grubby tokens back in your pocket because we’re going to take this real-world supercar for a spin to find out.
For racers that claim to be realistic, it just takes a bit of experience to critique their worth. Realism is relatively easy to quantify, and you can always forgive a realistic race sim for not being very much fun. For racers that just claim to be fun, however, the reviewing can be a little harder. You can forgive a fun game for not being very realistic, but if it doesn’t make you smile while playing, it scores low. The problem is, different people smile at different things. Excite Truck, though, will make you smile whether you’re a serious gamer or a rookie. Unfortunately, its lack of content keep it from being much of a lasting thrill.
If there’s one flavor of motorsport that causes more debate than any other, it’s probably NASCAR fans arguing with others about whether racers with a southern drawl have the most incredible car control on the planet or are just too dim-witted to know when to lift. Second to that, though, the automotive endeavor that gets the most debate is definitely drifting. But, where the NASCAR debates usually focus on skill, racing fans often question drifting’s status as a motorsport. After all, is a form of racing where style and finesse are far more important than speed really worthy of being compared to something like Formula One or *gulp* NASCAR?
Regardless of whether you think drifters and their tarted out cars have more in common with Christie Yamaguchi or Takuma Sato, you have to admit that drifting looks like fun. Just kicking your tail out a few degrees in a real car can be a rush, but the insane slip angles drifters in D1GP hit on just about every corner make even your craziest drifts in Project Gotham Racing look like kid’s stuff. Sadly, D1 Grand Prix, a game dedicated to the professional sport of drifting, will do far more to frustrate you than to encourage your wild side.
Few sequels in the sim racing world have been as eagerly anticipated as GTR 2. The first game had so much potential, but in many regards failed to live up to it. It was warmly received by most, but looking back it could, and perhaps should, have been better. GTR 2 is somewhat similar in that it too has a few disappointing aspects. However, these are few compared to the original, resulting in a much more entertaining and less frustrating racing experience.
In the old days (like, you know, last year), when a console game was wrapping up development and was moving on toward release, gamers would have to rely on the buzz coming from the media to determine whether it was worth picking up. However, when it came to Test Drive Unlimited, Atari took the time to work up not one, but two separate demos for Xbox 360 owners to download, letting them check out the game for themselves.
In a lot of ways, this killed the buzz, because while the media kept playing their unrestricted beta copies and raving about how cool the open-ended nature of the game is, gamers at home stuck in the demos’ tiny corner of the island were thinking: “WTF!? This game sucks!”
As it turns out, both parties were right. Test Drive Unlimited has some amazingly fun and addicting areas. However, it has no shortage of painfully mediocre aspects too. Thankfully, the good outweighs the bad, and by a surprisingly wide margin.
Crusty Demons is a game for Xbox based on the stunt squad by the same name. At first thought it sounded like the game would be a great match for the team. Unfortunately it turned out to be “meh,” a far cry from what it could have really been.