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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2017 4:48 
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What-ho, chaps!

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Need For Speed 4: High Stakes / Road Challenge

What the hell is this? I was all making fun of NFS5's driving model, saying it's all slippy and whatnot, but this game is, for want of a better word, wack.

At least NFS5 -has- a driving model. This game just has manic speeding all over the place. The cars don't seem to drive anything like anything! In fact, they remind me a lot of how old fashioned stripey-road driving games would work, with the nose of the little sprite car gently shearing to the left or the right and the world sliding into position. There's no weight, just weird arcadey grippy magic. Every race begins with all the cardboard cars blinding smashing together then shooting off into the distance, leaving you in their dust.

This is the first NFS game with a persistent career mode. NFS3 had progression and goals and unlockable bonus levels and cars, but it didn't have any way of holding them all together. If you looked carefully you could perhaps see a little checkmark or some golden text, but otherwise you'd never know that if you won a tournament on each track you'd unlock a bonus level.

In Heist Aches you've got a series of trophies to aim for, each one requiring you to get a medal in a set of predefined events. And these events start off pretty long and only get longer. Two two-race tournaments with three laps. By the end... I don't even want to think about it. You can buy cars as you go, upgrading them to get minor bonuses in all your stats, which also adds STRIPES! to your car. Higher levels give your driver dude a racing suit to wear. You can pick an arbitrary colour for your car and everything, so of course you'll get attached to 'em. Who doesn't want a Mercedes SLK?

Later on you get the titular High Stakes races. Simple: you and a CPU opponent do a race. Winner gets the opponent's car. Tension! Drama! Threat! Loss! Of Hours Worth Of Racing Money In A Single Race! (And exiting mid-race counts as a loss, buddy.) You thought Dark Souls was hardcore? Suuuuuure.

What I don't understand is how I used to like this game. This used to be my favourite one! But then again I could never get past the first tier of cars when I played it, plus I was twelve years old.

This one gave me tons of trouble when I tried playing it on the Pegatron (on Windows 7). Couldn't get it out of software rendering mode (where it looks like a Playstation game) and it doesn't support widescreen resolutions by default. Modern patches let you pick widescreen resolutions, but they seem to just offer various kinds of upscaling from 4:3. I installed nGlide, which got the 3dfx logo coming up when I started the game, but it still kept on using the software renderer. I'm pretty sure I used 3dsetup.exe to change it, but nothing I did worked. Joystick worked great though!

All the old cars (I think?) and all the old tracks from NFS3 are back again as bonus levels, which makes this game feel almost like an expansion pack of sorts. The cop modes are still there and everything. However! The modern patches for NFS3 seem to work a lot better, my bro is running 3 on his Win 7 machine with full everything at 60hz, while I'm stuck with everything terrible. Plus, I had tons of custom cars and tracks downloaded for NFS3 back in the day and I'm not sure if they're compatible with this one.

Hot Pursuit might be the better game after all...

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 20:07 
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What-ho, chaps!

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Squadra Corse Alfa Romeo

(That's Italian for 'hey, that spells SCAR!')

Fresh from my success in the realistic world of GRID, I've laid out the princely sum of a single pound and bought myself a Proper racing game for the original Xbox. Proper licensed cars from a manufacturer you've probably heard of and Proper real-world tracks you've probably already gotten sick of in more popular games.

And no gimmicks. Alright, maybe one. But it's a doozy!

According to the back of the case, SCAR is the 'very first CARPG'. Yep, it's a car playing game. You thought you were playing at cars in all those other games? Don't be ridiculous. This is the very first time you've been able to play as a car in a game. Wait, what? No, that's stupid. You don't play as a car at all. And even if you did, the chibi-toy-car ChoroQ licensed game Road Trip Adventure came out first and you DO play as a car in that!

So what is a CARPG?

Does it have an expansive overworld for you to explore, an intricately designed chain of towns each with their own self contained plots and characters all subtly linked together to slowly involve the player more and more in the events that will define the future of the world? Do you increase in power and influence as the game progresses, gaining access to increasingly sophisticated forms of transportation to allow travel to even more remote locations? Does it have a series of cunning antagonists each hiding behind one another's spoken and unspoken agendas, making and breaking alliances with the player as suits their needs? Does it have deep dialogue options for the player to project a personality of their choosing onto their avatar, with characters within the world reacting seemingly spontaneously to this new free agent in their midst? Does it have a moving score that surges and ebbs to reflect the action depicted on screen - tense confrontations, comedic asides, life or death rapidly changing encounters in the wild, pivotal confrontations encompassing a battle of wills as much as a battle of physical and magical prowess?

No. No, it doesn't have any of that stuff. It's just a fucking car game. And as you might have guessed from the way it has Alfa Romeo in the title, that's all the cars you're gonna get.

(Surprisingly enough... For a stupid, wacky, rush-translated kiddie game, Road Trip Adventure does have quite a lot of the stuff I listed... after a fashion...)

But anyway, if there's no high adventure and you don't play a role, what exactly is SCAR's claim upon the name CARPG?

It has stats! Totally unlike the stats you get in, say, every other racing game where you upgrade your car, like Crazy Cars III or Super Cars on the Atari ST or whatever. No, these aren't car stats... In SCAR your driver has stats!

Heart! Vision! Intimidation! Handling! Acceleration! Recovery! Anticipation! Endurance!

Wait! Two of those sound like things that should have been car stats! Never mind. Lets give the game the benefit of the doubt and assume that you're improving the driver's ability to get the most out of their car.

So, you put in your character's name into the very tiny box. And the game doesn't even put it on the back of your car. LAME.

So, what the heck do all these amazing stats do?

The manual goes into absurd detail over all of these. It dedicates a page to each of them, explaining how each stat represents a different facet of your experience as a driver. Or rather, to be more direct, the manual is full of epic amounts of bullshit. Every page waffles on and on in the most flowery indirect language ever trying to make the most basic of game mechanics sound like Shakespeare and Keats's very own blessed baby barf.

I'll simplify it.

In game you have two health bars, your driver condition and your car condition.

The driver condition represents the racer's mental state. It starts at around 150 and decreases when they're in situations that would cause them to lose their calm. Which in SCAR's case is 'another car being somewhere near them'.

If you're drafting behind or hanging beside another racer, you'll cause him to lose condition (this is listed in the games menu as the bizarre and immersion-breaking term 'intimidation damage') when a computer player hits zero... Boy, are you in for some fun...!

Is what I would say if intimidating a driver had any effect. As far as I can tell, driver condition only affects a racer when it hits zero. In the computer players case it causes them to wobble a bit. Maybe in a championship other than the Rookie one this would result in a devastating spin out, but you're only allowed to play the single player career mode (sorry, the 'Dynasty Mode') in order, with no 'winning the Hard cup counts towards the Easy cup' rule, so I never felt like I'd deliberately knocked out another racer with my intimidation ability. (And really it's not much of a 'Dynasty' if there's no interstitial videos introducing the locations, no narration and no car ownership, customising or colouring. A dynasty is all about owning shit!)

Human players are also affected by intimidation. If your condition reaches zero, the screen goes out of focus. Or, to put it another way, you get GTA 3 trails for a moment. I suppose its designed to be off-putting, but I'm playing this original Xbox game through composite cables upscaling onto a 32 panel so it all looks a bit naff anyway.

Your car condition is a hit points gauge that starts at 100, goes down when you get hit, and when you get to zero, your car is dead and you lose. Getting damaged dings your bodywork but doesn't affect the car's performance. You can't get burst tires. Inexplicably, you can get Gear that increases your car condition!

Oh yeah let's talk about Gear. You've played BioShock infinite, right? You remember how it had four slots for hats and jackets and things and each slot gave Booker a little twist to one of his basic innate abilities like making you invulnerable for a short time after a melee kill or making every other ammo reload cost nothing or something like that? Well SCAR has that too!

Except we're in very basic RPG land so you just get simple stat increases. Boo. This does lead to the scenario where your character can have racing boots so intensely powerful that they increase the probability of the racers in front of you losing their focus and spinning out.

What I said about the game looking naff wasn't entirely fair. The graphics in SCAR look rather good. You just don't go to many different places. The grassy roads are all colourful. The racetracks are all racetracky (and I could've sworn I've been to a few of these famous places in GRID before, so they're accurate), but the city courses unfortunately look entirely dead.

Again, maybe its because I'm trapped in the noob zone, buuuut... There are no.crowds in this game! No.matter where.you go, from the huge stands and the nurbenburger, to the deathtrap-corner American cities, everywhere is totally deserted. It's like the game wasn't finished.

But hey, at least all the gear is pretty colours so you can make your driver look like however you want! Except your driver has no physical avatar in this game. You name him but never see him, ever.

And speaking of making the game feel unfinished, there's no in game race music, again. You're on a system that supports custom soundtracks. If you can't afford a composer (and you can, 'cause you've got menu music), and you can't afford EA Games Trax or what-have-you, allow the player to play music stored on the console, you divvies.

Driving feels solid and weighty. I've gotten used to the no fun allowed style of racing from playing GRID. Every straight is balls to the floor acceleration. Every corner is slamming hard on the brakes until scraping around the corner at 10 MPH. Unlike in GRID and especially GRID 2, skidding in SCAR slows you down. You really need to keep traction if you want to stay fast. So it's no speed allowed, and no hot-dogging allowed.

GRID 2 introduced the much maligned corner cutting feature where if you tried to improvise and have fun the game would tell you in big capital letters that you were doing it wrong and slam you down into first gear. GRID lets you corner cut as much as you like as long as you don't mind the journey from tarmac to tarmac being entirely ballistic. SCAR compromises by allowing you to go offroad and make like an ice cube as much as you like, as long as you don't mind it sapping your car condition like the grass is made of lava. If you're willing to give up the Clean Lap XP bonus, you can make a mockery of some of the hairpins on the Serious Racing TM courses by powersliding a neat tiny curve miles away from the hairpin itself and re-enter the track facing the right way having lost hardly any speed.

In fact that's the only way I won the first race of the second difficulty because computer cars just don't make mistakes... Ah! But! What about the intimidation? It doesn't quite work nicely in practice. You can't really choose when you're intimidating an opponent. You're too busy racing and going to fast to select a clever alternate racing line to cause them to crash (which they won't) while staying in the correct position to take the next turn. You can't turn it on or off.

Aside from all the cars being identical within a single race, I couldn't tell the difference between any of the cars provided throughout the game. They all sounded and drove the same. Sorry, Black Bean, but all your authentic recorded Alfa sound was for naught. Every so often I'd be told that I'd reached a new total XP amount which granted me access to A BRAND NEW CAR, but since the cars are selected for you in Dynasty Mode, you can't do anything with unlocked cars except use them to play in multiplayer. And this game only supports two player multiplayer and despite being from 2005 doesn't work with Xbox Live.

Despite it being silent and feeble and samey, I was having an acceptable amount of fun until I completed the first difficulty and moved onto the next and then it was too hard and I stopped having any fun.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 20:21 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
Posts: 2121
The US title for Squadra Corse Alfa Romeo is 'Alfa Romeo Racing Italino'. As in ARRI. As in YER A WIZARD 'ARRI.

Because I totally forgot to mention in my post that you are in fact a wizard. Despite being a Level 1 driver, you start off with the ability to call upon your decades of driving experience to anticipate future conditions and react to things before they transpire. It's called The Tiger Effect.

You tap the Tiger button and everything slows down, smoothly whirls back a little undoing your mistakes, then resumes naturally.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSb7dfsyg50#t=11m42s

Yeah, it's got GRID's trademark Flashback feature three years before GRID came up with it. (Or to be exact, it's -identical- to GRID 2's version, complete with the smooth reversal and resuming of time, a timeline-less version of GRID 1's having traded the accuracy of the timeline for instant restarts.)

It's such a non-entity in gameplay it didn't even occur to me to write about it. You start off with enough T for a single Tiger and it lasts one second. You can level up the amount of stored T, the length of a Tiger and the regeneration rate, but for the majority of the game you're going to have a single restart at your command which lasts for one whole second. It regenerates at 0.1 per 28 seconds, so if you can last four and a half minutes, you'll get a second one.

Some of the races are nine laps long. Nine, three minute laps long.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 19:34 
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Hello Hello Hello

Joined: 11th May, 2008
Posts: 13095
Latest NFS.

Lootboxes to make your car go faster.


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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2017 3:38 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
Posts: 2121
I'd really like to like Payback. Somebody buy it me and I'll write about it!

Need To Pee: Hot Fursuit
I've finally gotten all golds on Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit: New Edition, and the game has really grown on me. Now that I'm old and wise enough to realise that sometimes letting go of the accelerator is probably a good thing, my skill levels have shot through the r00f. A little. There's not enough music in HF, so be prepared to mute it twenty minutes in. And I never found a purpose for driving anything other than the fastest car I had in any given class, but there's achievements for winning specific races with specific cars, so cheese-fiends have nice stuff to do.

I got HF and The Run out of my cupboard and played them alternately and gawd lawd do you get a screenful of carbutt in The Run. It basically makes the game unplayable for me now, even though I used to like it. :( So I'm stuck with HP.

I'd say it's the NFS that I'd most readily recommend. You race fast cars in pretty places. There's easy levels, difficult levels, and stuff to listen to while you do it. It's what the original 3DO Need for Speed was trying to do all along, except it doesn't have any FMV stuff (which other people inexplicably hated anyway) but instead has annoying, almost blinding, YOU UNLOCKED SOMETHING animations.

It's also got weird wacky catch upping, stupid gadget weapons, and frustrating interactions between the two that mean people hit with spikes and weapons will somehow be shooting past you in seconds, but hey you can't have everything. If the weapon gauge is on screen, prepare yourself to play a race that's superficially racing, but really a skewed psuedo race thing.

And the Cop levels are super easy, but that's alright. Any harder and they'd be disc-snappingly bad. Hold Y/Triangle to turn off the annoying siren.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:40 
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Hello Hello Hello

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Hot Pursuit is two games in one.

Racer mode is a 9/10

Cop mode is 6/10, at best.

This is the last full price game I bought for the XBox 360. Then subsequently bought it cheap on Steam for PC. (This is back in the days before Origin was a thing.)

My advice these days would be to buy it cheap on Origin. Play racer mode. Ignore cop mode.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2017 15:02 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
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There's not a lot to distinguish them for me. Racers have 'you have to get to the end in this time' races and shitshow 'cops everywhere and you just chuck whatever powerups you lile everywhere' pursuits and almost puzzle-like 'survive until the end with these feeble powerups' races where there's finite cops, finite powerups and you have to figure it out. Cops gets 'you have to get to the end in this the but you're penalised for collisions but we expect you to crash so here's tons of extra time' races, kinda tense and fun and Burnouty 'you have to eliminate all the racers by touching them' pursuits and finally 'there's one racer but he's tougher than usual and sometimes he turns around but he has a tendency to do it so that he hits your spikestrips and helicopters twice so its piss easy' interceptors.

I did all the pursuit takedowns first, then all the racer pursuits, then the racer races, then the cop trials.

I thought the trials were going to be my least favourite levels because I expected the time limits to be really tight but they were pretty straightforward and they're easily the most fair out of any races in the game. Your success depends on your ability to stay in the nitro lanes as long as possible more than anything else - its kinda Trailblazery. You could drive perfectly but if you dont have or use any nitro you're going to fail.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 22:07 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
Posts: 2121
Need For Speed: Most Wanted: Black Edition (PS2)

Quote:
The Black Edition is a special collector's edition of Need for Speed: Most Wanted released in celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Need for Speed series. The Black Edition features additional events, bonus cars, three bonus vinyls, and a special challenge series event. It also comes included with a special feature DVD that contains interviews and videos relating to the development of the game. It was made available for the PC, PlayStation 2, and Xbox releases in North America, but was only made available for the PlayStation 2 release in Europe.


Yup, there's a Special Edition of the Best Need For Speed racing game (and therefore the Best Racing Game of All Time).

Over here, you can only get it on PS2, which is really damned weird. What do you get?

A single new Challenge event!

What are Challenge events? They're a mode distinct from the Career mode consisting of distinct levels each with a pre-chosen car and track, arranged in ascending difficulty and car speed. It's just like the Event Mode in Super Smash Bros. Melee and onwards in fact! Except without the interesting gimmick levels or gimmick enemies. They're just, y'know, more races, like the ones you select from the Blacklist tiers except you don't get anything for completing them. Not even an Achievement on the 360 as the game came out prior to the now-established pot-pourri Achievement norms, so the NFS:MW achievent list is simply Beat The First Boss, Beat The Second Boss... Beat The Last Boss. (And the game is bugged so it'll dole out Achievements to random players if there are multiple people signed in on the console).

The standard list has 68 challenges for you to complete, or rather get bored after the first few because who wants to do a bunch of circuit lap races in a lousy-ass car for no reason when the Pursuits are where it's at, but you have to complete specific prior events (and the hold-ups are usually boring ones) to play the proceding ones (the good ones) so let's just give it all a miss. It's a little like the Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 single player event tree in that respect, except they didn't lay it out like a tree in MW even though it logically is one. The last Event is 'survive a pursuit for 30 minutes' which sounds like slippery controller time to me.

There's a secret 69th Challenge that you can unlock in any version of NFS:MW by typing in a secret code. The Burger™ King™ Challenge™. It's just a normal race (no BK branding mysteriously) except you play in the Titular That's My Damn Car (the blue (sometimes coloured green because the filters in this game are strange) BMW from the box), which is nice since it has all the max-power parts from the Career mode. You only receive the car normally in the single player after you win the entire game, and there's no real reason to drive it when you get it unless you're a mad completionist.

Black Edition owners get the 70th Challenge, which is puts you in an orange-with-black-stripe 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS on Heat Level 7 (usually it goes up to 5) against Supercharged SUVs. I honestly didn't notice a difference between this and a regular pursuit. And there was no new music to go with it. Still damn fun though.

It's a shame that it only came out on PS2. Playing it on a HDTV through RGB SCART is a bit nasty, but as far as I can tell the entire game is still present and correct - every race and every car. It doesn't do any ridiculous GTA3-style loading screens between islands or regions. It's just in 30fps and 240p as opposed to 60fps and 768p. And the accelerator is the X button or the right-stick up. I'm really glad for the right-stick up method because the X button uses the much-maligned button pressure sensitivity, so unless you're holding the pad in your hands like an industrial press, your car will eventually run out of puff as your hands tire and you'll be wandering around at 70mph without realising.

I did enjoy the extras DVD though! It was 90% terrible, and there were no interviews on it that I could tell. It's just a DVD video, so you have to endure a horrible pre-rendered video transition between menus and you're never really sure what you're selecting. There's some concept art for the city but it's baked into a rolling video, so you can only see the preliminary blocky untextured city layouts and annotated route diagrams for split seconds before the video fades to useless, pointless prerendered ingame footage of the final city, which you're already familiar with from having played the game at all.

The real fun stuff is the FMV cutscenes shown in their original green-screen form without the backgrounds added, everybody doing cocky tilted-shoulder gangsta poses or leaning on green cushiony props, fake car bodies and car doors. There's very little in the way of actual interviews here, which is a shame, and it doesn't last very long (but then again if you put all the cutscenes in NFS:MW back-to-back it'd be about fifteen minutes max anyway).

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 2:00 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
Posts: 2121
Burnout Paradise

Is it Burnout Paradise or is it Burnout: Paradise? The two different typefaces in the logo make me lean towards the latter. Either way, everybody's been pronouncing the title wrong: little does everybody know that the word 'Burnout' is actually French, and thus pronounced 'Burnoh'. (N.B. May not be actual fact.)

The game opens with so much speaking. Endless, endless speaking. I'm not going to skip it. I paid for it, so I'm going to enjoy it to spite the game.

Actually, no it doesn't. I'm getting ahead of myself. The game opens with god-damn, dog-damn Paradise City by Guns & Roses. It's cute the first time you hear it, but if for example you worked in the building where they were testing the game and had to sit next to a guy who was assigned to it for months at a time, you'd go... absolutely... crackers. And also you can't skip it because if you're playing from scratch you've got the 1.2 GB big Burnout: Paradise 1.9 Patch to download first before you can play. Do yourself a favour and get your console downloading this one in the background while you play something else.

Next-first, the city gets described to you by a lass who does her best to make a tedious description of finding game events at traffic intersections into some kind of seedy sex chat recording.

Also: "Events in Paradise City finish at one of eight locations. One for each point of the compass." I think calling Northeast, Southeast, Southwest and Northwest compass points is stretching it.

Having every race in the city end at one of eight locations doesn't seem to have any practical use for the player in my eyes. It just means that you know in advance that you'll be seeing the same damn roads again and again for the entire game. Start the game well by tainting the entire experience with bad news.

And then you get passed to an American radio gent named DJ Atomica who prolongs the preventing-you-from-playing sequence by describing the license system in full a second time for some reason. I keep getting him mixed up with DJ Stryker, who was the DJ in Burnout 3: Takedown. (I was worried I'd made up DJ Stryker, getting him mixed up with MC Striker from the first Guyver movie.)

He finally offers you a brand-new, disconcertingly pre-crumpled Learner's Permit after it being built-up so much and a smashed up Hunter Cavalry made-up car and tells you to go for it! And then a few seconds later the game stops once more and he tells you exactly what to do to get the car repaired. And from there the game stops again and again every twenty seconds to point out that you've passed something or that an event can start at your current location and it'll be added to the map.

When finally you're allowed to enjoy yourself, the Cavalry slides around the map at a moderate walking pace, making a sound like an angry, confused lynx with a head cold, constantly snorting ever upwards through a seemingly infinite array of gears. Like Split/Second there's no speedometer or tachometer, so you're just left to guess at how fast you're going. If I was being pessimistic, I would suggest that they don't show you because there's something bad they want to keep hidden.

I decide to drive a full lap around the outside edge of the map to start to fill in all the blanks on my map and get used to the controls. There's the main city area, which looks like a mixture of flat roads and flat buildings with all the zaniness and spontaneity of a car park, and the mountain area which looks identical to the Route Adonf in Need For Speed 4 High Road Challenge Stakes. Colour, layout, level of detail, you name it.

Image

The whole game has a sort of bland visual style to me. Flat. No shaders. Little colour. Barely any darkness. Kind of like the opposite of its over-detailed shiny successor Need For Speed Most Wanted 2012 Crap Edition.

While I'm driving around, I'm nagivating by the mini-map in the bottom right, as you do. But it's a weird thing: the map doesn't rotate as you do like it would in, say, Grand Theft Auto 3 or Driver. Of course, I can just change it in the options...

Uh..

PAUSE THE GAME CHAPTER 1.

Dear Google: "how do i rotate mini-map burnout paradise"

Quote:
Did they patch in a rotating minimap? (6 years ago)

Apparently, at one point, they were talking about adding an option for a rotating minimap through a patch. Did that happen?

And please don't tell me how great the game is even without a rotating minimap, or how I shouldn't need a rotating minimap. I just want to know if they eventually added it, or not.

Quote:
Nope.


Fab. Even back then, games had the option to have a rotating minimap, or not, as your orienteering preference dictates. Hell, the interfaces for Need For Speed 3 and 4 were customisable to the extent that you could drag all the pieces around with the mouse as you pleased and individually enable or disable them.

You know why a minimap would rotate? It's because it imitates the visual experience of driving, and greatly reduces the thought required to nagivate from said map. Things that would appear to your left and would require a left turn to head towards appear on the left. It's obvious and intuitive.

The only reasons I could think of for the map to not rotate would be to match the pause map which is always North upwards. Or perhaps they want it to mirror the layout of a paper map. But I'll call you a stinky liar if you've never rotated a physical map in your hands in order to check what a route looks like from the perspective of driving it.

They're imitating a thing that was a necessary limitation of SNES/Mega Drive tiled graphics for no good reason.

The bad reason might be to get you to not focus on the minimap while you're driving, in which case they can naff off. The reason I fly by the instruments in so many games is because what I'm shown on screen is useless! Give me a better camera and I won't use the radar!

Anyway. Options: a good thing.

And still Paradise City is playing in the background. When the EA Trax logo flashes up in the bottom-left corner of the screen to announce the start of a different song, I'm so relieved I decide to celebrate with a big cup of tea and a long, well-deserved break from the game.

There's a special kind of event called a Burning Route that can only be attempted in the appropriate car. I've driven past a few of these for cars that I don't have (I don't know how the car ownership works in this yet), but by luck I find the race for my starting car. I decide to open the map and plop down a marker to lead me back towards it. It's my first day, I don't know the good routes yet.

Open the map. The legend doesn't tell me how to put down a marker.

PAUSE THE GAME, THE SECOND.

Dear Google: "burnout paradise waypoint"

Image

Soooo, you've just got to remember it then? That's a little strange. Maybe the game is set in 1987, when the song Paradise City was released.

Early 3D games didn't have dynamic routes lit up on the map for you, it's true. Good algorithms for finding optimal routes are decades-old old news, but putting them into games in real time is a slightly fiddly business. As soon as it became trivial to do so, open-city games put it in. Coincidentally it would appear in games alongside the rise of in-car GPS systems, with game publishers eagerly arranging sponsorship deals directing players through their (long dead) Cingular phone to engage their branded GPS to head to their next destination. As a result, game players were fascinated and gratified to find little cool maps appearing in their cars more frequently, and real life people were comforted by the appearance of in-game guidance systems resembling real products making games more approachable and realistic.

Conclusion: everybody expects GPS in city car games: it's a real thing.

Maybe I can warp to this race from the menu. There wasn't a button listed for that either, but...

Ugh. I don't know why they didn't put in a warp.

Need For Speed Underground 2 was the first Need For Speed game with an open world with race start triggers within the city that you had to drive to, and I'm fairly sure you couldn't warp to them. They weren't in the next game, Hot Pursuit 2, but they were in the next three: Most Wanted, Carbon and Undercover. Do you know why you don't remember that? Because there was no point to doing it instead of selecting the races from the menu. Driving without an objective was, and is pointless. It's backtracking, and it gets rightly and loudly booed whenever it appears in any other game in any other genre.

Sure, there's billboards to destroy and gates to smash through. And that'll pass the time while you head from point A on the map to point B. Once. And then what? Not being able to warp reeks of s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g - not respecting the player's time.

Test Drive Unlimited has a great big pretty tropical island (well at the time it did) and it also had a slick warp sequence where the camera would lurch down from the satellite map of the island to ground level to reveal your car waiting for you already on the road. TDU2 lets you slurp up small change from driving to improve your collection of hideous golf clothes.

So I turn the game off and moan about it on Twitter without even starting the Burning Route, the end.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:01 
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So many words. So much wrongness.

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this game, I played it through to completion on XBox 360 (launch day purchase for £49.99). Then I bought it again on PC and completed it again. Then I bought it again recently for my XB1X in its 'Remastered' form and I'm over 25 hours into that playthrough.

You pretty much just have to learn the city, really. The Burning Routes are joyous, I'll happily spend an hour or more on a single route until I get a run I'm happy with.

This run is FAR from perfect, but I did have the route nailed down. I'm just waiting for Trousers to get the game on his birthday in a couple of weeks and then we're going to start Leaderboard jousting like we did on OutRun2 on our original XBoxes back in the day. (Although the leaderboards for that weren't online so we emailed pictures of our times to each other.)

Oh yes the soundtrack for Paradise isn't great, (it's no Revenge, that's for sure), get a decent playlist on Spotify for music, and just have the effects for the game.


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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:37 
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Yeah, criticising Bury Pee...

Giphy "that's a paddling":
https://media3.giphy.com/media/GQMYzsHTdSsmY/giphy-loop.mp4

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:54 
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I agree.. Never saw the fuss about Burnout Paradise.


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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 9:04 
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You never tried to fit 8 people on Dimrills plank.


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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 9:15 
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Mr Dave wrote:
You never tried to fit 8 people on Dimrills plank.

I did, and I still very much don't see what the fuss was about Burnout Paradise.


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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 9:26 
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Comfortably Dumb

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I'm not sure what it was that didn't grab me about Burnout Paradise. I wasn't massively keen on the open world nature of it, but then I enjoyed Test Drive Unlimited, so maybe it was just the brash presentation of it all that rubbed me up the wrong way.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 9:40 
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Everything about Burnout Paradise is great, except for Doc complaining constantly about Burnout Paradise while you play Burnout Paradise.

Oh, and the way you create a multiplayer game, which is whack.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 9:52 
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I loved it at the time and I will pick up the remaster when it's onions. I'm glad they patched in a restart for the single player events though. Having to drive back to the start was a bit tedious, especially when you only gag a few events left.

Multiplayer challenges were indeed glorious.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:44 
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What-ho, chaps!

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Quote:
So many words. So much wrongness

Wrong about any specific thing or just wrong in general?

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:01 
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Doctor Glyndwr wrote:
Mr Dave wrote:
You never tried to fit 8 people on Dimrills plank.

I did, and I still very much don't see what the fuss was about Burnout Paradise.

It wasn't so much about the game. It was more about an excellent chunk of time when you had guaranteed full lobbies of BeeXers LOLing over each other.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 13:30 
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MrD wrote:
Wrong about any specific thing or just wrong in general?


Well it's obvious you don't like the game and didn't really give it much of a chance. Not liking the minimap implementation and lack of GPS is fine, and factually accurate, but it's always been a total non-issue for me.

I think the point of having the fixed eight finish points is that you naturally learn more and more of the map over time, and as different events run through different sections of the map, but finishing at one of those eight points, you start to knit the map as a whole together in your head.

The time limits for just about all the events are very generous, so you can sort of 'muddle through' but you'll feel you're not doing well and it won't be satisfying - I think the joy of the game is getting to the point where it all flows naturally and you can sort of 'zone in' like a fucking Burnout Jedi.

The fact you don't know how car ownership works suggests to me you played it for a very short period of time (for reference, as you complete events towards your licence unlocks, new cars will enter the city and when you encounter them you need to take them down and then they become unavailable at the Junkyard).

For an arcade racer it's quite a demanding game, but it rewards both effort and skill in equal measures. It also ramps up the difficulty of events in a rather forgiving manner, it's only when you're working towards your ELITE licence that it starts to get fairly punishing.

I also love the way there are different event types, sometimes I'm in a RACE mood, sometimes I'm in a ROAD RAGE mood, sometimes I'm in a MARKED MAN mood, and sometimes I'm in STUNT mood - and they all require a different driving approach, and different cars. (And sometimes I just go off for a cruise to find a couple more billboards or smash barriers, or work out how to do a super jump.)

Driving to the event makes sense in the context of the world, even on this, my third full playthrough, I've seen new opportunities for different routes on events, which only happened because I was on my way to an event start line and saw something I decided to take a closer look at. (Admittedly the original incarnation whereby there was no restart event option was way over the line, but they patched that in fairly early on.)

I can understand why some people don't like the game, but for me it's one of the best single player arcade racer games ever.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 21:40 
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This run was after about 40 minutes of practice. I'm still waiting for TROUSERS to come on-stream in the game for some real leaderboard competition.

Note that to do a run like this waypoints and GPS and rotating minimaps and nonsense like that cease to mean anything, you need to know the route, know where you're going, and how you're going to do it.

This is, once again, very far from perfect, but it's a decent marker in the sand.

Direct link to the run - https://youtu.be/H6oKVbUyfOM?t=1m38s

With a couple of poorer results included below. In 4K if you've got the capability to watch at that res :)

Also I think DJ Atomica is deliberately tongue-in-cheek.


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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2018 0:36 
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Love Burnout Paradise. Buzz about and knock off a few events,Atomica is chill and BOOM! NEW CAR.

Rinse, repeat. Love it.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2018 7:41 
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Mali understands it.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2018 11:33 
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Hearthly wrote:
Mali understands it.

I think most of us do. It's not exactly a niche Beex gaming experience!

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2018 11:39 
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Opinion across the last few posts seems pretty evenly divided, and MrD clearly didn't like it at all!

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Fri Sep 06, 2019 1:57 
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What-ho, chaps!

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Ridge Racer: Unbounded (Demo) (PC)

It's a special occasion, so I had cause to re-download the demo of Ridge Racer: Unbounded and give it a go. And I figured I might as well update what I'd written here previously about it.

Which, somehow, was nothing at all. I was expecting a thousand words of Ridge bashing from Past MrD that I was to ignore before I wrote another thousand words of Ridge bashing from my present, older, wiser self, but all I can see is ""It's Like Need For Speed Except Deliberately Not Fun" isn't really the way to sell a game to me. If I wanted that, I'd start up a Carbon career using Muscle cars. Or Ridge Racer: Unbounded. AHAHA." and "absolutely impossible to play due to visual effects, like Ridge Racer: Unbounded", so I can't cheat by copying from my prior self even if I was tempted to.

But I'm not, because my opinion is pretty firmly set. Ridge Racer: Unbounded is a whole bucket of proper slop. It's fancy slop, but it's definitely slop.

Let's start again, a fresh slate. Clean brake. All that. I downloaded the Ridge Racer Unbounded demo on Steam (it's still there) and had a quick whirl.

The basics:

Everything is very murky, like a used, burned teabag. It's somehow dark, even when it's bright. The visuals have a limited range of colours, like it's a HDR game that's been poorly mushed through and out of our feeble human technology. It looks better to watch than to play.

There are obstacles in your path (like in CUBE) and sharp turns everywhere. There's no map. I don't know why there's no map, but there is no map. Which makes where you are supposed to go a complete mystery. The chevrons that are supposed to appear around the outside edge of the track to guide you are infrequent. They do seem to appear somewhat reliably when you're supposed to turn, but they -don't- appear when you're -not- supposed to turn, which makes it unclear when you're supposed to go in a straight line. Occasionally you'll rush up to a coffee shop at 200mph that juts out into the road (you're going 200mph, the shop and the road are stationary), and you won't be sure whether it's the start of a ninety degree turn or just a lane blockage.

Crashing isn't so bad. There are very forgiving NFS-style wall slides, rather than the 'orrible grotty early Ridge sticky-slow-you-down walls. Crashing isn't the problem - you'll get killed more or less randomly anyway as you race if you stick next to other racers. You get a Burnout style 'TAKEDOWN!' sequence with your car flying in slow motion, except this isn't Burnout so instead you get FRAGGED. And also because this is Not Burnout, you don't have a boost gauge*, you have a POWER gauge.

Everything in RRU revolves around POWER. When you activate it (and it's only available on a full gauge), you become a super-faster, near-invulnerable version of yourself. Touching other cars while under the influence of POWER will hurl them sideways away from you in a fiery explosion (putting you into another YOU FRAGGED THEM sequence that lasts a million years with your car under automatic control). It even makes certain scenery elements destructible!

It's really inconsistent about that. Some obviously indestructible things like solid girders holding up the elevated railway are little more than painted plaster even outside of POWER, and other times a shortcut will lead you into tiny little wall of the kind you've been pushing aside like bead curtains and it will be instant death while within POWER.

When you have a POWER ready, the devil on your shoulder will fill your vision with hallucinatory text instructing you in block capitals that you must DESTROY SHOPPING MALL (even Skrillex is telling me to 'Kill Everybody' for some reason). And the devil is correct, for if you ram headfirst into the indicated wall with your POWER active, you will fly through the building and cause untold chaos, scoring massive points and launching out the other side, having taken a shortcut. And since you scored massive points, another POWER will almost certainly be at your disposal.

This means that if you want to get anywhere, you'll be POWERing through every shortcut you can find, and attacking each fuel truck in sequence to disable opponents both ahead and behind you. If you try to play it like a racing game you will fail, because it is all about POWERing against objects, obstacles and opponents. POWER is not nitro, using it against no targets is pointless. You've got to be on the ball as you complete the laps for all the triggers and link them up into a seamless run. That's right, this game is Nobody Can Stop Mr. Domino, The Racing Game.

There's no 'ding' when you get a full POWER bar, so you'd better be keeping an eye on the gauge (not that there's much else to look at, the UI feels very unfinished). There's a subtle 'dummm wooooahhhh' sound, but nothing as immediately satisfying as Split/Second's fighter jet 'bi-deep'.

I can imagine the full game getting very samey; all the city destruction stunts look the same when you perform them, with the sole exception of the fancy, convenient shopping mall on Level 2. When you pass through previously POWER-opened shortcuts on subsequent laps, they are marked with a pair of very obvious flames, which is nice. I've never seen an enemy use POWER to do anything but inconvenience me; they never seem to POWER through buildings. Maybe to save the cool stunts for the player?

The inside view is very low and it's almost like it's angled towards the sky.

No announcer. How un-Ridge. But the music sucks so that's authentic - at least what I heard in the demo was some boring nyum nyum nyum techno stuff that left no impact and didn't make me feel like the most important person in the universe, so it was a failure.

Bless you Ridge Racer Unbounded. You came, you were rubbish, nobody cared, everybody knew you were awful, and now you are gone. It's a shame that you took the whole concept of Ridge Racer with you, but I was never that struck on it.

* I'm aware in some special races your orange POWER gauge is replaced by a blue BOOST gauge :nerd: , but that isn't in the PC demo.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:28 
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What-ho, chaps!

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Forza Horizon

Here's a game that frustrates me in its obstinate refusal to frustrate me. It doesn't even do -CRASHED!-. You're in control of your car at all times. Fancy that!

You do races. Or you don't. I've got 9h30m of playtime, of which is 2h in races because I decided to try and get all the billboards (ESSENTIAL) and roads lit up before I did anything.

Each race has a class restriction but all the cars can be upgraded a few tiers above and below where they naturally sit, which is nice, if you have a favourite car you want to use a lot. The upgrade system might be copied over from FM4, but it feels kinda vestigial. There's twenty different categories of options, but all of them seem to upgrade the car in all areas rather than pushing it towards some characteristic extreme, so there's no reason to not just use the auto-upgrader always. (It isn't clear, but the auto-upgrader will just make your car as good as it can within the tier required for the currently active race. It counts as a purchase for the parts bundle so you can switch between the old and new tiers for free.)

There are nowhere near enough races in the super fast zoomy cars. I'm on the final stretch of the game and it's still throwing class C and class B races at me. When I switch from my world exploring Aventador to the Mini, it feels like I'm driving backwards and all these Chucklemobiles will start tumbling down the slightest hill due to lack of power.

The enemy cars are very heavy and any attempt to attack them will result in absolutely nothing happening. But that's okay, because on Medium they are very conservative on corners, allowing you to slip past on the inside like a ghooost. You can selectively turn off any combination of assists you want, in case you don't want the game to steer for you (??) or brake for you (?????).

Um... that's about it. The DJs are deliberately trendy and all that. Everything is really well done.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 6:07 
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What-ho, chaps!

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Captain's log, supplemental:

The electronic/bass radio station plays nothing but dubstep, and each time I enter a race, the current station seems to be random. The other two stations seem fairly substantial... until you play the game for two hours straight, at which point boom boom boom boom!

The car livery trading servers still seem to be up, and my search for kittens returned some adorable naff recreations of nyan cat and friends. Don't know if I could pay Cr for it without Gold though.

Oh yeah there's microtransactions everywhere. Bluh.

For some reason I don't mind driving to races in this, even though I hated it in BP. Maybe because there is a 'fast travel anywhere' option... that's paid DLC. So the more I drive, the more I'm sticking it to The Driving Man by not paying. Or maybe the driving in FH is just fun.

Bad things:

Without original music the game doesn't feel like its escalating as you progress through the wristbands. They didn't even have some super cool remix for the final race.

It seemed like there was only a half dozen Rx ranked races in the entire game, which was really lame. I was beginning to hate having to bring out the horrible little Abarth every time the game wanted me to do a C, B, A or S race because it had the best acceleration.

The Horizon Final was just an ordinary town race except with five laps. The track wasn't especially long or complex.

I don't think any races in the entire game used the highway on the west side, only two of the Star Showdowns did. The last Star Showdown was fun, but I don't see any way to be able to replay it...

There's no quick race, and no way to quickly set up a custom race of your own choosing I think. There's an achievement for winning a race on hard but picking one from Race Central didn't count - I had to drive to the already-completed race manually... sucks.

When you win the last Star Showdown and get the boring Ferrari, nothing happens. There are no end credits because the developers dont want you to stop playing, they want you to continue microtransactiiiiing. You can't even buy vinyl designs from the ingame shop for not-real Crs without a Gold account, which is dumb. I wanted a cat car.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2019 0:06 
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What-ho, chaps!

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Need for Speed Payback

You start off in a series of plot missions playing as Tyler Morgan, generic dude; 'Mac', generic black dude and whats-her-face, some woman. They're some kind of action packed criminal crew for hire, whose amazing idea to steal a multi-million dollar supercar for some other person goes wrong when they decide to steal it for themselves. So now you have to do a series of street races and things in order to get the chance to bring them down and get Payback(TM). The camera is right up the car's backside, and the interface looks just like The Run, you've got strict objectives, scripted cops and time limits, and it's a Frostbite game, so for the first hour or so, it feels like a kind of lame-looking sequel to The Run. (What is it with Xbox One games just not meeting their potential compared to their Xbox 360 equivalents? I haven't played Bone Rivals yet, but I would not be surprised to find out after waiting all this time that it just looks identical to 360 Rivals.)

Driving around the towns in Payback is annoying because sometimes you can't see a damn thing. I'm at a serious disadvantage for this, and I can't judge the game fairly, because I'm playing at 720p on an older Sony Bravia TV that has really dumb upscaling for 720p that includes overscan, so I'm only seeing 90% of the visible area and everything is blurry, but under these conditions, distant roads are very difficult to pick out.

When you complete the prologue (you can tell because you get the 'got the crew together' achievement), it decides it's done being The Run and wants to be Forza Horizon instead. Like Undercover, except without the fast travel, so I hope you like mindlessly driving around for no reason! Actually Payback makes driving around mindlessly for no reason quite entertaining, because the characters are fun and interesting to listen to (THE FIRST TIME), and they don't shut up (until they do! no more being reminded to do missions by the radio!!) so it's like the best bits of Need for Speed (except the driving feels more Forza-y than NFSMW-y) and Driver San Francisco (I hated Frisco's driving, yuck.).

There are activity type things around the landscape - jumps and checkpoints and variations on jumps and checkpoints, and you're awarded a score from one to three stars based on how well you(r car) did. I thought at first you had to do them one at a time: get the one star score first and then go back for the two star score, but later on I went straight to getting a two star score on my first attempt, which I was very happy about. The game had an opportunity to be a time-wasting dick for no reason and decided not to. Hooray!

You've got a car upgrade system that's made more complicated than it needs to be because of the terms used. You've got something called Speed Cards which you get for winning races, and you can trade these in for Part Tokens... maybe? Whatever. the gist of it is that every car has six components like ECU, Turbo, Suspension, etc., and you can freely equip improved versions of these into the appropriate slots if you get them (better ones have higher numbers). Each 'card' also has a random colour and if you equip three of the same colour at once you get an extra bonus. Each car is upgraded independently, which is a bother, but the menu says that later in the plot you can bring any car up to spec (without any random bonuses) for ingame bank. (Unless I'm mistaken)

I can't think of many things that are bad about Payback! The driving is very chunky and solid. So chunky I can't get any of my cars to drift on demand! I had to have a few attempts at the prologue mission where you're driving around a (deliberately annoying and wacky/whiny) streamer dude named Hashtiger and have to get a high drift score because I don't know how to do it. Later on when you're in the open world, you can access a tuning interface while you're driving, which is nice, but there's hardly any options, which is not nice. You can basically have your car be responsive, or not responsive. There's so much of a delay on NeXtGeN consoles' input anyway (and that's before you get to defective modern televisions with display lag, the most obscene thing ever), so why the hell you'd want them to be even less responsive I have no idea. I set my tuning to be max responsive, and now I stand a chance at being able to weave through traffic at all. Regardless of your choice, your car will feel like it has marshmallow suspension: every turn you make, the wheels will stick to the road and then the chassis will float on after it a little while later. Any sort of rapid motion on the analogue stick will have your car body bobbing about on the wheels like a dashboard toy dog.

Speed cameras and things STILL FLASH THE SCREEN WHITE WHICH IS STUPID AND DANGEROUS but at least it isn't sudden (it's a fade) or a series of flashing lights (seriously, A Criterion Game should be banned).

No Speedbreaker, no rewind. It's all up to you. If I'm not entirely mistaken, they've taken out -CRASHED-! at last as well!! When you hit a wall, the interface disappears momentarily, but if I'm not mistaken you never lose control of the car. GOOD!

Actually, one bad thing has come to mind, and it does sort of put a big dark cloud over the plot-related missions. Because the missions are scripted The Run style, you don't get a lot of chance to improvise like you would in NFSMW (re: cop chases, etc.), and the few times where a big stunt is hinted at and built-up to, the game will always yank control from you just before you reach the stunt and do the difficult jumps on your behalf, showing you them as a cutscene rather than risking you approaching a jump incorrectly. It's pretty lame in that respect.

Another thing while I'm on this post-play tsunami of regret: damn that Curator radio voice is annoying. It's annoying me now more in retrospect than it did during the racing. I don't need to be told how cool the world is. If the world was cool, I'd go to it and find it cool. Grr.

- Meanwhile, the next day -
I dunno where I was getting the idea the graphics were bad. Maybe it's because you start the game the casino night zone and then spend a million years in the desert. The desert looks nice, but you can still see big rectangular chunks of shadows appearing as you move around. And there are lots of sand-coloured rocks that you can't see that are just itching to ruin your offroad races.

Finding the derelict cars from the little maps is fun, but they're always in places that can only be reached by jumps, which aren't marked on the map, so finding all five pieces of each car becomes a frustrating task as you rub your nose all along the rock walls looking for the one place where you can drive up that leads to the correct ramp.

The game loves to stretch things out with its You Don't Know Jack text flashing up all over the place telling you about side bets and questlines instead of letting you get on with the bloody racecars.

Having to have a specific flavoured car to enter each event is a money sucking nuisance. The drag races are so boring at the start in a naff 80mph car...

This soundtrack is really getting on my butt now. I don't like neverending hiphop with the lyrics on triples normally, and that's 80% of this damn soundtrack. The rest is t r a i l e r m u s i c.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2019 0:38 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
Posts: 2121
Also if you'e interested in lots of old Need for Speed titles, you should definitely read Ray Hardgrit's four part series on it!

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2019 2:20 
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Skillmeister

Joined: 27th Mar, 2008
Posts: 25897
Location: Felelagedge Wedgebarge, The River Tib
I like these words you wrut. It reminds me of Need For Speed.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2019 21:39 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
Posts: 2121
I've just won Need for Speed: Payback. About the half way point, the game doesn't half turn into a low-effort wet fart of itself. The whole middle section is just boring nothingness. There's only two or three The Run-like levels, with stunts and whatnot, and the game really has absolutely no faith that you'll be able to do any stunt whatsoever. Your characters steal cars, jump into trucks, smash helicopters, all of that... but never while you're in control of them.

Drift and Drag fans are going to be disappointed: they're definitely zeroth-class citizens in Paybackland. There's a single digit number of events of each, and you barely do anything in the Drags at all. It's a real unfriendly move by the game to force you to buy a different flavoured car for each discipline, even though you're purchasing from the same catalogue of cars. Your Red Flavoured Dodge is completely incompatible with the Yellow Flavoured events, sorry. There's Racer (races), Offroad (races off the road), Drift (soapy cars), Drag (cars?) and Runner (strong cars). Except Runner cars have no distinguishing features from the other cars because they all have infinite health.

The double agent missions have cops in, and every pursuit in the game is along a predefined track which makes them a lot like the pursuit races in Hot Pursuit Reboot, except without weapons. And inexplicably you don't have a health bar. The best thing about them is that you don't have to listen to the damned awful soundtrack while you're doing them! Yay! Incidentally, I think The Curator is the main villain of the game because of her atrocious taste in music. The double agent missions go absolutely nowhere and have no meaning whatsoever. Characters come and go, and you drive to a lot of checkpoints, but nothing comes of it.

When you win the game, you just win and that's it. Even for ostensibly winning The Outlaw's Rush (the easiest pair of back to back races in history, oh my gawsh, it's nowhere near as nailbiting as the timed segment races in The Run), Tyler doesn't actually receive any bloody money, which means that you're going to have to spend all your career cash following the super expensive (ingame money) achievements that have to be done in specific cars. (There is also an achievement that you receive for grinding an earlier story mission for new upgrades. That's exactly how it's described on the achievement.)

In place of CRASHED, Ghost has decided to let the player have a choice when they crash: whenever the player bomps headfirst into something, the interface will disappear as if it were a cutscene. However, if you just keep racing like normal, the interface will come back as if you totally meant to do whatever you did. It doesn't take control away from your car, which is fantastic. Press nothing and your car will be reset. And the resets are really generous - I've been put in positions ahead of where I was before the crash, and at faster speeds. I can't figure out how to manually reset though, which can be annoying if the car gets repeatedly reset on the side of an unclimbable hill leading into an out of bounds area. Another neat thing that Payback has is the ability to have a far camera. In The Run the camera was right up your backside with the bumper falling off the bottom of the screen sometimes. In Payback you can have a more NFS3/4 style camera with the whole car visible at least. You can't elevate the camera to see what's in front of you like Virtua Racing, but, you know, it's early days.

And now it's time for me to play Need For Speed: No Subtitle. Heavens, it's been a while since I played this, and totally forgot that the cast on the loading screen were such a bunch of listless scruffy bastards.

"WILD HANDLES, BRUH!"

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2019 3:48 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
Posts: 2121
Need For Speed: No Subtitle
This is the same game I played on PC back in July 2016! I forgot I wrote about it after playing the time limited trial! Now I'm playing it again on the Xbox One on my brother's EA Access account (you can play other folks' Xbox Game Pass and EA Access games on your own Gamertag, which is nice).

Once upon a time, you were showing your mad skills in some very dark city when some dude in a hat named Spike (the dude, not the hat) runs up and taps on your window and praises your "WILD HANDLES, BRUH" before handing you an advert for a super Secret Cool Club for Super Attractive Folks.

You drive there in your default terrible car (or not, if you like - there's special dialogue where Spike gets a little impatient but eager for you to be there, which you'd only hear if you took too long getting to the club, which is a cool touch), and your character -gets out of his car-??

Spike is there, grinning like a fool and fist-bumping everything and everyone he sees as introduces you to his FMV friends, who are now your FMV friends. These are the only people you know in the world, and who will now ring you up every ten minutes with the latest hot goss' from the world of night street racing.

Spike, who fiddles with his baseball cap so much in every scene I start to feel sorry for him. He must've really pissed off whoever glued it to his head.

Manu, who is a big guy, smart guy, rude guy.

Amy, pretends to fix cars and remains spotlessly clean doing so. She has a major obsession with Protagonist Harry it seems, because she just won't stop bloody ringing me up to say she's bored and just needs to race with me.

And Robyn, who is basically a smiley-face balloon on a string that gets dragged around by Spike.

And Travis, who is a suspicious bastard who rarely shows up.

The sets in these clips are really cool. Totally believeable. Pool tables, garages, a whole damn diner. They're ace. Each one of these live action cutscenes probably cost more to make than the entirety of Payback. And there's no cuts that I can see. It's like Hardcore Henry, except on his days off when he hangs out with his super cool friends and steals their fries while pretending to be attentive. The game is half racing, half fist-bump simulator.

As Spike shows us around the club, showing us dozens of extras all dancing and doing their thing, "There's some real people in here tonight!" he says! I see what you did there, Spike-o. FMV Spike and pals gesturing at the screen... It's actually pretty funny in an endearingly weirdly acted way. Like I'm in a murder mystery weekend and these guys are the staff of the house I'm staying in, and we all know it's fake but we're all playing it as if it were real.

One neat trick the game does with its FMVs is that many of them are set in the garage where you work on your own car, and your custom car is superimposed onto the scene amongst the characters! The game almost gets away with it too.

These Super Cool Guys give you your first car from a selection of three. And you're not told the stats so I guess you're just supposed to by whichever one you like the look of.

No pause means you can't easily go into the settings and change the music, speech, engine and sound effects mix during a race in case a really loud song comes on. And there aren't any options for that in the menu anyway, so bah. There's even an option on the main menu to play <ALONE> but it doesn't do anything.

The first hour of the game is constantly interrupted by big rectangles of text telling you stuff. There's no pause in the game, so the game doesn't pause while these are displayed, and there's phone calls going on in the background as well. It's not very well thought out at all.

Steering is a lot twitchier, but also feeling weirdly delayed. It was awful on the PC for the delay, I couldn't understand it at all. With a pad, it's better, but I would prefer it if the car went right when I pulled right, rather than 'start to turn right'.

You can drive to races if you want. Or you can just teleport now! Yay! Don't know why it isn't in Payback! That's stupid!

There's lots of things that were improved in Payback, like most of the menus and the maps (you can't fully zoom out the No Subtitle map, the fools). The car visible customisation interface is completely unchanged between the two games, which reeks of cheapness. The garage is very very familiar, and there's tons of reused icons and things. Most of No Subtitle City is lit by very strongly single-colour lamps, so painting your car is not really that effective since it's just going to look like whatever colour you're underneath.

I'm enjoying not having to listen to the Payback soundtrack (I spent the second half of that game in complete silence, and glad for it. There wasn't even any unique music for the final race, that's how much of a low effort cack-job the latter half of that game was.) For some absurd reason, the 'skip song' button in No Subtitle is to click in the left thumbstick and hold it for three seconds. That's not at all completely impossible to perform in the middle of a tense race! That's almost as bad as Driver: San Francisco's idiot choice to map its nitro analogue Boost to Up on the steering analogue stick, preventing you from doing nifty manoeuvres where you skid, turn and boost simultaneously.

Your cars drive like damned luxury liners. Or perhaps space rockets. I'm sure there's a lot of whoosh and a lot of energy being used, and if you were closer you'd probably realise they were going pretty fast, but from my perspective my car just creeps gently down the road as if it's afraid of waking someone up. Turning is possibly something these cars are capable of? It might be DLC. There's a reason why for the first four hours of the game, most of the events are described as simply 'Race with Amy' rather than 'Race Amy and place 1st'.

And I say 'cars', I mean 'car', since you get such little money for each event that buying another car is a tragic fantasy. And you'll be spending all the money that you do receive just making your car somewhat competitive in the ugly as hell upgrade screen, with giant illustrations of various car bits and figures just splattered all over the place. Say what you like about Payback's Borderlands random vending machine and slot machine mechanics, at least you could see immediately what parts of your car were good and bad and fix them.

In races, there's never a count-in, and the AI cars always start off moving faster than you and further away from you, which I don't think is particularly fair. They also know the route, which I don't, and they can also see in the dark, which I can't. They also hit like the solid slabs of metal they are and have no issue with slamming you into the wall.

Unlike the good Need for Speeds, the walls in No Subtitle are antimatter treacle. If you're lucky, you'll stick. If you're unlucky then the slightest glance against a simple railing at speed will send you barrel-rolling madly through the air, often neatly crossing the width of the road left to right and landing on your roof. And you can't do anything about this, especially not anything so base as a manual reset. No, you must endure Crashed, and worship at its feet.

The random dynamic open world cops from Most Wanted and The Worse Most Wanted are back! They're nowhere near as dangerous as Criterion Game's ones, but they seem to be completely invulnerable. They're absolutely nothing like the Hot Reboot style ones you get in payback which seem to zoom right up to you and encircle you regardless of your current speed, and then fling themselves into the air at the slightest jolt like synchronised swimmers performing a petal routine.

Yeah the pursuits are pretty cool, though the cop music is pretty understated. It doesn't really feel like an undefeatable force has dedicated itself to erasing you from existence, which is what it ought to do. The Outlaw targets, which appear maddeningly slowly, and one at a time, are similar to the pursuit targets from the Blacklist in Good Most Wanted, but without the option to immediately begin a useful pursuit from the menu. Instead you have to manually teleport to the closest open race next to the police station and monkey around until a cop appears to tell you to go away. Sometimes they never do. And then you have to deal with the pursuit targets themselves, such as minimum fine and minimum duration. And these are really annoying because they're so damn slow, and even a mediocre starting car will be able to effortlessly escape from the cops just by holding the accelerator, so whenever I have a pursuit target to meet I have to half-pull the accelerator trigger and slink around at 50mph collecting traffic cones, bike stands and bus stops like a lazy Katamari Damacy to rack up enough score to let me finish the level. When you want roadblocks, they don't put them down, and when you don't want them, they're everywhere. There's at least two types now, the kind you can go through but are like quicksand, and the kind you can't which are solid impassable walls. I suppose having random walls pop up does make the chases more interesting, but I'm playing the chases by ear anyway because -fanfare- there's no pause, so I can't safely check the map while I'm playing. I just pick whatever road the radar indicates most suits the kind of move I want to pull and razz to it.

You don't have a bustedness gauge in this one, instead your vulnerability is represented by the screen fading to grey and the camera rising up above your car. Coupled with the severe, ever-present film grain, it's almost like the police are tearing your soul away from your body. It's real eerie.

There's lots of effects throughout the game, some of them very annoying, and some of them very cool. The frostbite engine is good at mimicking light sources in reflections. Las No-Subtitle is in a constant state of gloomy drizzle, so you can park you ride under a street light and see little flickering reflecting drops of rain on it. The baked in trickling rain texture-sources for the shaders are very convincing, and active light sources like headlights and police roadblocks are very pretty. I wonder why there wasn't any rain in Payback. It's making Payback seem like the Undercover of the new games - functional, there's a plot, the races work and they're fun, but that's all they are. And there's stingy car acquisition mechanics too.

But they've gone overboard with some flashiness again. When you complete a race, you're told your place, time, money earned, and the REP you've been awarded based on the five disciplines. And every time a number appears on the screen it has to do so accompanied by a full-screen flash. Do yourself a favour and just turn away from the screen for a few minutes after you win a race?

Things near the sides of the screen are usually displayed in non-converging electron beam/chromatic aberration (delete as per preference) vision, which gives me a headache on my already incompatible TV.

Underground has tangible chevron walls. Payback has intangible chevron walls. No Subtitle has a racing line of chevrons (not Forza-style coloured to indicate speed though) and no walls. The camera positioning is really low, even on the more NFS4 zoom level. Trying to see into the distance in the dark through film grain is a challenge, and that's my deduction for why these huge, dazzling chevrons are present and un-turnoffable. I hope you like flying off the track when you can't tell when the race is leaving the highway by a subtle bearing to an offramp and all your progress is ruined. It's alright though, you can just restart from the nonpause menu... except when there are cops around because that would be too easy, wouldn't it?

When you have a decent car and have fought the menu to get it to turn and drift when you'd like it to, the game is rather fun, if pointless. There's very little sense of progression. I've been playing for four hours and according to the swirly progression graph I'm 25% through the game and have done 71% of the Outlaw story. Nothing has happened, I'm just racing longer and longer of the same type of thing. I know that as I progress I start challenging the proper actual good racers of each discipline, but that hasn't happened yet.

I'm going to play it until I get stuck, win, I run out of days, or I get bored, in decreasing order of likelihood. There's some stunt races coming up where you have to drive in formation and work with other racers and ain't nobody got time for that nonsense. I drive fast and very, very loose. Not that I can't be delicate when I need to be - I completed Porsche's Factory Driver mode after all - but, No Subtitle has a few too many too long loading screens between restarts for me to enjoy a 'race' where my score can be ruined by another participant acting in a way I hadn't anticipated.

It goes without saying that in Payback and No Subtitle both I spend most of my time flying by instruments because the stuff shown on screen is basically useless.

The next day....! -->

I'm getting into this. I don't mind endless pointless races as long as there is a point and they do end. Hmm. An upgraded car finally feels like a car, and everything starts to become rather easy. Maybe the game expects me to be as fast as the unupgraded version of whatever I'm driving, and that's why I'm razzing off?

The drift scores are really achievable too, though the drift train levels have a lot to answer for. The AI is a menace - when it controls your car going into and out of races (and some cutscenes) it's bomping and hitting stuff all over like it doesn't know how to drive your tuned car. In the drift train levels, you have to be near the AI cars to score, and they go from curve to curve at 60-70 mph and it's absolutely maddening. They should be following ME damn it. If I try to stick near the pack I don't have enough speed to enter a drift! I don't know what the game wants me to do.

Also what is Travis' relationship with these guys? They all seem to hate him, and him back.

--

I pressed Up on the D Pad to enter photo mode during a race and it didn't stop.

How are you supposed to take photos if it doesn't stop??????????

-

I won!

I earned my sketchy bastard toast of Monster Energy, and all is well.

The very end scene is really cute though.

---

No Subtitle vs. Payback:

NS:
Shorter. 14 hours.
FMV! But pointless. But a lot of it.
Plot goes fucking nowhere.
Long races with hard to hit checkpoints.
Very very very dark.
NFSMW style pursuits, except the cops are idiots like in Undercover and Carbon.
Enough money to buy cars and upgrades, but you really have to keep an eye on it, it's easy to forget you even use money.
Obtuse upgrade system that should've just been a bar graph.
Stupid understeering driving model. Only drift cars are drivable.
Drag races patched in, stupid and pointless, and there's about three.
Monster Energy.

The zombie corpse of Most Wanted tries to revive itself. Would've gotten away with it too if the walls didn't bloody detonate on contact.

Payback:
Longer. 21 hours.
Ugly weird cutscenes. Hardly any of them.
Plot goes fucking nowhere.
The Run style checkpoint races with time extends so you don't get stuck in unwinnable races.
Lots of offroad bounciness with invisible rocks.
Hot Reboot style pursuits. Hope you like the takedown cam!!
Not enough money to throw around on cars.
Obtuse upgrade system that wastes your time but is satisfyingly gamey.
Stupid unconfigurable driving model. Only drift cars are drivable.
Drag races part of progression, stupid and pointless, and there's about three.
Coke Trucks.

(Hot Reboot + Forza Horizon + The Run + Driver: San Francisco)/4

They've taken an average of three good racing games (and one bad one) with distinct styles and made a composite game that does all of their gimmicks a quarter as well.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2019 1:26 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
Posts: 2121
Need Speed For Rivals
I'm playing Rivals again, having won Payback and No Subtitle. The daft as hell serious business monologues haven't got any less funny, and the unskippable tutorials for the Racer and the Cop and then a final Alldrive tutorial in case you weren't paying attention to the first two haven't gotten any less annoying.

Right away the driving is totally different to No Subtitle and Payback, to my senses. I don't know whether it's a different driving model, or because of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S Turbo S Turbo Turbo you start off in, but you can actually turn in this game. And that's good because you start off surrounded by chicanes. And cops. Boy are there cops. I barely got out of my garage as a Racer and I was up to Heat Lv. 7 with almost a dozen lamborghini shaped cheese wedge cars flying around me like wasps. It's practically a survival horror, and reminds me kind of how the Dust works in Metal Gear Survive: you go out of the safe place, you're in Danger Land and probably gonna get killed. There's very little hope of recovering from mistakes. You've got very VERY limited health as a Racer, and if you don't head back to the hideout after some antics, you don't get to keep any of the Speedpoints you got.

I like the sinister cop music in this one, when you're on the menus, even though it doesn't bloody loop correctly like it's a PS1 game. This is not a happy game like No Subtitle and Payback, it is WARRRRrrrrr. The ingame chase music is a boring clattering percussive bangy mess. Not music. Not memorable. 2/10.

Can't zoom the map out. That's a flaw in this and in No Subtitle but not Payback. What's the point of having a super multiplayer mega online game if you can't zoom the map out to see where your friends are? Oh yeah, it's kinda MMO-dynamic-structureless-racing-ish. It's a lot like Need For Speed World, in fact. Which means no pause. Ghh. Good grief. I just got Busted sitting still writing this. A Cop was chasing some AI Racer and they bashed into my car, which started a pursuit, and since I wasn't moving I was easy prey. So on my Busted Summary, I had driven 0.0 miles, and achieved a top speed of 5.4 mph since that's how fast I was rolling after the cop smacked into me.

The map is not a densely interconnected series of roads like most other open Need For Speeds. This one is a lot more sparse. It's like Hot Reboot. There doesn't seem to be any city-like part of the map. The place feels like a bunch of strands or bridges floating in space since you can't go offroad much. Not a bad thing since Hot Reboot was fast and nice and good, and that in turn was a lot like The Need For Speed, but you can't improvise a route during a pursuit (hey, that rhymes) if there's no other roads to choose from. The roads aren't Undercover wide here, and the cops are vicious as heck, so every race will inevitably degenerate into a luck-based catastrophe with racers and cops alike spinning out constantly.

Oh, and you can just hit the enter base button even in the middle of a pitched pursuit? That's a bit weird, don't you think?? Surely it defeats the point of having to escape pursuits if you can just go next to the magic building and disappear? They counter this by making the magic building almost indistinguishable among others despite there being a huge indicator on the minimap, and having the caption that invites you to bank your points only appearing when you're driving at a walking pace. You could (and will) pull up next to base and get smacked right out of position into an out of control slide by a cop before the damn caption fades in.

Also it has the same hilarious fault that the other Ghost Frostbite games have (Ghostbite?). Cars are placed onto the road in mid-air, and the developers hope you don't notice. In Payback this means that the cool-ass donkers who crowd around at the starting line all bounce down like they've just been airdropped into place, and whenever you leave the hideout in Rivals your car jolts about on the tarmac like it's just been woken from a nightmare.

The Racer HUD uses the The Run font, and the Cop HUD using the Most Wanted 2005 font. :D

The map has several distinctly themed areas as you go around, which makes it even more Hot Rebooty. It's like you're driving through the maps of the previous Need For Speeds all linked together somehow. The graphics are really nice! I'm playing the Bone version. It doesn't have shiny roads like No Subtitle, so headlights are noticeably non-shiny on the tarmac, but everything else is fab. There's a tornado-like zone where all the palm trees are getting blown about, and a desert and a snowy place. Daytime is nice for racing in, nighttime is basically impossible racing across Tron lines on the ground. Your view forward is obstructed by words flashing up every second, so if you're like me you'll be racing by the minimap and instinct again. Don't try to pause to check the map.

It's a lot like Hot Reboot, down to the gadgets. You get to pick your own gadgets this time though. You've got a very very stingy health bar (that you can upgrade by like 5%) before you instantly die. In most of the other Needs for Speed you usually always stand a chance in a pursuit if you keep calm and accelerate madly towards any opening. In this, you rarely stand a chance. You've really got to be paying attention. Pretty much everything is luck. You have to return to Magic Base to keep your money. If you get Busted, all the money you got since the last time you went to Magic Base is gone forever. No bloodstain!

The main plot of the game (such as it is) is moved on by completing predefined lists of objectives with silly titles read out by the silly protagonists. I find myself hardly ever going into the proper listed Events like races and time trials and so on since they're rarely the objectives given to me in the Speedlist. Getting busted doesn't reset your progression through these, which is all I care about. There's not much you can buy with the money anyway. You only need to attempt a single objective to become so Wanted that your loseable money will shoot up to the point where you can buy all the upgrades you could want if you can get home.

It's also really short? I've been playing for four or five hours and I'm already at 13 completed out of 20 on the Racer story's rankings.

I don't know what the differences are between the 360 and the Bone versions. The Bone controller has a nice dpad so it's easier to Easydrive (the GPS menu you'll be desperately trying to navigate while drifting at 170 mph) at least. But its usefulness is questionable. I told the bloody thing to take me to the nearest repair place, and it put a marker 3 miles away... and along the way I drove past another repair place!

The driving itself is really really good. I think everybody would have liked this game a lot more if the cops simply weren't in it.

I miss there being characters though. I play driving games for the music or the plot. This game doesn't have either. I'm going to turn the music off, it's awful. There is a plot, kind of, but it's just your too-serious avatar talking to himself while images of computer screens flash about. It's not as soulless as A Criterion Game's shiny-shiny awfulness, but it is difficult to get too fired up about Rivals because of the difficulty.

-- Edit: Having played some 360 Rivals: The frame rate is there but only just. When there's a few cars about, the game doesn't like it. And there's something that looks like tearing maybe? Some of the full-screen effects are missing, like the distortion of the HUD when you're hit by an EMP. And also there doesn't seem to be any anti-aliasing, so when you're looking at small things (i.e. the very tiny proportion of the screen that shows you what's in front of you) it's like looking into twinkling sand. Objects like highway obstructions, fences and, critically, oncoming cars tend to instantly materialise a little too close to react to them. The game itself seems to be totally intact, complete with angry cops and quick Busteds, just a tad less pleasant to look at. And if I'm not mistaken, the cop radio chatter is completely missing?? As are half the police??? I just deliberately tried to get into a Heat 10 pursuit and escape it, and it was so much easier on the 360 than the Bone. Very curious.

--

I have now won Rivals! Zephyr finally gets what he wanted, to gaze up into the sun as the most famous scrambled egg who ever lived. I didn't think it was possible for an entire game to seem to be made out of filler, but here you go. The objectives-based progression is nice. It's like the whole game is just mucking about to get achievements. Except without the achievements, so who cares?

Speaking of achievements, there's 20 ranks in the story mode. Every rank, you pick one of three Speedlists to complete, and every time you complete a Speedlist, you gain a rank and progress through the story. When you reach 20 the game ends, and then allows you to try any of the 40 Speedlists you declined on your way towards the end. That sounds nice, right? It would be, if a noticeable portion of the Speedlist tiers contain three copies of the game challenge. The last tier contains only one goal: win a big long race. If you want to reach rank 60 for the achievement, you have to do that same goal under each of the three alternative names it appears under.

Also, naturally the later tiers contain more challenging variations of the previous tiers. One tier might say 'bump 1 cop, get Silver in a race', and another might say 'bump 2 cops, get Gold in a race, achieve 100000 points and bank it'. You have to do each of those separately even though one subsumes the other. It's very annoying. And you have to return to base to make a Speedlist your active goal - all your incidental racing stunts you'll pull off that would be applicable to goals you have but aren't the currently selected goal are just wasted. It's one big timewasting, filler-filled lamezone. Except it's not that big, the island is pretty small.

-- Edit: Now I'm playing the cop career and loooooord it's boring.

You know the sound design is annoying when first I lower the sound because I'm sick of the engines, then I lower the music because both the soundtrack and pursuit music are awful, then I turn off the sound entirely because you can't turn off the sirens while pursuing, and any bump will automatically put them back on anyway. So now I'm playing in silence listening to Star Trek podcasts.

The cops objectives are boring, and there's an unforgiveable amount of useless pointless filler. One level has you get 100000 SP, which is a huge amount of points, and most walkthroughs can only offer a commiserating hand on the shoulder and a 'yeah, you have to grind races and busts and there's no way around it, sorry brother'. So I did it, and the NEXT OBJECTIVE is to get ANOTHER 60000 SP. Arrrrrrrrrgh.

F8 is a dangerous lunatic. Neat. He also appears to be some kind of schizophrenic. On the menu, he's got a super. intense. i. am. the. law. the. iron. glove. fits. perfectly. voice, but then in the game when you activate the Pursuit Tech he's got a 'Ten-tenny four to central ahm gonna active spike strips' hick cop voice.

There's some lovely storm effects; it gets properly dark and blowy and rainy and the cop lights even light up the rain blue and red! I thought the whole game was leading up to a really intense storm level at the end, as hinted at by the title screen... but no. There seems to be a tiny area of the map that's themed as blowy zone, which is a really big bloody disappointment.

And the next damned objective is 75000 SP as well.

STREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEETCHING.

And now it's 100000 SP again.

This is a beautiful graphical engine, a lovely driving engine, combined with absolutely cack no-effort tedious thoughtless game design aaaargh.

The arrows on the floor from No Subtitle are here, but they're really shy. I can play for minutes at a time without them showing up, even in the dark when seeing the road would be very handy. I suppose they only show up on junctions, usually too faint and too late so, surprise surprise, you'll end up smacking into road dividers or onramps constantly. When you're a cop, the AI sometimes makes the same mistakes, especially on complicated highway junctions, which is pretty funny.

Edit - Won the cop career. I think poor F8 hit his head a little hard. Maybe he even hallucinated being in the VRT, and that's why all the cars have police livery at the higher ranks and not FBI. Also, the last boss was a much easier task than the 28 mile adventure as Zephyr. Just drive up to the guy and give him a bump, done.

What a weird empty game.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 17:32 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
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Need For Speed: Heat
It's Need For Speed: Heat! On the box and all over the place it says it's NFS Heat, but the captions still say Need For Speed Heat, so who knows?

Anyway, I'm not playing this one since it's brand new, so EA haven't decided to throw it into EA Access, which makes me raise an eyebrow or two, because condemning a publishers game rental service as a vortex of ancient (or, more frequently, just embarassing) junk is my job.

Also the origin.com store is HELL. It's a bunch of Web 3.0 information-sparse SHIT, with screen-filling renderings confusing the senses, when they're not overlapped by cookie notices flying in from every side. And when you find the actual information, it's a real trial to find what you want - they're deliberately being assholes about everything; the tiny tiny tiny Buy Now button (£31.89 for the Standard Edition) is hidden behind no less than TWO different screens trying to convince you to subscribe to something. To hell with you, sirs.

So I could only watch a friend's friend's bro's bro's bro play it. Here are my notes:

Sexy bike woman and some cops, ooh they sure are angry about something. They let a mask guy go as a warning, he's so miserable. He's wandering aimlessly through the night without his car, giving up street racing despite random woman's incredibly persuasive argument of "We're a crew!". This intro is making street racing look like such a fun thing to do. Way to get your players psyched up after spending SIXTY POUNDS on the game.

The cutscenes are shuddering like hell, what is up with that. Even if the console is downloading other games or updates, the console itself ought to be designed to give priority to the damn game...

Hey we're driving into some garage guys place to get out plot mandated first car. And the camera pans over a cabinet full of trophies... that, presumably, were won by Forza Horizon.

The ingame graphics look worse than No Subtitle. Ugly ass character faces. What's with this? The character models were probably the worst part of Payback why did they bring that back?

Pick a character? That's a first for a Need for Speed if you don't count Porsche 2000. Which insufferable listless hipster poser do you want to be? Her name is SELECT.

Shitty assholes in designer clothes. It's lowered itself to the level of Test Drive Unlimited. Ew.

Character is voiced, woah.

Really heavily based on Payback's interface, icons, map.

As you drive around, huge chunks of background scenery and shadows appearing and disappearing randomly. More obvious than Payback.

Gee whiz, it's that trendy cyan and magenta; The Crew 2's colours and swooshes. Whats the matter? Ran out of imagination, brother?

In the race we've got blocked off city routes and big flashy signs. It's useful but kinda soulless. I'm getting ProStreet vibrations from it. The bad kind.

At the end of the race during the tedious dead time with captions and things, you get to watch your awful in game self stand around and take selfies. That's exactly what I want, yes sir.

No subtitles? Probably an option but how can you possibly keep track of the ENDLESS FUCKING DIALOGUE while there's music in the background. Oh yeah, the horrible hiphop is back. This is seeming more and more like a mod for Payback by the second.

The player character is very eager to try to get Nitro from the shop, hammering on the door even though it's clearly closed. A horrible woman with negligible facial animation and a permanent grin tells me that the snooty ass parts shops aren't selling because there's a shortage and they want good racers to use their parts. Uh-huh. Excellent money making strategy there.

The world looks like a depressing flat L.A. hellscape. Reminds me of Driver 3.

Tiny tiny fonts and interface, the whole thing is designed for a 50 inch screen. The NBA and MMA games were the same. Am I that far behind the times?

At the day-night transition, the camera rotates 180 degree and it looks like the Spore Drive from Star Trek Discovery.

Such a poor racer, shops refuse to sell car parts. (I guess thats one excuse for the plot-gated progression.)

Endless fucking dialogue everywhere you go oh my Lord and its not even funny like in payback its just yackety yack uhhhhhhhh.

The guy playing says the driving model is barely allowing him to turn at all, to my complete lack of surprise. I'm envisioning a very No Subtitle driving model.

Super wide headlights at night. Without No Subtitle's FMV, the game just looks so damn CHEAP.

Don't have to win races to advance plot. Again. Like in No Subtitle. UGGHHH. Boring waste of time.

There's a list of the oppponent names during a race which I think some of the games were missing but it doesn't tell you the relative placings of all the drivers in terms of distance or time, so you can't catch it out when it cheats and zaps them forwards.

"You gotta join tha leeeeeg" player avatar just instantly goes along with everything everyone says. It was funny in No Subtitle because you were just a fist on legs that bumped everyone, but here its just UGHHH. Ugly as sin characters. Did I mention that? They haven't changed.

Rain at night looks good. Darker, shinier. It's almost looking as good as that one game that game out four years ago.

Boring ass upgrade system with lots of sliding side-to-side menus. I'll stand up and say it. I LIKED SPEED CARDS.

"Daymn lost visual" angry night cops dont sound as professional as your normal NFS cops. That is interesting.

Nifty pause screen. (Is it a pause screen?) The game is really leaning on the Saints Row 3-style transitions that slide away the scenery and replace them with a backdrop. Cool, but I'd rather the loading times were just shorter.

Part descriptions on the upgrade screen are tiny and unreadable on my 32" T.V.

Character customisation! It's atrocious and embarrassing! You can wear your favourite ugly branded top and tracksuit pants! For the knockdown price of $2000. No previews for the clothing types, just and endless row of the same brand symbol as you scroll through trying to find something that looks like clothes. Also, what the hell. While scrolling through the hairstyles and hats, the characters and cars in the background are randomly appearing and disappearing constantly. This wasn't a case of the camera panning left and right and them just not appearing in time, the camera was stationary!

Fancy loading screens and they'd better be because there is a lot of goddamn loading in this game. Ugh.

It offers fast travel as a caption... not sure if they're lying or not.

The bloody voiced avatar agrees to everything the other characters propose so now we're appearantly in a crew, "yay". BORING I want to make some decisions of my own.

Gratuitous use of magenta in various places. Thinking it has a design style when it really doesn't.

Oh yeah, the soundtrack is almost 100% more awful hiphop. The EA Games Trax captions appear and disappear in an instant, possibly because they're afraid I'll swear at them if I have time enough to read them.

So much dead time before and after races with captions and whatnot floating around. I'm running out of disinterested ironic 'yay's.

Boring city three lap twisty race with lots of corners.

---

I was thrilled. Thrilled!

I'd totally buy it for 50p. Or blast through it if I had an excuse to use someone else's copy. Otherwise, no. The Xbone-era Need For Speeds really have gone a bit awry since Forza saw NFS burning the barbeque again and again after Good Most Wanted and decided to kick their entire reason for existing off a cliff and set up their own pleasant eatery on the site.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 20:42 
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Joined: 25th Jul, 2010
Posts: 11128
Is this all some kind of perverse act of public self-flagellation for crimes past? I mean, I admire your spirit; but there has to be a less punishing path to whatever redemption you're after.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 20:48 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
Posts: 2121
It's not called 'I'd Quite Like Some Speed'. It's a need. A need!

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 20:57 
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MrD wrote:
It's not called 'I'd Quite Like Some Speed'. It's a need. A need!


Ah, it's a sexual thing. Gotcha.


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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 23:06 
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Est. 1978

Joined: 27th Mar, 2008
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Location: Your Mum
As far as fetishs go, it's not that bad.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 23:17 
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Grim... wrote:
As far as fetishs go, it's not that bad.


As long as all the game discs are over 18 and consenting; who are we to judge?


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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 15:45 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
Posts: 2121
Horizon Chase Turbo (PS4)

My pal says 'hey you like racing games', and I do, and he says 'you like demos', and I do, and he says 'here's a demo of a racing game' and I say 'bravo'.

From the title, Horizon Chase Turbo sounds like it ought to be a crap mobile microtransaction spinoff of the Forza Horizon series, but it's actually not. It's still a mobile game, but it's not that.

Horizon Chase Turbo is the console version upgrade of a mobile game which wants to claim the 16-bit stripey-lines-down-the-screen sprite racer crown, except for the 2020s.

Anyone whose played Lotus will feel right at home: the cars don't drive like cars, they just whoosh forwards and inch left and right a bit, the enemy cars are all just rolling obstacles that trundle along at a fixed speed after shooting into the distance from the starting bell. The graphics are in the shiny-with-shadows polygonal style that's hip these days, and it all works. The cars and scenery are 3D objects, but the track isn't. The scenery distorts and grows as it comes towards you like a sprite racer, and the track curves around but only in an OutRun style. The whole thing runs at a billion FPS, as a 2020 game bloody ought to.

I 100%ed all four races in the demo (pick up all the tokens on the track AND place first), and enjoyed it, but I think perhaps the game was just letting me win to get me to buy it.

All the races in the demo were lap races, which aren't my favourite, but there'd be no way to do the token challenges otherwise.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 15:55 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
Posts: 2121
GRAVEL (ps4 demo)

Crappy slow incomprehensible menus, a terrible frame rate... well at least it's not chasing the fluorescent late 2010-s trendy highlighter pen style. Instead we get snow. Snow in a rally game on an uneven track. It's more controllable than you'd think. If you can get in front, dancing to the finish is no problem, but the enemy cars love to give you a shove.

Whenever you bump (OR GET BUMPED) into a wall, one of three things will happen:
- You'll flip onto your roof real quick, then pirouette on your front wheels around and around while everyone passes you.
- You'll immediately be reset in the middle of the track like the game's director noticed your faux pas and politely but indignantly put you back quick hoping the audience wouldn't notice the error.
- You'll just stop.

What will never happen is a Need for Speed style rail slide - that fun thing that keeps the momentum of the race going.

For a game called GRAVEL in big capital letters with big cars with big types all crunching around the place, there's no extremeness to the experience at all. It's all very official and controlled, right down to the race announcer that sounds like he's from one of the later Tiger Woods golf games, the ones after they burned out or burned up all their talent with chemistry, and got some guy who's really good at saying words clearly and masking any charisma he might have.

Anyway. More like GRUEL, am I right?

Edit - It's always reassuring when I go on metacritic afterwards and see all the quotes that mention the wacky crashes. :D

This line from Hardcore Gamer made me boggle: "What makes the negatives more forgiving is that Gravel retails for $49.99, rather than a full-priced game." U WOT.

Grim... wrote:
As far as fetishs go, it's not that bad.

What you and Bumblebee get up to is your own business.

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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2020 10:22 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
Posts: 2121
blur

Blur, Blur, Blur.

Let's get one thing out of the way. I resent Blur. I was interested in it before release because I love my cars-with-magic-powers. I don't dislike Blur for its premise. I -like- it for its premise. I dislike that it came out in competition with Split/Second and the collision between the two meant that neither Bizarre Creations or Black Rock survived. If Blur had just sodded off a little bit, then Split/Second could have succeeded more and gotten the teased sequel. Then Blur could have come out while Split/Second 2 was in development and everybody could have been happy. Of course, if Split/Second was good enough to get a sequel, it would have been able to earn one on its own merits rather than through Blur ceding the market, so I'm actually mad about Split/Second. But I'm still mad about Blur. Grr Blur.

Where should I start?

The start I guess.

The start of Blur is absolutely terrible.

The D tier cars are unbelieveably slow-feeling, and the game appears to work on the Need For Speed Carbon principle of low tier cars having a terrible handling stat, which means that they can't steer at all. I can't speak for real racing cars, but surely real cars can turn corners? Real cars would be able to turn corners at low speeds quite well, I'd guess?

The standard race at the start of Blur has twenty cars in the grid. Twenty full size cars trying to squeeze through the narrow streets of Hackney all at once. To say that it feels luck-based would be an understatement. Every time there's a launch or an impact, the screen turns funny colours and the music becomes distorted. Nineteen other goobers all shooting off powerups both forwards and backwards; the whole episode becomes an inferno in a fireworks factory.

The powerups feel strangely empty and weak, like they're all made of light rather than matter. They shake and discolour the screen and ruin the music so you're better off playing with SFX muted entirely (you won't miss anything), but they feel like they have no impact. The red powerup makes cars do a front flip, the pink powerup makes them twitch diagonally and the orange powerup makes them spin round. These deflections are pre-recorded, so get used to seeing the same front flip over and over and over.

The game has some banding assistance as far as I can tell - but only to aid the player. When you're in front in Blur, you're in -front-. The further you are in front, the less vulnerable to powerups you are. Blur has a Red Shell (it's even red), but it doesn't have a Blue Shell, which means that when you're in first, all you have to worry about is the guy in second. The guy in second has to worry about the guy in third, so he's no threat to you. This also applies to the AI drivers, so in the early part of the game, getting from 20 to 2 is a real struggle (for you always ALWAYS start RIGHT AT THE BACK OF THE PACK?!), and 2 to 1 is a matter of having enough race-time left to catch up to the driver who is way WAY out in front.

Because of the powerups and the number of enemy cars, the challenge of the game doesn't feel fair. It feels like it's constantly obstructing you and preventing you from doing the cool things that you want to do. When the enemy cars stop being bastards and things line up for you to properly race for a bit, the game starts to come together and you can slide through the pack due to skill rather than nonsense.

The whole experience from boot-up seems very impersonal and surreal. The menu is dark and moody. I do like the menu music, it makes it feel like the game is building up to something - it's not. The world is detailed but the palette seems to be squished up into narrow ranges, so London is presented by moody greys (every time Hackney/Shoreditch comes up as a track, I'm often heard saying aloud that it looks absolutely miserable and disgusting) and Brighton by moody blues. The music seems otherworldly in a way I can't describe. It's not 'different' in any respect, it just feels like obscure techno and dance stuff that isn't quite finished. The songs feel very repetitive. The starting races in Blur are so slow and dull looking they feel like they're from another planet.

There's an option to toggle 'Licensed Music' but it doesn't seem to do anything? I'd have thought it would be like the Cinematic <---> Licensed slider that Need For Speed The Run gives you so you can customise how dramatic you want it to be.

The timed checkpoint races without other drivers are especially special because you can finally experience the driving mechanics without being blasted off your feet every five seconds by bastards. The driving mechanics feel Need For Speedy in a good way, unlike Split/Second which doesn't.

There are enemy boss characters in the Career mode, whose entire existence is a single illustration. They're not voiced or rendered and they don't seem to have a driving style of their own. The only expression of their personality is the nature of the tasks that you have to complete in order to face them. Most of these are different varieties of grinding based on events that are entirely out of your control, which is great.

The one-on-one boss races are quite fun because you can be more deliberate with your powerups. Every time you defeat a boss, you acquire a new 'Mod' that acts as a specialised enhancement to one of your powerups. There's eight in total, but they all feel completely useless except the shield enhancement which pushes enemy cars away. The rest either affect powers you never seem to get or do something that's of very little use to you.

Other than that there's no car customisation, vinyls, styles, etc. The inclusion of licensed cars means nothing to me. To get anything other than block coloured normal paint you have to play Multiplayer... and the servers have shut down so ho-ho-ho to you. There's also a few achievements that are unobtainable because of this.

When you get to the end, you finally get cars that feel like cars, and wide open tracks, and the game becomes hilariously easy. The number of cars in the pack drops from twenty to ten, meaning you have to fight a lot less to get to the front, where your win will kick in. At the end, the tracks such as SanFran Sususliolossosolo are wide open, pretty and so much fun to drive around in, and you get the game's single point-to-point track, the Initial D style Mount Haruna which I'm informed is also in Grid! On these tracks, which have nice colours and aren't twisty cramped messes, you can get up to some real speeds, leaving the AI drivers far behind you.

The camera is uncomfortably low, unless you're driving one of the Stupid Trucks That Appear In Racing Games For No Reason. I wish you could have the higher camera as an option for the standard cars, but it is not to be.

Comparisons to Split/Second are inevitable, but in this case they're taking the piss. Well, not really since they were in development at the same time, but it feels like a piss take to me. There's a docks level where you drive amongst shipping containers and alongside a giant boat. There's a dusty old desert airport level. There's a city with a refinery in the middle of it... which is actually out of Need For Speed Underground when I think about it.

The achievements are split into three groups (on a menu that's a direct rip-off of Need For Speed Carbon's diamonds): grindy things that even after completing the single player I'm nowhere near finishing, smart tricky things that I'm quite fond of because they rely on skill and unobtainable multiplayer-only things that I can't ever get since the servers shut down.

I might hate Blur, but I won it. I won the heck out of it. There's very few single player acheivements I have yet to get - I've completed the Career, got 1st in every race, did all the fan gates, and I even did that one absurd achievement which wants you to use the unguided missile Bolt powerup to hit twenty consecutive cars without missing, without a reticule. The only things I haven't done are the Fan Targets which rely on you pulling off specific stunts chained together to score enough to trigger the award. I had a few goes at these but the targets are very high and rely on the AI drivers being in the correct positions every time, so, like, no.

The second weirdest thing about Blur is that not only are the driving mechanics very Need For Speed-feeling, but despite the powerup gimmick, it doesn't have WRECKED!!1. If you enter a drift and slam into a wall with the intention of rocketing off parallel to it using a Nitro powerup, you CAN. You're ENCOURAGED to. It's so SO bizarre to be able to throw the car about and not have to worry about being ripped out of the game. There is a 'wrecked' screen that appears when you run out of health, but it's just like an ordinary reset. You have a lot of health and there are repair powerups everywhere, so you hardly ever see it. If you hit a wall and stop, the game quickly fades to black and back and resets you with a rolling start.

Another difference between Blur and Need For Speed is that Blur powerup flashes mostly occur around the outside edge of the screen or to black, whereas NFS MW ACG's Speed Cameras flash the entire screen, ruining the experience entirely and placing the player at a very real risk of epilepsy.

So the weirdest thing about Blur is that it wasn't bad enough to eject me from the game. Some games I play for a bit and then I'm done. I wanted to defeat Blur, which is worth something. It was more interesting to me than finishing A Link To The Past. And BOY is it better than Burnout Paradise.

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