Posts Tagged ‘racing’

Need for Speed World

Posted: August 10, 2010 in PC
Tags: ,

We rarely do reviews for free-to-play games, but occasionally a game comes along that masquerades under the free-to-play banner, but whose limitations for non-paying players are such that the game might as well just have a price tag on it.   Need for Speed World, from EA  Black Box and EA Singapore is a perfect example: the game is free to play until level 10, at which point you need to have purchased the US$20 starter pack in order to progress further.

In situations like this, the question is; what lies beyond that magical barrier that makes it worth twenty bones? In the case of Need for Speed World, the answer is not much.

NFSW is an online street-racer in the same vein of other games in the Need for Speed series. When it’s not about racing, it’s about avoiding the long, wheeled arm of the law. The game purports to be massively multiplayer and open world, and in some sense it is both of those. The world is indeed open, and as you drive through it you’ll see a great many players, but that is where the ties to the MMO genre seem to end. The ability for you, the player, to interact with other players in this open world is minimal. You can talk to them, compare your stats, invite them to a match or a group, and that’s about it. That would probably be enough under most circumstances, but NFSW is a racing game, and as such has no real cooperative mode, so grouping up becomes pretty much useless.

Gameplay in Need for Speed World is broken down into four parts – at least according to the power-up menu. The first is exploration, where you can drive around the game’s city and…well, that’s it. Exploration is really just how you get from place to place, although even that can be circumvented by simply using the game’s map to teleport to a race location or join from a distance, leaving the mode almost entirely without purpose.

The next two gameplay bits are Sprints and Circuits. Both are simply race types. Sprints are a race from point A to point B, and circuits are a series of laps. Racers need to contend with traffic, and the machinations of other players and their dastardly power-ups. This is the meat of the game.

Races are all instanced and isolated from the city proper by magic arrow-covered glowing walls that prevent you from taking alternate routes to the finish line. They’re all pretty linear, with a couple shortcuts that, if you want to win, you have to take. The courses are well designed and frequently have interesting turns and scenery. That said, they also don’t at all resemble anything that would exist in a real city.

Win or lose, players are rewarded with cash, which lets  players buy cars and customize them, and rep, which acts  as experience does in other games. When a player gets  enough rep (and there is no obvious indicator to tell you  exactly how much that is), they level up and unlock new races, cars, customization options and a skill point.

The fourth mode – which is also the most gripping and  entertaining of them all – is pursuit, in which you basically  flee the law. The car AI is decent enough, although the  method of being caught via a filling meter down the bottom  of your screen can be infuriating. Basically, the closer a cop  car is, the higher the meter fills. Once it is full, you’re  ‘busted’ and penalized financially (though you still get a  little rep). There will be many, many times when you have  an opening to escape and simply because the meter was too close to full, you’ll be ‘busted’ before you gather enough speed to make the meter go back down. I definitely spent the majority of my time doing this, not only because it was far more fun than the races tended to be, but because it was also capable of giving you more rep and money. It’s a bad sign when, rather than actually enjoy the game, you find yourself exploiting terrain to simply level up as fast as possible.

Upgrades and new cars are few and far between. As it stands, the max level is 50, and there are very large gaps between levels when you unlock a new car or a new upgrade. The grinds in between those feel too long, as you still only have the same handful of tracks to race on. By level 14, it was taking me about twenty victories in completely packed races to level up. With a limited number of available races, a small gain in rep for each victory, and very little incentive to level up until you get a new car or upgrade, running the same laps over and over begins to get very tedious.

Participating in races and evading the cops also rewards players with a random powerup. This was a particularly missed opportunity, as currently the game has no player-driven economy. Players earn money that can only be spent in the game’s store – no trades between players can be made. This feels like something that could have been very easily fixed by simply having things like car modifications as rare-drops from the end-of-race rewards, and allowing players to trade them. Instead, they’re simply bought and used and there isn’t enough player interaction.

  • Published by: Electronic Arts
  • Developed by: Black Box / EA Singapore
  • Genre: Racing
  • Number of Players: Unlimited
  • Release Date:US: July 27, 2010
  • MSRP: $0.00
  • E10+ for Everyone 10+: Mild Suggestive Themes, Mild Violence

(via ign)


Top 5 iPhone Racing Games

Posted: August 9, 2010 in iPhone/iPad/iPod
Tags: ,
Sorting through the zillions of apps on the App Store to find the best downloads for your iPhone or iPod Touch is time consuming and fraught with the risk of dropping good money on a bad purchase. Because even though most apps cost just a few dollars or Euros, that still was your hard-earned coin. So, IGN has started a series of Top 5s for various genres and categories in the App Store to help you make the best download decisions. If you’re new to the App Store, we hope to make the discovery of new apps and games more fun. And if you’ve had an iPhone for years, perhaps you’ll find something new. Because that’s what makes the App Store such an exciting place: there is always something new behind each click.
Thanks to the accelerometer, the iPhone is a virtual steering wheel. And right away, developers jumped on the racing game bandwagon. Many proceeded to drive said wagon into the ditch with banal racers that brought absolutely nothing fresh (or good) to the App Store. But over the last two years, a handful of racers have crossed the finish line in spectacular shape. Some entries in this top five rate high in the “duh factor,” like  Real Racing. But there are some alt-racers that deserve a victory lap, too.
Real Racing
Publisher: Firemint
Price : $4.99
Even after a year in the App Store, Firemint’s Real Racing remains the gold standard. It’s almost as if other developers looked at it, realized they didn’t have the chops to compete and abandoned any effort to out-do it. Real Racing scales up depending on your iPhone. 3G gamers get a great racer, but 3GS users enjoy smoother play. iPhone 4 owners, though, get incredible precision steering thanks to gyro controls and all new Retina display graphics. With excellent controls, smart tracks, a wonderful garage of cars, and online leagues, Real Racing offers months of replay. Though I rattle off the top five racers here, I wouldn’t blame you if you only downloaded Real Racing. It delivers.

Need For Speed Shift
Publisher : Electronic Arts
Price : $6.99
Need for Speed Shift is the great resurrection of EA’s previously skidding racing series. Shift for the iPhone retains much of what made it a best-seller on consoles. You have four tiers of balls-out racing events that reward both daring and determination. As you climb the ranks, you unlock new rides that make it racer to get first place in events that may have troubled you before. The car models are spectacular, especially when played in cockpit view. When I reviewed Shift last winter, I gave it a 9. Going back to it for this feature, I wonder if I didn’t underrate it a touch. It really is one of the great handheld racers on any go-go rig.

GT Racing Motor Academy
Publisher : Gameloft
Price : $4.99
In my review, I mention that you will never play Gran Turismo on your iPhone, so you might as well download Gameloft’s stab at a sim racer. That’s still very true. Though Gameloft made its bones in mobile racing with its arcade-style Asphalt series (which is very good, mind you), GT Racing shows that Gameloft can do nuance and subtlety when appropriate. This is not an over-the-top flash box. This is a serious racer with real world cars that behave as close to their counterparts as possible on the small screen. Dedication is rewarded with an ever-expanding garage. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a seriously attractive racer, too.

Cubed Rally Racer
Publisher : Jared Bailey
Price : $1.99
I mentioned earlier that some alt-racers will make this list. After all, the racing genre does not have to be strictly defined by conventions found in games such as Real Racing and Need for Speed. And besides, isometric racers like Cubed Rally Racing were once the bread-and-butter of arcade driving. Taking cues from classics like Championship Sprint and RC Pro-Am, Cubed Rally is a fast-paced racer across randomly generated tracks. No two games are alike as you fishtail around trees, fly over jumps, and pick up gas cans. This really is terrific fun, especially if you’re a retrohead like me that wistfully looks over his shoulder at the lost lessons of yesterday gaming.

Snail Mail
Publisher : Sandlot Games
Price : $1.99
Snail Mail popped up in our Best of 2008 awards. Prior to this list, I had not revisited this early App Store fave for some time. But as soon as I synched it back into my iPhone, I remembered precisely why I loved it so. Snail Mail is like drag race through the stars, gathering up packages on rollercoaster ribbons. You have to avoid salt, blast obstacles (you power up the cannon on your back through pick-ups), and sail across the finish line. This is a breezy arcade-style racer with excellent tilt steering. Packed with three different race modes – Postal, Challenge, and Time Trial – you’ll snag an easy five or so hours out of Snail Mail. Plus, it’s cute as all get-out.

Yeah, I didn’t pick any kart racers. There are some decent karters for the iPhone, such as Crash Bandicoot and  Shrek Kart, but none really leave much of an impression after you delete them from your phone. These five, though, are keepers. What are you keepers? Hit the comments and let everybody know what racers they should have on their iPhones.

(via ign)

Developed exclusively for PS3 by Polyphony Digital, Gran Turismo 5 brings the world’s most realistic and comprehensive driving experience to fans in one of the most highly anticipated games of all time. Gran Turismo 5 features more than 1000 licensed cars from the world’s top manufacturers and more than 20 tracks with more than 70 variations, including famous world circuits, city courses, and other environments.Featuring exciting gameplay and modes to suit newcomers, automotive enthusiasts, and seasoned fans, Gran Turismo 5 raises the bar on the franchise’s depth of content and unparalleled visuals difficult to distinguish from a live race. Further reflecting this realism, cars will feature real-time visual damage with adaptive and accurate car deformation based on point of impact and velocity. Additionally for the first time, Gran Turismo 5 will feature an extremely deep online and community feature set. Players can progress and acquire credits through a variety of modes like GT Career Mode, Championship Races, License Tests and more, or they can explore different tracks and circuit variations in Arcade Mode. Additionally, players can race online with up to 16 players through PlayStation Network.

  • Genre:  Racing
  • Release Date: November 2, 2010
  • MSRP: $59.99
  • Exclusively on: PlayStation 3
  • ESRB:  RP
  • Publisher : Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Developer : Polyphony Digital
  • Online Play : 16 versus
  • Local Play : 4 versus
(via ign)

DIRT 3 First Look

Posted: August 7, 2010 in Playstation 3
Tags: , ,

You asked, and they listened. DiRT, Codemasters‘ off-road brand, has been successful yet divisive in its two previous outings, its yearning for a wider audience and heavy American accent winning new fans but alienating some of the old ones who’ve been calling out for a return to more traditional rally. For DiRT 3, Codemasters has taken note, and it’s managed to find an answer for all of its fans.

“This is the biggest racing game that the racing studio has ever embarked upon,” asserts producer Matt Horsman, and given this is the same team that conjured up ludicrously generous games such as TOCA: Race Driver 3, that’s quite some claim. Like that game the scope of DiRT 3 is vast, the roster of cars taking in everything from the Mini Cooper S that was made famous by Pat Moss and Paddy Hopkirk in the ’60s through to Kris Meeke’s Peugeot 207 S2000.

There’s much more in between the two, and DiRT 3’s vehicle list makes for heavenly reading for petrolheads. The ’70s lends cars such as the Lancia Stratos, the famously fierce Group B cars of the mid-80s are represented by Quattro S1, RS2000 and Peugeot 205 among others, while the ’90s gives us the Celica that Carlos Sainz worked his magic in, the sublime Lancia Delta Integrale, and of course Colin McRae’s iconic 555 Subaru. It’s no less than a celebration of the history of the sport.

  • Published by: Codemasters
  • Developed by: Codemasters
  • Genre: Racing
  • Release Date:US: TBA
  • RP-T+ for Rating Pending
  • Also Available On: PC, PS3
(via ign)

Dirt 3 digging in 2011

Posted: August 3, 2010 in XBOX 360
Tags: ,

ESPN’s X-Games 6 upon Los Angeles over the weekend, bringing with it four days of gravity-defying tricks on skateboards and bikes, plus rally cross racing, motocross, and more. The X-Games also ushered in the first trailer for Codemasters Dirt 3, a minute-long teaser that culminated in the publisher revealing a 2011 release window.

Rally racing is again the name of the game in Dirt 3, where physics-based car tuning is paired with  exotic environments ranging from arid desertscapes to winding snow-steeped mountainous byways. And  judging by Codemasters’ first trailer for the game, the studio will be staying true to those principles.

Opening shots show a rally car zipping through a dry, dusty environment at dusk, catching air off of  uneven surfaces in its path. The car then transitions to cruising through a torrential downpour along a  highway by a lake, with dense forest and brooding skies overhead. It’s then on to the northern climates, as  the same car is shown skidding through a blizzard up in the mountains, with evergreens lining the treacherous roadway.

More cars are then shown joining the race, through what looks like a coastal European town on a bright, sun-drenched morning. As the cars weave in and around one another, a background shot shows a vehicle catching massive air off of a large dirt ramp. The trailer then appears to take a page out of Disney Interactive’s Split/Second, showing a tractor trailer’s bed exploding while the car drifts around and under it.

Beyond a release window, Codemasters offered no additional details about the title. Available also on PS3.

  • Codemaster
  • Rally / Offroad Racing
  • Release: TBA 2011

(via ign)