Grand Prix Story (Review)

Last year I reviewed Kairosoft’s Game Dev Story which put you in charge of an upstart video game development team. I loved every minute of it, but when I conquered the game I was left wanting more. Thankfully it wasn’t long after that Kairosoft released another sim game that appeals to me, and that game is Grand Prix Story.

The idea behind Grand Prix Story is simple. You want to become the best racing team there ever was, though you start with absolutely nothing at your disposal and have to slowly crawl your way up the racing world’s ladder in order to achieve any success at all. Basically this is Game Dev Story, but with cars instead of games.

Your task is to hire drivers and mechanics to develop and research new cars and technologies in order to win various races and progress through championships that become progressively harder as you go. Naturally you’ll need money to hire staff, and you’ll be forking over more dough to each of them since every NPC demands a salary. Every development, research item, and upgrade also costs money. This game is essentially a giant vacuum that is sucking your digital money up like Cookie Monster does with cookies. To cover the costs of your endless activities, you’ll pretty much be entering races non-stop.

The best part about the races in this game? You get to watch them! This far exceeds having the race simulated and then being told what the results are. Qualifying laps for races are unfortunately simulated, but they are pretty representative of the quality of both your car and driver. If you have a good combination with adequate stats, then you should qualify on pole or near it. The times you will see in qualifying seem to be completely random though! Pole sitters may manage thirty second lap times on tracks that normally take upwards of fifty seconds to complete a lap of. To make things even stranger, the qualifying times are never close. The driver on pole may set a time of forty five seconds while the guy starting in eighth may have set a time that’s a full minute behind. On such short tracks, it feels a little odd to see these numbers. It’s not too big of an issue in races though, because the actual racing is always very close.

So what do you use prize money for in this game? First, there is hiring drivers and mechanics. You’ll be deciding who to hire based on their attributes. Higher numbers are obviously better, so you’ll want to hire the best people you can find. Half the fun in hiring drivers is in their names. They are mostly all parodies of real life drivers (mostly Formula 1). After playing for a little while, I was fielding two drivers named Kimi Kone and Mike Shoe. Anyone who has paid any attention to Formula 1 will know which two drivers are being parodied with those names! It’s quite funny to see that Kairosoft tried to capture their appearances in sprite-form here, as Mike Shoe very clearly looks like a little pixelated Michael Schumacher.

After you hire your staff, you can periodically train them by having them go jogging, reading, or even joyriding. Each activity costs a small sum of money and will increase the stats of your staff member peforming the training. Note that if you train a staff member too much in a short period of time, you’ll deplete their energy and leave them performing inadequately until their energy bar recharges.

R&D is where you’ll sink most of your money. Researching new cars (and then building them) can put a serious dent in your team’s wallet, but the results usually pay off if you have competent staff members working on your projects. When you’re not racing, researching and upgrading will be taking up all of your time. As if reseearching and upgrading cars wasn’t enough, you’re also responsible for doing the same with individual car parts such as engines, tires, and other performance enhancing parts. It then costs money to outfit your cars with researched and upgraded parts.

When you’re first starting out, this game will suck you dry. I wasn’t even playing for ten minutes before I was given “extra funds from a bank account” or something of the sort, because apparently my assistant was terrified that I was going to run the team into the ground despite the fact that I didn’t feel like such a thing would happen, nor did it ever occur. Grand Prix Story will turn you into a poverty-striken team boss for the first hour or so but, after that, you’ll find yourself comfortably staying afloat with ease. As was the case with Game Dev Story, you will reach a point in the game where you simply start dominating and become unstoppable. However, unlike in Game Dev Story, that point is harder tor each in Grand Prix Story due to all of the various car parts and pieces that you have to micromanage alongside taking care of your staff members. As far as depth goes, there’s definitely a lot more of it here than there was in Game Dev Story. There’s really no comparison, though I do miss the fun process of making games in Game Dev Story. Developing cars is fun here in Grand Prix Story, but it’s not as entertaining. However, the racing sequences are far better than Game Dev Story’s equivalent, which was simply reviewers awarding scores to your games.

Graphics are typical Kairosoft fare. There’s nothing truly spectacular looking as all graphics are 2D backgrounds and sprites. Still, Kairosoft’s graphics always have a really charming personality to them and Grand Prix Story’s visuals are no different. The appearances of some of the staff members made me crack a smile (Mike Shoe especially), and some of the cars look really interesting. It’s also fun watching your crews working busily in the team garage.

Sound isn’t stellar, but it is a definite step up from what I had to endure in Game Dev Story which had pretty subpar music and sound effects. Grand Prix Story doesn’t exactly have good music or sound effects, but they’re still somewhat endearing and enjoyable. I wouldn’t say that they’re grating or repetitive, but you’re also not missing anything by turning your volume down.

Grand Prix Story is definitely worth checking out if you’re into Kairosoft’s sim games or like racing management games in general. This game isn’t nearly as deep as the more serious management sims out there, but it’s still a lot of fun when you want to manage a racing team on the go.

Final Score

8.5/10

Pros:
+ Graphics are charming, cute and simple. It’s hard not to like them.
+ Immense amount of R&D will always give you something to work on.
+ Races are fun to watch, especially when they’re close.

Cons:
– Not as much customization as there was in Game Dev Story.
– Music and sound aren’t worth writing home about.
– Questionable times in qualifying sessions will puzzle most players.

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BATracer Custom GP2 Liveries

Here is a series of GP2 format liveries that can be used in BATracer. Feel free to take any! The thumbnails you see on this page are what the liveries look like when uploaded to BATracer. To download a livery, just right click the thumbnail and select “save link as.”

Some of the cars have gibberish on them (such as “gfdhk” or “lol”) which is just meant to fill space to make the uploaded versions appear to have more detail.

This list will be updated periodically so, if you like what you see, check back later for more!

I have many other liveries completed as well. Click here to check out my GP2 Livery blog.

BATracer (Review)


“A browser-based simulation that petrol fans will eat up.”
Today I’m stepping back from console and PC video games and focusing on something very different called BATracer. While some people may not see the “game” aspect here, many people do including BATracer’s creators, hence the game’s official subtitle being “Browser Based Race Simulation.” Yes, BATracer is played entirely in your browser.

BATracer lacks the exhilarating thrill of physically driving a car around a track and instead replaces it with a page that lets you manage the settings for your car and then letting the game calculate your performance during each driving session.

How the game plays depends widely on which championship you choose to enter. There are countless ones to pick from and they are all inspired by real life racing series such as A1GP, BTCC, DTM, Formula 1, and more. Different championships require different skill levels. For example, all cars in the GP (Formula 1) championships have different performance levels and the best teams are likely to come out on top, while all cars are identical in performance in the Formula Nations (A1GP) championship.

Upon joining a championship, players get to pick their team. If the player is able to create their own team, they will be able to select their chassis, engine, team livery and name, and more. After setting the team options, the player gets to colour their helmet, choose a nationality, and select one or two driving characteristics. The characteristics are fairly important and define how you will perform under certain situations. The “wet weather warrior” characteristic will allow the player to drive extremely well in the rain, while “speed demon” will make the player drive exceptionally fast under almost all conditions, though this increases the chance of getting into accidents.

Between sessions such as practice, qualifying and race, players must perform setup changes to their car by moving sliders for various parts of the car such as downforce, brake bias, and more. Getting the best out of the car involves finding the optimum setup, which involves putting each slider on the “perfect” number. Each slider has one and the player must find the perfect number by moving the sliders and then doing a test lap. After the lap, the player’s engineer will offer suggestions on what to do with each slider, such as decreasing or increasing them. As the player gets closer and closer to the magic number, the range for each slider decreases. Sliders start at 0 to 100, but after several practice laps they usually drop down significantly. As an example, the range may be 25-40 after five or six laps, which indicates that the ideal number is between 25 and 40. The number is different for every part of the car, and finding each one is essential in getting to the top of the time sheets. Provided you have a good car and decent driver characteristics, it’s reasonable to assume that having a 100% perfect setup (all sliders on the optimum numbers) will put the player at the top of the tme table.

Perfecting your car setup is a lot of fun, especially if you’re in a championship that allows you to have team-mates, which will allow you to bounce setups off of each other and work with one another to make your have the absolute best setup it can possibly have. The only problem with this is that sometimes team-mates will stop playing during the championship season, leaving you to fend for yourself. Thankfully there is an option to give inactive players the boot.

BATracer is fairly well made for a browser game and it’s hard to fault it for much considering it’s simplistic but strategic nature. My only complaint is that the game will ultimately decide if you do well or not. BATracer is, unfortunately, a game of luck at times. It is not uncommon to be doing practice laps and then receiving a message stating that you crashed out of the session and destroyed your car. This can happen incredibly often, as well as a message that says that you pushed too hard and made mistakes on your last lap, which for some reason reduces your number of laps left by two or three most of the time. You can set yourself up to be the most conservative driver imaginable and these driving errors can and will still pop up frequently. I don’t know what sort of formula the game uses to determine if something bad happens, but if you are unlucky, then bad things will happen almost endlessly. Having disaster after disaster strike you is not very fun, even in what is supposedly a simulation. There are no options available to you to refine your car’s reliability or anything of the sort, which is just a huge kick in the teeth.

BATracer’s greatest feature, without a doubt, is the uploader. This unlocks when you make a donation to BATracer and acquire “Kool Tools” for your account. The uploader allows you to customize the game even further than you are normally allowed. While users without Kool Tools can only paint their helmets using RGB sliders, Kool Tools users are able to upload their own helmet designs that they’ve made in Photoshop or whatever. Championships with custom teams work the same way – normal users can only paint cars while Kool Tools users can upload their own liveries complete with sponsors or whatever else they stick on the design.

The top car is a normal user's GP2 car, and the bottom is one that I uploaded with my Kool Tools access.

Players who love stats will have a lot to check out here as well. BATracer keeps track of all of your accomplishments and features world rankings and more. It’s a blast to check out your worldwide rank not only in championships won, but also other little things like fastest laps and points scored.

BATracer is a hugely customizable browser game that truly comes to life and becomes something very neat when Kool Tools are unlocked. For anyone interested in browser games or simulations, this is probably worth a look.

Official BATracer Website: http://batracer.com/

Final Score

7/10

No screenshots due to this being a browser game with a mostly text-based interface.

Gran Turismo 5 (Review)

“Polyphony’s flagship series finally makes it’s official debut on the Playstation 3, and the wait was worth it.”

It has been five years since Gran Turismo 4, which is the same length of time that Gran Turismo 5 was in development for. An extremely early GT5 prototype was shown at E3 2005, and since then there has been a wave of jaw dropping trailers as well as disappointing delays. It is November 2010 and, finally, Gran Turismo 5 has crossed the finish line. Was the five years of development worth it, and does the quality of the game reflect the half decade of work?

Upon booting up Gran Turismo 5 for the first time, most users will be required to update to the latest patch immediately, which is close to 200 megabytes. Following this, the game will ask if the player would like to install 8 gigabytes of optional data. Well, considering the fact that the install size is a massive 8 gigabytes should be more than enough to convince the average player to go ahead and go through with it. I did not play Gran Turismo 5 without the install, but I cannot imagine doing so. The game has to load so much data and changes menus so frequently that it would be insane not to do the 8 gigabyte install.

After all of the patching and optional installing is out of the way, which will take roughly an hour in total, players are treated with a cinematic intro movie that runs for a staggering six and a half minutes. The intro walks the player through the construction of cars all the way up to the exciting GT-esque racing that the player bought the game to experience. The intro does start out a little slow, but towards the end it is crammed with more action and excitement than you would ever expect to see in a Gran Turismo title.

Once you reach the main menu, there are a few choices available. GT Mode (or simulation mode for those who have not played Gran Turismo lately), arcade mode, course maker, GT TV, and the options menu are available to check out. I’ll cover the meatiest bits at the end, so first off is the options menu. The amount of individual options that the player can play with is nothing short of exceptional. Dozens of settings for race wheels, television display, and even proper custom soundtrack settings are all contained in the options menu. There’s a lot to check out, so players who are decked out with a racing wheel, a music collection on their PS3, and the Playstation Eye will have lots of cool settings to check out and play with before racing.

All premium cars have the interior view. Standard cars do not.

GT TV is a feature I’m not too interested in just yet, as I am still enjoying the main game far too much to give it much attention. However, I do know what it contains. In GT TV, players will be able to check out GT5 related videos, watch Top Gear, historical videos about various cars, as well as support for the PSP that will enable you to watch GT TV videos on your handheld.

The course maker is an interesting feature that I’ve played with a little. It allows you pick a theme (circuit, kart track, snow, gravel, etc.) and then generate a random track. You don’t too much control over the design of the track, but you can adjust the complexity, road width, and corner sharpness of each section of the race track. The control you have is very limited, and really all that you can do is decide whether or not the track will be basic or complicated. It’s not a critical feature in GT5, but it’s a little fun to check out from time to time. I don’t enjoy making tracks to race on in it, but I do get a bit of a thrill out of making test tracks in it and then giving them a shakedown in time trial mode.

Arcade features many familiar mainstays of the racing genre. You can compete in single races of varying difficulty levels of your choice, go rallying or karting, attack lap times in time trial mode, or even play with a friend in split screen mode. There are a few dozen “arcade mode” cars that you can choose to use. There is nothing arcade-like about the cars, they are merely just vehicles that the game lets you use in arcade mode rather than having to unlock cars in GT Mode to use. This lets you use various cars in arcade mode without going through the hassle of tackling several GT Mode races just to purchase new vehicles. The cars that you do obtain in GT Mode can also be used in arcade mode, but the way in which you set them to be selectable in arcade mode is a little peculiar and perhaps even archaic. Within GT Mode, you must go to your garage and select a car that you own, then bring up the menu and choose “add to favourites” for the particular car. This allows it to be driven in arcade mode. I do not understand why you have to do this just to use your GT Mode cars in arcade mode, as it seems like a very unnecessary step that only wastes the time of the player. I’ve forgotten to add cars to my favourites on several occasions and had to go back and forth between the two game modes just to enable the car for arcade mode and then select it. This process can take two or three minutes sometimes, which is a bit of a bother.

GT Mode itself is where players will spend almost all of their time. The standard simulation mode is contained here, which involves car dealerships, a tune up shop, A-spec and B-spec races, special events, and more. Upon entering GT Mode for the first time, players will have to purchase a car from the used car lot and then practice their skills in the license tests. Players who feel sure of themselves can skip the tests entirely and just go straight to racing instead, since the license tests are completely optional now.

There are several different kinds of races in GT Mode. First is A-spec, which is essentially just standard single races or tournaments that follow certain themes such as only allowing Japanese cars or European antique cars. Winning these races will grant you credits (currency) and experience. Complete all races under certain categories and you will often be rewarded with cars. B-spec races are identical to A-spec races (same categories, events, etc.) only instead of you driving, you get to instruct an AI “apprentice” sort of driver. You will issue him commands to ease up, increase his pace, or attempt to overtake other drivers. Your B-spec drivers will usually struggle initially, but as they drive more often, they will level up and become better drivers. Some B-spec drivers will just struggle with certain kinds of cars. For example, I stuck my B-spec driver in a 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray, and he made countless mistakes, spinning out at almost every corner. Afterwards, I stuck him in a Toyota FT-86 Concept ’09 and he immediately proceeded to kick ass, winning race after race. I then figured that the twitchiness of the Corvette may have been too much for my B-spec driver, as even I had troubles with the car. The FT-86 was a much friendlier car to drive and felt great, which my B-spec driver seemed to agree with.

2010 Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel and the futuristic Red Bull X1, which is available ingame.

I mentioned experience points, which is new to Gran Turismo. Obtaining experience from events will allow you to level up, which unlocks new special events and allows you to drive higher tier cars. In previous Gran Turismo games, you could essentially just grind credits and then purchase the best cars, but now you must reach the proper level to pilot certain cars. I always used to buy a Doge Viper as soon as possible, but I had to be level 12 to get the one I wanted in GT5 (the Viper SRT/10 Coupe ’06). When I finally reached level 12, I was ecstatic to purchase the car, and then proceeded to lovingly throw it around the corners of a self-created test track.

The special events in Gran Turismo 5 are great. Initially they may feel challenging or perhaps unfair, but after realizing that the special events take not only raw skill but also careful planning and quick thinking to win, they become extremely intriguing. I struggled with one event that involved racing a pretty ugly Toyota bus around the Top Gear test track, and I just couldn’t figure out how to win it. The best I could muster was 9th for a full day until I went back to the event, observed the AI carefully and planned out several various overtaking moves. When I felt ready to challenge for the gold again, I pulled through and came in first position. It was an awesome feeling to conquer the event, and I felt like I really achieved something. The feeling of accomplishment that I have received from Gran Turismo 5’s various events and races easily trumps any other game that I have played recently.

Now that I have discussed the majority of the game’s content (except the online play, which I have not yet played but here is quite good), I want to go over how the game itself plays. There is really only one thing to talk about, and that is the racing.

As in past Gran Turismo titles, the huge collection of cars present in GT5 (slightly over 1000) contains some pretty awful turds, but most of the cars are either pleasant or flat out awesome to drive. The Toyota bus for example is a wretched vehicle that I never want to drive again, while the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is perhaps the smoothest handling vehicle that I have ever used in a racing game, and I have fallen head over heels in love with it. Few cars handle terribly, and those that do not feel like they are just bad cars, no. Instead, the poorer cars instead just feel like untamed animals that fight with you and challenge you for control. It’s an exhilarating experience to drive such cars, as even the real shit boxes possess lots of personality.

In terms of sound, not many cars sound terribly interesting. Many of them sound like they have generic stock engine noises that we’ve heard several times over now from various other racing games. However, my Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI GSR ’99 is a real treat to listen to. It sounds ALIVE, as if it is breathing. NASCAR and karts also sound pretty fantastic and really capture the essence of their real life counterparts.

The graphics in Gran Turismo 5 seldom dip below “good.” Most of the time, I would rate them as being either good or great. The only time the graphics appear to be “average” or perhaps bad in any way is when there is lots of mist or smoke being kicked around. For some peculiar reason, mist and smoke effects cause cars who get caught inside of them to look very pixelated. Even the premium model cars, which are ordinarily gorgeous, look like PS2 era vehicles when caught in mist or smoke. Fortunately cars are rarely ever in this situation, their stunning beauty rarely comprimised by strange graphical issues. A few cars do have polygon tearing issues, which is very odd in this day and age. I’ve only witnessed it on the NASCAR cars in replays, but there may be other cars that are the victim of polygon tearing.

In terms of trackside graphics, it’s a bag of mixed nuts. City tracks look absolutely fantastic and are perhaps the best looking environments I’ve seen on the Playstation 3. However, once you move away from the city tracks, you will find two dimensional trees and bizarre instances of distant objects popping out of nowhere, rendering far later than they should. These aren’t gamebreaking and don’t really make the game ugly, and at very high speeds most of the graphical problems are hard to even notice. However, tracks with many slow corners give you ample opportunities to pick out the game’s graphical flaws.

All cars look very impressive in the game's race replays.

There were a lot of debates online which are even going on now over the premium and standard model cars. The difference between the two is that premium model cars have interior camera views and every piece of the cars’ exterior is modeled to perfection. Standard cars do not feature any kind of in-car camera view and have lower polygon counts. Many frustrated gamers, particularly at GameFAQs, have gotten very upset over standard cars, calling them nothing more than reskinned vehicles from Gran Turismo 4. Some have said very unkind things towards the standard vehicles and have spoken harshly of Polyphony Digital as a result. So, what’s my verdict on premium and standard cars? Well, unless you are intentionally looking for any kind of graphical difference and freezing your replays in order to do so, you probably won’t notice a damn difference between the two. Yes premium models look absolutely stunning, but standard models are not the ugly abominations that the internet trolls make them out to be. They honestly look just fine and can easily go toe to toe with the premiums. In my opinion, the only advantages that the premium cars have are in-car cameras, fully modelled exteriors, and more thorough damage models. Aside from that, they look pretty much just as good. I’m being brutally honest here, standard cars are not an issue at all.

So how does Gran Turismo 5 hold up? Were the five years of development worth it? In my opinion, yes. Many people are upset and let down by the game’s critical reception, but those are the people who overhyped the game and hailed it as the greatest game of all time long before it even came out. The truth is that Gran Turismo 5 is not the best game ever made, far from it! But, is it still a good game? Yes, it’s a good game. In fact, Gran Turismo 5 is an exceptional game. The care taken to create this wonderful product is very apparent to anyone who plays the game, and the quality of the racing is definitely unmatched. In time, I expect Gran Turismo 5 to most likely become my favourite racing game that I have ever played. So, is it worth checking out? If you are a fan of Gran Turismo or racing games in general, then yes. Even fans of Forza (which I did not want to even mention in this review) should find some aspects of GT5 to be extremely enjoyable.

While there are a few graphical and technical issues with the game, none of them directly harm what this game does best, and that is delivering some of the absolute best racing to ever grace a gaming console. This is, without a doubt, Polyphony Digital’s finest work ever. Bravo, guys.

Final Score

9.4/10

F1 2010 (Review)

“The best F1 game on consoles in several years.”

The 2010 Chinese Grand Prix was, quite possibly, the most exciting race of the year. I will not forget how the race started bone dry after a qualifying session filled with torrential rain. The precipitation allowed the grid to be fairly jumbled come race day, resulting in Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus qualifying an impressive 7th.

The race was fairly processional until, only five laps from the end, the rain started to fall! It was only a trickle at first, and few drivers seemed bothered. However, within the next lap, the trickle became a massive downpour. Most of the field scrambled for the pits to change to wet weather tires. One brave man, however, decided to remain on slicks. That man was Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus. By staying out on slicks, Kimi was able to assume a very risky race lead.

The rain intensified, and Kimi’s Lotus had trouble staying on the circuit. Sebastien Vettel in the Red Bull was closing extremely fast from second position. It looked as if Kimi would not have enough time to clinch the first win for Lotus, but luck was on his side as he kept his head down for three more laps, winning the monsoon-struck Chinese Grand Prix on slicks!

Of course, the race I just narrated did not really happen. It all took place in F1 2010, the latest Formula One game and the first developed in-house by UK developer Codemasters. It is the first licensed Formula One game to appear on the current crop of consoles (excluding the Wii) in several years, and is arguably one of the best F1 games ever made.

Upon loading up the game, the player will be treated to a press conference in which they get to choose their name, nationality, and team they will initially drive for in the career mode. You can specify three, five, or seven seasons. Which teams you can initially choose from depends on how many seasons you want to race. I chose seven seasons, and could only pick from HRT, Lotus, and Virgin. As you may be able to guess, I selected Lotus. Since my favourite F1 driver, Kimi Raikkonen, isn’t around in 2010 for some pretty shoddy and stupid reasons, I named my career driver after him so that Kimi could, hopefully, bring glory to the Lotus brand.

After the press conference, you are free to basically do whatever you want. Your agent for career mode will show you how to navigate the game’s menus, which are so similar to DiRT 2’s menus that you will get a severe case of deja vu. In DiRT 2, the menu was fully 3D and took place in the player’s trailer, as well as outside in the locale that the last rally event took place in. F1 2010 copies this by plopping the player down into a motorhome located in a Grand Prix paddock. Players can navigate several menus inside of their motorhome (talking to your agent, career mode, changing your helmet, or checking out the championship standings). If you choose to exit your motorhome, you will find yourself in the paddock of whatever the current circuit is that you are racing at in career mode. From here, you can choose Grand Prix or time trial modes, tweak your game options, or go online. During your career, you will also be interviewed by BBC’s David Croft outside of your motorhome. He has a continuous presence outside of your motorhome, as well as a camera man, two grid girls, your team-mate, and two team engineers. It’s pretty cool, and the immersion is certainly there. My only complaint is that the immediate area outside of your motorhome feels very sterile. Aside from the few characters lingering around who I just mentioned, there is a sort of empty feeling as if something is missing. I guess I just expected it to be busier in the paddock?

If you choose to jump head first into the career mode, you will have to race the entire calendar of the 2010 season. Nineteen races, complete with practice and qualifying sessions, can certainly be daunting. Thankfully several new circuits, as well as revisions to older circuits, keeps things fresh. The new infield section of the Bahrain Grand Prix changes the experience of the circuit drastically. Unfortunately, the Bahrain International Circuit is just as boring in the game as it was on television this year. I didn’t enjoy the new slow section, and I doubt that anybody else will. Other circuits such as Abu Dhabi, Singapore, South Korea are interesting to drive on. Valencia, predictably, is not very enjoyable. Throughout career mode, you will be interviewed by the media. This will have a direct affect on your relationship with your team, team-mate, and rival drivers.

For the most part, the graphics are really stellar, and the sights and sounds of each individual course was enough to make me enjoy the career mode. All circuits look very impressive, especially Monaco. Unfortunately, Monaco seems to be very difficult for me to play in this game. While I secured a win in China, I found that even qualifying within three seconds of 23rd position in Monaco to be next to impossible! Bizarre, since Monaco used to be one of my best tracks in older games. The game sounds just as good as it looks. Some diehard sim fans may not be impressed, but to me the cars sound exactly like they do when I watch a race on TV. This is an awesome accomplishment. Your engineer Rob, who is always giving you tips and updates, never shuts up and can become slightly annoying after hearing him comment on every single minute thing that you do. His voicing isn’t bad at all, he just talks far too often for my liking.

I found the controls to be pretty decent. Adjusting to dry weather driving took me approximately an hour and a half. When I began, I was flying off of the Bahrain International Circuit at almost every turn, but by the end of my first race on that circuit, I was smashing the lap records set during the race. I thought that I had things all figured out until the game threw wet weather driving at me, which is an entirely different beast. While your car will handle surprisingly well in the wet most of the time, I’ve found that cars like to try to spin out when taking sharp corners. The Turkish Grand Prix ended up being wet for me, and a few corners were exceptionally difficult for me in the rain. Visibility can also be a problem. Rain drops will land and splatter all over the screen, obscuring your vision. The opposition will also kick up lots of spray as they drive around. If you end up directly behind another car in the rain, your visibility will almost be reduced to zero. It sounds like it could be frustrating and very harrowing, but I personally loved it. Having such detailed rain effects helped the immersion immensely. I’ve found myself to be more impressed by the weather system in F1 2010 more than in any other game I have ever played.

Now for a few bad points. First off is the time trial mode. Quite a few “hardcore” players have complained about this, so I know I am not alone. When playing time trial mode, you will find that setting an actual lap time is the greatest challenge there is! If you even so much as touch the grass with your wheels, your lap time will be invalidated. Touch the grass again on the same lap and your lap time for the next lap will be thrown out before you even start it. It’s a ridiculous system, and it took me almost ten laps as a beginner to even set a timed lap. As a whole, time trial mode is just a lot of unnecessary frustration.

When you are actually racing, however, something else peculiar happens that is just as frustrating. It seems that the AI sets “false times” when in qualifying and during races. Essentially, AI opponents will just chug around the circuit at whatever speed they wish, and the game will generate a time for them when they cross the line. There is also a strange bug that forces the AI back onto course when something bad happens. I have not encountered it, but somebody was kind enough to share it on YouTube.

Unusual to say the least! It makes me wonder how many strange shortcuts Codemasters took in programming this game. However, I’ve found that as long as you don’t actually witness any bugs or strange happenings such as what occurs in the video above, the racing feels fairly realistic for the most part. Some are accusing the game of having rubberbanding as bad as what is in Mario Kart. I’ve had trouble losing many AI opponents myself, but I blame this on the Lotus that I am usually driving, since it is one of the slowest cars.

All in all, the game is quite good. For the casual F1 fan, or for fans who aren’t expecting a miracle in game-form, this is probably the best console F1 game since F1 Championship Edition on the original Playstation. That was 1997, folks. If that doesn’t say something about this game, then I don’t know what does. Aside from the glitches and programming shortcuts taken by Codemasters, this is a very solid Formula One game. If you have the cash, give this one a go.

Final Score

8.9/10

Since I have this game on my PC, here are two videos of me driving in place of the usual four screenshots.

The Most Epic Video Game Ever

So while I was cleaning myself up for work this evening, an idea hit me for a game that transitions between genres. In essence, it would be a game that has no defining genre. Imagine the following being shown at a demonstration at E3, the Tokyo Game Show, or some other conference.

The demonstration opens with what seems to be a futuristic racing game. Heavily armored jet-tanks (think Wipeout on steroids) barrel through a jungle landscape dotted with high tech ruins. An NPC portrait appears on the screen as the player speeds through the jungle, informing them via radio to pick up “abandoned weapon cores” laying around the environment. By running over one, players acquire high powered laser/missle weapons that anihilate the opposition when fired. The NPC urges the player to “hurry and beat that bastard to the checkpoint, the safety of the world depends upon it! Use any necessary force!”

The player immediately realizes that the message told the player to throw attack after attack at their opponent. After taking enough damage, the bad guy’s vehicle suddenly explodes, but it turns out that he ejected from the seat at the last moment! The NPC on the radio tells the player to “get the hell outside and stop him from getting away!”

The player gets out of their vehicle and gives chase, quickly catching up on foot. The bad guy feels their presence and turns around. He then indicates that, “You just don’t give up, do it? Fine, let’s settle this now. Like men.”

The camera transitions out to view the two men from a side view perspective as two bars appear at the top of the screen. And then it happens…..

Round one. Fight!!

The game goes from combat racing game to what seems like a full fledged fighter! The two characters go at it, performing combos, linking moves to form chains, performing breakers and parries.. And so forth. After two rounds of highly stylized fighting, the player wins.

As those watching expect a “(CHARACTER NAME) WINS!” message to flash up, they instead witness something else.

Victory! Mission Complete!

An experience bar appears as a score that is calculated basd on performance in the race and then the fight are converted into experience points. The bar fills. LEVEL UP!

The screen fades to black and the player receives a save prompt. After saving, a cutscene plays with the player character entering what looks to be a military operations base. The NPC who previously spoke to the player in their racer is here, revealing himself to be “the General” and the guy who tells the player what to do. The General informs the main character that they may have taken one one of the evil corporation’s main henchmen, but there are still several out there. The General brings up a map, pointing to an area of structures and saying “this is where we are, in this base.” He tells the player that they have to push northwest to a research station that likely holds some valuable information that they can use against the evil corporation. The main character tells the General that he can count on him and leaves the room… And then the game loads into what appears to be an RTS map. The player takes control of the base, building structures and training units to destroy the evil corporation’s defenses near the research station. The main character, as a unit, must survive and be the one to capture the station.

After capturing the research station, the main character enters and finds one of the evil corporation’s henchmen inside. He is waving a disc and saying, “looking for this?” he escapes in a racer. The player hops in one as well, and a sequence similar to the jungle race plays out. After the player fires enough power-ups into the bad guy, his ship will appear to start exploding. The bad guy laughs and says that he isn’t going to give up and… ESCAPES IN A POD INTO THE SKY! The General orders the player to pursue! With the press of a button in the racer’s console, it turns into a flying vehicle and flies into the sky!

The camera angle shifts to the side as the player gains control of the vehicle in the air. Reinforcements from the evil corporation arrive in the form of enemy aircrafts. The player, flying forward the entire time, must shoot them down and salvage their weapons before they explode. After destroying several waves, the player finds the bad guy in a giant robot that he retreived from the evil corporation’s base. Resembling a ship at least a dozen times larger than the player, the bad guy’s ship is capable of firing huge volleys of deadly projectiles. After getting in enough shots, the bad guy’s ship begins exploding. The General begins to congratulate the player when the bad guy cuts them off with, “NOT SO FAST! I’M TAKING YOU WITH ME!” The bad guy fires one last shot before exploding. The shot hits the player’s ship as the begin to spiral out of control. The General urges the player to land safely, but it is impossible. After spinning well of course, the player makes a light crash in an abandoned area.

The player crawls out of their ship to survey the damage and see where they are. As they are examining the hull of their ship, there is moaning… Shuffling feet… The player turns and looks back and there it is! A zombie!!

Suddenly playing like Resident Evil 5, the player is tasked with getting the hell out of what appears to another research station where all hell broke loose. With each zombie killed, a “+1 XP” message flashes over the fallen corpse. Eventually the player gets to the end of the station. Just as they are about to leave, a huge zombie horde attacks! As all hope looks lost, suddenly two people burst in and push the zombies back. Allies from the command base! After defeating the zombies, they introduce themselves as Sergeant Brock and Captain Sharp. They agree to get the hell out of there with the player and then this message appears..

– BROCK AND SHARP HAVE JOINED THE PARTY –

The party then leaves. Victory! Mission Complete!

An experience bar appears once more as a score that is calculated basd on performance in the race and then the fight are converted into experience points. The bar fills. LEVEL UP!

An overworld map appears. The research station they were at is greyed out. Ahead is a sparse plain. The player selects it and enters. The game shifts to a location that looks and plays like the Archylte Steppe from Final Fantasy XIII. The player’s destination is marked on their map as they must traverse through the open wilds. If they are unfortunate enough to bump into one of the local critters, a dramatic battle transition occurs. Rather than going to an RPG battle screen, the fighting system from before returns! Brock and Sharp appear as what seems to be tag-team partners (think Marvel vs Capcom). The creatures that the player is fighting? A series of wolves! While the player has three characters to alternate between, each with diverse move sets and special attacks, the opposing force is made up of approximately twenty wolves. The player characters seem able to take about ten hits from a wolf before dying (though it would be more if they gained more levels), but each wolf can only appear to take about four or five hits. After defeating all the wolves, each character is awarded experience points based upon how much they were used and how beneficial they were in determining the outcome of the battle. The player then continues, trying to avoid as many fights as possible….

And that is as far as my imagination went. So, what did we include here?
Racing? Check.
Fighting? Check.
RTS? Check.
Retro shooter? Check.
Survival horror? Check.
RPG leveling mechanics? Check.

How would something like this be defined? What genre would it fit under? I had an idea to add in a sort of Civilization or Sim City element to this game idea as well. Would that have been overkill? No, the “playable sports league minigame/diversion from the main story” probably would be, though. Or maybe functional online multiplayer?

Okay, that’s enough. I’m stopping now, I promise.

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