Gran Turismo 6 Fact Sheet

Available worldwide December 6, Gran Turismo 6 seems to be the installment in the series that Gran Turismo 5 wanted to be. Everything introduced in the previous game has been refined, and major complaints have been ironed out to create a better playing experience. Below are facts I’ve collected that I feel showcases just how significant of a racing game Gran Turismo 6 will be. Continue reading

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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.

Tropico 4 (Review)

Tropico 4 took quite a lot of heat when it was released for basically feeling like a Tropico 3 expansion pack. I’m having a hard problem even calling it that, to be honest. The only two changes worth noting, aside from a slightly altered UI, are social networking integration and factions.

In the case of Facebook and Twitter functionality, it’s probably something that absolutely nobody asked for or even wanted in the first place. I didn’t even use either function because I didn’t want the game to be touching my defunct Facebook account nor did I want it to be spamming my Review Depot Twitter account with pointless updates about my papaya production or election results.

Factions (such as capitalists, environmentalists, nationalists, etc.) play a bigger role now and will frequently annoy you with offers to increase your standing with them. Environmentalists may want you to build gardens or cut back on pollution while other factions will want you to build military bases, destroy homes, and more. You can choose to ignore these faction requests without being punished much, but they are worth doing sometimes if you’re aiming to increase your standing with particular factions prior to the next election. My only complaint is that factions bother you far too frequently, constantly taking you out of the action of the game.

The rest of the game is pretty much identical to Tropico 3, so the following is copied from my review of the previous game.

“Good morning Tropico!” I should really have that set as my alarm in the morning after hearing it so many times in the game I am about to review, Tropico 3.

It wasn’t until April of this year that I even knew about the Tropico series, which is surprising considering that the first game came out a decade ago. As a fan of games such as SimCity, I’m really upset that it took me until the third game of this series to even know that it exists.

Tropico 3 is all about ruling over a Caribbean island known as Tropico. The game begins in the 1950s when you first seize power of the island. It is up to you to decide how your dictator did so, as you are presented with a character creator that allows you to choose your dictator’s appearance, background history, and character flaws. I opted to make my dictator a balding alcoholic Russian who was put in power by the USSR.

Tropico’s gameplay was quite interesting. The game started out slow and demanding like the Caesar game in which you have to micro-manage several small details in order for your city to get off the ground, but after that happened it just played mostly like a SimCity game thanks to messages always popping up and telling me what was going on in Tropico.

You basically start with nothing more than your presidential palace, a dock, some shacks, and a few businesses with terrible wages. You have to turn this around, so the first step is to make a good source of income that your populace will work at for little money. Cigars turned out to be a fantastic way to go about doing this, as all I had to do was first plant a farm and direct them to grow tobacco, and then build a cigar factory beside it. For a few ingame months, this did absolutely nothing for me financially until the tobacco began to grow at a good rate, allowing the nearby factory to begin manufacturing cigars and then sending them to the dock to be exported.

Once you start getting some decent money in and the quality of life starts to improve in Tropico, you’ll want to bring in tourists by building another dock or an airport. As I did this, I found that it was also imperative to remove shacks from the city, due to them being unpleasant to look at and they brought down the appearance of the neighborhoods that they popped up in. A good way for me to discourage many shacks from popping up was to increase the wages of many jobs.

Of course, there is more to Tropico 3 than just expanding your city and aiming for a higher population and bigger bank accounts. Unlike in games such as SimCity, your approval rating actually means something in the Tropico games. If it dips too low, you had better expect some serious consequences. The last thing any good dictator wants are riots and assassination attempts!

To make sure that your people respect you, it is important to make sure that Tropico has everything that your people need to survive, or even just have fun. When the city itself is just fine but your people are showing discontent, you can use edicts to sway their loyalty. Edicts are things such as introducing tax cats, bringing the Pope to your country for a visit, or declaring Mardi Gras. Some edicts, such as Mardi Gras, are wonderful for Tropico’s economy.

The game has a lot of content in it, ranging from campaigns to individual mission-style maps. If you don’t like being told to aim for a specific goal, there is also the sandbox mode in which you are free to just develop Tropico however you wish to.

I find myself really enjoying the visuals of Tropico 3. It is perhaps the best looking city management game that I’ve ever played. The buildings and terrain are loaded with detail, and all pedestrians are rendered in real time as they walk to work or just find things to do in the city. Animals, freighters, and more are also all visible most of the time, and many shacks like to pop up on vacant land as well. I expected Tropico to run slowly with so many things going on, but the game was silky smooth for me even on the highest display settings.

The sounds of Tropico 3 are magnificent. Even though there are only a few music tracks in the game and they play over and over again, they are all very fun to listen to and set the mood extremely well as they are all very Latin-based. Sound effects and voice acting are also great, and I never tire of hearing “Good morning Tropico!” from the ingame radio announcer who tells you what’s going on in Tropico, which is very helpful to you.

Overall, Tropico 3 is a lot of fun. Your cities are different each time you play, and the realism in Tropico 3 blows SimCity out of the water. If you’re looking for an enjoyable city game to spend time playing until the next big one comes along, then Tropico 3 is for you.

So is this game worth checking out if you’ve already purchased Tropico 3? No, unless you plan on playing the expansion pack which adds a lot of modern days flair to Tropico 4. If you are a Tropico 3 player who is uninterested in this game’s expansion, then stick with Tropico 3. Seriously. The few features added in Tropico 4 are not worth $40 or more. This is literally Tropico 3 with only a few changes and tweaks, and shame on the developers for thinking that this was acceptable. Because of this, I am going to give this game TWO scores. One score will represent what this game feels like as a returning Tropico 3 palyer, and the other score will be how I’d grade the game for someone who is brand new to the series.

What score would I award this as a Tropico 3 player?

5/10

Now, for those who are brand new to Tropico, this is surely the best in the series. You guys are in for a treat.

8.7/10

6 Things I’d Like To See In Terraria

Terraria is shaping up to be a very thorough game after the 1.1 update. Unfortunately, a lot of the new content only unlocks after you defeat the Wall of Flesh. This seems to promise that the early game (first several hours) will be the same ol’ Terraria as ever for the most part. This is a problem with me, as I usually only play multiplayer with friends and we always play on large worlds, rarely getting beyond the gold gear/weapons phase as it seems everyone loses interest or something (except for me, I could play forever).

Here are a few ideas I have for Terraria to broaden the scope of the game a little bit more. These are things I’ve always wished for and, hopefully, one day they may be added.

6. Shields
Why not? There are becoming a lot of monsters in Terraria that have projectile attacks, and we’re not always fortunate enough to have accessories that help us dodge the attacks. A new button would have to be mapped to block, and what would be better suited than the right mouse click?

I’ve never checked out PvP in Terraria, but I’m sure that there could be some usefulness for shields there as well. Overall, it just seems like a great missed opportunity for the game thus far.

5. Wandering NPCs
The problem I have with Terraria’s worlds is that they feel so artificial and dead. You’ll just keep bumping into slime after slime after slime until reaching the corruption or ocean. Why not break up the repetitive journeying by adding in a few randomly spawned NPCs. There could be lost merchants, minstrels who will play music for you (could affect the behavior/mood of nearby monsters), aggressive bandits, or why not knights and/or mercenaries who will be your companion for a modest sum of gold coins?

If there were NPCs to interact with, at least non-essential ones that we haven’t worked hard to lure into our towns, wouldn’t exploring feel a little more entertaining? Imagine if you were digging underground and you randomly found a miner… Or a fisherman at the ocean or along a lake. The world doesn’t have to be completely barren and devoid of life and I think this would really spice things up a bit.

4. Earlier Magic
As it stands now, it can take a bit of time to get magic. I haven’t even found any spells yet myself. This is a little awkward because the game let’s us essentially play as archers and warriors off the bat, but not mages? Why not? There should be a few accessible spells at the start, or even give each character a tiny bit of mana and a basic spell at the start. Maybe a weak fireball or something.

What I’m saying is that Terraria should cater to the crowd who will want to play as magicians. As it stands now, it takes too much time to even get any spells. Something should be done about this in my opinion.

3. Snakes & Spiders
I’ve been clammering for snakes and spiders to be added ever since I first played Terraria. Snakes could come in several varieties, each with their own helpful drops such as snake fangs, scales, or venom. There are a lot of possibilities here. Cobras in the jungles, rattlesnakes in the deserts, vipers underground or in the corruption… Snakes would be a great addition.

As for spiders, I’d love to see them underground. They could jet around like the worms do only they obviously wouldn’t pass through walls. It would be cool to see them leave web in their wake as well that they could try to trap the player in. Of course, the player could just harvest the web instead. Spiders could kind of be farmed in this regard, and it would make the whole hunt for cobweb a little less annoying.

2. Snow Biome
I’ve been dying to see this! The only new biome in the 1.1 patch is one that appears after you beat the Wall of Flesh and enter the so called “hard mode” of the game. It doesn’t even sound like a terribly exciting biome, as all it does is serve as a counter to the spreading corruption. Woohoo.

A snow biome could be available right at the beginning and could have high peaks, dangerous monsters, and new ores. Imagine being on a snowy cliffside in the middle of a blizzard as you’re trying to mine titanium ore. While you’re doing this, you have to simultaneously fend off a harpy in the sky and a yeti behind you. Wouldn’t that be great? If anything, it would just be cool to see and would also fulfill what I want most in Terraria, and that is…

1. Weather Effects
You know you want this too. Random rain storms, lighting flashes, blizzards… Maybe even hurricanes that affect gravity and will push the player backwards if they are standing idle above ground. Hurricanes could also randomly spawn debris flying through the air (I’d expect to see a lot of slimes).

The chipper happy day time theme that we have now could become the “sunny day” music, and the developers could add themes that would play when it’s a rainy day (similar to the sunny day theme but a little more subdued). It could really help add to the immersion if there’s about a ten percent chance of it raining each day and/or night. Blizzards could appear in the above snow biome and sandstorms could show up in deserts. As for hurricanes? They would probably be most common near the shore.

Anyway, those are my ideas. Hopefully the developers decide to eventually add one of these ideas. While adding a post game “hard mode” and levers/switches were good ideas in their own right, they just don’t feel like mandatory additions. Rather than making some kind of super boss in the underworld that activates a hard mode, the developers should be working on adding new areas for players to work through for progression. There’s a lot of overworld and underworld that could be utilized, so why not take advantage of it all?

Game Dev Story (Review)

Why are you reading this review instead of playing the game?!

Throughout 2011, I heard about Game Dev Story an awful lot. Professional reviewers were praising the game and apparently it was selling really well on app stores. Well, about half a year after the game’s release on iOS, I decided to dust my iPod Touch off and check the game out.

So, what is Game Dev Story? A very basic summary is that you are in charge of a video game development company (games, staffing, etc.) and must turn it into an industry crushing behemoth! Does this sound fun? Well if you have a fondness for simulation games (think anything by Maxis) or just video game development in general, then this game should definitely appeal to you.

Players start off with a pretty small office to work out of and, right off the bat, your secretary will ask you to hire three employees to get the company started. Potential hirees all come with various silly names that poke fun at the entertainment industry (Donny Jepp, Stephen Jobson, Walt Sidney). These NPCs all have job-specific titles such as coder, producer, writer, and so forth. Each title implies what field the characters excel at. Each hirable NPC also has four main statistics – programming, scenario, graphics, and sound. These four statistics will, ultimately, be the deciding factors in who you hire and who you give passes to. They will determine how good your employees are at designing your games. The programming statistic generally improves overall development of the games and the proposal writing of each game. Scenario affects how creative your games will be, which is vital in the grand scheme of the game. Graphics and sound are, predictably, the graphics and sound of your games.

Players will have to choose which consoles are right to develop for and when.

When you start, employees will have very low statistics. Because of this fact you should not expect your games to succeed very much in the beginning and they will, at best, just cover lost expenses.However, as you gradually make more money off of your stinkers that you release, you’ll be able to level up and train your employees so that they become more skilled. Leveling up is pretty basic and simply uses research points, a sort of currency you earn from simply working on and debugging games. Training is a different story and requires you to spend your company’s actual money. You can choose various activities for your employees to train in, and all will increase at least one of the four statistics possessed by them. Eventually, simply leveling and training your employees becomes less and less beneficial over time and, once they appear to be at their limits without having oodles of cash thrown into training them, you have to command your secretary to bring in a batch of new applicants who are hopeful to work for you. In most cases, you will have to fire an existing employee to hire a new one, but this is rarely a problem since the new employees are usually better except for very late in the game. The only downside to firing long time employees is that you may feel a little sad letting go of an employee that you’ve had working for your company since the start of the game.

In terms of actually making games, there is a fun amount of options here. You get to choose the console to develop for along with the game’s name, genre, and theme. Want to make a cowboy RPG called Space Goons? Feel free to do that! If the RPG genre and cowboy theme are both popular at the time of the game’s development, then Space Goons could easily become a smash hit! As the years go by, the general public will be more partial to certain genres and themes than others. One year they may want action games and the next they might want racing games. It is not essential to give the public what they want because, if your staff is skilled enough, the game will succeed regardless. Still, adhering to the demands of the public will usually always net you at least 25% more in overall sales. You really can’t say no to that, can you?

Winning the coveted grand prize at the Global Game Awards will be high on your list of objectives to fulfill.

Every now and then, new consoles will be announced by companies that parody real life corporations (Senga releases the Exodus, Sonny will unveil the Playstatus, etc.) and you will have to pay handsome licensing fees to develop for these new devices. Since older consoles will eventually become obsolete and stop selling entirely, it is essentially to jump ship to newer and better consoles when you have the funds available to do so.

There are two annual events that are eventually introduced which also parody real life counterparts. GameDex is an annual convention that is clearly Game Dev Story’s version of E3. You can choose how much to spend on your company’s booth and presentation at Game Dex, or you can choose not to go entirely. This will, however, affect your popularity with the fanbase you’ve amassed over time. The second event is the Global Game Awards. This is basically the Oscars, but for games. There are a few categories to win (including the silly “worst game of the year”), but players will ultimately want their games to win the grand prize of the award show which is simply titled “the grand prize.” By winning it, you will be rewarded with a nice one million dollar prize. This is very helpful at the start of the game, but tends to feel pretty miniscule later on. The problem with this is that you are incredibly unlikely to win the grand prize for a few years at least and, when you do, it just isn’t much of a big deal anymore.

In terms of presentation, I have to commend this game for having a very cute look to it that is a breeze to navigate. Graphics are very reminiscent of the 16 bit era and are exceptionally easy on the eyes. Since Game Dev Story is a Japanese developed game, you can of course expect a few colourful and silly looking scenes which should make you smile. The sound of the game is a different story though, and I had to turn the music off within minutes of playing. It truly is horrendous to listen to, and the sound effects are only marginally better.

Fictional magazine reviewers will rate your games upon release and this can drastically affect your sales.

Ignoring the fact that this game has pretty bad music and sound effects, the rest of the package is really incredible. If you like simulation titles, then you will have a lot of trouble putting this game down as you will frequently find yourself saying “I’ll just make one more game, but then I have to get up” only to find yourself making five, six, maybe seven more games before you manage to put your iOS device down! The gameplay truly is addictive, but in a very pleasant way. Is Game Dev Story worth checking out? Without a doubt. Hop to it, folks!

Pros:
+ Amazing replay value with each game being a new experience.
+ Graphics are charming, cute, and simple.
+ Very easy game to pick up and play with no prior experience.

Cons:
– The sound is bad. Really, really bad. Final score isn’t 9+ because of it alone.
– Certain gameplay aspects become pointless over time.
– It’s not available to console and PC gamers!

Final Score

8.6/10

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.