“Try to catch that car in front or just bring it back in one piece.” These are the deflating words of my pit manager when skidding around in last place on the final lap in Project Cars.
Project Cars is tough. With no driving aids turned on for my first play session with the new racing IP, I can't help but feel the pressure mount as every time I look up in the Bandai Namco offices, I see a Dark Souls II poster - judging, mocking and not helping my blood temperature one bit.
Things improve though and despite the harsh challenge, which comes mainly from the handling rather than the AI (but more on those guys later), I found myself keen to iron out my racing sim wrinkles and lose those pesky kart racer habits. To be fair, it's not like PS4 is exactly packed with skill-honing racing sims right now.
The initial cause of most of my accidents was trying to find a suitable camera angle. The game will spoil you for choice including low road, bonnet, roof, following, interior middle, interior driver's side and a helmet cam which puts you directly behind the eyes of the driver, complete with the helmet's inner cushioning viewable underneath. The new take on the helmet cam is slightly let down by the blurring effect during hard braking and tighter turns, it’s a real strain on the eyes and hopefully something we can toggle in the final build. Surely pro-drivers don’t get this much motion-blur in real life or they’d be filling their helmets with vom all the time.Click here to read more...
Despite starring supercars, insane track toys and monstrous custom jobs, racing games are actually a lot like buses. You spend ages waiting for them and suddenly a whole fleet turns up at once, regardless of what current-gen console or PC you own. This holiday season is going to be absolutely jam-packed with racers, simulations and driving games, all of which are crying out for your attention and jostling for grid position.
This might seem rather annoying at first glance, but look a little closer and you'll discover that they're all very different and offer a totally unique take on the genre. Whether you're all about finishing first or just in it for the raw thrill of driving itself, there's something here for you. So it's high time we gave you the lowdown on which game (or games) will most likely suit you best.
Or, perhaps more accurately, the showdown. Let's do this in release date order, though it turns out that we're starting very strong indeed....
Forza Horizon 2 is a superb driving game, and I've picked those words very carefully. Yes, there are loads of cars that are fairly awarded and boast loads of tuning options, not to mention a whole mess of races across a gorgeous open world, but Playground Games' latest is actually more about the simple act of driving.
"It's the thrill of sliding a 1969 Ferrari Dino around a perilous mountain road to The Marriage Of Figaro. The heart-stopping roar of your Lamborghini Diablo perfectly setting off the William Tell Overture as you cruise over a sun-baked hill, or getting air in a VW Camper Van during a midnight thunderstorm as fireworks explode in the distance. A thousand beautiful, personal, perfect automotive moments," I wrote in our Editor's Choice review. Gorgeous visuals, great scalable handling and beautiful scenery to match the cars make for a game that comes alive when you stop racing and start driving.Click here to read more...
Another year, another spectacular season of Formula 1 racing, another Codemasters tie-in. F1 2014 is out next month on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3, giving racing fans their authentic simulation fix without having to buy into any new hardware to calm the shakes.
Having tested the in-development project at Namco's UK headquarters last week, I can report that it is indeed an F1 racing game. I'm not sure what else really needs to be said on that front.
Despite being a relatively early build awaiting visual polish and optimisation, it's clear that the handling is still delightfully scalable and the experience feels authentically F1 thanks to the updated team rosters, cars and the addition of the Sochi Autodrom. New players can leap straight into a one-lap evaluation, which automatically grades their skill level and sets the rebalanced difficulty appropriately, whereas veterans can get to grips with ERS and the new fuel limits.
However, rather than slogging away at a full season (which can now be approached in marathon sessions or smaller chunks), I decided to revisit my favourite feature from F1 2013: the Scenario Mode. Newly expanded in F1 2014, it's another selection of bite-sized challenges that throw you straight into an exciting situation and forces you to overcome increasingly long odds -- many of which are drawn directly from recent racing history and feature some well-observed cutscenes whether you win or lose.
Once again, I suspect that completing your gold medal set is going to be one of the most compelling parts of the package. Since I'll be describing many of these challenges in detail, I suppose you could argue that we need a spoiler alert. Maybe.Click here to read more...
Platforms: Xbox 360 | Xbox One (reviewed)
Developer: Playground Games
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Forza Horizon 2 is the most fun I've had on four wheels since BurnOut Paradise.
It's not really a racing game, but there's certainly no shortage of races. More than 700 events and dozens of championships are scattered over a gorgeous open swathe of idealised European countryside, a playground for two hundred cars rendered in the series' fetishistic attention to detail. You'll challenge capable Drivatar AI to ad hoc showdowns with a single button, thrash monstrous off-roaders across vineyards, chase down an aerial stunt team in a Ferrari, form online clubs and get together with your friends for virtual multi-event road trips, all while trying to make your way to the Horizon Festival's grand finale.
But at its core, Forza Horizon 2 isn't about memorising apices and placing first. It's the primal yet powerful joy that comes from simply driving beautiful machines around stunning scenery. It's the thrill of sliding a 1969 Ferrari Dino around a perilous mountain road to The Marriage Of Figaro. The heart-stopping roar of your Lamborghini Diablo perfectly setting off the William Tell Overture as you cruise over a sun-baked hill, or getting air in a VW Camper Van during a midnight thunderstorm as fireworks explode in the distance. A thousand beautiful, personal, perfect automotive moments.
Oh, and I just smashed a Bentley through a greenhouse for a laugh. The races may be intense, but Forza Horizon 2 comes alive when you're just driving for the sheer sake of it.Click here to read more...
Why does Sonic need a car? Good question, but the answer is a resounding, "because it's really fun." Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed is a fantastic kart racer that gives Mario Kart a run for its money at times, and cheap as chips on The Humble Store right now. Thanks to jaystan @ HUKD!
Welcome to the weekend... well, almost. The weather looks pretty terrible, so why not treat yourself to a few more games to sit in your Steam library courtesy of the Codemasters weekend promotion. As you'd expect from the veteran developer and publisher, the savings include some fantastic racing games and some deeply inconsistent stabs at other genres from middling studios. It's a great chance to pick up one or more of the Grid series (I'd recommend the original or Autosport, though Matt prefers Grid 2), the brilliant DiRT 3 or one of the annual F1 releases.
And just to be clear, no, Hospital Tycoon is not Theme Hospital. It's a buggy knock-off, though admittedly has its charms. I'd personally stick to the racers.
Thanks and full credit to jaystan @ HUKD!
I don't often start a preview with a disclaimer, but when a publisher invites you to Brands Hatch for a day behind the wheel, I suppose you probably ought to mention it. Within minutes of emerging from the pedestrian tunnel, I found myself abusing the traction control of a beefy BMW and taxing the patience of a trained racing driver as he patiently -- oh so very patiently -- explained where I probably ought to be braking and hitting the apex to avoid going all kinds of sideways.
This might sound like an old-school journalistic junket, but when I traded the real thing for the PS4 version of Project CARS, on the same track in the same weather conditions, I discovered that it was actually my training.
See, Project CARS is designed to be more than a soulless simulator. It may be underpinned by reams of official engineering specifications and raw data, but every facet of the game has been pored over and tweaked by real racing drivers to give it the human touch. As such, every piece of advice I received on the track was instantly and completely relevant in the game, while the virtual course looked and felt like the real thing.
It's the sort of authentic design philosophy that could well put Project CARS into pole position this Christmas, even as it stares down the barrel of Driveclub and Forza Horizon 2. The fact that it's drop-dead gorgeous, VR compatible, 12K-ready and powered by next-gen tech is probably not going to hurt either.Click here to read more...
Plugging official specifications and tyre data into your racing game is all well and good, but Project CARS promises to go one step further this Christmas by focusing on the human element. As such, Slightly Mad Studios have worked closely with real racing drivers including Nicholas Hamilton, the original Stig and Oliver James Webb, who advise on how the cars actually handle in real life.
Having recently attended a Project CARS preview session at Brands Hatch, I naturally grabbed Oliver Webb for an interview about his input, which has influenced everything from handling minutiae to track design. Plus, seeing as he's currently one of the faces of BAC Mono, naturally we had to chat about the gorgeous British sports car.
Stay tuned for our hands-on preview, and be sure to check out our previous coverage!
Project CARS is looking more exciting (and gorgeous, it must me said) every time we see it - and I managed to scrape an amateurish fourth place during a hands-on race around Brands Hatch.
Be on the lookout for the dynamic weather, which massively affects the driving conditions, handling and visibility. This demo track accelerates the onset of a rainstorm over three laps, so you can judge for yourself.
Oh, and sorry about the glare! I'll have some shinier videos for you soon, along with more in-depth coverage. Did you catch our interview with producer Pete Morrish?Click here to read more...
Funded by Kickstarter, assisted by real drivers and powered by impressive cutting-edge graphical tech, Project CARS is set to become an automotive tour de force. After trying out the latest build at 4K resolution and on the Oculus Rift, I caught up with lead producer Pete Morrish for a chat about the new title and what sets it apart from other racers.
If you read my recent 9/10 review for Table Top Racing on the Vita, you'll know that I think it's one of the best racers available on the handheld to date. The game inspires fond memories of older games like Micro Machines and Mashed with its miniature vehicles, weapons and old-school camera options.
At £4.99, it's an absolute bargain, but if you'd like a chance to get a copy for free, you should probably get involved with our competition. It's super simple to enter after all.
We have a UK/EU PSN code to give away and all you have to do is comment in the box below and enter a valid email address in the relevant box too. Say anything you want, there's no catch. Tell us your favourite racing game you played recently. Which one you're looking forward too? What makes a great burger? Anything really. Just remember, only one entry per person will be counted. A winner will be picked at random when the competition closes Sunday 24th August at 17:00 UK time. Good luck!Click here to enter.
Platform: PS Vita
Developers: Playrise Digital
Racers, start your engines! Well, charge up your PlayStation Vitas first, as I’ve no doubt many of you haven’t had a reason to put it on for a while unless you’re a fan of niche Japanese titles. But that’s about to change and for a no-excuses price of £4.99 too.
Table Top Racing is an arcade racing title with healthy influences from the likes of Micro Machines and the weapon-sporting Mashed (but not Wrecked, thankfully). You race miniature toy cars across a range of tracks that include sushi restaurants, picnic areas and tables full of junk. Every course is fantastically designed with lots of tight turns and sudden shear edges that keep the racing pack together throughout.
Slight rubber-banding keeps the races tight too, but when some laps are as short as twenty seconds it never feels unfair. The AI is sharp too, especially in the later tournaments. Unlike many racers with weapons though, the AI don’t just focus on you, instead they’ll ruthlessly fight amongst themselves, often providing you with a chance to slip by an angry huddle, although you’ll often risk a rocket up the backside for such slyness.Click here to read more...
Grid 2 is a cracking little racer, and well worth a look if you don't fancy splurging out on Autosport just yet. Tesco have it for under a fiver for both PS3 and Xbox 360, although the PS3 version appears to be unavailable at the moment. Xbox owners, buy with gleeful abandon!
Cracking spot by fps_d0minat0r.
Destiny hasn't been the only beta to emerge this week, Ubisoft also launched their closed beta for The Crew.
I'd tell you all about it if I could, but unfortunately, The Crew's beta is riddled with bugs and crashes, and after completing the first mission or two, I was met with a black, frozen screen of death that the game now constantly loads into.
We do, however, have the opening scenes of The Crew captured for your perusal, mind, and you can laugh as I attempt to deal with the game's somewhat arcadey handling and crash into a barn.
There's a big fat EA racing sale going on over on Steam, and Hot Pursuit is probably the pick of the bunch. Of course, that all changes if you somehow don't own Burnout: Paradise, because The Ultimate Box is only £1.24. If you're only just dipping your toes into this sort of thing, definitely plump for Paradise.
Or you could buy the whole EA Racing Pack (Need for Speed Undercover, Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box, Need for Speed: Shift, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit, Shift 2 Unleashed) for £13.74.
With months to go before the new-gen machines get a new racing game, Codemasters' Grid Autosport is the way to go. Expect race track and road circuit racing again from sports, saloon and open-wheel cars along with some extensive tinkering options under the hood. Now Codemasters, we assume this is missing PS4/XO because you're making a proper next-gen rally game? Right? Please?
Thanks to Jas10 at HotUkDeals.
Radial-G was one of the highlights of this year's Develop Conference Expo. Tammeka Games are currently Kickstarting an antigravity racer in the same basic vein as WipEout and F-Zero, seeking £50,000 to bring the fierce project to Oculus Rift and potentially Project Morpheus, and aren't afraid to let us try it out. Suffice to say that the hands-on prototype was intense... and yet somehow managed to throw me through twisting geometry-defying space tubes at breakneck speeds without even the slightest hint of simulation sickness.
You don't even have to take our word for it, because the demo is free to download and fully-playable on regular monitors.
Keen to know more, I grabbed Tammeka Games producer Sam Watts for an interview, who proceeded to explain how military precision, genre experience, years of preparation, careful planning and smart design have led to Radial-G becoming a very different kind of racer.
Jonathan Lester (Dealspwn): Thanks for talking to us, Sam. First things first, can you give us the elevator pitch? In your own words, what is Radial-G?
Sam Watts (Tammeka Games): It's a high-octane futuristic arcade racer, filling the slot that's been woefully left open by a lack of F-Zero and WipEout, to bring a high-octane antigravity racing to the current and next generation!
Dealspwn: Not to mention Virtual Reality platforms such as the Oculus Rift and Morpheus. I was very impressed by your prototype – what opportunities and challenges did you face when developing a game for VR?
Sam Watts: I don't want to blow our own trumpet too much, but we are very experienced in creating VR experiences. We've done a lot of high-level military virtual reality simulations before with multi-channel output and a lot of back-end networking...Click here to read more...
Radial-G is intense. As an alumni of the WipeOut and F-Zero school of racing, it throws us into antigravity sleds and shoots us down insane twisting tracks, glued to the exterior of wildly crooked tubes that grant us a full range of motion. We'll dodge through fan blades, hurtle over speed boosters and ultimately jostle for position against 31 opponents. The sheer sense of unadulterated velocity is astonishing, even mindblowing.
However, perhaps the most impressive thing about this in-progress indie racer is that it also fully supports the Oculus Rift, allowing you to leap right into the cockpit and immerse yourself in its ridiculously hectic action... without throwing up all over the keyboard.
This is because Radial-G's development team has real pedigree, or in other words: they know what they're doing. They've worked on military-grade simulators before, clearly experienced in mitigating the effects of simulation sickness. Several staffers hail from Acclaim and Black Rock Studios, having previously developed many a racer. Producer Sam Watts even put in a long shift at NCSoft, contributing to Wildstar and other MMOs.
Most importantly, Tammeka Games are only asking for £50,000 to get the ball rolling on Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight - and you can try the free demo right now whether you have an Oculus Rift or not. PS4 owners should pay attention, because a certain Mr. Yoshida has also given it both thumbs up with Morpheus in mind.
If you're tired of waiting for Nintendo and Sony to get their act together, Radial-G is shaping up nicely.Click here to read more...
At a recent Microsoft showcase, I sat down with Playground games' creative director, Ralph Fulton, to have a bit of a chat about the upcoming Forza Horizon 2. The hands-on preview is already live, and here's a little taster:
The dusty tracks of Colorado are abandoned in the sequel for the sweeping coastlines of Southern France and a Northern Italy, on a map that Playground are touting as being three times the size of the original game's. The difference is clear already, and for this European writer at least, enormously welcome. Even in the short demo I breezed through, everything seems a little more vibrant, the vineyards and rolling fields delivering more colour, peppered with quaint Mediterranean villages. The Lamborghini that adorns every shot of Horizon 2's marketing is certainly more at home here - a millionaire's paradise, and a driving fan's dream.
Forza Horizon release for Xbox One on September 30th.
I've always enjoyed the Forza series in general and applauded Turn 10 for the way that they've managed to create a game series for racers and drivers and car aficionados of all capabilities, ensuring that petrolheads come back time and time again thanks to exceptional vehicle modelling, options to tailor the Forza games to one's own specifications in terms of simulation and skill, addictive progression mechanics and rewarding unlocks, and car-porn camerawork that might make the BBC Top Gear team deliver an ovation.
The original Horizon made all of that even more accessible, choosing to target a younger, fresher audience with a Festival concept and a soundtrack curated by Rob Da Bank. It might not have been to everyone's tastes, but it clearly worked. Although Criterion had already busted open-world racing right open with Burnout Paradise and Need For Speed: Most Wanted, Horizon delivered something perhaps a little more cohesive, a little more robust, and a little more diverse.
'People told us that they'd play Forza Horizon to relax,' Playground Games' Ralph Fulton told me at a recent event, and it's not difficult to see why. In my review, I likened the spirit of Forza Horizon to the same spirit that encourages driving fans to take their beloved vehicles out for a Sunday spin. You do it for the love of it, the feel of the car, and the thrill of the open road. It's not about casual or hardcore, it's about capturing that spirit, and Horizon managed to do that in a way that few other games in the genre can come close to boasting.
The dusty tracks of Colorado are abandoned in the sequel for the sweeping coastlines of Southern France and a Northern Italy, on a map that Playground are touting as being three times the size of the original game's. The difference is clear already, and for this European writer at least, enormously welcome. Even in the short demo I breezed through, everything seems a little more vibrant, the vineyards and rolling fields delivering more colour, peppered with quaint Mediterranean villages. The Lamborghini that adorns every shot of Horizon 2's marketing is certainly more at home here - a millionaire's paradise, and a driving fan's dream.Click here to read more...