DriveClub's online issues have been well documented since release, and it was only fair that we held off publishing our review until Evolution had time to iron out the kinks and we could actually play it online. Two weeks since release and it’s ‘pencil’s down’ time.
First up, single-player. The campaign is a lengthy selection of events in which you earn fame points that in turn level you up, unlocking more events and faster vehicles. The events themselves have a heavy reliance on time trials over multi-vehicle racing, making it seem like a very lonely game at times. There are drift events too, but the less said about those the better. There are three star awards for each event based on criteria like finishing position, clean laps, lap times or beating racing line or drift challenges.
Races would be quite enjoyable if DriveClub didn't try so hard to make your life difficult. The rubber-banding is merciless, meaning you can never truly get away from the pack and in a straight line they’re much faster than you, even when driving the same car. It's the penalty system that really beggars belief though. Cutting corners and colliding heavily with other vehicles is punished by a stun to the car's acceleration for an indeterminate amount of time. In theory, this isn't too bad, but the game's implementation of it is a disaster. You'll be penalised for going wide on a corner (not exactly cheating), having a tire off the track and sometimes the most minor paint-trades are punished. Racing carefully isn't the key either as the aggressive AI racers will slam into you like a drunk every chance they get and frequently spin you off the track, as they speed off ahead it's obvious the same rules don't apply. Better yet, YOU will be given a stun penalty for their mistakes. That's not to say you won't find yourself getting away with murder every now and then too.Click here to read more...
The big question to be posed to the latest in a line of yearly, iterative games is always "what's new?" People won't drop fifty quid for a game that makes the odd cosmetic change or just swaps old rosters for new. We like progression, we like to envisage some sort of movement forwards in the quest to create the most authentic, awesome representation of a sport or pastime, as if there's a perfect goal to be reached that yearly series creep closer to each year.
Of course, when a new batch of consoles have been released, but you're still tethered to the old bunch, I would imagine that keeping up, let alone trying to improve in meaningful fashion, can seem like a Sisyphean task. Unfortunately, in a year where games are shinier and sparkier than in previous ones, you have to make some strides in terms of gameplay.
Sadly, F1 2014 doesn't really do that. In fact, in many ways it does the exact opposite.Click here to read more...
The racing game PS4 owners have been waiting for since launch is finally here and it's facing a hell of a lot of pressure after a prolonged development that has seen some mixed messages emerge during the course. It's not been the smoothest of launches either, with the online side of the game being blocked off to most gamers. So, our review is going to be a short while yet as there's no point reviewing half a game. In the meantime though, let's have a look at some of the highs and lows we've experienced in our first four days with the game.
With so many games opting to recreate real-life professional racing circuits, it's always nice to race on brand new track, especially road ones. DriveClub excels with its collection of unique tracks spread around countries like India, Scotland, Chile, Canada and Norway. If you found the recent Need For Speed entries' abundance of straight roads to be a bore, then you'll adore the curves and wriggles offered in DriveClub. To be honest, they feel more like rally tracks, minus the handbrake turns, which is just fantastic seeing as rallying has been on the backfoot in recent years on PlayStation.Click here to read more...
I'm not very good at Driveclub. I'm in the process of playing F1 2014 for review, and I always like to dip in and out of Burnout Paradise or Need For Speed: Most Wanted for a regular Criterion fix. One sits firmly at the simulation end of the spectrum, the other two are much more geared towards exaggerated thrills and over-the-top racing.
Such extremes in either direction are far too much for Driveclub.
I won't pretend that I've been looking forward to this game with eager anticipation. Indeed, it's difficult when there's not much to actually get excited for. The USP upon which Driveclub has been built is currently in a sorry, shambolic state. Apparently, Evolution learned nothing from the half decade or so in which we've had systems like Autolog. At the time of writing, Driveclub is still engaged in a "one in, one out" system regarding access to its servers. As you'll see in the video, connectivity was limited. And by limited I mean laughably non-existent.
First Contact is a series all about first impressions. The ones I had of Driveclub were a mixed bag, to be sure. It wasn't all bad (though my driving, as you'll see, certainly was). It looks fantastic. So good, in fact, that when you start up the game you might well crash terribly in your first race on account of enjoying the view. I speak from experience. The handling is geared more towards the arcade end of the spectrum than sims, but that's okay, and the little objective challenges for each race are a nice way of encouraging replayability.Click here to read more...
This deal has now expired. This Winter is jam-packed with racing games, but don't necessarily overlook one of this year's most impressive offerings. GRID Autosport improves on its predecessor with superior handling (which is controversial, but I like it!), loads of cars and masses of events. It's not perfect, but for just £10, it's a whole lot of driving. Thanks to freeman76 @ HUKD!
“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.