F1 2013 Classic Mode Thoughts - Part 1 - Introduction

This post marks the first in a series of posts that I am planning regarding F1 2013’s Classic Mode. I am a huge Formula 1 fan and have followed the sport fairly regularly since the early 90’s. It was only during Herr Schumacher’s dominance at the turn of the Millennium that my interest in the sport waned.

When Codemasters announced that F1 2013 would have a separate mode dedicated to classic F1 machinery I was over the moon. There simply aren't enough F1 games which hark back into the past and allow you to drive cars from previous seasons. There is a good reason for this though as teams regularly change hands and therefore names; so licensing rights are a complete nightmare. Not to mention because you aren't licensing the team as a whole you would have to gain the rights to plaster the car with all the sponsor decals completely separately as well.

I was fairly please with the line-up of cars Codemasters has managed to include in the classic mode. There are some notable exceptions, one of which being the McLaren team, but for the most part the cars included are pretty good. Codemasters chose to focus on the decades of the 1980’s and the 1990’s which were, in my mind, some of the best years for the sport. The 80’s era includes cars from Williams, Lotus and Ferrari; all of which look totally different so the grid looks amazing when the cars are lined up at the start.

Which leads to my first criticism of the Classic Mode; the 90’s era only has cars from Williams and Ferrari so more than half of the grid are red cars. They really could have done with another team in the 90’s era to break up the red a bit. It’s mostly down to having 3 Ferraris however the red car syndrome is compounded by the fact that Williams in the late 90’s had changed their sponsor to Winfield and were running a red livery instead of the predominantly blue liveries they had before. As a result the 90’s era races all look a bit drab; which is a shame as the cars which raced in the early 90’s were very vibrant and a variety of colours from across the spectrum. Including a rather striking shade of pink.

Damon Hill's Brabham BT60 - Hungary 1992

My only other criticism of the Classic Mode stems from the decisions Codemasters made regarding who drives what car. This is primarily what this series of blogs will be about.

When you read the description of the mode in the instruction manual it notes that the Classic Mode is a “modern day event which gives you the chance to relive the history of the sport” and that Williams, Ferrari and Team Lotus have “the option of rehiring the drivers who drove the original cars, or hiring supporting legendary drivers who have driven for them previously”.

This means the Classic Mode is taking place in 2013 and means that deceased drivers obviously can’t take part. Whether that was a decision made because they couldn't get the rights to McLaren and Ayrton Senna, I don’t know. Regardless of that it’s the part about hiring legendary drivers that ruins it for me as it then means you have Damon Hill, for example, driving a 1988 Williams alongside Nigel Mansell.

Nigel Mansell's "Red 5" - F1 2013 in-game screenshot

Now maybe it’s because I'm an F1 fanatic but I would have much rather Codemasters had stuck to bringing in living drivers from roughly the eras that they raced. So it felt more like these F1 teams were “getting the band back together” and recreating the era as a whole. Having more modern drivers alongside the era appropriate drivers takes a little atmosphere away, especially when they went to the trouble of applying era specific camera filters and a retro HUD as well.

So in my next post I’ll start looking at the driver line-ups and give you my thoughts on who I would have chosen to pilot each car.

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Syndicate - Did anyone else think the aiming felt off ?

Syndicated

Syndicate came out not too long ago and through all the hype and general chat about it, I was really into playing it. I managed to get a hold of a copy on PS3 through my work (the perks of working in a video game store!) and bounded home to play it that night.

Now. I'd been playing a lot of Modern Warfare 3 before picking Syndicate up, so I don't know if it was because of this that the aiming felt off or what but I just could not seem to get to grips with the games aiming at all. It just felt so sluggish and imprecise, like you were turning through treacle. I'd kind of muddled through the game with it and persevered, as I really liked the story and the games premise, but the big fire-fight in the nightclub almost had me lobbing the controller through the window in sheer frustration. I couldn't hit a barn door if I was holding it by the handle. I just could not get past it and died a bunch of times in the process.

For clarity, I was playing on the default difficulty and I hadn't messed around with the sensitivity sliders for the aiming, if there was any. Although I think by that time I'd gotten so pissed off with it I wasn't in the mood to go looking for aiming options and start messing about with sliders.

It's a real shame though as I really liked the look of the game, the art style was pretty good for the most part of what I'd seen and the guns felt really chunky as if they had some power behind them. The story was pretty interesting too and I was just getting into it when I seemed to hit this brick wall.

Did anyone else who played Syndicate find the aiming to be off like this? Was it because I'd become so accustomed to the MW3 aiming? Or, and this is the most likely, am I just really shit at shooting games and should stick to racing, sports and strategy games?

As a side note however, one customer I served traded the game in and he had the same complaint, so maybe it's not just me. *shrugs*

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Crusader Kings II - The rise and fall of a Scottish landowner.

PC box art

Recently I've been playing a lot of Crusader Kings II. After watching the Quick Look for it here on Giant Bomb and after watching a play-through campaign on YouTube I decided to bite and bought it on Steam.

I've been finding it really fun to play. It's a little different from your usual strategy games as you play as one guy or gal rather than an entire nation. You also have to make sure that you have an heir to your throne because when your guy shuffles off his mortal coil you become your heir and continue on from there.

It's a little slow to start most games, especially if you decide to start small and work up. I'd imagine if you started as the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire you'd be getting dropped straight into it without a paddle. Once you lay claim to some lands however and start to marry into other families and set up a bit of a kingdom of your own, it really kicks off.

A game I've been playing recently has seen me start as a Duke in Scotland. After having conquered about half of Scotland as my own through dodgy claims, I realised I was set to loose half my realm because the succession rights were set to Gavelkind. This meant all my land was split pretty much 50/50 between my two sons. I tried to change the rights so only my eldest son inherited but I couldn't as I was under the King of Scotland's rule and his crown authority wouldn't allow it. BLAST!.

The game then became a race against the clock to conquer Scotland and become the King. To do this I had to ask permission from the Pope to invade, which cost me a LOT of piety; piety being like currency you get for good standing with the church. Got permission, invaded, was in the process of kicking the King of Scotland's door down when... I snuffed it. My guy died and because of that the war ended inconclusively and my land got split up the middle in the process. DOUBLE BLAST!

Waited a couple of months in game and decided that I was having my old land back off my younger Brother. Declared war and went to smash his face in. All was going well until the Duke of the Isles, who was an independent Scottish Duke like I'm playing, saw red and declared war on me. So now I'm fighting a war on two fronts, which as we know from the WWII history books isn't a good idea. Even less of a good idea because he invited his Norwegian allies into the fray, who brought MASSIVE armies to the table. TRIPLE BLAST!

I was managing to hold them back by using every man available to me as well as a couple of bands of paid mercenaries. However having them raised so long costs gold and as my coffers were running dry the final nail in the coffin was when the King of Scotland declared war on me as well. At this point I'm flat broke, my armies are about to revolt, the peasants have revolted, I'm fighting a war on three different fronts and I'm about to get thoroughly stomped. So I gave it best, did my best Brave Sir Robin impression and surrendered to save my own skin.

I lost everything, was stripped of all my titles and sent back to square one with the same little Scottish province that I started with, 200 in game years previous.

Unforgiving game... is indeed... unforgiving! Bloody good fun though.

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Driver: Quantum Leap... or maybe Driver: Life on Mars?

Recently I finished Driver: San Francisco's story mode. I had been itching to play through it and I wasn't disappointed, I really liked the game.

I was a little sceptical of the game at first. This was mostly because the last Driver game I played, Driver 3 or Driv3r to give it it's proper name, was absolute spanners but also because of the "You can totally just jump into another car" dynamic that was talked about so much pre-release. Having seen some play through videos on the internet, spoken to some customers in the store I work in and actually having played it for myself I can tell you now I'm way turned around on the subject.

You play as Tanner, a San Francisco cop, who must be doing pretty well for himself in the force as I don't know of many cops in the S.F.P.D. who roll in a tuned up, yellow 1970's Dodge Challenger R/T with black racing stripes. Not exactly the most undercover of squad cars.

1970 Dodge Challenger R/T

The opening scenes of the game sees Tanner wind up in a car crash and subsequently put into a coma by his criminal nemesis Jericho. This is where it gets a little weird as Tanner learns he can now have out of body experiences where he can possess other people. Just like in the TV series Quantum Leap Tanner can leap into other folks bodies and become them, unknown to everyone around him as when he looks in the mirror it's the person who's body he's hijacked staring back at him. Of course, like TV series Life on Mars, this is all happening in his head whilst the real Tanner is laying on a hospital bed out for the count.

Once the ground rules of how you came to be able to do this “shifting” mechanic are laid down the game plays out like a lot of other driving games. Your presented with an open world, semi-realistic portrayal of San Francisco to play around in, filled with point to point checkpoint races, chasing down bad guys, evading bad guys and smashing into things. All with the added twist that your new found ability gives you.

Bad guys giving you the slip? Shift out of your car and into the body of a driver 500 yards down the road, drive into oncoming traffic and cause a head-on collision with the baddie your trying to catch. You then simply pull up to the bumper and read him his rights. But what if the bad guys are on your tail? Shift into the body of a bus driver coming the other way and gracefully e-brake slide in behind your fleeing car, blocking the road and letting you be on your merry way whilst the baddies take a nap on a deployed air-bag.

Car handling has a distinctly 70's cop show vibe. A generous amount of e-brake in the turns will have you drifting like a champ around those 90 degree city street bends and snaking your way down Lombard Street, which must be that wide in this game, compared to reality, for that reason. There are a massive range of vehicles to mess about with in the game. Everything from old school Volkswagen Beetles, American muscle cars and exotics like the Zonda, as well as buses, trucks, 18 wheelers and even some old film classics like the DeLorean DMC of Back to the Future fame.

Graphically the game looks lush. Digital San Francisco passes you by at a glorious 60 frames per second. The character models in the cut scenes are really well done and that's a good thing as the majority of the games storyline unfolds through these sections.

The single player story mode, admittedly, isn't that long. It only took me two nights to complete the story mode and the first night I spent unlocking a few cars at the various garages and completing some of the side missions and stunts. There are a bunch of side challenges, stunts and some tokens to collect spread out across San Francisco so completing those to 100% once the whole of the Bay Area has been opened up to you would take some time and effort.

There is also a multi-player section of the game but I haven't yet had a chance to mess about with it. Although, I would imagine that a cops and robbers style chase where all the cops are human controlled and have the ability to shift into cars ahead of you to ram you off the road, would not only be intense but really good fun.

Like I said at the top of the post, I really enjoyed my play through of this game. I was a little put off at first upon hearing the shifting mechanic but seeing how they set it up through the storyline ties it all together well. It's really well realised and presented and I'd highly recommend this game to anyone looking for a short burst of high octane fuelled adrenaline.

If you haven't picked up this game yet, what are you waiting for? Get out there, bust some crim's and burn up some Pirelli's!

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New NFL Blitz hampered by overly sensitive NFL Powers-That-Be

Upon hearing the news that EA was going to revive the NFL Blitz series I thought, great! NBA Jam wasn't too bad when it was revived by EA last year, it stuck to it's roots and delivered 2-on-2 hoops with a dash of crazy just like its 90's arcade counterpart. All I need is for them to revive NHL Hitz and I can complete the set.

Then I read this :- NFL Told EA Sports to Keep Late Hits Out of Blitz - Kotaku

Ross said at the time they were still working through approvals with the league, but promised it'd still "contain over-the-top, fast arcade action with big hits and guys catching on fire."

Well, since then, the NFL has ordered late hits removed from the latest game. Speaking to GamesRadar, Ross said the EA Sports Tiburon team did include late hits, a staple of the hold series, in early builds of the game, including one shown to the league. But the NFL said no and asked EA to prohibit contact after the whistle.

This sucks! The whole point of NFL Blitz was the over the top action and blatantly late hits and tackles after the whistle had blown. In what other NFL game can you pile-drive your opponents into the turf after the play has gone dead and then elbow drop him for good measure? NONE!

Taking late hits out will just make the game seem really weak. In my mind that's like taking the ability to smash the backboard out of NBA Jam or removing the fighting and the ability to body-check players through the plexi-glass in NHL Hitz.

Now, don't get me wrong, I can see where they are coming from as no-body wants anyone in the NFL to get injured. I can also see where they are coming from, from a fair play aspect. There was a while there when football/soccer games didn't have a dive button because FIFA were cracking down on it as part of their FIFA Fair Play initiative. But the point is that NFL Blitz at its core is just so over the top you would never see that kind of thing in real life, so why sensor it if it's so out there it's beyond the realms of reality.

I don't see why the NFL couldn't just put a big disclaimer at the start of the game saying "Hey kids. Play fair, play to the whistle, play with respect for your fellow team and don't try to replicate any of the hits you see in this video game. Winners don't break bones." and allow EA to treat us to more of the same great arcade action Midway made us love.

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I need to get back into gaming.

It's been a while since I put anything on here but that's mostly because I really haven't been gaming all that much.  Aside from playing World of Warcraft, I haven't been on my Xbox 360 all that much and I haven't really bought any new games.
 
I think the main contributing factor to this is that I've been working full time at a new job which... is selling video games in a store in town.  So staring at them all day is making me slightly sick of the sight of them.  Now I know how Jeff and the gang feel about games when it comes to playing them for their own pleasure.  Okay so they get paid to play games all day and I don't but its a distinction without a difference.  We both have to look at them all day and if I ever hear Cotton Eye Joe blaring out of Just Dance again I'll scream.  
 
It plays on an endless loop on a small TV screen at the counter where I stand and I'm so sick of it.  I can't wait till there is another decent game released for the Wii so I can rip that out of there and replace it with something else.
 
Seriously though... Just Dance?... Number One in the UK sales charts?... Are you kidding me?  It's the biggest pile of claptrap I've see in ages.  You don't even have to dance, you just swing the Wii-mote in time with the music and hey-presto you get a million points for it.

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Legends of Wrestlemania + Jeff's Promo Cut

I'm really looking forward to getting myself a copy of Legends of Wrestlemania just because and I'll admit it straight up I love pro wrestling.  Okay maybe not the crap thats on TV now, with the possible exception of TNA, but the stuff I used to watch as a kid back when the WCW and WWF (note WWF ... none of that WWE, Get the F out, Panda shit) were awesome.  I used to get the woman across the street to video tape the Royal Rumble every year because in the UK you could only watch it on Sky Sports via Satalite. Vintage.

I've downloaded the demo and while I have my reservations about the controls, as I think maybe they dumbed it down a little too much, just the fact that you can recreate classic matches with some of the guys who I had action figures of like Hulk Hogan, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake and the Legion of Doom is awesome to me.

One major concern I share with Jeff though is the exclusion of a certain Macho Man Randy Savage.  While I'm not big on the whole personal he and Vince McMahon have together, you'd still think that it being a Wrestlemania Legends game that he would be in there.  Same goes for Mankind, especially when the "Relive" section of the demo show's him as the special guest referee for the Rock .vs. Stone Cold bout.

Speaking of Jeff though... anyone remember this little skit from about 2 years ago when Gamespot still rulled and On The Spot was must see net TV ?


Awesome promo cut Jeff... Gotta Love it... SNAAAAKE STYLE !!!!
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Professor Layton: The First Movie ?

Just seen this posted up on Gametrailers.com ... a trailer to a feature length animated movie based off the Professor Layton DS games, apparently coming out in Japan in 2010.

The standout thing for me is that it says "The First Movie".  Does that mean there are more than one of these planned ?, or simply just bad English on the Japanese part.  Either way, I echo the sentiments of a friend on Twitter.  They should pour more time and money into translating the other Professor Layton games than on animated movies.  I really liked Professor Layton and the Curious Villiage and would love to sink my teeth into the newer ones.

I'll try and embed the video below... if it doesn't work then point your browser here.

  

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CoD:WaW on Veteran

Been sitting having a go at Call of Duty: World at War's Veteran mode while I'm defragmenting my PC here.  I seem to be doing not too bad and I seem to only be gettin stuck at the same bits I was stuck on when I was playing on Hardened.  I've just gotten past the sniper in the windows section of the first Russian army level.  I'm now at the bit after your compatriots come in and save your bacon where you have to snipe the guys with the flamethrowers.

The only real difference between Hardened and Veteran seems to be that you can only take one bullet from a rifle and OMG the grenade spaming.  Literally nowhere is safe on veteran.  Its exactly the same as in CoD4.  You go prone or crouch behind some cover and as soon as you do a grenade appears... and then the game becomes hunt the nade so you can throw it back before it kills you. 

Just heard about the new patch and map for WaW, the new map Makin is basicly a day version of the Makin night map we already have but apparently the tide is out too so you probably won't find so many guys sniping from the water anymore.

Still haven't broken into any of the 3 new games I've got sitting there.  I've been too busy messing about in CoD:WaW.  I'm kind of gettting tired of the online though.  Because I haven't been playing it as much as a lot of people seem to be there are too many people with the best weapons and perks just running around mowing people down with the STG-44 and that other rifle that I forget the name of right now.  Kind of sucks as the multiplayer is good... just maybe not as good as CoD4's was.

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CoD:WaW Completed on Hardened & other thoughts

Not long after I posted my last blog post I managed to complete Call of Duty: World at War on Hardened mode.  I felt that the story probably wasn't as strong as the storyline in Call of Duty 4 and the the difficulty was all up and down like a yo-yo.  I found some levels on Hardened extremely hard while some parts I found really easy.  I've now unlocked the Nazi Zombies mode and I'm going back through the game again on Veteran difficulty.  My only beef with Veteran difficulty would be that once again you are a grenade magnet.  Same thing happened in CoD4.  You'd take cover behind something and then instantly about 3 grenades would appear for you to frantically lob back before you died.  I've yet to complete CoD4 on Veteran mode and I'm guessing CoD:WaW will be the same.  I've been playing a lot of multiplayer on World at War though.  I'm up to lvl 31 right now but I'm finding it very difficult as most people are sticking in hardcore hours and have unlocked all the best weapons and perks.  It would appear that the STG-44 is the weapon of choice online, something you have to be at least lvl 43, I think, to be able to use.

General concensus after my last blog post would be that Dead Space is the way to go out of the 3 games I have still sitting in the celophane untouched.  Seems like the logical choice too as I really don't want to get into Fallout 3 untill I've finished the Shivering Isles exspansion for Oblivion.  I just don't think its a good idea to have 2 or 3 RPG's on the go at any one time.  Specially as I still have to complete Fable 2... which reminds me... I haven't played that since my 360 red ringed, my guy probably has a shit load of money now.  Binman88 commented on my last post about Brothers in Arms and how he just couldn't get into it.  I got my copy on the stength of the demo.  I thought the demo was really good and I was hoping for more of the same out of the full game.  I heard there was some kind of wierd back story about a cursed pistol but apart from that I'm kind of new to the series.  Brothers in Arms just reminds me of an old PC game I played once called Hidden & Dangerous.

Seen that the new Burnout patch and cars have been released.  I'm really wanting to get back into that game again however I heard the patch wieghs in at a whopping 850MB +, which if your like me and have a release 360 console with a 20GB hard drive, isn't great news.  I'm seriously begining to run out of space and I refuse point blank to pay Microsoft £120 for a 120GB hard drive.  I think the price of the 360 hard drives are unbelieveable.  Considering your that standard PC hard drive will cost you a mere fraction of that for 120GB of storage.

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