Gran Turismo PSP Pre-order deal. Or is it?

It looks like Sony is going to offer some sort of pre-order deal for folks that order/reserve Gran Turismo (PSP).

Pre-order Gran Turismo, and you’ll get a voucher that will add one of the top cars to your in-game collection of cars in an exclusive color. This means that on day one, you’ll be able to smoke your friends in 4-player Ad Hoc Mode multiplayer races with one of these rare sports cars while they are just getting started saving up credits.

This begs several questions. The article mentions several different cars including 1974 Lamborghini Countach LP400. Does this mean you get a different car depending on where you pre-order? If yes, I hate that sort of crap. What about digital distribution? Do PSP Go owners get hosed?

I am not sure what the sell through ratio will be for this game, but I imagine that there will be lots and lots of online users racing with one of these exclusive cars. Have at it cowboys!

There was one interesting comment about digital pre-orders …

Hopefully you guys have something special for those of us purchasing the PSPgo and buying the PSN version. Right?

Stephanie Yoshimoto replied on August 4, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Yes. For those who are planning to purchase Gran Turismo from the PlayStation Network as a download, we will be able to share our plans for you shortly, but rest assured you are not forgotten.

In other words, they do not really have a clue how this is going to work. Oops.


Gran Turismo PSP – What about the racing?

As I read more and more info about the upcoming Gran Turismo for the PSP, I run across lots of info on the graphics, some on the physics, but nothing about the actual racing. This latest preview article from PSXExtreme is more of the same.

Moving on, upon approaching a PSP devkit running the game, somebody had left it with an Audi A3 running on the Tokyo course. I picked the unit up and immediately found myself dazzled at how phenomenal the game looks running on the PSP. Now, I will say that you shouldn’t buy into the hype that it looks like Gran Turismo 4, because it doesn’t. Ultimately, the PS2 is the stronger unit, so the PSP cannot do what its bigger brother can. On the other hand, the reason why people so often claim that the PSP game looks like GT4 is because its lighting most closely resembles that of the PS2 title. The cars have a very beautiful sheen to them, making their colors pop and look natural. As far as the textures are concerned, the cars are a very, very slight step below GT3, and for a handheld unit with a three-inch tall screen, that’s absolutely fantastic.

If the game is built on any of the previous GT titles then everyone knows what to expect. I will purchase it just because I am curious, and I have always been a fan of the series; even if the actual racing sucks.


When gamers, bloggers, and developers need a life.

This one from PlayStation Life Style is a silly little head scratcher. A CNET poll to vote for Forza or GT went horrible wrong. Ballet box stuffing. For shame!

We live in a very competitive world, and this is apparent in the video game industry where publishers and developers are constantly trying to get a leg up on their competition, whether it’s through clever marketing or brilliant feats of engineering. But what is NOT acceptable is when a publisher or developer uses bribes to gain an advantage. Che Chou, the community manager at Turn 10, has done exactly this, and we feel compelled to inform our readers about the dishonest tactics that the Forza Motorsport developer has chosen to carry out.

This is just classic. The CNET poll is now closed thanks to all the shenanigans.

Editor’s note: After numerous complaints of cheating and in-game content being offered as payment for votes, I’ve decided to close the poll. Way to ruin the fun for the rest of us, guys.

Wow. The competition between these games is serious business, and folks are playing for keeps (or at least votes).


Racing games radar update.

Thanks to Ferrari Challenge, and the blazing summer heat, my racing jones is back on in full force. I have spent a little time with Ferrari Challenge over the last couple of days, and I have to say that this is one of the best $18 purchases I can remember making. With that said, it is time to start window shopping for some upcoming racing game purchases …

SuperCar Challenge
First up on the list has to be the upcoming sequel to Ferrari Challenge. These videos from UK chequeredpad look fantastic.

With no confirmed US release, I suppose this one will just go to the back burner. Hopefully a US publisher will pick this one up because it looks balls out fun.

F1 2010
I would like an updated F1 game. Nothing confirmed; these screens from The SixAxis will have to do.

It looks like there is an upcoming F1 2009 release for the Wii and the PSP; at least in the UK. I am not sure why Codemasters chose handhelds and the Wii for F1, but I suppose they know their market segments that they are trying to reach.

Need for Speed: SHIFT
Is the NFS series really going to get a reboot? Will the series return to its roots from the early days? By early days, I mean 3DO (remember that one?) and the first PSX release? Last week PlayStation Life posted a brief E3 hands on impression of the upcoming game.

Despite how different it is from past NFS title, fans of the series will definitely appreciate the advances that SM Studios and EA are bringing to the racing genre. The game will have an extensive customization feature that will cover everything from the car body to the tires, and has a dynamic reward system that keeps track of, for example, how many cars the play passes, how many vehicles they take out, and how good their driving performance was. The demo was a lot of fun, and we can’t wait to see how the final product turns out.

I still do not have a firm grip on how the game balances simulation and arcade aspects of the game. For racing titles, I lean much more in the simulation direction, but fun factor is a must. This one merits close tracking on the radar.

End notes and wish list …
What else? Of course the PSP release of Gran Turismo and big bother Gran Turismo 5 for the PS3. On my wish list, I would like to seen an updated IRL game, or at least a game that comes close to simulating stock and open wheel cars in the mode of the now classic Andretti Racing for the PSX. I would also love a Le Mans type racing game; an updated 24 Hours of Le Mans would be lovely. I am sure there are others, but we have just taken the checkered flag, so all for now.


Sunday Racing Stuff.

This was a great weekend of racing action; on TV (real life and the PS3). First up, congratulations are in order to Corvette for taking first in GT1 today at Le Mans. I wanted a decent amount of SPEED’s coverage, but Le Mans is not the type of race where you just sit down and watch end-to-end. Not to mention the fact that the race is 24 hours, I do actually have a life and commitments outside of watching racing on TV.

Jeff Gordon managed his fuel to a surprise (really a gift) second place finish today in Michigan. He is a healthy second in the Chase, 47 or so points back of Stewart, but only having one win is going to hurt his chances.

PS3 Gaming Update
All this racing action inspired me to try out some PS3 racing. These days I do not have a lot of free time for gaming, and my PS3 is extremely finicky with disc, randomly deciding to read/accept one. This weekend I managed to get in a few minutes with Gran Turismo 5: Prologue and Formula One Championship Edition.

Gran Turismo 5: Prologue
GT5 Prologue is an eye-candy pleasing, fun game, but to be honest, except for the graphics, I like GT4 better. Unfortunately, my two-year old son killed the GT4 disc; I assume I will buy another copy one of these days. I played around with Gt5 Prologue a little; just enough to make me chuckle a couple of times watching the lame AI race around the tracks. Good stuff.

Formula One Championship Edition
Next up was F1CE. This game is still a blast! The simulation mode is far from perfect, and while it is not as brutal as a “pure” simulation, it more than gets the job done. I had a great time just running hot laps in the time trial mode. This game has held up amazing well. It is too bad that there have been no downloadable options, other than rumble support. New circuits, teams, drivers … really any bonus content would be welcome. I think I read somewhere that Codemasters now holds the F1 license, but there is not currently a confirmed PS3 release in the works.

Ferrari Challege
I decided to order Ferrari Challenge for the PS3 from Amazon for $17.99; thanks to second day Prime shipping, the game will be here Wednesday. Sure the game has been out for a year, but that goes a long way to show how much my gaming patters have changed over the last couple of years. There was a time when this one would have been on my preorder list, but to be honest, these days I am so far removed from the gaming community that I assumed this was an arcade game similar the PSP version. Hell, even if was a pure arcade racer, there was a time when I would have had the game in hand on release day, played the heck out of it, offered up some initial impressions, and then go on a 5000+ word diatribe about the game. I digress. Those days are gone.

When I saw the cheap price, I headed to metacritic to check out the game. I am guessing that Ferrari Challenge got lost in the crowded field of other arcade racers – you know the GRID, DiRT, Need For Speed, Motor Storm, and to some degree the beautiful GT5: Prologue. I am going to guess that when everyone figured out you had to work for wins Ferrari Challenge fell by the wayside. Even if I hate the game, for less than $20, I figure that it is not a big loss.


Eye Candy Retro Style

I have a huge catalog of Original PlayStation (PSX) and PlayStation 2 (PS2) games just sitting around in my entertainment center, various bookshelves, boxes and bins. I know; this sort of sucks as a waste of perfectly good (and not so good) games. I have written before that at one point in time I was pretty much addicted to videogames – buying the game, holding it, owning it, preordering it, playing it for a few minutes. Getting a new game was akin to crack.

Over the years I have broken this habit; sort of. The addiction is partly what drove me from reviewing games, and not getting new material every week also contributes to not having anything new to say, but I digress. Writing about the latest, greatest videogame releases became more of a core than a welcome distraction.

At any rate, I do a much better job of selling some games if I figure I just do not enjoy them or will never get around to completing the game. I try to time selling sports games on eBay so I can get $25-30 in preparations for the next release. At other times, I have a hard time letting go. Seeing the Gran Turismo 4 (GT4) game case, knowing that the disc is destroyed (see previous blog entry – “Life without a PS3?”), I think about tracking down a replacement copy. I know that I will never finish it; the only GT series game that I have completed 100% is the first release for the PSX. Still, to me, GT4 is the best release in the series, even if the graphics do not compare to the PlayStation 3 (PS3) eye candy in Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, which finally brings me to the point of this column.

I was poking around looking for some information on older PSX games; need to make some decisions on which games to sell and which ones to keep a while longer. I came across this article about upcoming PSOne (I still like PSX) games for the PlayStation Store.

Medal of Honor
Spyro: Year of the Dragon
Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage!
Street Fighter Alpha 2
Street Fighter Alpha 3
Wipeout XL

I still have Wipeout XL (and the original Wipeout). Fun games that I never really got into, but never sold because I know they are “classics” that I will eventually came back to one of these days. I never got into the Spyro games; I am sure I purchased them, but that is a different story. I own Medal of Honor, but never got around to playing it. Several times I thought about selling it, but I always thought I should hang onto it for a while longer. I use to play the heck out of the Street Fighter Alpha series, but was never very good. I think I still own one of these games, but will have to look to see. I do still have the Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter game, which I have held onto just because. Seriously, no real reason other than the Marvel characters in the Street Fighter engine was pretty cool.

The only problem with these older games, that I may or may not get around to playing one day, is that the graphics really do suck on my HDTV. Funny; I have become a graphics whore. Every time I attempt to cull my collection, I think about which games were fun (at the time of the PSX) and which ones have gameplay that would hold up well today. This pretty much rules out sports games, but you cannot get more than fifty cents for many of the older games, unless they have some collectable value (i.e. Tecmo Super Bowl). I would actually play some of these games if I could get my PS3 and PSP to do a decent job with Remote Play. Maybe one day.

I have been having a good time with my two oldest sons playing Midway Arcade Treasures 3; mainly Rush 2049 and Hydro Thunder. Back in the day this collection averaged a metacritic score of 67.

It goes without saying that the graphics are certainly better than any of the PSX offerings, but nowhere near the level of PS3 arcade racers. In this case, it all comes down to gameplay and that all important fun factor quality. It is fun “re-discovering” some of these older titles with my boys. They could care less about the graphics (they are use to the Wii and their Nintendo DS); I think they are actually OK with enjoying a game for the pure pleasure of playing something new.

So maybe there is still some life in that old collection of mine, and along the way maybe I can educate my kids in the finer arts of PlayStation and arcade style gaming classics. If my kids learn to value fun factor and gameplay over eye candy, I win.


Life without a PS3?

Any longtime readers of this humble site have realized for a while that I lost my gaming jones. As the NFL draft was approaching I decided it was high time to get in some Madden. Imagine my surprise when I could not insert the disc. After a while I realized that my youngest son decided he wanted to play a game, so he tried to help himself. To the tune of loading up the PS3 with three discs!

I have no idea how he accomplished this feat, but none the less, three discs were in the PS3. Dragon Tales (original PSX – this must have been what he wanted to play), Crazy Taxi (PS2), and Gran Turismo 4 (PS2). What to do? I was awfully pissed off, so I went outside so as not to take out my frustrations on my family.

The lovely and talented Mrs. Calvert decided to appraise the situation, and tweezers in hand, she removed Gran Turismo 4. Of course it was broken and completely ruined. I guess that is one game that I have an excuse not to complete at 100%. That was all she could do.

After I calmed down, I came back inside and attempted to get the other disc out. At the time I had no idea that my son jammed in three games! Good grief. After numerous attempts to eject, turning the system on and off, Crazy Taxi finally emerged (I have no idea if this one still works; lots of scratches). Finally, my son’s prize emerged – and of course as luck would have it, Dragon Tales still worked.

The PS3 did not survive the forced gameplay process. Results were mixed. Often when inserting a disc, it makes a horrible noise, and does not recognize the disc. After several attempts 5-10, a disc will finally be show in the XMB, and will actually play. Last weekend I did get in a couple of games of Madden, and a few older PS2 arcade type collections (kids love the Midway collection with Rush 2049).

Earlier in the week, the new Star Trek Season 1 collection arrived, and seemed to work OK, after the above process of multiple disc inserts, turning the system on/off, etc.

I realized that the PS3 was on its last leg; something in the blu-ray insert, load, read mechanism is badly jacked up (you know you like these technical descriptions). Last night the system decided it would not play any blu-ray movies would not work, and they sure as hell would not eject. After 10 minutes, the PS3 finally gave me back 300. Thanks.

So now I have to decide if I want to attempt my own repairs, taking about the PS3, and disassembling the blu-ray drive in order to clean the lens and maybe see if I can align the mechanism that moves disc in/out of the device. Or I can send in the PS3 for repairs.

At any rate, after a long sabbatical from the PS3, now that I am starting to feel the jones again, I have to prepare for life without a PS3. I do not really want to spend $150 on repairs, and I sure as hell do not want to buy a new PS3.


Give them what they want. GT5 Eye Candy.

I spent a goodly amount of time with Gran Turismo 5 Prologue today. Sure, it is eye candy, but it is the candy everybody wants.

Tori Praver © SI

Tori Praver – delicious eye candy ©

At this point I only have a couple of Gold Trophies to earn in the C Class events. Race C-3 (Cappaccino Time Target) and C-9 (FF Challenge). I have a Silver Trophy in the former (1:39.570 is my current fastest time), and a Bronze Trophy in the latter (I need to work at this one). I will give it another go again tonight, and I should have some time tomorrow to see if I can knock off one or both.

I had a blast getting the Gold Trophy in C-8 (Honda Integra Mission) at Daytona. It was not until I switched to manual, and picked up the draft from almost every car I passed, that I actually found my way across the finish line first. I never considered that manual transmission at a super speedway would be important, but it made a difference. Catching the draft was incredible exciting. Enough so that I am seriously consider picking up NASCAR 09. Daytona Gran Turismo style, getting ready to watch the Coke Zero 400, some beer, and of course Tori will also do the trick.


Gran Turismo 4 Slips into Obscurity

Another email update from EBGames, and another Gran Turismo 4 delay. This time we learn that GT4 will not even hit store shelves in time for Christmas.

We are writing to let you know that we have changed the projected ship date for Gran Turismo 4 to 2/5/2005.

How disappointing.

I know there are hundreds of thousands (dare I say a couple of million) of casual fans will still buy the game and will not care about the delay, but one really has to wonder “what is the point?” At this point, why not scrap the game altogether and wait for the PS3 (or whatever it will be called) and use GT4 as a launch title? Who am I kidding? There is too much money to be had for Sony, but surely they are disappointed that they missed the Christmas window.

I am seriously disappointed that Sony cannot get their act together on this one and get the damn thing released already.


And it is Go, Go, Go! (Copycat Racing Goes Underground)

This is ridiculous. In a span of eight days we have NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup (due Aug 31), Street Racing Syndicate (Aug 31), Burnout 3 (due Sep 7), and Juiced (due Sep 7). The NASCAR game makes sense – it is timed around the new playoff format, but what about Juiced and SRS? They are coming out so damn close to each other that they are sure to stunt to the other game, not to mention that Burnout 3 has more “buzz” behind it, plus the EA marketing arm (and $$$).

The second wave of racing games starts in October with TOCA Race Driver 2 (due Oct 5), which is a surprise release. I thought it was going to remain an Xbox exclusive. I have no idea how well the first title did, but the PSX TOCA titles never did that well. I do not have actual sales data to back up that claim, but I just do not remember any of those titles being chart toppers, despite being solid racing games. TOCA 2 and 3 were way ahead of their time, complete with great racing AI and visible damage.

November will see the release of the heavy hitters – Gran Turismo 4 (due Nov 14), Need For Speed Underground 2 (Nov 15), and Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition (Nov 23). I have preorderd GT4 and NFS:U2, but I have no interest in Midnight Club 3, which is going to be completely lost in the wake of the other two games.

What is the deal with all the copycat underground games? Yes, I know NFS:Underground was late to the party, but EA does this type of game so well that I do not see SRS, Juiced, and Midnight Club 3 standing a chance. Oh well, I have a feeling that 2005 will be a great year for bargain bin racing.