Gran Turismo Sport – Car Porn

I continue to be excited for Gran Turismo Sport, reading various opinions from here, there and yonder … this particular comment caught my attention:

Gran Turismo – Car Porn

Sport actually includes slightly more robust race assist options than previous series entries, which should allow those who buy the game primarily for the car porn to cope with Gran Turismo’s demanding, simulation-level racing mechanics.

I know Polyphony Digital is going to focus Sport primarily on online play, but hopefully it will not be ridiculously out of balance with offline modes. One of the GT series pleasures for me is running hotlaps and enjoying getting better, which is a far better racing experience than stressing about online play, where trolls and turds frolic in equal quantities, often ruining the entire experience.


Gran Turismo Sport – Beyond Eye Candy?

So now that there is finally a release date for Gran Turismo Sport – GTS – (Nov. 15 U.S. and Nov 16 Europe), we can turn our attention to other aspects of the game …

In no particular order …

Will the physics be improved?  It is my opinion that GT6 was a nice evolution from previous games in the series, but the developers remained focused on accessibility, with a hard lean towards a more casual audience.  I appreciate that there has to be a nice blend, a common ground if you will, between casual games (what is the hype about), arcade gamers (the Need for Speed fans of the world) and simulation racing fans. I get that the GT series may never be truly on par with iRacing, but why not?  These days, when I have time to play, Project CARS is my cup of tea. Why?  It is accessible, a nice hybrid racing simulation, that lets me fully customize my racing (game play) experience.  I may want my race to be monkey balls hard or beer in one hand easy.  Let’s hope GTS leans in that direction.

What about I quit the racing AI?  Let’s be honest; the GT series has never been about providing quality AI racers.  Who wants cars that run the same patterns around a circuit, lap after lap, or AI cars that try to re-take the line no matter what (excuse me while I bump the &^*% out of you)?  With the power of the PS4, how hard would it be to make the cars offer a variety of challenges, with some degree of variation instead of the mundane predictability found in previous incarnations in the series?

Damage – beyond cosmetic.  I want to see a GT game where you can cut a wheel and things go downhill afterwards.  Or you drop a bumper or fender, and watch (and feel) your aerodynamics go to hell in a hand-basket.  Or bump a wall at 230+ MPH (Indy Car) and watch your car spin and utterly disintegrate.  All from the safety of my living room.  In other words, GT needs to be introduced into the real world.

Lots of cars.  Seriously, back in the heyday of my videogamedom, back when I had time to write 2000+ word diatribe reviews, LeMans 24 Hours for the PlayStation 2 actually had 20+ cars on the track.  We need some of that on a modern console.

Online is great, but who needs another Drive Club experience.  Besides, random online racers (sorry if this happens to be you) are a-holes.  Let’s please be sure that GTS offers an excellent offline experience, because seriously, others besides me are not ready to be f’ed over with online only GT racing.

Project CARS configurability.  I’m almost going back to my accessibility comments.  Maybe I’m having a bummer of a day.  Maybe I do not want that cut wheel to cause me a race.  Maybe, just maybe, I want the AI to predictably suck … or at least not challenge me.  Maybe I have had one of those days and need to take it out, lap after unchallenged lap.  Then again, maybe I just want to see why I am a software development manager and not a professional racer.  I hope GTS gives me that sort of freedom.  Is that too much to ask?

In summary, Polyphony Digital needs to capitalize on the best aspects of the GT series; all that is pure and holy about the game.  After that, the developers need to focus on the shortcomings from previous versions of the game.  Let’s push things forward, over and beyond the graphics … eye candy is great, but let’s get on with the racing!


Is E3 Still Relevant?

Monday night my boys and I watched the Sony E3 press conference via live streaming over the PS4. I came pretty close to skipping the event in favor of watching whatever Andrew Zimmern was going to digest next in the newest Bizarre Foods. Ultimately the boys were so excited over E3, I decided to watch.

Of course there was a time when I was equally excited, and dare I say enthralled with everything E3 related. Getting “press” credentials when E3 visited ATL for a couple of years in the 90s was certainly a highlight. Back in those days I eagerly awaited each tidbit of news, and wrote countless diatribes on the state of the industry, discussed the next big game, and so on and so forth. E3 was an important part of my gaming life, usenet was a popular means of communication and the web as we know it today was very much in its infancy.

These days, while gaming is still an important part of my life, it is certainly not as consuming, and as I mentioned in the opening, I came pretty close to picking watching the consumption of the latest cow balls dish, over Sony’s E3 press conference. I guess that says a lot about the relevance of E3 to this older gamer. Besides, it’s easy enough to follow E3 news and trends; thanks to the rise of social media, you do not even have to be there to be there.

During this year’s long PlayStation advertisement, err, press conference had a few things that stood out …

Gran Turismo. I was bitterly disappointed that we learned nothing about the next title. Surely it has to be in development.

Vita. I have written enough about Sony screwing the pooch and completely missing the mark with their wonderful gaming system. Disappointing does even begin to describe my feelings.

Final Fantasy VII Remake (Square Enix). As soon as the video started, I told my boys to watch for the crowd go ape shit. I’m really looking forward to this one, but Square Enix has to be in a no win situation. This is the game that all FF VII fans want, so it can never live up to expectations. No matter which direction the game takes (remake, reimaging, same script with updated graphics and similar gameplay to the original PSOne title) some faction of the FF VII fan base will fume over Square Enix messing up their beloved title.

Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerrilla Games). This new IP looks very promising. I like the concept; a nice mixture of low tech and high tech concepts. One of my first thoughts was that Horizon was Gamma World ish … maybe not exactly, but robotic dinosaurs based in a future earth setting looks solid enough to me.

Dreams (Media Molecule’s). Who knows which direction MM will take their next sandbox game, but I can only imagine that it will be a great creative outlet for fans that were disappointed with the last LittleBigPlanet.

No Man’s Sky (Hello Games). Fantastic infinite universe concept, that pays homage to Elite (at least the version on the C64 that I loved ages ago). I can see this title getting dismissed due to poor, or at least inferior graphics. Similar to RPGs, I love concepts where I can take my time exploring a well-crafted gaming universe; I just can never find enough time to sink my teeth into these types of games

Uncharted 4. Good clean fun for the whole family. It is hard for me to say “system seller” because I think die-hard fans of the Uncharted franchise would pick up a PS4 sooner or later. The real trick is getting someone sitting on the sidelines of this gaming generation to take interest, and buy a PS4 in 2016 just to play this Sony Exclusive.

I’ll wrap things up by mentioning PlayStation Vue. The concept of a la cart is very appealing, but even with PS+ discounts, I think the pricing could be high. While I have a gazillion channels with Charter, I truly only watch a select few, but the problem is the wide variety: Fox Sports 1 and 2, ESPN, NFL and NFL Red Zone, NBC Sports (for Formula One and soccer), Discovery, History Channel, Travel Channel (Bizarre Foods), and during football season, whichever channel offers up the Falcons, Georgia Bulldogs and Texas Longhorns. Even if everything I want to watch is offered, I doubt a la cart pricing will work for me.


The Long Delayed Road To Nowhere

It’s been a while since my last update, which is kind of similar to my free time for gaming. While often limited, my random gaming sessions have been all over the place. The theme of this post has to be ‘backlog’ – as in I could not purchase a game for the next couple of years and still have something new to experience.

With that said, let’s jump into a whirlwind tour of random gaming bliss …

The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn’s Quest
I picked this one up a month ago, once the price fell below $20. I just started in the last couple of days. It is pretty much what I expected – LotR, with poorly implemented Move support (i.e. probably a Wii Remote straight port), but very family friendly.

So far I am enjoying it, but probably only because I am a huge LotR geek.

Days of Thunder: NASCAR
This morning I picked up Days of Thunder, along with Star Trek DAC, and Top Gun via a 50% off PS+ sale. While I have not played the other two games in this Paramount bundle, $7.50 looks like a steal of a deal for all three games. If nothing else, Days of Thunder is shaping up to be easily worth ~$2.50. Yes, it is arcade racing, and only loosely based on the movie with the same name, but so far my boys (along with day) are having a blast playing this one.

The game feature rubber band racing to the extreme, but that is OK, when the experience is still fun. I was shocked once I made it to the ‘Sprint’ circuit – Daytona became total hell on wheels, but in a fun way.

Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest
I cannot exactly put my finger on the reason, but I am very much looking forward to Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest, which is due a few days (November 15 to be exact) shy of Thanksgiving. What’s not to like? Family friendly, Move compatible, and based on lessons learned from Sports Champions.

PixelJunk Shooter
Let’s put this one in the looking forward to category, which will just add further to my backlog, but with a PS+ 20% off discount, who can complain?

Some people reckon PixelJunk games are a little tough, and well… yes, they are a little because I think games should be a challenge. However, what we’ve done this time is scattered loads of checkpoints so even if you do die, you’ll restart really close, and we also give you the option to downgrade your difficulty setting if you get a Game Over too. We’ve created 4 difficulty levels so everyone is catered for (I hope!).

For an old man gamer, I am giddy over frequent checkpoints and multiple difficulty levels for a shoot-em-up. Not to digress too much, but the October PS+ offering has been butt-nut crazy.

While Afrika may not be the greatest ‘game’ around, it holds a special place in my heart. First, I love the experience. It is different, and I sometimes blow my wad over games that are a little off the beaten path. Of course it is hard to call Afrika a ‘game’ … at least not a proper game. Second, Afrika was my first Platinum. Your first is always special, and all that jazz. At any rate, this article was a fond remembrance of picture grabbing animals and insects in my romp through Africa.

When I first read about the GT5 2.0 update, I started longing for the game again, and when the F1 Championship winning Sebastian Vettel Red Bull was on offer a couple of weeks ago, I (briefly) jumped back in for the first time in a while.

Getting the $1 million credits was a nice bonus. I made the Bronze in-game trophy without too much difficulty, but didn’t spend much time trying to place higher. I now have some much needed money to burn, which should help me push forward in the game without having to stop for a short term grind.

I will be picking up the upcoming DLC, but I am far from maximizing the current DLC free version (that backlog thing again).

We are confirming that the Gran Turismo 5 DLC update will be available to download on 10/25. We apologize for the delay in the content however as a gift to our eager fans we are offering free bonus content. For those who purchase the “Complete Pack” by November 7, we will throw in a unique GT Academy dynamic theme as well the Honda NSX GT500 Stealth Model. Just to be clear, both the dynamic theme and the car are free with purchase of the Complete Pack. Again we are sorry for the delay and hope that fans will enjoy all of the fantastic new content to come for GT5.

It is not like I have ants in my pants or anything, so I am happy to wait another week and pick up a couple of free throw-ins by Sony for putting up the DLC one week later than originally planned.

Ico – The No Update, Update
I haven’t started on Ico collection; same song and dance. Never enough hours in the day. I guess my appetite for gaming is bigger than the time I have to appreciate the games.


Now Playing, Watching, and Reading

I have a smorgasbord of games in my current rotation, which is really unusually because I almost always sick to 2-3 games at the most. In no particular order:

Joe Danger – What a fun little game. It is going to be really hard for me to get 100% (from a Trophy consideration) on this one because some of the Time trials are really tough. This has to be one of the best games I have purchased from the PSN (got it when it was 50% off).

FIFA 11 – I play this one a few times a week when I want to get my soccer/football jones satisfied. I love the Virtual Pro feature.

Marvel Superhero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet – I picked up this one to play with my 4-year old, as he is really into superheroes right now. One of our favorites is Captain America (for me) and Bucky (for my son), so it was really cool that the version of the game I purchased had a good for this DLC.

Dead Nation – Only when the kids are in bed. To be fair, I have not played it in a while, but would play it more if I could play when I was not such a sleepyhead!

Gran Turismo 5 – Need I say more? It is really the only racer I am playing right now, but at some point I have plans to jump back to a couple of forgotten titles.

Space Invaders Infinity Gene – I got this one a couple of weeks ago for the low, low price of $4.99. What a great pickup. As a fan of shooters, I have to say that this game provides a lot of nice shooter pleasure. The music mode is incredible; nothing like putting in some Cure Disintegration and just sort of zoning out.

LittleBigPlanet – Mostly the Game of the Year Edition right now, but I plan to jump right back into LBP2 Collector’s Edition soon enough. Actually waiting for a patch to make sure all my goodies from LBP1 correctly import. I wrote about my love for all things LBP a couple of weeks ago. Not sure how I made it this long without discovering the pure pleasure of LBP. Collectively, these two titles are easily in my Top 5 favorite PS3 gaming experiences (that is another article!)

PS+ Gets Some Love
I wanted to do a quick link to this article, which pretty much sums up how I feel right now about PS+. Subscribing to the PS+ service has been one of the best uses of $50 gaming bucks that I have made in the last calendar year. I am going to stack my subscripting in the new few weeks to take advantage of the continued opening gambit of 3 free months. If you have not subscribed to PS+, you should really check out the last 90 days of content and discounts, which have been incredible.

Looking Forward To …
ICO and Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection, MLB 11: The Show, the next NASCAR game, Journey, and Catherine (as of right now, Atlus has not announced a US release date).

Now Watching
Spartacus: Blood and Sand. OMG (wanted an excuse to talk like the cool kids) is this one over the top, but from a story standpoint, it is actually really good. I am just starting disk 3, so I am about 8-9 episodes in, and I have to admit that I anticipate see what happens next. Some of the characters are really fascinating; I want to see how their story lines progress and see how certain political motivations will screw over various targets.

I could do without all the meat just flapping around; I have never seen so many dongs just out in front of my face. I guess turnabout is fair play for the fairer sex, but still, I am glad that the developers toned it down a little after the first couple of episodes.

On Blu-ray some of the scenes such as “… have your way with the girl’s ass a bit while I watch …” are nice, if not a little bit excessive. I could never get my wife to watch this with me; not because of the gratuitous sex. The blood and gore is so over the top that at times I find myself turning my head or at least cringing in a “I really didn’t want to see that” sort of way.

Good stuff. Picked up the Season 1 Blu-ray in the low $30s from Amazon; hopefully the rest of the shows are equally as appealing.

Now Reading
Bloom County Volume 3. Sometimes I have to have some light reading before heading off to la-la land.

Yesterday, Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal (I love Amazon Prime two-day shipping) showed up on my front porch. I decided to order immediately after see Ms. McGonigal on Attack of the Show earlier this week. I am looking forward to a book that actually advocates gaming. What a great tag line – Why games make us better and how they can change the world. Seriously; hope this one is as good as the tag line.


Christmas Gaming Treats

As a kid I always looked forward to getting new videogames in December (birthday and Christmas). I always held out hope that I was going to get a few new games, and they just had to be better than decent because I knew that my gaming library was not going to increase during the upcoming year.

These days I just buy what I want, usually via pre-order, or I watch a game, waiting for the inevitable price drop before finally indulging myself. Either way, my gaming comes to me when I want, and if I happen to get a dud, I can flip it on eBay. No worries, no fuss.

This year, thanks to Santa (and of course my family), I have enough games to keep me occupied until December 2011, or until I decide to pick up the next great, have to play it now spectacular, super special gaming extravaganza. Something along those lines; call me a sucker for pre-release build up hype.

The Gaming Treasure Trove:

  • Batman Arkham Asylum Game of the Year Greatest Hits. I have always wanted to give this game a go, but for whatever reason, I never did.
  • FIFA 11 (Under $30 during Amazon Thanksgiving sales). I wrote a few weeks ago that I have been playing the shit out of FIFA 10. I love the FIFA 10 experience; the virtual pro is a very immersive experience. I am going to stay with FIFA 10 for the rest of 2010 to see how many Trophies I can pick up before flipping FIFA 10 on eBay, and then I will start my FIFA 11 journey. I can only hope that FIFA 11 is as fun and entertaining as FIFA 10 has been over the last six weeks.
  • God of War 3 (Under $35 during Amazon Thanksgiving sales). Because one cannot have enough God of War.
  • God of War Collection Greatest Hits ($10 during Amazon Thanksgiving sales). Are you kidding me? $10 for high-def updates of two highly rated PS2 game? Complete with a gaggle of Trophies for my gaming pleasure. I never played the PS2 versions, but thanks to the PSP God of War games, I am a converted fan.
  • Gran Turismo 5 Prima Essential Track Guide*
  • Rapala Pro Bass Fishing 2010. Some different. Something for the Move.


* OK, so this little spiral bound book is not game, but I figured I would include it in the overall haul. It is getting a lot of flack in the Amazon review listings, however it is exactly what it states – a track guide. If you are looking for a traditional cheat (er, strategy guide) book, then the Prima guide is not your cup of tea.

Maybe all these new games will have an added bonus; getting my PlayStation Rewards status to nudge a little for the first time since the week after Thanksgiving!

Looking Forward To …
With all these new gaming Christmas experiences, plus the current backlog of goodies, is there anything left on my radar?

  • Little Big Planet 2. Of course I never played the first one, but everyone says LBP is a must have experience, which is fun for the whole family.
  • MLB 11: The Show. See FIFA 10 + FIFA 11; I have until March to get my money’s worth from MLB 10.
  • Need for Speed Hot Pursuit. I want to try the newest NFS title, but I am going to wait for a lower price. Plus I still have GT5 to keep me occupied, and F1 2010 is not getting any love.
  • Madden and NCAA Football. Yeah, I know, let’s don’t go there yet.

There are probably other gems lurking out there, but right now I actually do not have anything on pre-order or a “watch list.” OK, just kidding. I have the HD update of the ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection on pre-order. But other than that one …


Gaming News and Notes

Over the last three weeks, starting right before the Thanksgiving break, I have been on a torrid (for me) gaming rampage. I think I have logged more hours on my PS3 (and even a few on the oft forgotten PSP – Ghost of Sparta) than I did in total January through October.

I have to say it has been fun. Almost like a kid in a candy store. Gaming nirvana if you please. I have found this latest zone has helped me decompress and even get in some quality time with the kids. These days I don’t question how long this ride will last; I just keep on plugging, enjoying it until I put down the controllers.

Crazy Taxi
After pickup up my PS3 Slim for Father’s Day, I flipped Crazy Taxi on eBay. Not because I no longer enjoyed the game; I consider it one of the ultimate pick and play titles. It is just a damn good arcade gaming experience, which blends the perfect elements of short bursts of gaming excitement and the pursuit of high scores.

Besides, the PS3 Slim more or less forced my hand, since it is not PS2 backwards compatible. Of course in my back pocket I knew Crazy Taxi would be headed towards the PSN.

The PSN edition seems to be the same game, minus the licenses (Levi’s, KFC, music, etc), with slightly harder controls compared to the PS2 and Dreamcast versions. Crazy Taxi is still a fun arcade experience; one that the boys enjoy playing with dad. As an added bonus, the PSN version also provides the pleasure (or frustration – take your pick) of pursuing Trophies.

Shame on me for not playing this one more over the past year. FIFA 10 is a fantastic sports game, and the virtual pro feature being balls out fun. In my dotage, I have a hard time pulling off decent skill moves, so my pro still seems a little stiff and rough around the edges. As a striker, I am all offense, with almost no defensive skills. I think my rating is currently 72 and climbing.

Rumor has it Santa is bringing me FIFA 11 ($29.99 during one of the Thanksgiving deals), so I figured I better maximize my FIFA 10 experience before Christmas so I will not feel so guilty when I trade in or eBay FIFA 10. And maximize I have; in fact I have probably spent more time with FIFA 10 than any other game in this article. Fun and highly addicting!

Gran Turismo 5
After waiting an eternity (at least it seemed that way), we finally have a proper Gran Turismo on the PS3. I picked up the Gran Turismo 5 Collector’s Edition – I love the series, even if it is not the best pure “racing” experience around.

After starting off with one of the 25+ versions (or whatever) of a Toyota Corolla, I have been slowly making my way through the game. Due to so many other games in my rotation (or call it my gaming backlog) I have not started the long slow GT grind. I have picked up my B and A licenses, and while I could keep on trying to progress, I have been working on locking up all B and A license Gold trophies, which seems damn near impossible for some.  I actually find this pursuit more relaxing than frustrating; I get in a zone and keep plugging away, slowly decreasing my times until I strike Gold.

The only GT game that I managed to “complete” at 100% was the first release – Gran Turismo for the PSOne.  It has been a long time since those days!  I doubt I have that much spare time to really go after that mark with GT5; however I am sure I will maximize my value (gaming dollar).

I think the game has already been patched 3 times, so the developers did end up rushing the game, which is a bit of a surprise considering the long delay. Over ambitious? Probably.  At least the developers are supporting the game and trying to make things right by the fans.

Sports Champions
My family has discovered the joy of playing Bocce. At least we are enjoying Sports Champions version of Bocce, and we are having a blast learning the rules and associated skills.  My mother is giving my oldest son a Bocce set for the backyard. I love it when videogames cross pollinate real life!

I think my kids’ favorite is volley ball, closely followed by disc golf. My favorites are archery and disc golf, and I also find gladiator duel an interesting diversion. Ping pong is the favorite of my 3.11 year old, but I find it damn near impossible.

On a side note, I need to get two more Move controllers for some serious volley ball and archery dual Move head-to-head action. What would that investment be? Almost $325? I have already “invested” $100 camera + Move controller, $50 second move controller, $35 Navigation controller, $30 Move charge station. Ouch. Archery is a blast with two controllers, so I can only imagine how much fun it would be to have a two-player archery duel with 4 Move controllers!

On more side note. The Navigation controller seems poorly supported. I think the only Move game I have that takes advantage of it is Heavy Rain. Need to come back to Heavy Rain in a future article.

My Aquarium
Did I really buy this one? Just for the hell of it I downloaded My Aquarium. It is a great concept, with extremely poor execution. The graphics are not acceptable; in fact I was not even sure this was an HD title, but from what I have read, My Aquarium is in fact presented in HD … just without the normal eye popping graphical glory. It really is a damn shame that this virtual screensaver does not look nicer, and to make matters worse, the interface is unbelievable clunky, complete with unresponsive controls.

If a “game” begged for updated graphics with Move support, this is the one. To the good, Trophy whores will find a few almost freebies on offer; apparently you can cheat to get them quickly, however I am earning my Trophies the old fashion way. It will probably be a year before all the fish unlock, giving me a cheap Gold Trophy.

I dismissed this one out of hand when it was previously released, however I did pick it up on sale for $0.99. It is OK at best … I mean it is Uno. I have played a few games online, but I disappointed that a couple of disconnects in the “lobby” counted as game discounts. That or someone figured out a way to hack a couple of wins against me; I am not enough of a junkie at this game to try to follow my statistics to see why the game thinks I have abandon a couple of gaming sessions.

I think you have to really love Uno in order to pick this one up. Not bad for $0.99, but not worth a whole lot more than a single ducket. Then again, this could be a nice diversion if someone wants to get their wife into videogames.

Hustle Kings!
Plus continues to deliver interesting content and discounts. I picked up Hustle Kings! a couple of weeks ago when it was discounted to just under $6. I have only played a few times, but the game seems to offer a really nice pool experience. The bar locations have great aesthetics – music, presentation, and graphics.

I’ll comment more on this one in the future. I picked it up mainly because I suck at pool in real life, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that playing a virtual game will actually help me in real life. To a certain degree it already has, at least when it comes to adding some backspin on pocket shots. In real life I would scratch, following the ball into the pocket, but I am getting the hang of how to avoid this mistake. Hope it carries over!

Hustle Kings! also supports the Move. I am not sure how it compares to playing with a DS controller because I have only used the Move. The game appears to do a good job of supporting the Move, however I have to admit that my poor old fingers and hand gets a little cramped trying to line up fine precession shots. As I said, more on this one later.

Did I just do that? Good grief; that is a lot of gaming playing!

Happy Sunday!


Black Friday Gaming

I am not a huge shopper, except for the stay at home and click on Amazon kind of shopping. This year (at least so far today) I did not see a whole lot of deals that I just had to get.

The tally today is FIFA 11 (DS) and Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii) for the kids, while dear old dad took advantage of a couple of Lightning Deals for God of War Collection (PS3) for a mere $10 and God of War 3 (PS3) for a click under $35. Thanks to the PSP and God of War: Chains of Olympus, I have become somewhat of a Kratos fan. Good stuff.

I am thinking about taking advantage of some of the PSN titles on sale. Joe Danger looks better than decent. I am pretty sure I am going to pull the trigger on Destruction Derby (PSOne); long time readers will remember that seeing the demo of this game made me fall in love with the PlayStation. I have not picked up very many of the 15th Anniversary sale items, but this is one that I will not pass up. Then again … backlog list of games is growing deep. To the good, Destruction Derby will get some use on the PSP.

Gaming today has mostly consisted of Sports Champions, which is a great family title, and of course some Gran Turismo 5 action.

Happy gaming weekend to everyone!


Gran Turismo 5 Collector’s Edition Arrives

Racing nirvana?  Probably not based on past Gran Turismo titles, however I hope it is a damn good driving experience.

It has been a while since I have actually been around the house on a major “release” day.  Thanks to having several days off, I should get in plenty of time with the game.

Upon firing it up, I was prompted to install version 1.01 of the game, which took a couple of minutes.  The game is currently installing 8GB of data on my PS3 Slim HDD.  According to the progress meter, this should take 20 minutes.

Happy me!


Ending Credits

Yesterday I threw up an article congratulating myself for completing Afrika, in the process achieving my first Platinum trophy. This is a great segue into a recent IGN article titled “Why Don’t We Finish More Video Games?

It is a damn good question, and the article brings out a few interesting points that I shall proceed to quote for your reading amusement.

The irregularity of getting a new video game can also blunt your temptation of pulling the rip cord before it’s over. When I was younger, I felt damn lucky to get four or five new video games over the course of a year for my Master System. But now I have the ability to buy more than one video game a month.

Back in my ill spent youth, I too was lucky to receive 3-4 Intellivision games a year. Of course having a December birthday always meant getting shafted – “Christmas will be here in a few days.” Joy. That always sucked.

At any rate, new games were special. These days new games are not exactly special; a dime a dozen. Of course Gran Turismo 5 releases today, however it is not as if I am in dire need of a new game. As the article said, I still have a ton of unfinished games, including F1 2010.

Do you remember game-ending glitches fifteen years ago? Personally, I can’t recall a single game found on a cartridge that suffered from a crippling bugaboo. (PC games have long endured a reputation for shipping before being completely stable.)

There’s now an over-reliance on the ability to patch a console game after it ships via the console’s Internet connection.

I really abhor this aspect of today’s generation of consoles. I remember having arguments with friends and colleagues that PC gaming was a waste of time and effort. Console gaming was the way to go because games were in one nice tidy package, without relying upon patches to “finish” a game. Boy have times changed!

My issue with completing games is one of time; really lack of time. I want to move on to new experiences, and my available free time is limited. I typically end up in a trap of starting a game, playing for a little while, and moving on to the next thing. Moving day occurs because I want to experience the new game, not because the first game sucked.

In theory I am getting better. In the last few months I have “completed” a few PSN titles, God of War Chains of Olympus (on the easier levels at any rate – but I did see the ending!), and of course the lead in for this article, Afrika.


Gran Turismo 5? What to play while waiting?

I know that this is somewhat older news, but I figured I would touch on GT5 for a minute after reading the Nürburgring news at the Official-ish PS Blog.

Nürburgring is definitely a favorite among GT fans, and I’m excited to share with you that Gran Turismo 5 will feature its three courses: the Grand Prix course, the Nordschleife, and the Nürburgring 24 Hours course.

Who doesn’t want to do some GT style racing at Nürburgring? The problem is more along the lines of who is waiting for GT5? I guess most of the PS3 user base, but good grief, what a wait. GT5 better be something special or I have a feeling that it will get killed in the mass market gaming site reviews.

Some good news for simulation style racing fans is that GT5 should have a nice damage model since a NASCAR license is included. Then again, it’s the GT series we are talking about, so I have my doubts. I am sure I will jump in like I always do … I just think the GT series has lost some luster.

GT1 was ahead of its time. GT2 was a great sequel; more of the same, only better. GT3 was a nice PS2 graphical upgrade over its PlayStation counter parts; however it was really nothing special. I enjoyed GT4 and spent countless hours with it, including a boatload of playing time in my PS3. In my opinion, GT4 is the best game in the GT series. Too bad my youngest son cracked the game disk. GT HD Concept? What was the point? It was just a throw away demo to let us know that GT5 was in the works. I have gotten almost no value from Gran Turismo 5 Prologue; I cannot think of the last time I have given it a go. Maybe I will in the next few weeks just to remind myself why it goes unplayed.

More than anything else, I would like to see a GT/Daytona Prototype type game similar to Le Mans 24 Hours – great sense of speed, extremely long races (seriously, you could go 24 real life hours), and a grid of 18-24 cars (do not remember the specific number). I bet that is too much to ask, and is something better left for PC simulation racing. If it could be done on the Dreamcast and PS2 … well, it would seem like some publisher would be able to pick up a license on the cheap.

Before my PS3 died, I was getting some quality time with Ferrari Challenge. I know it is not a great game, but it provides me with a decent simulation experience and a decent racing challenge.

Over the last couple of days I spent some time with F1 Championship Edition. The Turkish GP inspired me, so I ran some Time Trail hot laps at Istanbul, and then Montreal in anticipation of next week’s Canadian GP. This game is great fun for me running hot laps.  It is hard for me that this 2007 release is still the only US F1 release. What a waste of a great license.


Final Fantasy XIII – And A Whole Heaping Helping of Incoming Games

Speaking of not having enough time to play games, I just pre-ordered FFXIII from amazon, which has a nice $10 off a future video game purchase promotion.

Get a $10 Video Games Credit
Order Final Fantasy XIII and get $10 off a future video game purchase. The promotional code will be placed directly into your account within 2 business days after the product ships. Offer valid when shipped and sold by Promotion valid on all existing orders. Limit one per household. Amazon reserves the right to change or terminate this promotion at any time.

It is about to be a crazy-stupid time for videogames. Besides being loaded up on current games, an unbelievable amount of gaming goodness is headed my way over the next few weeks.

Upcoming – Preorder and “Watch List” Games:

  • White Knight Chronicles International (will arrive today)
  • MLB 10: The Show (March 2)
  • Heavy Rain (February 23) – Interesting title; will probably wait for a sale, price drop, or other buying incentive.
  • FFXIII (March 9)
  • God of War III (March 16) – I should really play God of War Collection before jumping on the GoW bandwagon.
  • 2010 FIFA World Cup (April 27) – Probably do not need this and FIFA 10.

Good grief! It looks like I am all set for gaming for a long time except for a new quality racer. Gran Turismo 5 Prologue just never did it for me. I guess F1: Championship Edition and Ferrari Challenge can hold me over until the next great racing title lands in my laps.


Forza Motorsport 3 vs. Gran Turismo 5. Battle of the demos.

The battle between these two titles is heating up with plenty of trash talking between fans in each camp. Can’t we just all get along? I thought this was an interesting article at Destructoid that compared the demo setups on display at the Tokyo Game Show.


Gran Turismo PSP. Failure?

I never thought I would see the day when sub spectacular ratings would come in for a Gran Turismo title. The PSP release has a current metacritic score of 78%, which is shockingly bad when you up the game up to the legacy of its bigger brother PlayStation console releases.

What is going to happen when the game is actually released, into the hands of gamers? Is there going to be a collective cry of WTF, or will new PSPGo owners defend their system seller?


Gran Turismo PSP stutters out of the gate.

Oh boy. This is not so good. Everyone was expecting the portable version of GT to be a PSPGo system seller. Not so much according to CVG, scoring the game a 6.7 out of 10. Ouch.

It’s easily the most realistic handling we’ve seen in a PSP driving game, and all this is done at a silky smooth 60 frames per second which, on the little screen, looks lush. That’s why screenshots and trailers had us all excited. But great handling and a smooth frame rate aren’t the only important factors of a racing game, and GT PSP falls short in almost every other area.

This is not something you want to see in the first two or three paragraphs of a review.

The main mode of the game has no structure. Hit the single-player option and you have three modes; the standard Time Trial (with no online leaderboards, we might add), Drift Trial (again, no leaderboards and no set goals), and Single Race. That’s it.

Wow. You would think there would at least be an option to upload your laptimes. What happened to the PSP wi-fi abilities?

That’s essentially what this game boils down to though – it’s a collection game. A Pokémon-style, monster hunting, collect-’em-up with ‘grinding’ disguised as racing, and you’re supposed to take satisfaction from needlessly hoarding cars instead of little yellow, pointy-eared monsters. Then trade them with mates who also want to get every car in the game for no reason.