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!


Motorsport Manager

With a little support (i.e. cash) from SEGA, Playsport Games could have a great niche title on its hands …

As it is an unlicensed product the game will not feature teams, drivers or circuits from the Formula 1 world championship. Instead, “Motorsport Manager “will challenge players to take a second-tier single-seater team into the game’s F1 equivalent, the Grand Prix World Championship.

Honestly, I doubt I would find time to play; or rather it wouldn’t be a priority for me. I still hole it does well …


Blowing Off Steam. Time to Reconsider?

It is pretty well established in these pages that I don’t care for PC gaming, but that could change with the advent of Steam Machines.

These PC in a box ‘consoles’ could change my perspective, with several different options across a wide spectrum of prices, the only issue I see is market confusion. With 14 (and I assume more on the way) options, it is difficult to know where to start. Picking an ‘open’ hardware version, that allows for future upgrades (which may be every version being offered) is a great place to start. With the $500 getting started price point, I just have to reconcile a dedicated Steam Machine over a multi-use laptop that could also be connected to my TV.

The only reason I would even consider one of these boxes is to break into the world of iRacing. With the Steam iRacing listing showing Windows as a requirement, and the new Steam Machines being built to support ValveOS (Linux flavoring), I probably need to take a wait and see approach.


Point. Counter Point. IndyCar, Fontana, and Danger.

If you are a racing fan and care about IndyCar, you have probably already read these two great op-eds on what occurred last Saturday at Auto Club Speedway. Robin Miller said:

And what we witnessed Saturday at Auto Club Speedway was somewhere between the measured insanity of the 1960s and a jaw-dropping display of reflexes and reaction at 220mph.
It was incredible theatre, with a record 80 lead changes among 14 of the 23 drivers and three hours of intensity that’s hard to be imagined or duplicated.

Mr. Miller’s main point being that the element of danger, was the compelling hook that made the race so exciting.

David Malsher has a different view:

In terms of entertainment, last Saturday’s MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, was a hit. As a piece of sport, it was almost entirely without merit. Once the track gripped up, not long into the second stint, and every driver’s throttle was planted on the bulkhead, it became a slipstreaming crapshoot. Yes, it required the same bravery as Indy car racing has always demanded. No, it did not require the same skill as we’ve seen through the decades from the likes of A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, the Unsers, the Andrettis, Rutherford, Sneva, Mears. They had to balance their cars on the edge of adhesion, decide how much throttle to apply, how much room they had to correct the slide, how to balance tire life over the course of a stint. What we saw last Saturday was about balls and a lack of imagination.

There is inherent danger in the sport; Mr. Malsher thought the danger was too over the top.

I’m really not sure where I stand in this debate, but I do think the continued conversation is good for IndyCar, and it was worth pointing out here because RACER deserves some positive press for their outstanding work.


PC Batman Arkham Knight Woes

I know console games have their fair share of issues (… cough … Drive Club for the PS4 … cough …), but Warner Bros. suspending PC sales of Batman Arkham Knight has to be considered a huge disaster.

Drive Club’s launch and the lack of the striped dow PS+ version has been a PR mess for Sony, but a miss on a racing game doesn’t carry the same weight as a miss on a flagship title such as Batman.

Every time I consider PC gaming, issues like this (and patching, hardware expense, not having the same comfy gaming spot as my PS4, no large screen TV, etc), I always pause and say “no, thank you.”

One of these days I will do the Steam and iRacing thing …


2015 Le Mans – Porsche 919 Hybrid In Review

RACER posted an interesting article of statistics on the
Porsche 919 Hybrid from this year’s Le Mans.

Of the assorted facts and figures, I thought this one was really eye-catching:

The Porsche 919 Hybrid recuperated and used 2.22 kWh (8 megajoule) per lap. If it was a powerplant, a family home could be supplied with electricity for three months.

In my book, endurance, sports car, and prototype racing, are becoming much more entertaining than today’s contrived F1 (their rules have crippled F1 to the point where it is a parody of its once proud pinnacle of motor sports self).


WipEout 2048 – Vita DLC Packs

A couple of weeks ago I picked up WipEout 2048 (Vita) after passing on the latest iteration of WipEout during the February Vita launch. It’s not as if I don’t like WipEout – the series has an awesome pedigree which originated on the PSOne (I still own the first two releases).

More recently, I played WipEout Pure extensively on my PSP; after trying several different flavors of portable racing, Pure ended up being my racing game in my PSP library and remains in my collection today.

With all that said, I had no intentions of picking up WipEout 2048. I figured that I already had too many games in my Vita library, albeit none of which were racing games. Then something crazy and unexpected happened. Sony provided some Cross Play action that pushed me over the edge.

Almost two years ago (June 28, 2010), initial PS+ subscribers were treated with WipEout HD (PS3) as part of their day one PS+ subscription. A year or so later, I picked up full digital ownership of the game as part of Sony’s “Welcome Back” package. WipEout HD + Fury DLC to be more precise.

To be perfectly honest, I haven’t spent more than 10 minutes with the WipEout HD. I just have too many other gaming distractions. So what happened?

As I said, Cross Play arrived.

To make this deal even sweeter, we’ve got a special promotion that will let you experience WipEout’s exhilarating crossplay action on both PS3 and PS Vita. For those of you who already own WipEout HD or WipEout HD Fury on your PS3, you can automatically download the PS Vita versions for free! And the same works vice-versa as well: Anyone who purchases these new WipEout HD expansion packs from PlayStation Store on their PS Vita can download the packs for free on their PS3.

I decided to pick up WipEout 2048 because it was discounted, and because of the added value of getting WipEout HD + Fury DLCs for “free” – Sony really needs to push this sort of Cross Play connectivity across more titles.

WipEout 2048 is great on the Vita; I’ve played a couple of rounds of online multiplayer, which was OK – no lag or the like. I have also finished up the 2048 single player campaign mode, although I haven’t earned Elite passes in everything. WipEout 2048 has a ton of replay value, and when you add in the bonus HD + Fury DLC, I can see 2048 carrying my Vita racing needs forward for a long time to come.


DiRT3 First Impressions

[Editor’s Note: My 13 year-old son takes a turn contributing to the Recycle Bin with his impressions of DiRT3. Look for future articles from Joshua as he tackles the world of gaming and sports (mostly Falcons and UGA). You can find him online via his PSN account jscFALCONS.]

DiRT3 is an amazing off-road racing game featuring tons of cars and events, mostly Rally.

DiRT3 has a career mode, single-player modes, some multiplayer modes and online mode. The career mode,  DiRT3 Tour, is divided into four seasons each with different events.

I liked the variety of events to choose from. There is rally, rally cross, land rush, trailblazer, gymkhana and head2head. Rally is WRC style racing from one part of the track to another. Rally cross is like the X Games rally races with laps around a track. In land rush, you race with trucks and/or buggies. Trail blazer is very similar to rally, but you don’t use rally cars. I really don’t know what you’re using, but they are the fastest cars in the game. Gymkhana is a freestyle arena type event and you do tricks to get points. Finally, in head2head you go one on one with rally cars. You get to play these events in all modes.

I also liked the graphics and physics of the game. It looks very realistic, almost like real life. The cars in the game handle very realistically. I didn’t like gymkhana so much.

I like pretty much every part of the game so far except gymkhana.

DiRT3 is a really good game so far. I would give it 9/10.


F1 2011 – Marginal Improvements over F1 2010?

The early F1 2011 reviews are mostly positive, which is to be expected based on F1 2010 being well received.

It is interesting reading TheSixthAxis reviewer’s take on the game. Before the summary, the reviewer discusses new F1 technical ‘innovations’ that are included in F1 2011 (KERS and DRS), but also mentions that casual gamers are not likely to notice. I would go so far as to say that casual gamers should stay pretty away from this title and go after a more mainstream racer.

Now the tricky part – is F1 2011 worth picking up if you already own 2010? That’s a question that only the individual can really answer – there’s certainly a good, extensive and solid game here but then a good chunk of it is clearly based on last year’s code and visuals, even most of the menu interface remains the same. The improvements are all for the better – that’s for sure – but perhaps we’d have liked to have seen more of them. Anyone that bypassed 2010 and held out for this years can relax easy, though, this is probably the best Formula One game we’ve seen for years.

An improved AI, along with the addition of offline split screen and co-op Championship mode have me pretty excited.

Eurogamer has a remarkably similar take on the marginal year-over-year improvements in Codemasters F1 franchise.

Now comes the tricky third test; can it do enough to establish a yearly franchise, an exercise that’s normally the reserve of publishers with a little more clout?

F1 2011’s answer to that particular question is, sometimes, not too convincing. Some areas remain sparse and many of its improvements can be measured in tenths rather than seconds. Still, it’s a sport where every little detail counts, and the finite changes do undoubtedly make for a better game.

Now I just have to decide if I attempt to whore any of the many remaining Trophies in F1 2010, or if I call it a loss, flip it on eBay while the flipping still has marginal value, and see if I can stay focused on F1 2011. Last year I lost interest – really don’t know the reason why because I gushed about it during the first few weeks after it was released. At least I didn’t play F1 2010 half as much as Sony’s last F1 outing (Formula One: Championship Edition).


Dan Wheldon – My New Best Friend?

Dan Wheldon will be my new best friend, but only if I win the Indy Las Vegas $5 Million Challenge and of course Dan Wheldon brings home the checker flag.

Is this a gimmick? You bet, but who gives a rat’s ass if you are the person cheering on Dan to bring you home some serious cash. Even if I am not selected, I will probably make time to watch the race just to see if some other lucky bastard becomes independently wealthy.


iRacing: McLaren MP4-12C GT3

I am not an iRacing subscriber, but just had to post this bit I read at and McLaren Automotive today announced plans to build a virtual version of the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 racecar.

The MP4-12C GT3 marries Formula 1 and innovative road car technology with GT3 specification performance enhancements to create a new generation of racing car. will apply expertise in creating a state-of-the-art digital version of the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 that will be available to iRacing members in 2012.

The car project is the second development from and the McLaren Group. Earlier this year, incorporated McLaren Electronics’ ATLAS Express data analysis software into the iRacing service, providing the more than 30,000 iRacers access to data acquisition and telemetry software similar to that used on every cars competing in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

One of these days I am going to get me a decent gaming computer, a force feedback wheel, and of course my own area to set everything up. I could really get into iRacing … one of these days. Until then I will have to keep racing on my PlayStation in the comfy confines of my living room.


Random Gaming Nonsense

Saturday brings us face-to-face with some random gaming nonsense. In other words, not predictable, something less than wholesome, and somewhat troublesome.

Ricky Bobby: Well let me just quote the late-great Colonel Sanders, who said…”I’m too drunk to taste this chicken.”

It’s actually been a great week gaming; just not a lot of variety.

Altered Beast
Recently received this one as part of the September PS+ update. It may be a classic, but goodness gracious does it not hold up well. Poor controls, dated graphics, and uninspiring (dare I say frustrating) gameplay does not do much to entice me to burn my limited free gaming time with this one.

Besides, I typically migrate to classics, but only those that I actually played and was fond of playing. Altered Beast does not fall into this category. I doubt that I will spend much time attempting to get past the poor controls in this dated game whore-ing the Trophies.

Thank goodness this run of PS+ Sega games is over!

Ferrari Challenge
Ferrari Challenge is a game I keep coming back to; on and off love affair for the last two years. While it is a mediocre racing game, and does have some merits, I’m really just in it for the sex … err … Trophies. I’m currently sitting at 40% following this guide / roadmap. I’m about to start a long ‘Trofeo’ Trophy Mode grind, which should net me 20+ Bronze Trophies. Sadistic when you consider that each one of these will take 30+ minutes.

I received my first Ferrari Challenge Trophy 2+ years ago, so it is fair to say that Trophies due add value to a game. Without the add-on Trophy support, I would have bailed on this one a long time ago.

Mel B
Haven’t fiddled with her all week. Hope I don’t turn into a fat ass for lack of effort. Maybe I’ll get in a quickie with her later today, but that is really going to be hard with the kids having a couple of soccer games today.  Plus the Georgia game.  Richmond race.  No fiddling today …

Kung Fu Rider
Still doing the needful with this one; partly because my nine year-old son rates this one 4 out of 5 stars, but mostly because I am determined to get another couple of Trophies.

Back Catalog Goes Ever Longer
I picked up Pure on the Amazon discount rack for $9.80; can of beans not included. This weekend Pure has hit the sub $9 mark. One of these days I should get around to opening it and seeing what a great game it is and what sort of wonderful shiny Trophies are on offer.

I also picked up Hunted: The Demon’s Forge … no idea why other than it was on the cheap and sometimes I like some mindless hack and slash fun.

Interestingly enough, I picked Demon’s Forge when it hit $18.99 on Amazon (I believe last Sunday or Monday night). Within hours after placing my order, the price was further reduced to $16.99. I went online, chatted with someone halfway across the word, and convinced him to do the needful. Refund of $2; every buck matters.

Really feeling like I need to open up one of my titles and site in for the long haul. More on this later …


F1 2011

I have been closely watching F1 2011, which looks incredible on multiple fronts – graphics, dynamic weather, key technical changes for 2001, AI improvements, and then some. Love this Q&A segment over at the EU official’ish blog.

This time, is there going to be the facility to save the game midway through a race?
There is no mid-race saves in 2011 but with the all new handling you will go so much faster, you’ll not want to save!

In this day and age, any sports or racing game should include an easily accessible in-game save feature.

I decided to do my usual Amazon pre-order thing; September 20th release date.