Saturday, June 6, 2015

Project CARS: Did It Overtake Gran Turismo?? Er, No

Here's the deal: When the PS4 was ready to launch, my interest was there, but not enough to overcome my lack of money for one, mainly because the latest games I was looking forward to were going to come out on PS3, not 4 (Gran Turismo 6 and Grand Theft Auto V).  The only PS4 game garnishing my interest then was Driveclub, but as you probably know, that got delayed of course, which only strengthened my decision to stick with PS3 at the time.  So I went about my business, and though I would have liked a '4, I was doing okay without.

Then fast forward to last fall, when I moved out here to Hawaii.  I broke down almost immediately and got a PS4 along with NHL 15 to play with my brother.  I still was thinking I'd get Driveclub, but then it came out and had the online issues and all that, plus it just seemed to be getting sub-par reviews anyway, so then I was unsure whether I'd bother or not.  Well, following the advise of one of my friends who is REALLY good at Gran Turismo and racing games by the way, he mentioned Project CARS was getting ready to debut.  Now, I'd certainly heard about it, but man, wasn't that like 4 or 5 years ago, seriously?  I almost thought it was only going to be a PC game anyway.  But alright cool, I considered The Crew as well, but again not getting a ton of praise, so what's the deal?  Hawaii is expensive.

I went out and preordered pCARS, and picked it up after work the day it came out.  First impression: The career progression looks interesting, and it looks like there are a lot of options to tweak.  So how much money do I get?  What kinda cars can I buy?  Oh, this is like the other racing games, where you just have the cars.  Maybe others knew it was going to be like that, but I didn't, and honestly it disappointed a bit.  More than not having the whole garage, build a collection thing, the car selection was honestly underwhelming for me.  Nevermind the almost complete lack of Japanese cars (I get the complaints against GT for having too many Skylines and MX-5s, but really?  Not one Nissan Z or GT-R?  No Mazdas, Hondas, or Toyotas period??) but it doesn't even have many other cars, and only a couple "ordinary"-ish cars like the Ford Focus RS.  No Volkswagen, Subaru, Peugeot, Chevrolet, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Fiat, Alfa Romeo.  Mind you, there are more cars in the works, but most if not all of these brands (and that was only a handful of examples) are not listed in the works.
What this game is then, is a racing game, whereas GT is "the real driving simulator" - keyword "driving".  Project CARS is quite different, I did not know that going in.  It focuses on racing and strategies and weather changes.  Cold tires.  Qualifying sessions.  Things like that.  And I love all of that about it, but unfortunately I also love having my own garage with cars I bought, everyday cars that are just as fun to toss about and push to their limits.

So I am enjoying the competition aspect of it, but I've found myself resorting back to GT6 more and more recently.  I was foolish to think this game might actually replace GT as my top go-to racing game!  It's good, but for me, Gran Turismo remains the racing game king.  Now I just hope GT7--which will presumably be on PS4--will live up to the hype I started building for it a long time ago, and will release within the next year or two.

*Project CARS is definitely worth getting if you're looking for next-gen physics and graphics, plus a more true racing game.  I do like the different racing disciplines it has, from karting to open wheel, touring and GT, all the way to LMP cars.  One variant of stock car as well, with a newer one on the way I believe.  Plus some hyper cars and the like.  If you like the idea of signing contracts with different race teams and participating in race weekends, and tweaking things like tire pressures and tire strategies for pit stops, then you'd probably love this game as I know many do.  You can get it on Amazon right now for just $51 plus free shipping looks like, here is a link.  Feel free to comment and discuss!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Gran Turismo - The Long Overdue Post

It seems almost cliche to say these days when speaking of the Gran Turismo series, but I really have been a huge fan since the first one. I had just turned 11 years old when the first one hit stores in North America.  I don't remember how I heard about it, but I do remember my mom taking me up to a Funcoland to get it, I'm willing to bet it was around my birthday in April in '98 but the guy up there told us it wasn't out yet.  Seeing how disappointed I know I clearly was, the employee assured me that the game was going to be simply amazing and well worth the wait, which put a smile back on my face as I responded, "Really??  Awesome."  It was only a couple weeks to a month later when the game released, but I remember vividly feeling like it was forever away, as you tend to do as a kid.

Going from mostly playing NES and Sega Genesis games to having PlayStation games like Crash Bandicoot 2 and Spyro the Dragon was a leap, but for a car fanatic.. the greatest video game leap was seeing Gran Turismo 1 for the first time.  So many cars, first of all - and just look at them!  Needless to say, I was hooked.

I will never bash a Gran Turismo game, even the ones I don't particularly care about like GT for the PSP.  The time and passion put into the series... how can anyone put it down.  That's not to say there haven't been some disappointments, especially recently however.  I remember getting Gran Turismo 3: A Spec brand new as well and showing my brother (who cares nothing about cars, but just to impress him).  Same thing with GT4, perhaps my favorite of all the GT series, it had the coolest cover art and improved on the last PS2 game, I don't recall having anything even slightly disappointing with that one.  I just played it - a lot.  Then GT5: Prologue came along, and maybe was too much of a tease.  The word "prologue" tells you everything you needed to know about that though; I'd rather wait and get a full version of a game than a teaser, but it was at least priced accordingly and of course, I snagged a copy.  I really liked GT5.  It had some flaws, but by now we are spoiled and expect some level of perfection.  The really disappointing thing for most people, I believe, was the whole Standard vs Premium cars dilemma that left everyone scratching their heads.  The problem with it, is that it essentially says you've chosen to add quantity over quality, and while quantity has been a staple of the Gran Turismo series, it was never over quality.  Suddenly, some of our favorite cars weren't as lovingly represented as others.  And GT6, while better, still carried that on amazingly. We can only hope when GT for the PS4 releases, they go back to blowing us away with quality instead of bragging about the sheer volume of cars they've crammed into it.  Still, I can't help but to love this game... and I just noticed you can get it from Amazon here for just $14.99!  Not sure how long that'll last, but even the list price is just $39, and it's easily worth that in my book.

Friday, February 13, 2015

NHL 15 Dream Tweaks

EA Sports' NHL 15 is a great game, but that doesn't mean it couldn't stand a few tweaks here and there.  Here are a few little things I really wish they would address in a future patch:

  1. After you go offside entering the offensive zone and the whistle blows, if you should happen to shoot the puck on net, the opposing team will take exception and generally a fight ensues.  Which is great, but unfortunately this also occurs if you happen to shoot the puck into the corner or especially against the side boards deliberately - as I often do to feign my "frustration" with my teammates - the opposing team still comes after you.  It's one thing if you shoot the puck toward an opposing player, but just straight into the boards shouldn't garner any reaction from the other team!  This was also a problem in at least NHL 14 if not even earlier, so it's been an annoying little flaw for awhile now.
  2. As far as we can tell, it really seems as though they have programmed the logic in NHL 15 (and probably previous versions) to increase the chances of any random shot going in on power plays versus normal even strength situations.    The advantage on a power play should be just that - the extra man thanks to the power play.  I don't think there should be any increase in chances of shots going in otherwise.  I tend to have a great power play by the end of a season than I probably should in all honesty, and I have a sub-par penalty kill even though I feel like I generally have good positioning and play well.  Sure, shots go in sometimes that shouldn't, it just feels like it's way more often on power plays.
  3. Another little thing I've noticed, is a minor annoyance can occur after plays when I'm hitting buttons to change my lines or strategy or both, if you hit Triangle on PlayStation it thinks you're trying to instigate a fight because that's the same button.  No, Tyler Seguin is not trying to instigate a fight, you silly, silly game.
  4. Another instance that ties in with number 3, and actually an even greater annoyance, is when you change lines on the fly, using Square and Circle.  The problem is, when you do that, it pulls up a little menu where you can then adjust the line's strategy as well, using - of all things - R1.  Outside of the menu, R1 is used to poke check.  I don't know about everyone else, but poke checking is a pretty vital part of my defensive play.  And still every time, I change my lines and go to defend or attack a guy with the puck, and cannot understand why R1 is not doing what I want it to do.  It's usually too late by the time I realize it's simply cycling through my strategies, and even when I do realize it quickly, there's nothing you can do but wait a few seconds for the menu to disappear.  That's really poor button-assigning, and can be unbelievably frustrating.
  5. As I mentioned in my other post about NHL 15, there are some issues with settings.  I don't know for a fact if this occurs in any game mode, but in Be A GM it does for sure - some settings don't save from the pregame menu into the game itself.  I already annoyingly have to change my line's strategies before each game, and then some things don't even register or save into the game.  The biggest thing I've noticed is my power play preference.  I tend to go with a shooting power play, but my default is one of the other options.  Every time I've changed it however, as soon as I get my first power play of the game I see that it's back to the default choice.  Silly error that ideally would have been ironed out by now.
I'm sure I could add more points to this post, but I've already put off posting this for a long time (forgot I started it, if I'm honest) so I'm going to go ahead and publish and add more later as I come across them. If you do not already have NHL 15, I would suggest getting it - you can here from  Again, this is a post pointing out flaws, but no game is perfect and this game does show how amazing next gen gaming is.  At the time of this writing, the price has dropped to under $30 as well, definitely worth that in my opinion!

Friday, November 7, 2014

NHL 15 Be a GM

My brother and I have been playing a co-op Be a GM mode in NHL 15, and we've come across two issues that seem pretty big and detrimental to the fun of the mode:

1)  You cannot save your changes when it comes to settings for your coaching strategies (line strategies, power play, penalty kill) so we have to go in there in the menu before every single game and change them to be more aggressive to suit our style of play.  Very annoying and silly, and seems a pretty big oversight to us.  We've looked in the global settings pages (which wouldn't make sense anyway; it should be specific to the game mode you're playing), and in all the settings for Be a GM mode, plus we don't see an option to save them when we change them in the pre-game menu.  If they're hidden somewhere else and we're somehow overlooking it, then the menus just aren't designed very clearly or concise so either way it's a pretty big flaw in our eyes.

2)  Somewhat related, as a feature you can't save and keep using:  We've gotten in the habit of playing set positions, he plays left wing and I play center, but we have to pause the start of every game and go into settings to adjust for this each and every time - again, we can't just set it once and save and have that be the default for the game mode.  This one is a little more understandable as one of us could easily play the mode without the other, and it doesn't know that the same two people are playing the game each time, but at the very least we think it should let you do the position lock selection option and the pre-game screen where you choose sides and jerseys and all that.  And while we're on the topic... the visual appearance on the screen where you do choose position locks - is terrible.  It's a very small and fine font, color-coded for each player of course, but it can be difficult to see.  Which is silly... make it stand out.

Other than that - and the fact there isn't an EASHL or equivalent mode this year - we love the game. We're not ones to complain just to complain, so I don't want this to come off that way.  We know how much hard work and effort goes into a title like this, and make no mistake: it is quite impressive.  Just earlier we watched a replay because a puck rode up our defenseman's stick and hit him in the face, causing him to pause for a second to grab his face and allowing the other team to possess the puck.  You see things like that from time to time, but it really does look pretty realistic.  Nice.  Pick up a copy of the game from Amazon here if you haven't already!