As with most other sports, the World Rally Championship is on hold, but for the first time since the days of Colin McRae and Richard Burns, we have a championship contender in Elfyn Evans. Yet in these dark times when the forests are quiet, a Game of the Year edition of DiRT Rally 2.0 appears pulling together the content from the four seasons that Codemasters have released since the game first launched in February 2019. This bundle also brings with it the Colin McRae Flat Out pack, a content collection designed to honour McRae’s title winning season 25 years ago and completes Codemasters homage to Colin McRae Rally 2.0, a title which defined my racing days on the PlayStation. …
Rally, one of the purest forms of motorsport. Man and machine against the road, a co-drivers hastily barked instructions all that keeps them from slipping off the road and out of the action. Codemasters reached near perfection with distilling the core rallying experience into a video game with DiRT Rally a few years ago. Now, they’re back with DiRT 4, a racing game with rally at its heart, but a different beast to the hardcore icon from 2015. …
Codemasters sneakily released a new game onto Steam Early Access the other week when they went public with DiRT Rally, the latest game in the DiRT series, but one that takes an approach more in keeping with the older Colin McRae Rally games. Codemasters talk boldly about realism with Rally, and I’ve been checking it out over the past few days to see how it fares, and how it stands compared to other rallying titles. …
There are many exciting racers in varying stages of development at the moment, be they Project CARS or Assetto Corsa. These crowd-funded racers that are still being developed are going to face some serious competition soon when Codemasters throw their hat in the ring once again as GRID is set to return this June. …
Now that Steam Family Sharing has been officially out for a few days have you all been making use of it? I certainly have, joining my account with a few of my friends and suddenly I have over 250 games available to me. I have even considered rotating purchases of new games between these friends so that we all have access to everything we want. Even if that doesn’t end up happening I know that I probably won’t need to buy a new game (at least on PC) for a very long time now, and this could even delay my purchase of a next-g… sorry ‘this-gen’ console.
Some people just can’t have enough games however, and if you fall under that category this list of discounts below is certainly for you.
The Night of the Rabbit – £8.49 (50% off)
Developers Daedalic Entertainment are well versed in the genre of adventure gaming and if you like a good story and a good puzzle then The Night of the Rabbit is the game for you. I had this to say when I reviewed the game back in 2013:
From the initial scenes of Jerry waking up to discover he still has two days of summer holiday left to the exploration of Mousewood, The Night of the Rabbit really performs well at keeping me engaged in the story. The unravelling mysteries of the forest keep me second guessing the direction of the story and how to progress with the game. Who are the mysterious foxes and lizards seen in Mousewood? Will I ever get to meet the Great Zaroff? And just what exactly is blue juice made from? The Night of the Rabbit is not without its flaws of course and with so many directions in which to venture the pacing of the game does suffer somewhat after the first visit to the town of Mousewood. It’s almost as if the games has its own Inception of puzzles, within puzzles, within… you get the idea.
Bounce over to Steam quickly as discount ends on March 17th.
F1 2013 Classic Edition – £9.99 (75% off)
The F1 franchise is probably the only type of sporting games that I would consider buying on a semi-regular basis. It seems that these days every year or two F1 is having a major overhaul to the rules, drivers, competing teams or there is some kind of scandal going on that will change the way the sport is run. With all this in mind it means that unlike other yearly sports games, there are usually significant changes to each F1 game as it is released.
With F1 2013 you of course have driver changes and new tracks along with the new challenge mode and the inclusion of classic cars and tracks to race on as well. There is also improved multiplayer, although I haven’t had a chance to play this yet so who knows if the harsh penalties of F1 2012 multiplayer will still be in effect or not.
Speed your way over to the Steam page as discount ends on 17th of March.
GTA: IV & GTA: San Andreas – £5.99 (80% off)
San Andreas is a classic in the GTA franchise. I still remember my first gang war, my first trip to the gym, the first tattoo and of course the first time I got fat from eating too much pizza. GTA III‘s plot and characters were probably more memorable to me but it was when playing San Andreas that I realised that Rockstar were pushing the game to be something more than just a rehash of the same ideas again and again and credit should be given for that. If you buy this bundle you also get GTA: IV included and if GTA isn’t really your thing, check out the rest of the Rockstar sale here.
Better shoot as the discounts end on 17th of March.
I had no idea what it was going to be like playing a modern racing game with a wheel and pedals until I hit Grid 2 at the Eurogamer Expo. The last time I did was in an ancient beat up SEGA Rally Arcade unit that was gathering dust in my University Students Union. So playing Codemasters’ next big racer with a full wheel and pedal setup was like walking on Mars to me, I didn’t have a clue how things were going to work.
To be honest, it didn’t really work; I spent more time smashing my Ford Mustang into pieces on various trees and rocks than actually driving smoothly on the road in the point-to-point race I was in. This was just one of the demo booths available for Grid 2, the other was a traditional two-lap race with a bunch of AI opponents and an Xbox 360 controller. …
There comes a time where everyone feels the need for a little more excitement in their life, a little more danger. That person may join the army or bet their life earnings on black. For me extreme sports are where I get my kicks, and nothing is more extreme than the high-speed and precision of Formula One. Problem is that it’s notably hard to learn how to control a F1 car, let alone ever dream of becoming a professional driver. It can take years upon years of dedication and perseverance. Lucky for me Codemasters have just released F1 2012, and at the touch of a button I can be in control of my very own powerfully tuned behemoth. That settles that then.
With this being my first ever outing with a Formula One game I wont be comparing it to any past games, all opinions will be freshly formed. And with that I’m ready to begin my ascension to greatness in the seat of a monster.
The first thing I notice is how great everything looks. The graphical style is very slick, the menus are easy to navigate and simplistic, but at the same time offer everything you need in terms of information. The only thing that seems a tad out-of-place is the loading screen music which honestly sounds like it should be in Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
But that’s enough about menus let’s get into the real content, the features and how the game actually plays. Features are something that this game is clearly not short on and there are a number that are new to this years release. The first you will encounter is the Young Driver Test, essentially your introduction to the game and career as a driver. During this two-day testing session you will cover the basics of car handling, using KERS and DRS and racing in wet conditions. You can also free drive round the track if the short tests are not enough for you. As a newbie to the Formula One games, this hands on introduction served as a great way to get me used to the feel of the car and how it handles. I would go as far as to say it left me satisfied that I could make some kind of an impact in qualifying for the first proper race. The video sections did at times feel a little condescending, but generally the YDT captures what I think the feel of testing a car as a newcomer would actually be like.
A couple of minor issues I can foresee are that for veterans of the game or anyone who generally just knows a lot about Formula One, this inescapable process before getting into the main season may seem a little grating. Also Yas Marina, the location of choice for the YDT is not exactly the nicest looking or most captivating of courses in my opinion, and so makes the YDT a little less exciting than it should and could be a potential put off any newcomers.
Season Challenge is the second of the new features I will highlight in this years game and where I found myself spending most of my time in single player. Season Challenge is a shortened version of Career with a ten race season, one day qualifying and five lap races. This short burst of intense racing is brilliantly addictive and has a great arcadey feel to it. Whereas you might expect to spend a few hours going through full qualifying and one race day in Career, you could easily complete Season Challenge in a couple of afternoons. It can also serve as a warm up for Career if that is your ultimate goal, helping you learn some of the tracks and compete in proper racing situations.
Career mode itself is where the real test of your skills begins. With only six teams available to you as a rookie driver (Marussia, HRT, Caterham, Toro Rosso, Force India and Williams), be prepared for middle of the pack scraps as the fight for every second counts. Perform above standards and other teams will take notice. They can even offer you a contract mid-season, but don’t expect the offers to come easy as the learning curve at this stage is huge. Being in control of so many features can seem a little daunting at first, but at the same time setting all the driving assists on takes away the enjoyment of the game. I personally started the season with a fair few assists on and removed them as I felt more comfortable with the controls although I still have major problems racing in wet conditions.
Champions mode is the final of the new features that I’ll be talking about in this review and yet another great addition to the game. This mode puts you in different racing situations against the current crop of driving champions, with certain race aims in mind. For example in the first challenge you are asked to catch up with and overtake your team-mate Raikkonen, he has older Primes while you have a fresh set of Option tyres and there are a number of cars in between you and him. You have three laps in which to overtake him before the end of the race and all normal rules and penalties will affect your final position. This is another mode that caters to the arcadey racers with more short bursts of gameplay that feel really satisfying when you pull off the objectives asked. While passing each task and earning a medal may be fairly easy, pushing those medals to gold at the hardest level is certainly not. This mode packs a lot of fun initially but can soon get a little tiring if you’re struggling on the higher difficulties.
With all these single player features covered I’m sure you’re wondering just what the online multiplayer is all about. Multiplayer consists of two sections, full twenty-four player races in different modes such as Sprint (three laps), and Endurance (25% of full race) and the second and definitely more sensible option Co-op Championship. It’s not that the full multiplayer races are not good fun, it’s just that you’re never going to be able to take the race seriously. There’s always some nutter crashing into everyone and everything, people with more skill and less skill than you making for very hectic driving conditions, and quite a lot of people who either quit, are DQ’d, or lose connection half way through a race, leaving only a handful of the twnety-four that began. The Co-op Championship on the other hand is brilliant. Working as a team towards the constructor’s championship builds experience as you are both able to talk over tactics and handling tips. If you have the chance, being able to share the full season with a dedicated racing friend makes it all that more enjoyable and is definitely something that should at least be attempted.
Controller vs. Steering Wheel is one of the topics I was most asked about when I covered the demo earlier in the month and just for the sake of this review (and any future racing games I buy) I decided to go out and buy one. I initially started playing with a controller and so will start off with my feelings on how that fared. I found the handling to be great once I had gotten used to all the button controls, though at high speeds the analogue sticks felt a bit jerky and this made hitting the apex difficult at times. Overall the controller was great to use and I had no problems completing competitive, although slightly jerky lap times. As this was the first time I had ever used a wheel for my console I initially found it very hard. I was overcompensating for turns making my driving even jerkier than the controller and found myself occasionally taking my eyes off the screen to press buttons. After a while I got used to the wheel and adjusted the settings to my liking. Turns were smoother and I felt I had better grip of things. Whether over time this would become better than my controller handling it’s hard to say but after years of gaming with a controller and not a wheel, it still didn’t quite sit right for me. Another problem and something that I’m quite frankly confused about is that Microsoft seem to have not included any shoulder buttons on their Speed Wheel, meaning that a re-mapping of the controls is needed and some features like camera control are just missed out on altogether when using the wheel. Personally I would stick with a controller in this case as it fares very well with this game. It also took me an awfully long time to decide on which wheel to choose, as many of them are very expensive or not suitable for F1 gaming.
To sum up my feelings for F1 2012, it’s been a very enjoyable ride but the learning curve to get to the stage I’m at (which is still pretty amateur) was very steep. There are plenty of features, that cater for both the hardcore simulation player and the more casual player, that will keep you entertained and attempt to increase your skill in the game. Online, while fun, was disappointing as getting a good clean race was almost impossible unless you filled a whole lobby with your friends, and only having a couple of game types seemed a little shallow. If your asking the question of whether to buy a wheel for this game or not I would suggest not as the controller does a great job. There’s masses of single player content and replay value by taking on different skill levels or attempting a season with a different team.
The Verdict – Headshot
Platforms Available – PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Platforms Reviewed – Xbox 360
Please check this post for details on our scoring system.
Being a fan of Formula One and wanting to play a F1 game are two entirely different things. In my opinion the games that I have seen in the past haven’t delivered the excitement and tension I get when watching the races on TV, and don’t convey the same feel of complete precision and total control that the drivers have over their extremely powerful cars. That is until now. I’ve been following all the press releases and developer diaries from Codemasters game this year with a close eye and they seem to have been making all the right changes. Introducing some great new features such as the Young Driver Test that feature in the real F1 world, brings a new sense of realism and for the first time an eagerness to play a F1 game. The following is my first impressions after playing today’s demo release from Codemasters F1 2012.
After first setting up your character the demo puts you in a MacLaren car ready for the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi. The YDT goes through all the basics of controlling the car, things like cornering, acceleration, breaking and how to use features like KERS and DRS. You can also free drive round the whole track in wet or dry conditions to test different settings. The full YDT is not available in the demo as the whole second day of the test is missed out. During the second day you can expect more performance testing, learning about tyre conservation, systems tests and wet weather tests.
The YDT seems like a good way to ease in anyone who hasn’t played any F1 games before like myself, but could become a little grating for any veterans of the series or anyone who already knows a lot about F1. The videos provided during the test are informative but actually getting out and trying it all is where the real fun is and makes the video sections seem a bit pointless. Simple things like being able to drive your car out the pit lane and into the starting position would make the experience all that more realistic, and while you can view this if you choose, you are unable to control the car until out on the track proper.
Moving onto the second part of the demo and I’m now placed in the Williams team for qualification in Monza. There is a lot of useful information in the build up to the qualifying and race itself which I like a lot, adding to the build up of your qualifying lap and the race itself. You can receive mail from your team about your performance and any goals they might have for you in the race ahead, view weather conditions, and watch a Hot Lap video with commentary. The Hot Lap videos are a very good idea that are unfortunately not delivered in the best of ways. A lot of information is thrown your way in just a few minutes and there is no way to pause or rewind the video to take another look. It would also be nice if the video could be viewed in full screen instead of half screen with the track layout in the other half, a mini map on a full screen would be much more effective.
Car tuning and customizations are something that have been restricted for the demo but look to be very in-depth if they are all available in the main game. Before a race you can alter all kinds of aspects of the car such as front and rear wing aerodynamics, suspension height, tyre selection, gear changes and how much fuel you have on board at any one time. You also have all the usual driving assist options such as ABS, manual or auto gear changes and breaking assists. Interestingly you can also choose a rival driver for the season allowing you to set your own goals of beating the driver in a race and in the season as a whole.
Once setting my fastest lap and placing second on the grid (must have been beginners luck), it was time for the real race. For the purposes of the demo you play in Season Mode which is a shortened version of the full career mode. The season is ten races long and only five laps per race. It started off well, handling was a little unstable as I was using a controller and so hitting the perfect apex and sticking to the race line was a little tricky but quickly getting used to how KERS and DRS worked gave me a valuable advantage and I pulled in front in my first lap. Pulling ahead of the pack by a few seconds I was starting to get a bit ahead of myself and pushed my speed too much, making a few mistakes. Luckily the Flashback feature allows you to rewind the race a certain distance before your mistake and let you try again. This may seem like cheating but fortunately you can only do this four times a race and I found myself having used all four Flashbacks by the time I was on the fourth lap.
With just over one lap to go I messed up again and found myself in the gravel with no way of altering my mistake. Pushing back onto the track it got even worse as I almost caused a collision with Vettel and was awarded a time penalty. Now back in sixth place I pushed my KERS and refocused for the final stretch. Gaining one place during this lap I noticed that not having any music or much team chat over the radios was a little strange. The noise of the engines and the odd screech of tires was all that was audible and realistic as this may be, over the course of forty or fifty laps of a full race this could become very tiresome. I finished the race in fifth place but was pushed to twenty-first due to my time penalties.
Racing without a proper steering wheel is the biggest grumble about the racing control. The various customisations I could make to the handling and assists helped but ultimately this would be a totally different game when played with a wheel which I don’t have. The game immersion is really good giving you lots of information in the build up to the race and allowing you to adjust accordingly. As I mentioned before this could be improved by small things like allowing you to control your car when leaving the pit and lining up for the race start or being apart of the pre race interviews that you see on the BBC. The menus and overall layout is clean and well explained and made making any adjustments easy. Equally if you’re not fussed with all the pre race waiting around and just want to get out there you could set the game to easy and use quick set up options.
The F1 2012 demo was played on the Xbox 360 and is available to PC and PS3 owners over the next couple of days. The full game release will be on September 21st in Europe.