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gran-turismo-6-5How do I review a game like Gran Turismo 6? I’ve been consistently disappointed with the series, despite hoping for the best with each new release. The biggest worry for me coming into Gran Turismo 6 was that it was being released for the PS3 and not the newly launched PS4. A couple of weeks back I had read an article about Turn 10′s development of Forza 5, and how they had been working on the next generation title before Forza 4 had even been released. It was an incredibly frustrating development for them, as the goal posts kept moving due to Microsoft continually changing the proposed specs of the yet to be named XBox One. But delivering the best racing game in time for the launch of the next generation XBox was what had been called for, so that’s what Turn 10 did. And with the launch of the XBox One, Turn 10 delivered Forza 5, and blew everyone away.

So what the hell was Kazunori Yamauchi and the team at Polyphony Digital thinking, developing a game for the PS3 instead of creating the flagship racing game for the PS4?

Who knows. And debating what and why won’t change the fact that Gran Turismo 6 is a PS3 game.

Sony has consistently called Gran Turismo ‘the Real Driving Simulator’ but I’ve never been sure how they come to that conclusion. If it’s because of the sheer number of cars and tracks available, then sure, it totally dominates Forza 5. But as far as a consistent, serious racing game, Gran Turismo 6 is sadly lacking.

Sure, there have been some improvements to car handling since the last installment, but the cars really don’t seem that solid. After being told off for erroneously saying that you had to use button for the accelerator and braking in GT5, the first thing I did with Gran Turismo 6 was re-configure the controls. I easily set the acceleration and braking to the two triggers, but could not set the right thumb-stick to be my ‘look behind/around’ option. So I had to drive blind.

Having set my trigger preferences, I was off racing, however the triggers were smaller and slipperier than I was used to and before long I was wondering if I could just plug my XBox controller into the PS3.

But I raced on regardless and started to notice a few things that really made me question the whole ‘Real Driving Simulator’ claim. Hit the brakes hard whilst at high speed and you’ll come to a squealing stop. But you won’t leave nice black lines or a cloud of tire smoke. Likewise, push the car round the corner and you’ll hear the tires protesting, but won’t see them leaving their mark or even a wisp of smoke. Tap the hand-break however and your leave think black marks and a nasty cloud of tire smoke. That doesn’t sound like real driving to me. Read more ›

need-for-speed-rivals-4Need For Speed Rivals is the latest in what is possibly the longest running racing series, a series that I think I’ve played on every console I’ve owned. Rivals is the first by the newly named Ghost Studios, and keeps the distinctly arcady feel and the ability to choose what side you want to play.

Though you do have to go through the introductions to both the racers and the police before you get to decide which side you want to be on, and for the schizophrenic gamers amongst us, you can switch between sides with ease.

No matter which side you chose, you’ll get 160 kilometers of Redview County’s winding roads, highways, mountains and villages to speed through, and a skill tree of car, upgrade and equipment unlocks to grind through.

There’s not much of a plot to drive the game, but that can be a good thing, cause it lets you get down to the fun part, driving fast and unlocking new rides.

As an arcade racer the cars handle well, tap the breaks going into a corner and you go into an easy drift. Brake hard going into a corner and you slow down in a nice controlled manner allowing you to turn with ease. Initially it’s fast and furious fun.

But then you start to notice the limitations. The roads are pretty bland, and very empty. It’s almost like the place was evacuated, but a few locals decided to stay behind and drive the lonely roads. On the one hand, this makes driving fast and recklessly easier, on the other hand, when you do suddenly come upon another road user, it’s so unexpected you’ll probably crash into them before you realise they are there. It’s a minor niggle that you’ll soon forget about however as you’ll be concentrating on the next unlock and winning the next race or pursuit, or speed challenge or whatever you have selected as you mission tree.

The presence of both racers and cops makes for some interesting situations. Being a racer in a race will raise your wanted level and you could find your self in both a race and a pursuit, which works well if you’re a racer. However if you’re a cop on a timed run, and a racer blasts past you, you’ll automatically get put into pursuit of that racer, and if he turns off the route of your timed run, you’ll either have to choose to loose the timed run or loose the pursuit. Not a nice situation to be put in. Read more ›

bf4-china-rising-4Fight for dominance across the vast and majestic Chinese mainland in Battlefield 4 China Rising, featuring four massive new maps, all-new vehicles and high-tech military equipment. Available on December 3 for Premium members and December 17 for all. Read more ›

tmnt-oots-4I’m a TMNT wonk from way back, owning all of the original comics, so I was stoked to see a TMNT game appear on Xbox Live. The screenshots looked great too, I could see the creators had gone back to the Eastman and Laird comics for inspiration, as one shot had several ‘mouser’ robots in it (from TMNT comic #3). Firing up the game I was expecting a solid brawler with the Turtles beating the snot out of bad guys! So, why was I playing the plucky reporter April O’Neil in the first mission, scrabbling, confused through a burning building and a bunch of shipping containers? Turns out it was a sort of disppointing tutorial level for the game’s basic controls (the next mission you get to play the Turtles honest). Unfortunately the disappointment doesn’t end there as TMNT tarnishes the source material by being a so-so and occasionally broken game.

Graphically the game looks nice, the Turtles are rendered well and the world and opponents have a nicely stylised comic book look about them. Level loading screens consist of short comic book panels carrying the story. The level colours and lighting are fairly bold and cartoony, although everything is generally pretty dark, which makes sense since the Turtles stalk across rooftops in the depths of the night. The darkness can get annoying though as you continue to play, stumbling around the levels, getting turned around by the combat sequences and generally being unsure of where you should be going. This isn’t helped by the cookie cutter use of art either. An early subway level confused me because it all looked the same and after a brawl with the Purple Dragon gang (another nod to the comics) I found myself heading back the way I’d came for some time before I realised my mistake. Some levels also have very hard invisible walls, and occasionally broken geometry so you, and your opponents can get stuck in odd places during brawls which looks terrible on screen, and will likely get at least one of your Turtles knocked down.

As this is a brawler you’ll spend a lot of time fighting, and the combat system is fairly good. There’s four Turtles of course, and if every Turtle is knocked down, that’s game over for you, although standing Turtles can revive their mates of course. The Turtles all have their expected signature weapons and each fights with a different set of animations, special moves and funny (if repeatative) quips – for example Donatello keeps making jokes about calling ‘staff meetings’. When the combat works well it is fun to play, reminding me of certain other night stalking vigilante combat games on the Xbox. Read more ›

dead-rising-3-4I’ve never been a fan of the Dead Rising series, there just never seemed to be much life in the games, but there was something about the trailer for Dead Rising 3 that made me want to give the series another chance, and I’m glad I did. Once you get past the intro mission, that sees you stumbling around the dark expanses of a blocked off tunnel, trying to find a way out of the city, and walk out into the sunshine, to witness a massive airplane crash into the freeway, the game really kicks off. After recovering from the awesome airborne destruction you’ll notice something. The freeway stretching out before you – you way back to the relative safety of your home base – is filled with hundreds of zombies. They haven’t noticed you yet, but you have to make you way through them so they soon will.

And when one does notice you, it soon become apparent that these zombies are acting like, well, zombies. When one notices you, others round it will notice that it has seen something, and then see you, then it’s mob mentality and a number of zombies start shambling towards you.

And this is the beauty of this next gen zombie game, not that Capcom have created a photo realistic city teaming with zombies, because they haven’t. The graphics are definitely next gen, but unlike Turn 10 how have cut back on content to deliver truly awe inspiring visuals, Capcom has put just enough juice in the visuals and put the majority of next gen processing into the important thing: the zombies.

And it’s not just the sheer, mind blowing number of zombies, or they way they behave. It’s also how you can kill them. In some early exploration I found a shop that had samurai swords, so naturally I grabbed one and walked outside, quietly approached a group of innocent zombies and started to slash away at them. My favourite kill was when I sliced a zombie in half, vertically. Both sides of the body just peeled away like a banana. Read more ›

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