With the latest patch for Driveclub, the Playstation 4’s beleagured driving sim has pretty much reached the state it should have been at when it was released. The connectivity issues have been fixed, the challenges finally work, races are fully stocked with face-off challenges that mix up the action, and all the DLC vehicles and tours are free for everyone (more vehicles and tours will be out later this month).
The patch also adds the dynamic weather feature that was going to be added post-launch. “Snow in Norway, rain in Scotland,” Evolution Studios claimed. But dynamic weather doesn’t just mean the sudden onslaught of snow flurries or possible showers. Races that had previously taken place under the lowering grey skies of Canada can break out in bright sunlight. It’s yet another lovely effect in an already lovely game.
So in these early hours, I like The Crew a whole lot. But I can’t say for sure whether that’s because The Crew is a great game or because it’s part of a genre with too few games. Open-world caRPGs are few, far between, expensive to make, rarely as successful as they need to be, and exactly what I want to play when I play a driving game. It speaks volumes that the greatest open-world caRPG is still Midnight Club: Los Angeles, a 2008 game that understood the importance of personality as only Rockstar understands. Personality in the driving model (the fundamental gameplay of any driving game), and personality in the places you drive. There is no game that handles quite like Midnight Club: Los Angeles, and until Grand Theft Auto V, there was no open-world that presented Los Angeles with such ineffable Los Angelesness.
After the jump, we’re not just in Los Angeles anymore. Continue reading →
Ken Block’s latest gymkhana video — this series features his drifting prowess in various souped up cars — follows him and a custom-build four-wheel-drive ’65 Mustang through several Los Angeles locations. What’s striking about this one is how much it reminds me of the basic thrust of Grand Theft Auto V’s action, which taps into man’s primal need to drive wrecklessly through all those familiar streets of Los Angeles, as seen in countless movies and television shows. But unlock Mr. Block, who races through streets closed off by the police, we get to do it with traffic and pedestrians turned on.
Anyone who’s spent time with Fallen London can tell you there are no better writers in the videogame business than Failbetter Games. So it makes perfect sense that Bioware would hire them to bridge the gap between Dragon Age 2 and Dragon Age 3 (i.e. Dragon Age: Inquisition). The Last Court, a game in the style of Fallen London, covers the events after whatever happened at the end of Dragon Age 2 and before the events that begin Dragon Age: Inquisition. I can’t really tell you what those events are because I was pretty bored and had stopped paying attention by the time Dragon Age 2 ended — I think it was a boss battle — and I haven’t played Dragon Age: Inquisition yet. According to the trailer above, something blew up and some people reacted accordingly.
The Last Court will be part of Dragon Age Keep, a browser-based questionnaire that stands in for Bioware’s imported save scheme from previous games. You answer about 300 questions and then tap into it when you start playing Dragon Age: Inquisition. That’s a pretty clever way around all the cross-platform shenanigans going on these days.
The Last Court will be live in “a little more than a week”.
The beginning of Beyond Earth is all very exciting. I mean the very beginning before the beginning. Before the game has even started. Before I’ve even landed on the planet. I choose my faction first. I’ll be the Franco-Iberians, who earn free technologies every so often as their culture develops. For colonists, I naturally choose artists, who boost culture. Inside the spaceship with the colonists, I’ll carry the machinery that will give me a free worker for a headstart developing the landing area near my starting colony. As for the type of spacecraft, that’s a tough decision. I eventually go with a continental surveyor that shows me all the coastlines on the map. I find a certain comfort in knowing the exact shape of my new world. It’s what the artists would want.
In any other Civilization — in case it’s not clear from the full title of Civilization: Beyond Earth, this is absolutely a Civilization game, and more specifically a Civilization V game — I would have just chosen a faction. France. Rome. Polynesia. But Beyond Earth lets me build my ark/spaceship step-by-step. It gives me a multistep sense of agency in how the early stages will play out. It keeps me busy making choices before I’m even playing. That’s ultimately what Beyond Earth is all about. Making choices. Constant, unrelenting, obsequious, nagging choices that will come together to create something massive, slow, and tedious.
After the jump, a series of interesting decisions. Continue reading →
Look, I appreciate that I can play Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 3DS in the same way I appreciate that I can watch The Dark Knight on an iPhone: it’s an option, but not one I’d ever choose given any — any! — other options. Still, what are you going to do if the only way to watch The Dark Knight is on the iPhone? Not watch it?
So here I am, my fingers clutching the buttons on the 3DS, its corners digging in the soft pads at the base of my thumb, playing Super Smash Bros. because I have no other options available. And I’m playing alone, instead of with my friends gathered around the TV in the living room, where Super Smash Bros. belongs, and certainly not online against legions of Japanese kids who can knock my Kirby out of this world while I stand there sucking vainly. It’s really kind of sad when you think about it. And it hurts my hands.
This hell will end on November 21 when Super Smash Bros. comes out for the Wii U, the way God, Miyamoto, and Kirby intended.