When the End Equals the Beginning

When you finish a racing game, does the last race feel any more important than the first race?

This is something I’ve been pondering over the last hour or so after finishing Forza Horizon. It’s a great game, period — let’s not let that distract from the point at hand. However, the ending, like many racing games, felt extremely flat for me. Not to spoil it for anyone, but you beat the arrogant defending champion and become the new champion, then get challenged to a street race (which you win, of course). There’s nothing out of the ordinary about that, really. Just about every racing game ends with a championship-awarding final race, which is longer than most races and typically involves the fastest cars (in games with multiple cars). What felt weird was the atmosphere, or lack thereof. This is the final race of a gigantic music and cars festival, and the crowd’s paltry and no more vocal than usual?

You can tell me in a somewhat more excited voice that I’m champion and give me a small cutscene of celebration, but there’s barely a crowd. There’s barely noise. I went from becoming a wildcard entrant thanks to a radio station promotion to unseating the three-time champion, and only a race organizer seems to care. The championship feels empty. In fact, the race itself felt no more important than my first two-minute sprint race with clunkers.

Granted, racing in the real world doesn’t have a crowd that builds up as a championship progresses. The attendance on a race-by-race basis is usually based on interest in the series and the track (or its location). Plus, given that drivers spend hours practicing for one race, finding that overarching progression is likely much more difficult from a racer’s perspective, much less for the sport in general.

Still, we’re talking video games here. In just about every shooter, adventure, and platformer, there’s almost always the build-up to a showdown with an extremely powerful adversary who tends to have a different bag of tricks than the usual fodder. Not always, but  in so many great games, there’s a definite sense of progression where the final act feels utterly critical compared to the first thirty minutes. Why can’t more racing games try for this sort of progression, where the growing importance isn’t just in my mind or a voice clip?

In fairness, a few racers have accomplished this feeling of increased importance to some extent over the years. Split/Second’s finale was somewhat more explosive, and the music was mildly ramped up. Gran Turismo 2′s world championship events had roaring crowds compared to Sunday club events, which made the ensuing race feel all that more important. Need for Speed: The Run, despite being a terrible game, has an amazingly Hollywood-style finish in its final leg, even if the cinematic ending itself is completely bland.

Despite these exceptions, it seems more often than not the only difference between the first and last race in a game is its distance and the cars used. That might be typical of racing, but it shouldn’t be typical of racing games.

F1 2012: Quick Thoughts

The car handling feels good, the dynamic weather is convincing, and the options for difficulty and control are fully featured.

Flashbacks are really handy in a game where the car is on a knife edge all the time.

It’s perfectly playable with a controller, but it’s absolutely fantastic with a wheel.

The tutorial – themed as a test for young drivers – is helpful for players without previous F1 game experience.

I’m desperate to find more time to play it. If you’re not ensnared by the likes of Borderlands 2 this week, you should give F1 2012 a try.

We Are Race Night Episode 13: Looking for 7

We Are Race Night presents a poorly recorded hotel room recording discussing our time at PAX Prime 2011! Prepare for plenty of off-topic discussion as we banter about our Forza 4 disappointment, various other games at PAX, and even a special celebrity encounter.

Featuring:

  • Trace (Podcast editor, Giant Bomb GT season two champion)
  • Keval (Genesis owner, Race Night regular)
  • Ed (Race Night original)

Time: 1:12:59
Size: 50.1 MB
Recorded:
August 28th, 2011

Download We Are Race Night Episode 13 HERE! [MP3]

Subscribe to our RSS feed HERE! [XML]
Subscribe to us on iTunes HERE! [iTunes]

Have questions or comments for our show? Fire them off to emails@weareracenight.com and we’ll probably answer them next episode.

Thanks for listening, and I hope you enjoy!

We Are Race Night Episode 11: Back on Track

After a lengthy hiatus, We Are Race Night returns! PsEG and Slowbird discuss a recent accident, continue to ramble about DiRT 3′s shortcomings, reveal obvious Forza Motorsport 4 details, and discuss recent television premieres! …wait, haven’t we talked about some of this already?

Featuring:

  • PsEG (Podcast editor, Giant Bomb GT season two champion)
  • Slowbird (SUV hater, Giant Bomb GT season one champion)

Time: 1:02:48
Size: 28.7 MB
Recorded:
July 30th, 2011

Download We Are Race Night Episode 11 HERE! [MP3]

Subscribe to our RSS feed HERE! [XML]
Subscribe to us on iTunes HERE! [iTunes]

Have questions or comments for our show? Send them to emails@weareracenight.com, and we’ll probably talk about them on the next episode.

Thanks for sticking with us in the downtime, and I hope you enjoy the latest episode.

We Are Race Night Episode 10: Going the Wrong Way

This week, PsEG, Slowbird, and Falcon discuss their experiences with a very American Forza Race Night, Forza Motorsport 2 tournaments, and yet more iRacing. We also tackle the Burnout Crash! controversy, if it even exists. Plus, emails!

Featuring:

  • PsEG (Podcast editor, Giant Bomb GT season two champion)
  • Slowbird (Lobster monster fighter, Giant Bomb GT season one champion)
  • Falcon (Allegedly The Stig, Criterion fan)

Time: 1:04:06
Size: 29.3 MB
Recorded:
July 9th, 2011

Download We Are Race Night Episode 10 HERE! [MP3]

Subscribe to our RSS feed HERE! [XML]
Subscribe to us on iTunes HERE! [iTunes]

Have questions or comments for our show? Fire them off to emails@weareracenight.com and we’ll probably ramble on awkwardly about them (Our old email address still works, so don’t worry).

Thanks, and please enjoy the podcast!

We Are Race Night Episode 9: We Are Lonely Night

Only PsEG and Slowbird are present for this episode, and much discussion about the DiRT 3′s new Monte Carlo DLC is had, including musings about DLC tracks in general. Slowbird’s iRacing experiences are also talked about, and PsEG is competing in…Forza Motorsport 2? Really? Plus, your emails!

Featuring:

  • PsEG (Podcast editor, Giant Bomb GT season two champion)
  • Slowbird (Professional microphone swallower, Giant Bomb GT season one champion)

Time: 1:16:27
Size: 34.9 MB
Recorded:
July 2nd, 2011

Download We Are Race Night Episode 9 HERE! [MP3]

Subscribe to our RSS feed HERE! [XML]
Subscribe to us on iTunes HERE! [iTunes]

Any questions or comments? Please feel free to fire them off, along with any Slowbird-related complaints, to giantbombforza@gmail.com!

Thanks, and do enjoy the podcast.

Quick Thoughts: DiRT 3 Monte Carlo Pack

I’ve driven through all the new Dirt Tour events added by the Monte Carlo DLC, and while I’m not sure it’s enough for a properly qualified opinion, I do have some musings based on my short time on the mountain roads.

Monte Carlo's roadways

Monte Carlo feels a lot more narrow than this looks.

First of all, Monte Carlo is properly narrow. There’s a few narrow roads in Dirt 3′s base courses, but these winding roads have a wonderfully imposing and slightly claustrophobic feel to them. A cliff side and short walls or guardrails border the track at almost any given point, and since these are very high speed stages, the fear of flying into the abyss over one wrong notch of steering input feels rather tangible.

Passing’s also a royal pain, as should be the norm for rally stages. This might require adjustment when playing with a group of diverse skill levels.

I’ve tried cars from the 60s, 70s, 90s, and Pro class, and the DLC seems to works best with the more stable cars that revel in attacking the road. Being able to attack the stages at top speed with an overabundance of grip really accentuates the danger at hand amongst a never-ending backdrop of snow and mountains. The 60s Mini is lovely for this, and any car in Pro class will be extremely tense and exciting.

Monte Carlo's winding roads

These roads are winding, and they certainly don’t favor RWD cars.

The transition and feel between wet snow and tarmac definitely feels right, but appearance-wise the snow-covered roads look off in bright light. It’s likely their flatness, but a flat road of wet snow looks more like a road in disrepair than the intended slick road the driving feel is communicating rather well. The night versions covers up most of the visual issue, thankfully, although the limited night visibility adds less stress to these stages than I initially anticipated.

If there’s any other major gripe I can properly level, it’s the price. Eight stages in a new area for $10 feels quite expensive, much like Dirt 3′s $6 car packs. Realizing that the DLC adds 25% more rally stages to the game only highlights the disappointing lack of track variety all throughout, and the Monte Carlo stages only share the problem of reusing too many familiar sections over all of its stages. That’s a shame giving the joy in Dirt 3′s driving. Perhaps if the Power and Glory car pack and Monte Carlo track pack were combined and sold for $10, the deal would feel completely satisfactory. Right now? The cost only brings up twinges of disappointment.

Still, this track pack feels entirely like Monte Carlo, and anyone who loves Dirt 3 and rally should be able to overlook such shortcomings easily.

We Are Race Night Episode 8: Pony Loving Drunks

It’s a strange, rambling episode of WARN, as Pax, Slowbird, and PsEG talk entirely too much about ponies, AI, and achievements in games. Again. Pax also talks about Transformers 3 at length (he’s drunk), PsEG tries to talk about Giant Bomb GT season 3, and a few new Forza 4 points are discussed. Plus, emails!

Featuring:

  • PsEG (Podcast editor, Giant Bomb GT season two champion)
  • Slowbird (Pony enthusiast, Giant Bomb GT season one champion)
  • Pax (Race Night founder, profound racist)

Time: 1:10:23
Size: 32.2 MB
Recorded:
June 25th, 2011

Download We Are Race Night Episode 8 HERE! [MP3]

Subscribe to our RSS feed HERE! [XML]
Subscribe to us on iTunes HERE! [iTunes]

Any questions or comments? Please don’t hesitate to fire them off to our email address at giantbombforza@gmail.com.

Thanks, and enjoy the podcast!

We Are Race Night Episode 7: Dry, Fake, and Slow

It’s a Slowbird-less We Are Race Night, as PsEG, Jugnutts, and Falcon discuss finishing Forza 3 and moving onto Forza 4. PsEG also whines about achievements that are a grind, and Falcon wants to discuss his issues with modern-day Formula 1!

Featuring:

  • PsEG (Podcast editor, Giant Bomb GT season two champion
  • Falcon (Allegedly The Stig, has a dark secret)
  • Jugnutts (Race Night savior, F1 fan)

Time: 1:28:13
Size: 40.2 MB
Recorded:
June 18th, 2011

Download We Are Race Night Episode 7 HERE! [MP3]

Subscribe to our RSS feed HERE! [XML]
Subscribe to us on iTunes HERE! [iTunes]

Any questions for our show? Feel free to send them to giantbombforza@gmail.com, where we send away our personal information to spammers on a daily basis.

Thanks for listening, and enjoy!

We Are Race Night Episode 6: Forza 4 Fervor

Lots of juicy Forza Motorsport 4 details were revealed at E3, so PsEG, Pax, and Slowbird gather up to drool over the new revelations! We talk a little bit about E3 and Forza 3, but otherwise, Forza 4′s the star of this show.

Featuring:

  • PsEG (Podcast editor, Giant Bomb GT season two champion)
  • Slowbird (Ford enthusiast, Giant Bomb GT season one champion)
  • Pax (Race Night founder, profound racist)

Time: 1:09:59
Size:
32.0 MB
Recorded: June 10th, 2011

Download We Are Race Night Episode 6 HERE! [MP3]

Subscribe to our RSS feed HERE! [XML]
Subscribe to us on iTunes HERE! [iTunes]

Any questions or comments for our show? Feel free to email them directly to giantbombforza@gmail.com. Thanks for listening, and enjoy!