Upcoming game I’m excited about
The F.E.A.R demo is on the coverdisc of OXM magazine right now. It’s expected on Live in a couple of weeks. This is one of the very few games I’ve envied from the PC world, so it’s great to finally get a chance to play it. Interesting article on the game’s AI here.
Current game I’m excited about
I got Flatout 2 (Eurogamer review) for the Xbox some time ago. I have now played it about halfway through and I have to say that it rocks. There is much more content than in the original game (which I also liked) and everything is just better.
One thing they could work more on is difficulty. I play a lot of games, if not exclusively driving games, and I found the road rather rocky at around the halfway point. It isn’t nearly as demanding as the original Flatout, though. The key differences are improved (more interesting and life-like) AI and a more forgiving handling model.
(Edit: I’ve now completed the game to above 90%, having finished all the race classes. My problems were due to sticking with rear-wheel drives, which can be very hard to control at high speeds. Changing to front-wheel-drives and four-wheel-drives solved my problems.)
The graphics are really good for a last-gen title, the previously overdone ragdoll effects have been toned down (increasing their punch), the minigames are plentiful and improved considerably, and there are lots more cars and tracks.
One huge change is the effect of physics. They’re downplayed a lot. It’s quite unlikely you’ll lose a race due to a stray tire or a two-by-four, like in the predecessor. In exhange, there’s thousands and thousands ( I recall 5’000 mentioned somewhere) of separate objects to be scattered across the track. I would like some weight added to them, though, just to get that danger aspect back.
Flatout 2 features the best tracks I’ve seen in a driving game. I have so many favorites it’s hard to pick one, but for instance the military airplane graveyard in the desert is a blast. I haven’t yet come across a dull track. I really like the way there are multiple routes to take and that the AI drivers know how to use them. Or the way that someone needs to clear a given shortcut of debris before it’s beneficial to use.
The career model is rather good, really, even though it’s been lamented in reviews. I liked the freedom to go to an upper class when I felt like it, simply by purchasing a car of that class. The upgrade system is also more involving than before – you need to make decisions on what attributes of the car to increase, possibly decreasing some others.
As it happens, just yesterday I got a chance to replay my old driving game favorite, Burnout 3, due to it becoming backwards compatible (BC) on the 360. Flatout 2 doesn’t dull in comparison and indeed, the much more accurate driving model gives it a feel of depth and precision that’s missing from Burnout. I’d venture that Burnout needs tons of content because it’s so shallow. Insanely fast shallow, but still.
Now, if only Microsoft could get around to making Outrun 2 play on the 360, too. There’s shallow gameplay married with perfect content. Outrun doesn’t leave you feeling bloated like an obsessed session of Burnout does.