Sunday, October 16, 2005

Byte: Project Xbox Racing

Since I'm watching the Chinese Grand Prix qualifying at moment, now seems like a fine time to recount how I've been giving my Xbox racing games a bit of a run out last night and this afternoon.

I'm getting increasingly frustrated with Forza Motorsport; mainly due to my heavy-handedness and the inability to be as super-precise with a gamepad as you need to be for the physics and the handling model. I still can't get within three minutes of my best time around the Nurburgring on Forza compared to PGR 2 because of the stupid time penalty system and the way the level of simulation makes it so difficult to lay the power down on the tarmac. Getting the fastest lap times with the slowest cars just makes a complete mockery of the system, really.

So Forza's very much taking the back burner and I'm playing Need For Speed: Underground and Project Gotham Racing 2. NFSU is just a bit of gaming fluff, really, as it has absolutely no damage model at all and the handling model is fairly benign. The real joy is the modding of the cars and ducking in and out of the traffic during the racing. Things only really start getting interesting once you start unlocking all the performance upgrades, but the game's got a very nice structure and maintains a consistent challenge level.

I spent most of the afternoon on PGR2, which, ironically, I'm a whole lot better at now thanks to the increased throttle control playing Forza has helped me develop. I can do nearly all of the Speed Camera challenges on Platinum now (and those I can't I'm only 1mph short of - I'll get there in the end, even without a wheel), and I can do some corking laps around the Nurburgring now, though it's hard to keep your concentration around the whole lap, given that it's 13 miles long, especially if you're driving something like an Enzo Ferrari that's got over 650 horsepower. I reckon I can get the Enzo around there in about 6m30s, if I can keep it on the black stuff. Unfortunately, there are so many corners that it's almost inevitable you'll miss at least one apex or leap a kerb - most annoyingly, usually the fast kinks leading up to the first chicane after the starting straight, or the mini-carousel right at the end of the lap. Brilliant fun though. I think I'll post this now and go do another half a dozen laps...
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