Video games I’ve enjoyed over the years part 7.

Hello and welcome to the latest in the video games series. For those of you new to this series this is NOT a list of the greatest of all time or anything like that. This is more a list of video games that I’ve played and that I have nice memories of over the last 30 years or so. So far we’ve done the Sega era of my life before moving to the PS1 then the Xbox 360 and now we move in to the next gen world and the Xbox One which was a console launched by Microsoft for the new era. It wasn’t perfect at launch but it has since been refined and improved over the years with the Xbox One S which is the console the original Xbox should have been in my opinion and lastly the One X. But we’ll start with something that was released at launch that I got almost immediately

26: FORZA MOTORSPORT 5

One of the launch titles for the Xbox One was Forza Motorsport 5 the first of the next gen titles from the franchise. It’s also considered one of the worst however. Barely half the number of both tracks and cars compared to Forza 4 give it the feeling of almost being rushed to make the deadline for the release of the new console (which as we now know turned out to be true)

There’s no doubt about the visual beauty of the game with some amazing visuals and vistas but as a gamer I was just wishing for a little bit more.

This in game image shows what the new console would be capable of in the years to come

This was however a very important Forza title. It was the first on the next gen system. It was an official launch title for the Xbox One and as such had a whole new audience wanting to see what the console was capable of. It was the first Forza to feature single seaters with both modern (2013) and classic (70s) Formula One cars with the 2013 Lotus being featured. A huge coop for Forza as it was the first title in the modern era to feature a modern Formula One car. This being the pre Liberty Media Formula One era when the rights were stricter than the worst regime you can think of.

Classic F1 machinery in Forza 5

It was also the first Forza to have you race against other players off line thanks to your profile being uploaded to the “cloud” you race against these players. You get to see and use other players liveries should you wish to have a cool looking car without doing any work towards it. Did it change anything in terms of how good the AI was in the reduced career mode? It’s up for debate some loved it others hated it. It’s divided opinion even to this day in the community.

So Foza 5 had fewer tracks and less than 200 cars which is a more than 50% reduction in what we had before? So why did I like it? why have I included it? Well. It’s purely for personal reasons. The amount of fun I had playing this game was a huge surprise to me but most of all it was the on line element. Up to now for me gaming was a very solitary thing but now the ball game changed and the online racing element became great fun to do. The amount of fun I had in a Mini Cooper against the big American muscle cars like the Ford Mustang and (often beating them) was amazing fun to do. But you also get the worst of society, deliberate wrecking became the norm in most lobbies and that’s a sad thing that exists in every game. On line grieving wasn’t something I encountered before but now it was going to be a common factor in gaming from this point on wards. I’m not going to dwell on the bad points here but I have to mention that aspect because lets be honest here, life isn’t exactly rosy is it?

Image result for forza motorsport 5 photo mode

So the key things in the game to note are that the cars DO handle superbly without giving you too much grief (I’ll talk more about that in the next game) the visuals are superb. The visuals are superb and it was a breath taking look at what a next gen console looks like. And that Prague track is superb too.

27: PROJECT CARS 1

Now, let me talk about realism for a moment here. For many years now the community has been passing comment about how cars should feel to drive. In a game like Forza the cars end up doing what a layman would expect because the cars in Forza are not difficult to drive and the races are not that long either normally about 3–5 laps. This is mainly because Forza is trying to cater to the casual audience. It’s also what has given Forza the distinction of being considered one of the best ARCADE games out there.

Project Cars however promised to be something else. They would build the game that the community wanted. Unfortunately some of the members of the community are (how can I put this?) not exactly very experienced in the gaming or driving world. Some wanted cars that are hard to drive. I actually asked some people on Facebook at the time which cars they wanted to be hard to drive. The response was all of them because it had to be realistic with no traction control. Now. Hang on a minute here. Because this is a subject that really does annoy me. What the community doesn’t realise (it seems) is that the Renault Clio for example shouldn’t be hard to drive. In fact driving shouldn’t be difficult at all should it? And lets not forget if a car has traction control it tends to have it for a reason. To make the car safer to drive. So if this community wants realism they have to allow for these certain things in my opinion. I’ve got no issues with the top level single seaters in the game being hard to drive. You’re on paper at least one of the best drivers in the world by the time you’ve got to that level. But should a BMW M3 be a handful to drive? Really? No!

So did they listen to the community when making this game? Yes they did. To the point where it was full of bugs. To explain the biggest problem that I had personally when the game came out. The Gameplay images in this article are using what is known as the “chase cam” and when the game first came out the chase cam on my game revolved around the car and wouldn’t stay still so the game for a large audience that use this angle to play the game the game was actually un-playable for a while until they patched it of course. Ah yes. Patching. That method of sorting out the mess that modern developers sometimes make when making and releasing a game these days. They also had to patch the weather glitches. Project cars 1 was the first racing game to be released for a while with dynamic lighting effects and the first that I can really remember with dynamic weather where you would have to change tyres just to make the car drivable. These are good changes by the way but the lag whenever it rained. The sheer difficulty of the game were not. The incident in a Formula C race at Zolder in Belgium when my car finished buried in the tarmac of the track wasn’t much better either. The other problems of the game having more tracks than cars wasn’t great either (NO Ferrari or Lamborghini) got the attention of many in the community. However cars were added as the game was developed over the subsequent years and the gameplay was improved over the many updates that were needed to make the game even work.

I don’t want to sound like I’m knocking the game though. It is a fantastic simulator (it’s never going to beat iRacer but still good) and once the bugs started to get ironed out it was a really serious contender for Forza. In fact some would say that this is what lead Forza to up their game for the next release (more on that later) The weather effects (when they sorted out the frame drops) were pretty good (as you can see above) the single seaters are really good. The career mode is very good and takes in 2 free practice sessions qualifying and the race itself for each event. The many directions your career can take is what makes this interesting. I started out doing single seaters but didn’t get an offer to go to Formula B from Formula C so ended up in GT’s for a bit and the GT3 cars in this game are amazing I can tell you. As I say there aren’t many cars but the ones that are in there are used to great effect and there’s JUST enough to keep things interesting, although to be fair you’re so focused in keeping the car on the road and making sure your session isn’t ruined you’re making yourself almost too busy to notice.

Project Cars 1 in summary is a game that looks good. Needed more content which it eventually got but only after a long drawn out process, but the game play provided enough of a challenge to keep you from worrying too much about the lack of cars. And again you got a real Gen 2 treat with the visuals.

28: THE BEGINNERS GUIDE

And now for something completely different. This is NOT an Xbox One release but I did get to play this on a friends Steam account because I was told by him that I needed to play it. The other disclaimer I need to make at this point is that this is less of a game but more like an experience. This is a narrative driven first person exploration type game. The narrator is a man called Davey Wreden who made the beginners guide. He was also responsible for a game called the Stanley Parable which is not a game I enjoyed which I think I’m right in saying makes me some kind of heretic in the gaming world but anyway. The reason I hated the Stanley Parable is because if it’s not a racing game then it has to have a clear end point in my opinion and the Stanley Parable simply doesn’t have that. So you begin to get tired of doing the same thing over and over with no real rhythm or purpose. The Beginners Guide is more linear and so makes more sense to me. It is however a very difficult game to review and my brain is a bit simple for this but.. Here goes nothing..

So the premise of the game is that Davey is telling a story about the time he was in touch with a developer named Coda. Davey then talks you through his interpretation of the games that Coda has made in an effort to understand the meaning behind them. A few of the “games” see you walking through vast structures and possibly interacting with a couple of objects where as in others you simply walk through a corridor

After a while the game switches from an almost whimsical look through a developers early works to something a bit more meaningful. Then a bit deeper in thought before becoming a cry for help almost, as you start to see an inner struggle developing between the narrator Davey, a battle with depression and the thought that maybe these games were almost making Davey and not Coda the creator happy.

The thing is though. It’s almost impossible to review a game like this. For a couple of reasons. Firstly because in terms of it’s narrative it’s unique, I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s very cleverly done and I played this seeing a lot of myself in this game. Secondly everyone has a slightly different interpretation as to what this really is. There are people that play this that believe Davey and Coda are in fact one and the same person and that Davey is somehow reaching out to some kind of creative block that he stumbled upon and is trying desperately to knock it down. The machine that lies at the core of the final third of the game is the creative side of his brain that to him has stopped working.

But in my mind however I’m less convinced by that. I think that Davey and Coda are in fact two different people. But something happened. Either Coda died or simply he feels like he’s done all that he can do and has moved on to other things (life gets in the way after all) and after playing through these games one last time and putting them together Davey then decides that he himself is a pretty good developer so he makes a game where the idea is to rebel against the system and so the Stanley Parable was born. This game is set right before the Stanley Parable was made. I’m not saying that my interpretation is right or wrong here. What I’m saying is that this game gives me a problem because there isn’t really a right or wrong answer. I like to think that Davey didn’t exactly find what he was looking for which was for Coda to make games again but instead he found the inspiration to make something of his own and so the Stanley Parable was made.

For me however this game was a very emotional experience. This spoke to me on a very personal level, Why? Because depression becomes a very prevalent part of the game and as a depression sufferer myself I saw a lot of myself in my game to the point where I started to question my own life. How? How can a video game possibly do that? Well I go back to the original point of this game. It’s not a game per-saye this is more of an experience it’s a game that you have to see for yourself to fully understand why it would make a person like me feel so emotional and how almost seeing yourself described in a video game makes you feel almost freaked out like it did for me.

So The Beginners Guide should not be seen as a game in the normal sense. There’s literally nothing quite like this anywhere. It’s that unique. It ignores the tropes of video games while making you think about the deeper things in life which is why this game works for me. Search this game out if not on steam then watch it on YouTube and see it for yourself and you’ll hopefully see what I’m talking about.

And on that deep note that is going to be a wrap for this edition. We’re getting towards the end of this series with only a couple more to go. Thanks for reading and there will be more from me very soon.

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