Driving Skill

If you've been reading my blog for a while, then you'll know that driving games are one of my favorite genres. And that I tend to like "arcade-style" racing games rather than "simulation" driving. In short, give me Burnout any day, over Project Gotham Racing or Forza Motorsport.

A few months ago, I received a 6-month Gamefly subscription as a gift. This was very cool, but also has some drawbacks (and as I write that, I think a future blogpost is coming up). But with this subscription, I've had a chance to rent two driving games so far: Blur and Split/Second.

I saw Blur a long while ago, and it sounded very cool. The trailers looks great. I got the game in the mail and popped it in the Xbox. Sigh. It was back in the mail two days later. Why? Simply put: your driving skill doesn't matter whatsoever. You are totally subject to random events. You fly past your rivals, taking every turn with precision, and then what? ... a freakin' bomb drops on your ass, and you fall back to 3rd place. Did you have any way to avoid it? Nope. It Just Happens. The game is just a frustrating exercise of avoiding random encounters with your opponents, hoping they don't take you out. Sure, you can work your wonders and get the Right defense powerups, but in the end? It doesn't help. You run out of defense much, much faster than the cars behind you run out of shit to throw at you.

Futility.

Today, I received Split/Second in the mail. I'd played the demo, and it was great fun. Stuff blowing up all around you, making you dodge at the last second. But you can dodge. Your driving skills actually matter in this game. It isn't about a roll of the dice, but about you. Crap blows up around you (awesome!!) and you need to scoot around it. I'm just starting on the game, but it is already apparent that it has got some great fun, and that I need to learn more. If I bring down a bus on a rival to take him out, then I need to be very careful to dodge that same bus! The game lets you know when you've beat yourself down!

Split/Second is going to stay here for a while. After playing for a while, I'll decide whether to return the game (after sufficient play), or to send the game back quickly (to get the next one) and order myself a copy to keep. Regardless of that outcome, this is a fun game, without the defeatist gameplay of Blur.

Try it out! Download the demo, and see what you think.

4 comments:

snarfed.org said...

thanks for the recommendation! i don't play either arcade or sim driving games often, but i loved burnout paradise, and i did hear lots of good things about split/second. i may have to try it.

on my end, i'm currently playing double fine's new game, stacking. i didn't hear much about it before it came out, but i'm really enjoying it. lots of free form exploring, which is my kind of gameplay.

Vong said...

I've tried the demo i didn't really like the overall gameplay, but that's just me. One of my all time favorites is of course forza
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Greg Stein said...

snarfed: I've played the demo for Stacking, and it really is quite unique. I would be a bit worried about replay-value on it. Once you get through the story line, and maybe go back and explore all the corner for the edge achievements... then can it be played again? Of course, a game doesn't have to have replay value: I'm not sure that I'd replay Faery, for example, yet it was well worth the money for the hours of enjoyment that I got from it.

vong: yeah. I think it is about styles, which is why my post tried to distinguish between "arcade" style racing games, and "simulation" style. It sounds like you would also love Project Gotham Racing and Gran Turismo, if you're a fan of Forza. (PGR is an Xbox game, and GT is Playstation, btw) ... my personal preference is towards the arcade style because I think the pace is much more hectic and immersive, rather than trying to balance physics into precision play.

Vong said...

Don't get me wrong greg i like games like NFS Underground and street racing style games. I just love the reality of the simulation driving best. Yes i've played PGR and Gran Turismo, they are games of my collection. I do have PS3 and xBox i just thought that i would get both.

By the way i would love for you to stop by my blog and drop a comment, or leave a link back to your website.