Next week, Codemasters wants to take over your living vroom (heh) for a bit with F1 2014 and its customizable difficulty that will give novices and core fans of the sport more than enough challenge to get them through the season and more the game offers up. PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 owners will be getting what looks like the best game in the series to date for their respective platforms and Codemasters Racing studio is working on a 2015 game for you F1 fans who’ve upgraded and didn’t hold onto those well-aged systems. Sometimes, it’s good to be a holdout when there are still quality titles coming down the road for those systems that still have massive installed bases. Anyway, F1 2014 rolls out October 21, 2014 in North America for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.
Wow, I’ve been SO busy lately that I’d almost forgotten Codemasters’ gorgeous-looking F1 2014 is coming out next week! As in October 17, 2014 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. Codemasters Birmingham is cooking up a spectacular and more user-friendly installment this time out that should please F1 novices and more dedicated fans of this sport that takes real life drivers many years to master. I haven’t seen the Hockenheim track in a F1 racing game in a while, so this brings back memories of Video System’s two F1 World Grand Prix games from back in the day.
Okay, I won’t be zooming around as fast, but I have three press events today (EA, 505 Games and Kabam), maybe an event to hit later in the evening if I feel up to it, some text to check and correct for a few friends and if I can get the time in, perhaps a few posts for the site. I had a very amusing “sleep” that consisted of me popping up every few minutes for a while to close a window here or make sure a door wasn’t blowing shut, as Alien Isolation definitely seeped into my brain and every little noise was making me jumpy! That hasn’t happened in a while, so I’ll have to give The Creative Assembly some props for getting their game to do what it needed to do and all too well.
Okay, let me get set to jet out the door and get to all this stuff that needs getting to – back in a bit…
I think someone at Codemasters is psychic. Last week, I broke out both Colin McRae Rally and Colin McRae Rally 2.0 just to dive in for a bit and see if they still held up today and yes indeed, they do. While the series went through some big changes as the series moved to new platforms, there was always a solid sense of fun and challenge that made each installment thrilling to blaze through. When the series changed its name to DiRT and its direction to a “cooler” racer in order to rope in younger fans of the X Games or other extreme sports, things definitely slid a bit sideways. The last few installments are all great looking games, but to me, there’s something missing… a certain spirit, if you will. Granted, Colin McRae is no longer with us, so that’s probably the missing element those later games haven’t been able to capture. Seeing that intro video above and playing the game for a little while made me hope Codemasters will go back to the drawing board and deliver a rally game that’s as fun and wickedly addictive as the first few in the series. Strip it down, but make it rich with detail, lose the big social focus (or make it completely optional) and maybe even bring back the goofy bonuses from the older titles just because it’s great to see a surprise ride or three after a ton of hard work.
Skylanders SWAP Force: HD quality visuals, jumping and all new customizable figures all for the first time on the PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U make this latest entry in Activision’s supremely successful yearly cash cow a huge must. Wii and 3DS owners don’t get HD graphics (obviously), but the core game is the same deal. In SWAP Force, the gameplay is even more addictive than ever (and yes, some of you adults will be sneaking in time when the kids are asleep or at school), the story longer and more interesting (in part thanks to the enthusiastic voice acting all around) and overall, this makes for both a great entry into the series as well as the latest installment that will have your wallet making faces at you whenever you yank out that cash or card to buy more figures. $74.99, pretty much anywhere that sells video games.
Valhalla Knights 3: This new PlayStation Vita exclusive from Xseed Games looks to bring Japanese developer K2’s niche grind-heavy RPG series to the masses with the best looking (and possibly, playing) installment to date. The Vita seems to be the prefect platform for this combat-heavy game that now includes an optional segment that features a bit of NSFW visits to a sort of love hotel where players can er, “score” additional playable characters and gear if they partake in a series of racy mini-games. Given that the other entries in the series have been given Teen ratings, that M VK3 is sporting must mean you’ll want to keep this away from the kiddies. That’s no problem here, as any kid that comes near my Vita is pulling back a stump… with a lollipop stuck in it (hey, I’m NICE mean old guy)… $39.99 (retail and digital).
F1 2013: Longtime fans of the actual motorsport have been a bit disgruntled these past few seasons thanks to the juggernaut crushing all under his speedy wheels that is three-time champ Sebastian Vettel. However, Codemasters is giving them a chance to beat the man at his own game, provided you’re sitting at home on your couch or in front of a high-end gaming PC setup. This year’s installment is even more gorgeous than ever, has some solid improvements (you can now save between events!) and that adjustable difficulty means even total newbies can actually make it around the track with some effort. While it’s definitely NOT for the NASCAR crowd of those expecting power-up and arcade-style gameplay, it does a decent enough job at breaking down the F1 experience that the Codies really don’t need to do more next year. Well, except add MORE Classic cars and courses, as the small amount this year is VERY welcome, but made me want to see what they could do with a few dozen more rides from the 70’s to 90’s (or perhaps earlier). $59.99,
The Wolf Among Us: I’ve not read any of the Vertigo comics this first installment is based on, so it’s pretty obvious that my excitement about this game is lower than those who have. On the other hand, given that it’s coming from Telltale Games and is modeled on the success of the company’s hugely successful multi-platform hit The Walking Dead, this one’s a no-brainer as far as the usual “should I play this?” stuff some of you go through. Given that this chapter is a slower-paced mystery with gameplay that’s heavily Quick Time Event focused and what looks to be a growing cast of really interesting fairytale characters updated and placed in an alternate New York City setting, it’s certainly right up my adventure alley and Telltale is actually offering up a really cool deal for that $24.99 (PC or Mac) price tag. Once all the chapters are complete, PS3 and Xbox 360 owners will hopefully get a retail version as well (like The Walking Dead did), but we’ll have to see if Wii U and Vita owners get as lucky…
While some reviews of F1 2013 I’ve glanced at are calling a few of the changes “incremental” from last year’s installment, I’d say they’re missing a few points with that criticism such as the game not needing the bells and whistles other less “serious” racers provide and the fact that the formula (pun intended) as presented works as a perfect learning tool for novices. Granted, the game is NOT a 100% perfect “simulation” at all (although playing on the highest setting with all the aids off offers up plenty of unforgiving moments of “Oh yeah, I’m SO not an F1 driver!” as you spin out or wreck into a wall or other cars), but a fantastic recreation/representation of F1 that allows anyone with patience and practice to take home some wins and see what the sport is all about.
That said, beating Vettel here was a big “YES!” moment, as he’s a total machine on the F1 circuit in real life, making watching this season pretty boring because you pretty much know who’s coming in first. Also, I do LOVE that Classic Mode to the point that I wish Codemasters would have added MORE cars and tracks. I’d eat a tire for that six-wheel Tyrell, the Fan Car, some classics from the dangerous 60’s and so forth and so on. Hell, Grand Prix Legends isn’t coming to consoles any time soon, so I may as well be one of those bugging the Codies to get cracking on making my aged gamer brain and hands happier, right? Yes, there an actual review incoming – stay tuned.