Sunday, June 22, 2014

Ground Breaking! 2014 E3 Show Driving Simulation Games Big Report by Clinton Lum @calibre68

Los Angeles, CA, Photos and Text by Clinton Lum, Lumdigital - We can only dream of getting behind the wheel of many of the exotic cars that we see at car shows or in magazines, but now we can.  With every new generation of gaming consoles, driving games have only become more realistic.  Developers are now able to harness extraordinary amounts of computing power to render the cars as well as the racing environments.  And as the developers become more familiar with the hardware architectures of the new consoles expect games to get even better in the future.

First up is Forza Horizon 2.

Utilizing the gaming engine of Forza 5, Forza Horizon 2 takes it up a notch from the previous version of Horizon.  This version of the game now allows for car customization.  I don't know about you, but car junkies love to modify their cars both for looks as well as performance.  And with the online aspect of this game, you probably want to stand out, especially when showing up at in-game car meets where you can check out the other players' rides, meet up with your fellow club members or just engage in impromptu races.

There is good reason why the game has horizon in it.  It's due to the 200+ cars in game and the minimum 100 hours just to finish 100% of the game.  That's pretty insane.  Also, it uses the same Drivatar technology from Forza Motorsport.  The Drivatar is like your own avatar that learns your unique driving characteristics.  So when you are off line, your friends or others can race you and your skills will be displayed via your personal Drivatar. (below from the official press photos)

Horizon 2 is an open world environment.  You are not confined to a track or predetermined race course.  In this game, you can go off road if you like.  Now of course, racing through a vineyard or ramming through wooden fence posts in the countryside will most likely destroy your new Lamborghini, but this is just a game and having the ability to do this kind of free driving is what makes things fun.

Speaking of open world environments, the other driving game that was shown at E3 was The Crew by Ubisoft.  The environment is set in the good ole US of A.  If you wanted to drive from the Atlantic to the Pacific, be my guest.  The trip of course is a bit condensed and it would take just a few hours to travel this distance in game.  That's not too bad considering it would get kind of boring if you had to drive through endless miles of farmland  or barren desert.  As with Horizon, you can also create your own crew to race with as you complete missions.  Upgrading cars is part of the package, and the modification animations are pretty sweet.  Whether you just want a new paint job, wheels, or a full performance upgrade under the hood, it is up to you.   The Crew will be available for the new generation consoles and PC.

(Below photos from official company press photos)
And the last major driving game that I took a look at was DriveClub which will be coming out for the Sony PS4.  The atmospherics such as clouds and day to night transitions look amazing, but you need to wait a bit after the title is available this fall to see how weather dynamics affect driving performance.  Yeah, I know you hard core gamers are anxiously waiting to get your hands on this title, since it has been delayed for a year already, but I think it will be worth the wait.
Below are the press photos from the company:
DriveClub is a different type of game compared to the Horizon 2 or The Crew in that you cannot customize your cars by selecting from unlimited parts to increase performance.  The performance of the cars available are standard so that it all boils down to how you perform with a particular car.  And with racing, there are many variables that must be accounted for in order to come out ahead.  Which racing line you choose, how you approach an apex, and when to make a pass all factor into a winning strategy.

The tracks provided in DriveClub span the globe and there are no open world environments compared to the other two games I looked at. The available cars that can be played with are around 50 with 55 tracks and 5 different locations around the globe.  You can have a team from 2 to 6 drivers, which is a decent amount for head to head team races, but it would be nice to be able to have a larger crew as an option.  It isn't as if your crew of 100 drivers will be on track at the same time, since that would defeat the purpose of racing since there would be no space on track to race.

So to summarize, if you like more open world racing, then consider Forza Horizon 2 or The Crew.  If you want a more focused racing game then DriveClub could satisfy your appetite.  They all come out this fall, so try them out and see which ones you like more.

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