<P mce_keep="true">I just thought I'd share some thoughts on a game that, by admission from several gamers that tried the demo, probably won't see much love at AGE. However, for anyone that is considering buying or renting, here are some quick takes on it:
If you tried the demo, you've played the game. Ok, maybe that's a slightly simplified opinion, but it's accurate in relation to driving the cars. There are still the "invisible walls" on either side of the track that prevent you from leaving the track, and it's virtually impossible to wreck. In fact, it is impossible to wreck. The worst you can expect is to get turned around, which (thankfully for realism purposes) can and does happen. The only other thing, besides AI drivers (more on that later), that can hamper your progress during a race is running on the side of the track. If you get right up to the edge of the track, it will slow you down a little.
As many people that remotely followed the pre-release of this game know, it has "deformable" tracks. Simply put, each car leaves ruts on the track as they progress. The ruts are exactly were the cars left them the next time you pass them. It's a pretty cool feature, and does add a little something to the game. I can't tell that it helps or hurts speed, since the track is pretty much a mess of ruts after the first lap. It is nice watching the cars in front of you, or your own car if you're in the third person view, kicking the terrain up and tearing up the track. Also, the implementation of feedback is perfect. You can feel the difference between sand, mud, and snow. Very impressive.
Speaking of which view you use in the game, I honestly don't know how anyone could drive successfully using the behind the car view. I've been using the bumper and hood cam, which gives you an accurate feel for where you are in your approach to a turn, as oppossed the third person view which makes the car feel like it's a unicycle on ice. The cars are not very easy to drive in any view. Not around turns anyway. I'll go so far as to say that any games that are played, be it single player or multiplayer, will have many moments of contact between cars in them.
Unfortunatly, the game is not very deep. Especially when compared to a game like Forza 2. Actually, you shouldn't compare this game to Forza 2. As is confirmed by the lack of ability to wreck, it's a fun arcade game and should be treated as such, not a sim like F2. You only have one thing to do - hold the gas down and get to the front. No thinking required. But, if you want todrift around the corners like the AI do, then you've certainly got some practicing ahead of you. There is a definite learning curve to doing it right. When you nail it though, it feels really good, and you can tell how much speed you kept through a turnby doing it right. There could be more tracks, and there could be greater variations of the tracks you have, but what you're given should work for it's intended purposes - which is mindless driving fun. The difficulty level in the single player seems to ramp up at a just right pace. Each level is appropriately more difficult than the last. Multiplayer options are pretty standard, so don't expect a ton of control over them. Basically, you can pick track, AI drivers to fill spots (and their difficulty), and set up a "championship" of sorts.
As I mentioned earlier, the AI can be difficult at times. Not from a speed or skill aspect, but from a "get out of the way" aspect. It's really hard to move them, but they can move you without much trouble. They run their line, and don't want you stopping them from doing it. So f