The PS4 and Xbox One are already struggling…

powerThey say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I’m sure the above will ignite a firestorm across the internet.  On one hand, Rockstar Games have said the power of the two next generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft is nowhere near realized yet, while Slightly Mad Studios have also publicly came out and said they’ve pretty much maxxed out the Playstation 4 hardware.

Which one is marketing BS, and which one is the truth? I’ll have to side with Ian Bell here. I’ve previously owned a PS4, and aside from the fantastic UI and awesome sharing capabilities (the controller basically has a built-in FRAPS button that you can configure at will), the games were only a marginal improvement compared to what could be found on the Xbox 360 and PS3 – and in some cases, weren’t improvements at all.

While it featured awesome online capabilities, Need for Speed Rivals lacked staying power and looked about on-par with the PC version of Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2010.

Hardcore NHL 15 players prefered the game on last-generation hardware:

And Madden 15 is surpassed by a version from five years ago:

Maybe 4Chan is right and a crash in the market is sooner than we think?

RaceDepartment VSCC Season 3 Round 4 – Cordoba Recap and Results

GSC 2015-05-30 14-48-55-60In the past, I’ve talked about the importance of people like myself and participating in competitive online leagues to increase our credibility as mouthpieces in the greater driving game community. Far too often, sites like InsideSimRacing, VVV Automotive,  and VirtualR are run by guys who aren’t all that good at the games they’re covering, and it becomes hard to trust what they have to say about a certain game – you never know if that ten second difference on track changes a game from feeling great to absymal because the fast guys found out all the little tricks that push the physics engine to its limit. The same thing happens in yearly EA Sports games; often avid sports gamers can find glitch goals or money plays that your average review site like Gamespot and IGN miss out on.

I’ve been driving in Season 3 of RaceDepartment’s Virtual Stock Car Championship for Walk Racing. The five round season takes place in Reiza Studio’s Game Stock Car Extreme, and save for the Brazilian league that sees many real-world drivers competing, this is basically the top Stock Car V8 online league you can join.

Today, we went to Cordoba for the fourth round of the season.GSC 2015-05-30 14-44-34-66

Cordoba is very much like a South American version of NOLA Motorsports Park, or Palm Beach International Raceway. The track takes place in a huge wide-open field, features no elevation changes, and huge kerbs that you should probably stay away from. This is by far my favorite track on the schedule, as the track is nothing but medium speed corners. Unlike Taruma, which features a very challenging hairpin and shoddy track surface, or Cascavel, which has massive elevation changes, Cordoba is a very noob-friendly track that still allows for some really great racing. Throughout the week, lap times were consistently in the 69 second range.

But before we even went on the air for Qualifying, drama was brewing behind the scenes.

Teammate Risto Kappet, who had already been penalized once this season for not adhering to track limits during the pre-season qualifying event, was seven tenths faster than anybody else in practice with 30 minutes left in the session. Kappet’s 69.1 destroyed Jake Cooper’s 69.7 and Cooper became very vocal about it. Sitting third in points, behind Risto’s teammate Guus  Verver and Brazilian Neto Nascimento, Cooper believed Risto had to have been violating the rules in some fashion to achieve lap times that the rest of the field had no shot of matching. Cooper initially believed Kappet was violating the track limits in Turn 1, which indeed featured a very large concrete runoff that could be exploited, and Risto’s sector one time indicated he had found an excessive amount of speed where others had not.

After a lengthy exchange inside the chat box, Cooper then accused Risto of using third party hacks to achieve lap times that were virtually impossible during race sessions. In high caliber leagues, such as iRacing’s NASCAR Peak Antifreeze Series, RAM Hacks are sometimes used to gain an advantage over competitors by running a small program alongside the software to edit tire wear and fuel consumption in a way that benefits the user. Touring Pro Series driver Tim Heineman, who raced alongside Kappet in the Virtual Carrera Cup, was discovered to be using RAM Hacks and promptly removed from the series. It’s not a stretch by any means to assume a program has been developed for Game Stock Car Extreme, as it’s basically rFactor.

HacksCooper neglected to file a formal complaint with RaceDepartment administration, opting to outright leave the series before Qualifying began while saying RD was not doing enough to prevent cheating. During the fifteen minute qualifying session, Kappet secured the pole by going even faster than his controversial practice time, posting a blazing 68.9, while I managed to pull off my best qualifying result of the season – third- with a 69.3. Late in the session, I was on pace for a 68.6 by using the draft of a GhostSpeed Racing car, but had to compromise my line in sector two as the sheer speed of the lap caused me to catch an opponent in a tight section of the track. I guess this dismisses any theory that Risto was using a RAM Hack, since if the car moved out of the way, I would have had the pole, and I’m terrible. Teammate Guus Verver started fourth, and Walk Racing as a whole took up three of the first four grid spots.

Neto Nascimento struggled in qualifying and started 14th. This would have huge implications in the points battle between himself and Verver.

GSC 2015-05-30 14-48-04-08The width of the track prevented any serious incidents from occurring at the start, though I was promptly passed by two GhostSpeed cars and fell down to fifth at the end of the first lap. The field spread out at a rapid rate, Kappet driving in an entirely different zipcode mere minutes into the race. I made attempts to get around the 9 of Fabio Assucano and start climbing through the field with the Push-To-Pass system, but he countered with a textbook bump and run in turn two that moved me up the race track like I had done to him at Cascavel a few weeks prior.

I love shit like this; far too often people whine about moves like this and consider it dirty driving, but you have no idea how awesome this is when both guys know what they’re doing and understand it’s just part of the game.

GSC 2015-05-30 14-51-52-05GSC 2015-05-09 15-01-58-85During the early stages of the race, it became apparent how setup dependent these cars are. The top five cars were separated by huge gaps and it seemed impossible for people to gain on each other – even with my extremely conservative driving, I was pulling away from the dudes behind me with relative ease.

But keeping an eye on the leaderboard, things started to get weird.

GSC 2015-05-30 14-55-17-45About fifteen minutes into the race, a yellow flag popped up in sector three, and I moved up from fifth to fourth as Idrove by GhostSpeed driver Sergio Junior parked on the side of the track. The gap to Guus Verver had also been eradicated, as he was now directly in front of me. Sergio had been running second when he and Verver had made incidental contact that wrecked both of the cars. Junior’s momentum was lost, but Verver drove away with light damage from the incident. Despite Verver’s compromised car, I still couldn’t catch the guy.

GSC 2015-05-30 14-45-05-49And it seemed like nobody could catch anybody, Even after a slip up that saw the two GhostSpeed cars behind me reel me in by two seconds, I cooled myself down and slowly but surely drove away from them again. These cars are really loose when directly behind somebody, but this was a whole new level of setup dependency that we hadn’t seen all season.

GSC 2015-05-30 14-57-08-28As the picture shows, pitting was pretty hectic. For the past three races, I’d been lucky and would find myself on an empty pit road by starting the race with 68 liters. Today, not so much. Not only would I barely avoid the 39 of Miguel Lopes, but I’d also rub fenders with Guus Verver, pulling out directly in front of him and squeezing him into the wall. Exiting the pits, we were thrown into a mess of backmarkers, lapped cars, and lead lap cars – although in typical RaceDepartment fashion, all of them were extremely kind to the front runners and pulled off to the side at the earliest opportunity.

GSC 2015-05-30 14-58-34-67Not everyone managed to keep their cool as the final minutes of the race approached, as the 74 of Jon Hicken, who was not on the lead lap, blew the braking point into turn three and nearly totaled Verver. Thankfully, the 86 was able to drive away from the incident unharmed, and once again easily pulled away from me. Each lap, Verver was able to extend the gap by about two tenths of a second.

GSC 2015-05-30 14-59-44-87

While Risto Kappet easily drove off into the sunset for the victory, holding on to fourth place proved to be more difficult that I’d imagined it would be. The 39 of Miguel Lopes used up as much Push-To-Pass as he could in order to reel me in, but just couldn’t get the job done, even with a really great divebomb attempt in turn three. In order to fend him off, I made a risky move and activated Push-To-Pass coming out of the hairpin, giving me some extra torque as we went up through the gears. This worked, and I held on for my highest finish of the season: fourth.

With Cooper gone and Nascimento having an uncharacteristically poor race where he failed to crack the top ten in points, this might move me up to third in the standings.

GSC 2015-05-30 14-45-57-26The setup we used this week was primarily developed by Risto Kappet, and since the track is not very challenging for the driver or hard on equipment, what he ran is what I ran. I think the only change I made was to the brake bias, but that’s a change everybody should be making anyways as it’s 100% user preference. I run 63:37, whereas Risto uses 60:40. This has been my favorite setup I’ve driven all year and is exactly what I want out of this car – it’s either loose or neutral in every corner, and really twitchy when making fast direction changes or on exit.

Just don’t drive behind other people because the lack of airflow over the car makes it super loose. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Download the setup HERE

In defense of Need for Speed always requiring an Internet connection…

Untitled-2Not something people wanted to hear in regards to Need for Speed Underground 3; recently Electronic Arts confirmed that the newest installment in the popular yet misguided franchise will always require an active internet connection to play the game at all. Your average person will hate this decision; SimCity 2013 was a disaster when this format was implemented, but I’m going to tell you why this will actually benefit the upcoming racer from EA.

Need for Speed™ Rivals_20140607122806

To get the obvious out of the way, yes, the odd instance your internet goes out because Comcast sucks, you won’t be able to use the time to progress through the game on your own. It’s okay. Walk to the 7-Eleven and get some snacks. Server outages will also happen, and again, it’s okay in moderation. If there is a day-one meltdown like SimCity experienced, then yeah, y’all have the right to be pissed, but I’ve worked at jobs that have relied heavily on computer inventory systems to track all their products between stores, and even managers were able to keep their cool better than twats on message boards when the program would go down for a few minutes. For better or worse, this is the world we live in. R3E also requires an active internet connection at all times to verify content ownership, and exactly once I’ve encountered a time where I wanted to play the game and couldn’t. I whined about it, but it hasn’t been an issue since then.

And please don’t give me the “not everyone has a trustworthy internet connection” argument – 2005 was ten years ago and we’re past that now.

I sound like a hardcore EA shill right now, but it’s for good reason. I spent a lot of time last year with Need for Speed Rivals, and the online elements were implemented incredibly well, turning an average racer into something that was a hell of a lot of fun with friends.

Rarely do scripted E3 demos represent final gameplay, but this one did. Online integration in Rivals was seamless. My buddy Tyler and I both picked up the game for our PS4’s, and everything worked exactly as seen in the video above.

There was no separate online mode. Every time you booted up the game, you were dropped into a room with five other guys on the map, all off doing their own thing. Sometimes, in the middle of a race, you would see a completely different pack of AI cars and one or two other guys rip by you on the opposite side of the road.  And absolutely nothing was stopping you from jumping into a cop car and hunting someone down as they tried to progress through the game. Loading screens didn’t exist either, so the chase didn’t stop when the race ended. You could effectively be someone’s personal whenever you wanted to. Other people were also free to jump into the fray at a moments notice, and you’d gain huge XP boosts from simply playing the game like this.

Need for Speed™ Rivals_20140607144951

Each room’s play style was vastly different as well. Some rooms would see a 50/50 split of Cops and Racers that lead to huge PvP battles, while others would feature all six humans working together as Cops to tear through challenges busting the AI together, and finally there was nothing stopping six human Racers from going through the entire campaign as one big multilayer race tournament – complete with unlocks, perks, levels, and the rest of the standard stuff that comes with online-oriented games.

I still preferred being a dick to people as a cop, though.

Need for Speed™ Rivals_20140607181252

I had the game a little earlier than Tyler and was pretty far ahead when he got started, so while he went through the early races, all I had to do was pick the starter Porsche Cayman, and I could race alongside him. Even as he would drive from race to race, we could trigger outrun challenges between us to make the dull parts of Rivals really fun. It was the absolute perfect racing game for a group of friends on Skype, Teamspeak, Xbox Live, or PSN because while the physics were obviously out of this world, it was a game that was built specifically so you and your bros could ram each other in Supercars and blow shit up.

Yes, you could play Rivals offline. I don’t know why anybody would want to; it was the equivalent of playing Call of Duty with bots. The crazy cinematic moments that happened in Need for Speed Rivals were just that much more fun when real people were involved. Police chases lasted for minutes and relied on actual strategy rather than abusing basic AI tactics. Races always came down to the final corner without cheap rubber banding. Listening to pre-pubescent children scream in agony as their Mustang flew off the road from a well-timed shunt was much more hilarious than taking out yet another soulless AI driver.

Need for Speed™ Rivals_20140607145453

But Rivals still had it’s flaws. Limited customization and a relatively boring map made it really hard to spend an obsessive length of time with the game; it was impossible to become attached to your car as there wasn’t a whole lot you could do to it to make it yours, and the map itself was a modern-day McDonalds play place – two laps and you’ve memorized the whole thing. The game couldn’t go the distance even though it was an insane amount of fun.

And that’s what Need for Speed Underground 3 is looking to rectify. The rumors paint a picture of a game very similar to Rivals and Most Wanted 2012, but with more customization, a better atmosphere, and even more seamless online integration. If the tradeoff is the game requiring an active internet connection at all times, I’ll take it.

Just gotta pray the servers aren’t down for weeks at a time.

Now’s your chance to try R3E for Free! – ADAC GT Masters 2014 Demo Released

Those who wonder why we speak so highly of R3E now have a chance to find out for themselves – the promotional site for the 2014 ADAC GT Masters R3E Expansion has a free demo you can download. Featuring the BMW Z4 and Audi R8, the demo allows you to try either a test day or a full race weekend on either Hockenheim or Sachsenring.

The demo can be found here:

R3EThis demo is extremely important, as an overwhelming amount of racing sim enthusiasts opt out of even experimenting with R3E in the first place due to the game’s intrusive pricing model. R3E’s base game is free, but the rest of the content needs to be bought in packs, and the cost of acquiring all that the game has to offer begins to skyrocket quickly if one doesn’t take advantage of sales and promo offers. This odd way of “choosing your own experience”, one that we highly dislike and was unsuccessful when implemented into MX vs. ATV Alive, also segregates the online community as very few players have the content needed to race in populated lobbies.

As few have played it and even fewer have documented their time with it, claims of R3E being simcade have picked up steam and are regurgitated as fact, despite the game being probably the best all-around racing sim available.

And you now have a chance to try it. For free.

RRRE 2015-05-10 20-36-17-79

RRRE 2015-05-10 20-41-28-72

RRRE 2015-05-10 20-44-12-30

DiRT Rally ProCam Mod for Hillclimb Update Released

The default dashboard view for all three hillclimb cars in the brand new Hillclimb Update for DiRT Rally are beyond horrible.

I fixed that. I’d love to do a ProCam update for all the cars if there’s enough of a demand, maybe Codemasters will take notice at some point and it’ll be baked into the vanilla game. This isn’t an ISI sim, downloading mods is annoying.

FOV is set to 65 instead of 55 for an increased sense of speed, and it basically gives you a triple screen viewpoint, condensed into a single monitor, where only the top of the dash is visible. Tried to keep things uniform throughout the three cars, with the exact same percent of your screen obstructed by the car’s dash and hood.


drt 2015-05-26 16-53-08-19 drt 2015-05-26 16-56-59-55 drt 2015-05-26 16-57-46-50