Weekend Whammy

Weekend Whammy: Is Crash Team Racing The Game Of The Year?

Y’know, I’m going to have to start calling these Whenever Whammys considering how often I aim for the weekend, sail right past it and wind up trying to figure out what day it is again. But on with the show, loyal minions! I mean readers!

The first of two reviews this week was for F1 2019, which as you might have guessed is the newest game in long-running racing series from the folks over at Codemasters. Like any yearly franchise based on a real-life sport the F1 games have struggled to keep things interesting, but they did a good job this year by including the Formula 2 series and official online league support.

The real-world Formula 1 is due to get some fairly big rule shifts in the next few years, with the aim being to combat the lack of overtaking the sport has been suffering. These changes might just prove to be a nice kick in the pants for the video games. It might even be enough to entice players who haven’t picked up an F1 game in a few years to catch up and feel the new rules in action for themselves.

But the one thing they need to bring to the table is proper VR support. I’m so, so hyped for VR support to come to DiRT 2.0 later this year, but overall Codemaster’s unwillingness to add VR to their games has been frustrating. Since I tried racing in VR I find it hard to go back to a regular screen. VR and racing games are like the perfect match, and a Formula 1 game in VR could potentially blow my tiny little mind. But maybe I’m just ignorant of the financial and developmental realities of implementing VR versus the presumably quite small potential returns.

On the topic of VR, though, I may have sold a few vital bodily organs and my grandmother to upgrade my Oculus Rift to the new Oculus Rift S. I was tempted to go all-out and buy the Valve Index, which is a beast, but the price is just too much for now. Anyway, I’ve not had a chance to get the new headset all set up, but once I do I plan on putting up a review comparing it to the original Rift.

And speaking of racing, I’ve been offered review code for the new FIA European Truck Racing Championship game and I have to say I’m quite excited. Truck racing isn’t something I’ve watched much of before or played, so it’s going to be cool to see how they handle. Things like dynamic weather and water cooling management are being promised, but mostly I’m just interested to see how the metal behemoths get around corners. Check out the trailer below.

Sticking to the topic of racing I’ve been playing the absolute crap out of CTR: Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled and holy shit where has this game been for my adult life! I played it waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back when I was but a wee nipper who barely knew how to talk to other people ( I still don’t, to be fair) and haven’t touched it since. Nitro-Fueled is the remake/remaster and it is simply superb kart-racing action. I’m struggling to find genuine faults with it, and currently it might just be my favorite game of 2019 so far. It rewards skills, looks amazing, plays great, has loads of content and features Grand Prix events to keep me hooked! Review coming soon.

Right, back to reviews. I put out a review of My Friend Pedro, which involves a talking banana and a lot of slow-motion violence. It also involves skateboards, leaping through glass windows and using pans to bounce bullets into skulls. It was a fun little indie game worth checking out if you want something to kill a few hours.

It did get me thinking back to my first experience with slow-motion in a game, though. It came in the form of Max Payne back in 2001, the old third-person noir shooter from that was made by Remedy. I’ve got a lot of good memories from Max Payne. But it was the slow-motion diving that I remember the most, the way it made you feel like a total badass action hero. Mind you, the heroic illusion was a bit tarnished by the fact that Max himself frequently looked like he had horrendous constipation.

None-Gaming Stuff

So, I went in to see Spider-Man: Far From Home, the sequel to Homecoming. Maybe the next one will be Spider-Man: Home Alone? Spider-Man: Can’t Go Home? Spider-Man: No Place Like Home? Home is Where You Hang Your Mask? Anyway, I think I’m going to do a full-blown spoiler review for it, so in the mean time here’s some non-spoilery thoughts: it’s pretty bloody good! It captured one of the central Spider-Man concepts brilliantly in that Peter Parker always walks the line of wanting to be Spider-Man and help others, and just wanting to be a normal person. His chosen life puts friends in danger and so he always feels like he has to choose between love and friends, or being the hero.

Let’s be honest, this should never have worked on screen.

Also, I have to commend Jake Gyllenhaal and the writers for doing Mysterio justice. As Spidey characters go I never thought I’d see Mysterio in a film. Sure, his background in special effects makes for some great visual potential, but he’s also just a guy wearing a fishbowl. It works in the comics, but was always going to be tricky to pull off on-screen. Somehow though, they did make it work, fishbowl and all.

Oh, and there’s a Mysterio sequence in the film that just made me grin like a complete lunatic!

I’ve also been catching up on season 3 of Stranger Things. I’m on episode 6 at the moment, and really enjoying it. The obvious bump in budget was immediately apparent, too. Man, this season looks great. The beautiful colors, the lavish sets. Ooooooooh, it sends tingles down the spine!

Anyway, while I would say they’re already struggling to stretch the initial Stranger Things premise out (and I’m not sure if it can hold up for another season) they managed to make it work for this season. There’s more comedy than I was expecting but it’s nicely balanced with the darker moments, and some of the character interactions have been nothing short of superb.

My big complaints are about a few of the characters. Billy still feels like he was never properly explored, while Hopper is kind of…er, dumb? I loved his character in season one, the way he felt like a sort of small town John McClane figure. That mostly carried through season two, but in season 3 he seems to be a manic nutcase and a bit of an idiot. Maybe I’m imagining things. His scene with Alexei, though, involving the car was hilarious and did redeem Hop a little.

Also, the dynamic between Steve and Robin is great! They’ve got rock-solid on-screen chemistry.

And that’s all she wrote! I’ve been slacking on writing up Patch Notes so I’ll try to get one out this week.

I’d love if you drop a comment below and let me know what you’ve been playing, watching or reading this week! It might sound a tad sad but comments and the like are a major confidence boost because it makes it feel like people are genuinely reading all my ramblings rather than it just being a bunch of traffic stats.

Catch you all later.

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