Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Driver Parallel Lines, I'm finally not impressed!

I've written a few articles already about Driver Parallel Lines and how it's my favorite Driver thus far. I also believe that it is possibly the most competent GTA clone, as well as an all-round under appreciated game. Well, at least those are my feelings for the Xbox (and possibly the PS2 version) version, but I can't say as much for the Wii port.

Driver Parallel Lines was released in 2006, just as the sixth generation of consoles were almost gasping their last bit of breath. Yet, for some reason Parallel Lines wasn't released for the fresh faced seventh generation, like a handful of other titles were. That all changed in 2007 when Driver Parallel Lines saw itself ported to Windows and the Nintendo Wii, you know... the most deserving of consoles to port a GTA clone.

Again, I love this game! I can not state it enough, I simply love this game and the way it made me feel when I was playing through the story missions, as well as the countless hours I spent free roaming through their rendition of New York City. However, I feel this is due in large to the fact that the Xbox controller fit into my hands quite comfortably and all my controller choices were made with minimal human consciousness, it became almost intuitive.

So this past weekend Gamestop was having a buy two get one free sale, to which I decided I would take a chance and flesh out my Wii collection a bit further and buy some cheap games and get one for free; why not? Once inside the store the plan had changed, as my euphoria of being around so many games had dulled my memory of what exactly I came to buy in the first place. I forgot exactly what I had come in to purchase, as well as I had forgotten the huge list of games I wanted to even check to see if they had, but the very first game I did pick up was Driver Parallel Lines on the Wii for a measly $2.

My glorious collection.

After getting home with my haul I cleaned up the extremely greasy and finger print laden Driver disc and popped it into my Wii. After watching the intro cut scenes I was already less than impressed. The graphics seem to be sharper, with a new, slightly iridescent, sheen about them, but the textures are still the same, making the game look worse in the overall scheme of things. I also noticed that the game seems to try it's best to run at 60 frames per second, which I can easily notice from time to time. Sadly the only reason I notice this is because it comes through in bursts, making me all too aware that the game can't sustain a steady frame rate.

But here is where the game has almost entirely lost me; the controls are absolutely shit. Needless to say, I've owned a Wii for a while, and I had encounters with them well before I owned my own, so I'm well aware that the Wii controller and nunchuck are not going to feel the same as an Xbox or PS2 style controller, but there are plenty of games for the Wii that do allow for the player to use the Gamecube controller, which would have been this game's holy savior!

 At first I couldn't get the car to go, and it took me a while to figure out that I needed to be holding the nunchuck up perfectly straight, or else I would in fact be engaging the handbrake, rendering the car impossible to drive. Again, I will say that I am familiar with the stupid, and dare I say down right shitty, controls games have in them to try and encompass the Wii control scheme. While I am familiar with them, that doesn't mean I like them, and not all games have them, so why did Ubisoft try so hard to fuck this game up!?

It would have been easy; it should have been easy. Many Wii racing games allowed for the Gamecube controller, and Parallel Lines should have as well! I even tested it, the game won't acknowledge any Gamecube controller inputs at all. The way it is, using Wii controls, the game isn't very playable compared to the originals. All it would have taken was for Ubisoft to pull their heads out of their asses and make this GC controller compatible and this would have been the best version of Driver Parallel Lines.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Memory card Archeology

If there's one thing that I've both loved and hated about video game consoles in the past 20 years, it's the invention of the memory card. Before disc based consoles came around it was handy to write down a password or use a battery backup to save your progress. When discs started taking over the only logical concept was to use a memory card.

Although memory cards weren't always perfect, often times third party memory cards would fail and erase your progress, I eventually came to have a love hate relationship with them. As the years went by memory cards have fallen out of favor, as now hard drives are much easier to incorporate into a console and allows the user to just save and go on without the hassle of finding the right memory card, etc. At this point my love for memory cards has started to grow, now that they've fallen out of favor, as now I find them to be almost forgotten relics of a bygone video game era.

Not only are memory cards relics from the standpoint of technology, but they're relics in the sense that you can go hunting within them, much like the catacombs or Egyptian tombs. You see, I've acquired quite a few memory cards from many different thrift stores, etc. and within most of them are hidden and forgotten data, data that tells a story.

While many people would most likely look at a memory card and clear it for their own usage, I tend to have a weird, deeper feeling toward the data stored on memory cards I've found. Just like myself, these game saves aren't just overnight accomplishments. Most of them, I'm sure, have taken weeks, months or even years of work and dedication to achieve.

Playstation, N64, Dreamcast, PS2, Gamecube and even memory cards for the original Xbox have fallen into my lap throughout my many treks to thrift stores. Almost all of them have sacred, forgotten data stored upon them. Sure, if I own the game I'll go through and see what the progress is and if it's better than mine, perhaps I'll keep it. Sometimes I do delete the saves and make room for my own data, but I almost always check the game progress on that save, and I usually feel a bit uneasy as if it was someone erasing my own data before my very eyes.