Tuesday, May 31, 2016

COP The Recruit: The GTA the Nintendo DS Needed.

Since I received my 2DS for Christmas I have been on an absolute frenzy to find games for both the DS and 3DS side of the hardware, so I can take full advantage of the system. Besides filling the many empty DS cases I've picked up from the outlet store, one of my immediate searches was for a GTA game on the DS, or at least a decent clone. The clear answer was GTA: Chinatown Wars, which harkens back to the old top down, Playstation style of gameplay, rather than the new 3D style.

Unsatisfied with both the current price of GTA Chinatown Wars and the fact that it was top down, I kept looking. Unsurprisingly the DS didn't get very many GTA clones, although the 3DS did get a handful including Driver: Renegade, which I do plan to get sometime in the future. As for the DS side of things the only thing I found that could remotely fill the GTA need was COP: The Recruit, an Ubisoft game that essentially took Driver: Parallel Lines and crammed it into a DS sized adventure. But how does it stack up to one of my most beloved console games ever?

I've made it abundantly clear that I am a rabid fan of the Xbox version of Driver: Parallel Lines. The Wii version looks slightly better, but falls on it's face with the forced injection of the stupid Wii waggle remote gimmick. So how does COP: The Recruit feel? Well it feels like a truncated version of Parallel Lines. The map has most of the same landmarks, feel and look, but many things are adjusted or just plain not there.

COP: The Recruit feels thrown together with dialog seemingly being written by a twelve year old trying to write a police drama, or a fifty year old trying to write a hip police drama, either way is accurate. Not that I fully understand the story, the dialog scrolls fairly smoothly into the box, but doesn't always stay long enough for me to fully digest what has been said. The dialog just flows, regardless of me pressing a button or not. This doesn't affect missions as they are kept within a log on your police issue handheld device.

What would a driving based video game be without vehicles? Well, COP: The Recruit offers a few different vehicles, most of them sharing the same slippy and sliding controls, with only a few being of any real interest. As an officer of the law you'll find it odd how this game forces you to hijack vehicles, as you'll never be given one after loading up your save. Which isn't that big of an issue really as you can just mash the run button and run almost as fast as vehicles in the game. Yes, you read that correctly, you can run almost as fast as vehicles in the game.

This game also falls a bit into the Nintendo gimmick of using the touchscreen for something that it simply shouldn't; the shooting mechanics. Firstly, using the stylus to aim precisely is an exercise in futility, and even once you're aiming at the perpetrator you still need to unload a full clip or two to get them to go down. While the amount of bullets is Ubisoft's problem, the gimmick of using the touch screen for gun battles is, I'm guessing, Nintendo's fault. It gets the job done, but I'm just not a big fan.

To be fair COP: The Recruit only has a few flaws, and it does fill a gap in the market and really shows what could have been an amazing game, given a few more months of polish. I'm not sure if it's just my copy of the game or not, but the screen does jump around a bit at times, but it's nothing game breaking. The game does offer a handful of things to collect, such as taking photographs of famous landmarks around New York City, and breaking down green flashing barricades hidden throughout alleys in the city.

My only real dislike for this game is that it feels like it wasn't polished, even though it reportedly won "multiple awards at E3". The game had so much promise that it even fell into the evil clutches of offering pre-order exclusive missions from Gamestop, the code for which hasn't surfaced online for some odd reason. COP: The Recruit shows us what the DS could handle and perhaps what GTA Chinatown Wars should have been. Regardless it's a fun little portable version, albeit chopped up, of the Driver game that I adore, and I'm glad that I could have some facsimile on the DS to play with.

A Key to a City

With my Xbox 360 being an extreme problem I wasn't sure when exactly I wanted to spend the money on GTA 5. I knew I was going to purchase it, I just wasn't sure when my Xbox 360 would be usable again, or if perhaps a PS3 would fall into my lap. As the middle of 2015 was snaking it's way to year's end I started watching the massive fluctuations in ShameStop's price of used GTA 5 copies, which was enough to keep me away from wanting to buy the game at all for a few more months.

As things settled into November I decided to keep an eye open for the Black Friday sales and see if I could pick up a brand new copy for cheaper than a used copy, which is exactly what ended up happening. Again, my Xbox 360 is a holy terror, it doesn't know when it wants to work and when it doesn't want to work. I've tried the towel wrap to success, while other times it won't work at all. I mean sometimes the towel wrap works, then it won't, then it works again, making completely no sense.

For six months a brand new, box fresh, still wrapped in plastic copy of GTA 5 for the Xbox 360 sat on my shelf among it's Xbox 360 brothers and sisters. In the back of my mind I debated finding a new 360, but knowing Microsoft it would be just as shit as the two (both broken down) I've already got. So far the Xbox One seems to be holding up well, but I'm not sure I want one of those either, simply because the ONLY game I have seen come out that I want to play on Xbox One is GTA 5.

Excited to play GTA 5 I decided it was time to fiddle with my Xbox 360 one more time and see if it would come to life just long enough to give me a taste of what I had been watching on youtube for nearly three years now. With a string of failures under my belt I gave it one last attempt; the outcome was success... for a mere five hours. Whether or not my Xbox 360 will ever live again is beyond my concern at this point, as I feel the piece of shit should spontaneously combust and disappear entirely. What those five ours did give me, however, was finally a look into the world of GTA 5.

I can honestly say that I played through a good deal of the missions, I customized a car and saved it in Michael's garage. I learned you can no longer safely abandon cars you've spent hard earned money customizing and expect it to show back up in your garage, although the cars that are default for each player will do that without problem.

The feeling of being in Los Santos, the beauty of it all, even on the 360 version, and the sheer space of it all made me feel as if I was playing GTA San Andreas. The vehicles felt amazing to drive, the hustle and bustle of the city, the relaxing coastal waters and various desert towns, it was all there to greet me and draw me in.

I wish my Xbox 360, and the Xbox 360 console in general, wasn't such a piece of shit. Even though I opened my copy for 360, if I found myself faced with a working PS3 that was reliable I would do my best to track down a copy for it too. Even though I prefer to be a step behind in the video game market, because it's cheaper, I still think I waited too longer to find myself lost in Los Santos.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Nascar Racing PC Games

When I was a kid I had a fleeting interest in Nascar, which I eventually grew out of entirely. What I didn't grow out of entirely were the Nascar video games that adorned my adolescents like posters on my bedroom wall. Starting with Papyrus's Nascar Racing I felt as if I were truly a part of a travelling circus of raw American horsepower racing around in a circle at high speeds. This gave way to the followup Nascar Racing 2, which I played for far more years than perhaps I should have.

Nascar Racing 2 was really the PC Nascar game that started it all for me. The sheer number of mods, car skins and so many other options that Papyrus had thrown in kept the game fresh and alive for quite some time. When Nascar Racing 1999 Edition came out I had to download the demo and see if it was worth hanging up my illustrious Nascar Racing 2 career to switch over to. The answer was no.

Nascar Racing 2 was the reason why I started making websites. I just remember a large number of websites that were offering car skins and mods, and I wanted to be a part of that, so I started building my own websites and putting my crappily made skins up for download.

As years came and went my interest in Nascar Racing 2 faded, as did Papyrus's license to make Nascar games. Soon EA took control and was pumping out the Madden of Nascar games; just the same old shit year after year with little to nothing added and even less fun than it had ever been. I own quite a few Nascar games on the Playstation and even one for the Xbox, but reality set it and I realized that one was all I needed. It wasn't until a few weeks ago that I realized just how true that statement was.

One was all that I needed and that one was Nascar Racing 2003 Season. Papyrus had outdone themselves with this one, as well as the massive modding community that still stands behind it thirteen years later! At first I didn't expect much, but NR2003 really took control and forced me to dig in deeper, much the same way Nascar Racing 2 did.

At first I was simply some unknown racer doing what I always do; pushing my favorite driver (Terry Labonte) around the track so that we're the only two cars on the lead lap. Before I knew it I was downloading mods, installing car packs and custom car skins. NR2003 is amazing, and it surprised even me. I knew the game was hard to find, I knew the game was expensive to buy, but I truly never expected to have this much fun.

NR2003 takes me back to 1999, sitting at my Mom's computer for hours on end, downloading mods that ranged from open wheel, Australian V8s and even just a bunch of Mini Coopers. If nothing else NR2003 has caused a massive wave of nostalgia to crash over me, even though it wasn't the game those memories were started with, it still stirs deep. NR2003 has an amazingly deep selection of mods that change the game play to nearly anything you could ever want. This is one of those rare cases where the game may never truly die, NR2003 may live on forever through the endless love and dedication from it's fans.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Blowout sale

This weekend was the infamous Goodwill 50% off sale, and at the outlet stores it's called the Blowout Sale, which is really just twenty cents off per pound. Today wasn't exactly a nerds dream come true, but I did happen to find some really good stuff. But for everything I bought I paid less than three dollars total, so I can't complain.

Starting from the top left and working my way chaotically downward, I got: a Commodore C8 calculator, a Mr. Potato Head Darth Vader helmet, N64 box (empty), Nascar Racing 2003 Season, Gameboy shaped cellphone cover, a Corvette Micro Machine(s), Blaster Master for the PS1, Marvel Superhero Squad for the Wii, a rigid shell case for my 2DS, a set of game dice, a case for Battle Arena Toshindin (the game was there, Not for Resale AND was shattered...) and Nintendo Game and Watch Octopus.

Yep, all that stuff cost me less than three dollars at a cost of seventy nine cents per pound. Things didn't go as smoothly as I'd hoped, but it was the blowout sale, so it's to be expected. I'm looking forward to spending time with the cool stuff I bought as well as the next trip to the outlet store.