Ever dreamed of becoming a FireFighter, sliding down a pole, holding tight onto a massive squirting hose or blasting through traffic under the flood of blue lights? Well now is your chance. UIG Entertainment have today announced that their latest Simulator, FireFighters – The Simulation is available on Xbox One.
From small fires to CBRN defence ops, the professional fire brigade offers a wide range of operations. Track down and analyse dangerous goods, secure dangerous goods transportation and contain escaping liquids. Use the robot to salvage contaminated objects, and save lives! Be prepared for everything, because fire knows no mercy!
I’ve played racing games for as long as I’ve had a suitable platform to play them on. From Out Run to Gran Turismo, Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge to TOCA, they’ve all held a fascination and dragged out my desire to win at all costs. To call Kunos Simulazioni’s Assetto Corsa a racer is a little inaccurate. To compare it to the adrenaline rush of other racers is a touch unfair, but really, in all honesty, there’s nothing else that I can compare it to.
The first thing you should notice about Assetto Corsa is that it looks stunning. The colours are bright and vibrant and the cars themselves all have that showroom spit and polish that you come to expect from racers of today. This isn’t to say that they can’t get down and dirty on the track though and they do, but I’ll move on from this as I’ve a few issues with the damage dished out to the cars.
After a short intro, you’re presented with a simple-looking menu with three raceday options, Special Events, Career and the mysterious Drive option. In truth, its not so mysterious. This is simply the quickplay option that contains a shortcut to the main types of play modes available in the Special Events section. I’m going to put this right out there from the start, this is a simulation. If you have a full wheel and pedal setup, use it. You’ll get a much more positive and rewarding experience.
OK, so, this is a full on simulation. Let’s get that right out there. The game is not a racer in the traditional sense that Forza or the F1 franchise is. There are so many settings that you can tweak when you’ve picked a car and a track and the usual track temperature, weather, ride height, tyres, tyre pressures, fuel load and a multitude of other settings. It’s a little bit daunting at first, but if you’re patient then you can find the exact setup that will suit your driving style.
Onto the racing then. Assetto Corsa has a huge list of available cars. Mercedes, BMW, Abarth, Audi, Ferrari to name but a few, you can find a full list of available cars, here, although some of the vehicles on release are download only and some were not available, even in the store. There are also a large number of tracks, from racer mainstays like Silverstone, Nordschleife, Brands Hatch and Spa, to lesser used tracks like Black Cat County. More info on the tracks can be found here.
Jump into the game and the first thing that hits you is the detail of the car. They’re beautiful to behold. The tracks are also detailed to the max. The one thing that bothers me about the environment was the lack of rain in the weather options. On a track like Silverstone, its very rare that you’ll get a full race weekend without a few showers at least. Getting to grips with your vehicle is the hardest thing about the game. This in itself is one of the most disappointing aspects of the title. I know it’s a simulation, and believe me, I have to keep telling myself that as I play it, but there are aspects to Assetto Corsa that simply don’t make any sense to me.
Touch the grass at high speed and you’re very likely to slide into the gravel. Kiss one of the sausage kerbs and you can kiss goodbye to a tyre. Touch one of the AI during a race and they’re likely to be fairly unaffected, you on the other hand may find yourself spinning into the barriers. Its all just a bit unforgiving, even if it is glorious to behold. The in-race camera is also a little on the drifty side in third-person view. The racing side of Assetto Corsa feels like it’s been tacked on to what is an astonishingly technical simulation. This is a massive shame.
As a simulator, the game is fantastic. You want to get involved in the bumper to bumper action on the track though, and this is where the game is let down. The AI settings can be dropped a couple of notches but even on the easiest of these settings the computer racers are bullies. They also appear to have the ability to simply power away from your seemingly bogged down charger. You’ll need a lot of practice to get used to the way each car handles and the way the cars chop and change from event to event do not help this. The various Event modes do mix the fun up a little, although trying to get a ton of BMWs to drift round a short drift track is pretty frustrating. Something else that you might find yourself tearing your hair out at, is the Hot Lap mode.
This mode, while fun, is massively unforgiving when it comes to the track limits. Basically, in this mode, if its tarmac, you should be OK. Have a mm of rubber on the grass or heaven forbid, flick a single gravel stone and it invalidates the lap time. Slip one corner, no matter where on the lap, and all of your hard work is scrubbed. People will say that this is true to real life, but if you think about it, it really isn’t. The frustration factor gets higher in a Race. Touch an opponent and you’ll spin with absolutely no chance of catching the pack. Mis-time your braking zone and you’ll be left eating dust. It simply doesn’t feel like a level playing field.
The car on track also doesn’t feel connected to the tarmac. The way the vehicle travels across the tarmac, to me, felt like it was floating slightly above it. As the tracks pitch and yaw the car around, while in chase camera view, it also seemed as if the car was pinned in a particular axis through the centre of the graphic. The end result makes it feel like you’re spinning something attached to a pole.
That being said, the sound that the cars make as you over-rev and slide round track corners is impressive. Each vehicle has a life-accurate engine roar and even tyre rumble and wind rush has been thought of. The in-game menu music is not too intrusive either. All-in-all not an unpleasant experience. The cars are pretty responsive to your frantic stick-twitching too. The issues I have with Assetto Corsa could be far outweighed by the sheer technical detail that Kunos have packed into the game. Sadly, for most gamers, the racing experience of games like Project CARS and Forza will have spoiled the type of racing that Assetto Corsa can currently offer.
All in all, Assetto Corsa is a spectacular, if flawed racing simulator. The visuals and audio are both ultra-accurate. The many tracks that are available are all laser scanned for pinpoint accuracy and you have a massive array of technical settings to play around with if you so desire, to get the most from your driving style, the conditions and the track itself. There are some flaws in this though. Not nearly as much detail has been poured into the wheel-to-wheel racing. What should be the meat and drink of the game is turned into a frustrating tag along at the back of the grid thanks to some poor AI difficulty ramps and some pretty unforgiving physics. The Hot Lap and Drift modes, while fun, also verge on the level of impossible thanks to over-zealous track limits and heavy car settings. If you love racing simulators, then by all means, purchase the game, but make sure, to get the maximum enjoyment from it, that you have a decent wheel and pedal setup otherwise it’s just a frustrating grind.
Thanks to Xbox and Kunos Simulazioni for supporting TiX
Elite: Dangerous is a truly massive open-world game full to the brim with possibilities. It’s a staggering achievement in design and function that’s transitioned from PC to console spectacularly well, with only the most minor compromises. However, with such broad scope comes a lack of direction and drive, requiring the player to set their own objectives and make their own fun.
Indeed Elite: Dangerous achieves the lofty goal of realising the space exploration freedom of previous Elite titles with precisely the kind of refinements and features we all expect from modern titles, and it’s a remarkable feat to behold. Given a measly sum of credits and a small jack-of-all-trades ship, the galaxy is your playground; ready for you to explore, trade in, fight in, and enjoy however you like.
Space stations allow you to buy goods which you can then trade elsewhere, playing the market and making significant credits from identifying where those goods are most needed. Or perhaps combat is more your thing and you’re tempted into serving a faction in the ongoing conflict between The Federation, The Empire and The Alliance. Or if the war doesn’t concern you, then perhaps mercenary work accepting contracts from space stations to hunt certain individuals is more your style. Or you could look at less legal enterprises, such as pirating or the trade of illegal goods. Then there’s exploration. 400 billion star systems have been generated for you to explore with wondrous sights and secrets, and data gained from visiting systems can be traded at space stations for credits. The choice is completely up to you and this ability to do whatever you want within this huge galaxy is a tremendously exciting prospect but also an overwhelming one, and unfortunately Elite doesn’t do the best job in preparing you.
A set of tutorials are on offer to teach you all the basics but these are largely concerned with showing you the controls. Once you dive in to the real game you’re completely left to your own devices. Elite doesn’t hold your hand, instead it’s more of a simulation, one that’s highly immersive but daunting all the same. This includes the controls and interacting with your ship. Whilst the controls are well mapped to the Xbox One pad, with sub-menus popping up on screen when certain button are held as well as instant actions tied to single presses of the same buttons, there’s a lot of them to master. It may sound and initially seem complicated, but it’s pleasantly immersive once you get the hang of it, this even extends to a button that allows you to look around the cockpit of your ship and access additional menus through the on-board interfaces. It all fits so nicely into the fiction and avoids throwing you into game menus, allowing you to truly feel like the pilot of a sophisticated spaceship.
But with the complexity of controls and options comes hesitation and indecision, and these can severely effect the fun you glean from the experience. Without your own plan for where to go, what to do and how to do it, it’s hard to find the drive to experiment with and explore what Elite can offer. Furthermore, not fully understanding the navigation interfaces and flow of combat can lead to perceived unfair deaths and confusion. This truly is a simulator; dog fighting is slow and tense, exploration is over vast distances and dangerous in its own right, with fuel limiting the distance you can jump with hyperspace, and supercruise within star systems taking considerable amounts of time to reach specific destinations.
It all comes with practise, however, and when it does all click into place for you it’s powerfully compelling. Engaging NPC and fellow player ships in combat zones is a visual spectacle of deadly lasers and explosions with the promise of considerable credits for the skilled or lucky pilots. Meanwhile, detecting a signal within a star system and investigating it can offer opportunities to pick up some valuable goods left behind from a battle, introduce you to trader vessels less concerned with precisely how your found the goods you’re selling, or even pirate parties expecting to ambush you and not expecting a tough fight.
It’s an MMO with a bias towards singleplayer experiences. You can play in an offline mode of NPCs if you like, or join the online mode full of both Xbox One and PC players, all flying around the galaxy chasing their own objectives, and this adds a terrific element of emergent storytelling and gameplay. Other players are unpredictable enough to make things interesting, whether that’s the foolish players looking to pick fights with NPC authorities, providing a beautiful laser show for you to watch or even get involved with, or interacting with you more directly, friendly or otherwise. Yet it’s big enough for you to never meet another person, either because you’ve travelled to a star system no else has ever been to, or because the vastness is so well realised all you see of other players are lights darting across space. It’s a rare MMO experience that can surround you with other players yet leave you feeling utterly alone.
Once you figure out what you want to do in the galaxy and start making credits, you’ll be on the look out for newer ships, weapons, engines, shields, power generator, etc. to buy, and these can be purchased from the larger space stations. This truly allows you to customise your experience and build the ship you need for the job you want to do. Large hauling vessels may lack speed and weapons but have huge cargo space for transporting more goods at a time. Meanwhile, swapping your cargo bay for a fuel scoop allows you to fuel up from suns rather than purchase fuel at station, making that an ideal upgrade for explorers or mercenaries that aren’t welcome at certain stations. New parts to your ships take up internal or external slots as well as add mass and power consumption that you need to manage, frequently offering you expensive upgrades or new ships that require you to get back out there and earn more credits.
Elite: Dangerous is a tremendously immersive space simulator that can eat hours of your time with it’s endless possibilities, awesome scope and beautiful visuals. It doesn’t have the warmest welcome for newcomers to the genre, and the fluidity of a mouse on PC makes for better combat that the Xbox One pad, but it’s still a remarkable game that plays splendidly on the Xbox One. There simply isn’t anything else out there like Elite right now, and with new features on the horizon and long support promised, there may be no end to the enjoyment it offers if you’re patient enough to explore this frontier.
Goat Simulator may only be a physic playground, but it’s not as aimless as it first seems. There are dozens of optional objectives to complete that run the gamut from running up the sides of buildings, to staying in the air for a certain amount of time. And as you go about completing them, exploring the two areas – Goatville and Goat City Bay – for opportunities to conquer the objectives and hunting that precious 1,000 Gamerscore, you’ll also discover secret areas, odd occurrences, millions of glitches and bugs, and plenty of referential humour, these will distract you, and before you know it hours will have passed, and you’ve experienced nothing but hilarious, tear inducing fun.
Indeed ‘playground’ is certainly the appropriate word for describing Goat Simulator. Each area is full of equipment, buildings, people, and vehicles to distract you and have fun with, whether that’s ramming and kicking people metres into the air for sport, trying to ride skateboards and bikes, or defying gravity by running up walls and sailing through the air. Add a few glitches to your activities and the fun multiplies, but there’s so much more than just a few glitches.
Water transubstantiates between liquid, solid and gas, resulting in peculiar physics as you frequently jump off the surface or trot unabated on the ocean floor. Meanwhile, you tongue can latch onto almost anything and stretch seemingly infinitely, and on occasion the rest of your head will follow suit. Furthermore, random glitches can occur, such as you embedding yourself in a structure. It’s fantastically absurd. Wonderfully, the developers, Coffee Stain Studios, won’t be fixing any of these bugs either, just the game breaking ones, instead they label them as features, and features they certainly are, ones that make an amusing title downright hilarious.
If you crave structure, however, Goat Simulator isn’t for you. The many objectives serve the greater goal of scoring points, and that’s it. Multipliers accumulate and increase your scoring if you destroy objects and perform pretty much any action during the generous multiplier windows, causing your score to skyrocket – much like your goat when the physics glitch out and gravity forgets what it’s supposed to do for a living. It’s very similar to playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater on endless mode; in fact some skating ramps and similar features are strewn across the map, along with skateboards you can hilariously ride. Additionally, everywhere you turn there’s something to do, somewhere to explore, or some joke to put a smile on your face, and you don’t need a skateboard to pull off some spectacular tricks, gain some speed, jump and press the flip button to back or forward flip, or press the ragdoll button and watch your body flop around the environment. There’s a wealth of delight to be found in the simplest actions thanks to the physics.
And that’s where Goat Simulator generates its fun: from the highly amusing, downright silly construction of the entire experience. It’s emergent gameplay at its purest, requiring you to make your own fun, and there’s an abundance of tools lying around waiting for you to interact with them that are brilliant at providing just that. Additionally, mutators can be unlocked and activated that modify your goat, such as a deadmau5 head that makes pedestrians dance at the press of a button, and plenty more for you to experiment with. However, you can burn out on the experience in longer play sessions. Go into Goat Simulator meaning to spend a couple of hours absorbing its stupidity and the fun can wear out, mean to go in for just a 10 minute mess about as dinner cooks, and expect a severely burnt meal as hours pass. Goat Simulator’s silliness is compelling when you’re aimlessly interacting with the world, but far less so when you’re more focused on achieving specific things. This can work against the list of objectives, especially so on the stiffer challenges.
The addition of four player local multiplayer easily alleviates any boredom, as bringing friends to the craziness enhances the fun tremendously. There are competitive challenges you can get involved with, such as races and score objectives, but the more structured setups feel incongruous to the rest of the experience and lacks the same fun. Creating your own challenges through emergent play, embracing the glitches and silliness, soon leads to ecstatic laughing.
Goat Simulator is purposely broken, the glitches are left in because they are funny to see and experience, because a physics playground where the physics are fluid and inconsistent introduces a compelling chaos that’s easy to enjoy. Four player is insane and brilliant. Blowing up gas tanks that propel you through the air, latching your tongue to pedestrians and dragging them up to a pentagram to be sacrificed, climbing up a crane and pushing an unsuspecting person off the top – whatever it is you end up doing in Goat Simulator, you’ll have a laugh and a lot of fun doing it. However, its lack of structure means your mileage with it depends on how you engage with its brand of humour and craziness.
Thanks to Coffee Stain Studios for supplying TiX with a download code
A real phenomenon, Farming Simulator surprised the world by becoming, with the 2013 version on PC, a world-wide best-seller. The farming simulation game from Giants Software is now getting ready to release for the first time on consoles in September, with an Xbox 360 version full of exclusive content! Continue reading Farming Simulator 2013 Announced For Xbox 360→