Two Player Replays

The videogames industry, particularly the racing game genre has a very serious flaw. It’s something that almost always rears its ugly snout and destroys the enjoyment and motivation to play many modern racing games. It’s a little feature which for some unknown reason has been omitted by almost all of the latest car modifying or racing games of recent times.

As you know a race involves more than one vehicle. Unless it’s against a ghost or clock the race to the finish line can become quite a fray. When playing a two player game with your friend present it helps to re-live the best of the racing moments you both just had and examine closely your respective performances so you can settle any arguments relating to dirty tricks.

Almost all racing games these days have the ability to pitch two players against each other on a single screen. Almost all racing games have a replay feature for the single player element. But tragically this replay feature is almost always forgotten when it comes to a two player race where ironically the feature is at its most useful.

I find this absolutely unforgivable and I am yet to retain a racing game that includes two player replays. Typically I buy racing games to play against my friends because I’m not really interested in playing against strangers over the internet. Racing a mate is much more rewarding and helps to sort out differences or settle bets on performance.

The last game to my knowledge to include two player replays was Gran Turismo 2 on the PS2. This is a last generation game and one would assume that after 9 years and with extra money, processing power and interest that the developers of modern racing games would include such a feature. Alas this is not the case and I remain frustrated at the industries inability to realise that this feature is desired more so than the replay feature found in the single player mode.

I remain hopeful that one day there may be a decent next generation racing game that caters for multiplayer races as I’m sure you’ll agree, these races are some of the fiercest and most competitive events a player can enjoy in a modern videogame.

Racing Games With Multiplayer Replays
Gran Turismo
Gran Turismo 2
Project Gotham Racing

Racing Games Without Multiplayer Replays
Every Other Racing Game Out At The Moment

Goldeneye (N64)

When the N64 was released in 1996, Sonys’ incredible debut console, the Playstation had already been out over a year dominating the market. Nintendos’ fledgling console was not expected to do well against the mighty Playstation as Sony had many exclusive titles ported directly from the arcades; games such as Tekken and Ridge Racer went a long way to ensuring Sonys’ grasp on the market.

Rare, a talented UK developer had for years produced high quality games for Nintendo. Games such as Conkers Bad Fur Day and Banjo Kazooie are of note, but these games had a very young feel and mainly appealed to younger markets. In 1997 they surprised the industry by producing a game for the N64 which, despite being a movie-tie-in game, became one of the most popular games of the 1990’s. When it was released it caused such a massive surge in N64 sales that the console was surely saved from an early retirement. Goldeneye was a First-Person-Shooter using Ian Flemmings’ James Bond as inspiration to create one of the most surprisingly accomplished games ever seen. The game featured all the characters from the film, levels designed and inspired from the movie, gadgets, timed missions, intelligent enemies, tonnes of un-lockable extras and game-play that was incredibly fluid yet challenging.

Graphically it was solid, the animation was top-rate and the game had an amazing multiplayer suite including death-match for up to four players on one console. It really set the bar for all other FPS games to follow and was one of the top selling games of the decade, helping Nintendo maintain a strong foothold on the market. The game was so addictive I can remember playing this game for such long periods that upon unplugging, I could still see the gun sight hovering in front of my eyes!

Rare went on to produce the equally excellent Perfect Dark for the N64 which was also an FPS, more of the same but more refined, and have since been bought by Microsoft. They continued to produce high quality games for the X-Box, games of note are the excellent Grabbed by the Ghoulies and the re-released Conkers Bad Fur Day Reloaded, but they have failed to match the success they had with Goldeneye on the N64.

Goldeneye truly is an iconic game and one which is firmly placed in my mind as one of the finest games ever made, no great games collection is complete without it.

Related Links
Buy Goldeneye

Gran Turismo (Playstation)

Gran Turismo is the finest racing game of all time. Gran Turismo was commissioned by Sony and developed by Polyphony Digital as a response to a lack of appealing racing games for car enthusiasts. Its release in 1997 made a massive impact on the racing genre and spawned a thousand imitations since. Currently in its 5th generation Gran Turismo continues to dominate the racing genre.

The mixture of real world physics, the ability to upgrade your car, excellent tracks and TV style replays sets Gran Turismo apart from the crowd. As the game was quite serious and the handling based on the performance of the actual cars you weren’t allowed to simply jump into a car without first passing a few tests. These acted as a right of passage to the more serious side of Gran Turismo where you could race to earn cash to upgrade your car to win more races.

Gran Turismo has been accused of being a car collection simulation and it is true that there are hundreds of cars and different versions of cars to find but this adds to the game as a true hardcore driver’s game rather than detract from the fact. Gran Turismo is also one of the few games which consistently delivers an array of replay options for both the single player and multiplayer modes, something which is severely overlooked in other racing games.

Damage has not yet been seen in any Gran Turismo game which is a shame, but I expect that the licences required for each manufacturer have clauses which prevent such deformation of their creations. This does impact on the feel of realism within the game but at heart, Gran Turismo is not a stock racing game and should be played with precision, preferably with the appropriate steering and pedals peripherals.

Gran Turismo 5 is due out soon and will, for the first time boast online play which should help expand the player base and allow Gran Turismo to become the definitive hardcore racing game for the masses.

Steel Battalion (X-Box)

Steel Battalion is the most atmospheric game ever produced. The game cannot be played with a standard joy-pad but requires a bespoke controller and pedals consisting of two joysticks, more than 40 buttons and a communications dial. Getting to grips with this controller can be quite daunting at first but perseverance breeds rewards.

At around £130, Steel Battalion was the most expensive game on the market when it was released in 2002 and therefore appealed only to the more hardcore players. The game involves piloting a VT(Vertical Tank) and you are tasked with hunting and destroying hostile enemy forces consisting of similar vehicles, tanks, warships and helicopters. Once in the game the levels of concentration required to successfully drive a VT are high but with that comes an incredible sense of immersion. When the destruction begins it feels very real and empowers the player with a sense of invincibility as your VT commands the battlefield.

There were two games released for the controller, the second being Steel Battalion; Line of Contact which was an online only version of the first game. Graphically this second game is superior as many complained of the relatively short draw distance in the first game and the inability to play ones own music during the game. Unfortunately due to lag many in the west could only enjoy 3vs3 matches where-as the Japanese were enjoying full games of 5vs5. Games consisted of capture the flag or battle royale, and battles won or lost contributed to a larger campaign for control of territory, dependant on the side you chose when creating your pilot.

The campaign mode server has since been closed on 30th September 2005 but there is still a strong community of players keeping the game alive. It really is a crime that the game was not given more support by Capcom but the online community still play regularly and there is talk of an unofficial server being commissioned to bring back the campaign mode but this is yet to be confirmed.

I still play this game at least once a month and enjoy some of the most immersive and incredible gaming experiences money can buy. A good copy with the controller can be snapped up on E-Bay for as little £115.

Related Links
Buy Steel Battalion
Buy Steel Battalion; Line of Contact