Gaming Costs

It’s been covered loads of times before, but releasing one car for Forza2 at the cost of 50 gamerpoints sounds expensive. Taking today’s Amazon prices that’s 43p for one car. If Sony applied that pricing model, and the rumours of 1000 cars in GT5 but only 300 included in first purchase are true, that’s an extra £300 to own the full game. Madness. Of course no one is forcing you to buy the content, and the likelihood is that you’ll buy only a few select cars, but the micro transaction gaming market is only heading in one direction and it’s not a cheap one.

Game Quickies

In no particular order…

  • Heavenly Sword demo was released today. It’s quite possibly the largest (almost a gig) shortest (lasts less than 10 minutes) demo I’ve played but afterwards I pre-ordered the game so I guess the demo worked for Sony. The graphics were stunning and this looks like something the 360 could struggle matching. Game on. I know there was some bad press about the gameplay being short (12 hours from memory) but I’d rather have a corking 12 hours than a spun out 30 hour game that I don’t complete.
  • Bomberman is superb on the 360 and well worth 800 points.
  • Played the Moto GP demo on the 360. What was once THE game on Xbox Live is now a shadow of it’s former self. Talk about milking an original format and regurgitating each year, this is little more than a bug fix from last years release.
  • GTA IV – only complete experience on the 360 according to Rockstar themselves. Made me grin thinking back to the exclusives that the PS2 had for so long. Not any more.
  • Had a large room on GRAW2 last night – blind siege with > 6 players is sooooo much more fun
  • Another firmware update on the PS3 – Sony are developing aggresively for the PS3 now and ar catching up fas on the 360. Music playback and X bar available in game for firmware v2.0?
  • Forza Leagues is going well and we have over 30 members with little or no advertising. Biggest issue has been lag within Forza. We struggle to get anyone to host a stable room with more that 6 players which is very limiting. It frustrates that the console model for online gaming is still mostly peer to peer which limits the amount of players you can realistically play with at any one time. I would quite gladly pay extra for server based gaming if it allowed 16, 24, 32 player gaming while limiting lag. I would love Sony to do more with server support in the hope it would encourage Microsoft to move in that direction as well.
  • Resident Evil 5 – another game that looks amazing!
  • The Metal gear Solid gameplay video was very impressive. Some nice touches, great humour and a graphics engine that looked up there with the best around. There was also a nice array of weapons. If Sony have lost exclusivity on this one they will be kicking themselves.

Forza Leagues

Over the last three weeks I’ve been beavering away on a new website which is finally ready to roll – For the last few years I’ve gamed with a great but dwindling bunch of guys known as The Lickers. We’ve ended up with a core group enjoying mostly racing and first person shooters but we have a problem – no site to run leagues and a habit of starting a league but never finishing it.

So myself and Cheesy (fellow Lick) decided to try and do something about it, hence Forza Leagues. The website allows us to easily run multiple leagues and seasons for Forza 2. It should make the admin part as easy as possible and give us some nice stats along the way. It also allows us to attract 360 users from other forums and websites to join our leagues or form their own using the software we’ve developed.

Now when I say we’ve developed the software it’s really all down to one guy – Graeme (he asked me not to link to his homepage). So it’s a big thank you for the coding you’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks. Everyone’s feedback so far has been really positive. I also need to thank Robert (Foe Real) who’s logo work in Forza is superb and can be seen above. Soon we’ll all be riding using his designs.

Longer term we hope to add more games, leagues, ladders and team tournaments but for the moment, to get us started, we’re focussing on Forza 2 only. We’re looking for clean racers to join up and take part. Don’t worry about fast times as there will be leagues to cater for all abilities. The important thing is that you race fairly and don’t abuse your fellow gamers. If that sounds like you and you enjoy Forza 2 then feel free to register with Forza Leagues and at least give it a go. Hope to see you there.


Shite. I missed posting on 07/07/07 which no doubt means I’m cursed for the rest of my life. Probably explains the sore head for most of today (sorry Shak) but at least we’ve had two dry days in a row AND at the weekend. I’m currently sitting in the back garden enjoying the lovely summers evening and surfing like a demon. Bliss. I know it’s too much to ask but more dry days please. Is anyone listening? Thought not.

One last comment – tennis was rather splendid over the weekend with an amazing men’s singles final today. Well done to Jamie Murray too – who’d have thought he’d be the first Murray to win a Wimbledon title.

Did I say that was the last comment? Forza 2 is an immense game. It’s not only racers that are getting their kicks as anyone into customising cars can use the auction house to sell their wares. So well done Robert (or Foe Real as he’s known to some) for selling his second design for 5 million credits. That’s just one car. I think he’s totalling around 9 million now which is over ten times the money I’ve earned from racing only. Swine.


This is possibly the last great Live game to be released for the original Xbox. Touted as a GT4 killer it plays a really good game yet is full of flaws…but for all that I can’t put it down and is one of the best console racing games online…ever.

First the usual stuff – graphics and sound are great. 30 frames per second though which has never bothered me but some folk find it unplayable. Surround sound is also well used. Considering the amount of options in the game the user interface and menu’s are very well constructed and more easily navigated than GT4 – they were awful.

The main selling point has been Forza’s online capabilities and your ability to tune your car like GT4 and also customise your car to make it look like whatever you want. Then you can sell your car to other users. These features alone are also being emphasized by the 360 developers – customise the software and machine to your hearts content and go to ‘The Marketplace’ to buy further skins, parts etc but that’s for another post.

Previous racers have always been marred by lag – thankfully Forza is excellent online. Fast lag free racing with up to 8 players. Toca 2 made similar claims but get close to anyone and the cars would judder making it difficult to play…not so with Forza. A massive amount of tracks are available and a huge amount of cars make for a game with a long shelf-life. Biggest choice is the parts you add to your car and then how you configure them. Everything from brake balance to anti-role bars, downforce to gear ratio’s can be tweaked. This means that everyone can be racing with the same car except set-up exactly for them and to suit the course. This kind of customisation is superb and brings a sense of ‘ownership’ to the cars. To add to that feeling you can ‘skin’ your car. Not just change the colour but add up to 100 layers onto each side of the car including top, front and rear. I find it to time consuming but others have created stunning cars already as seen below and at the Forza Player Customization Site.

While I’m loving the game and the aspects described above there are still some niggles which really should have been ironed out before launch. There are driving aids in the game which although I don’t use I can understand why people use them. However I would have liked to have locked a game room to using no aids at all. At the very least I would like to see who has what enabled. I can do neither. One of the aids also makes you noticably faster no matter how much skill you have although it takes away some of the challenge. The scoreboards are also ‘broke’. You can tell what cars were used but you can’t see how they were tuned or what aids were on and it would have been nice to break scoreboards down into class (there are a variety of classes in the game so that different cars can be matched with each other). I can’t easily lock a room down to friends only, I can’t kick and block others and if I want to customise my car with new parts I need to leave the lobby, buy the bits, tune the car then rejoin. Bah. For a game that is one of the best console driving sims both off-line and online these restrictions are annoying and surprising. It also means that I’ll be playing the game mostly with friends rather than using opti-match to find new challenges.

Well worth buying and will be played for a few months at least but I can’t help but feel that a bit more polish on the online front end would have paid dividends. It’s also a look-ahead at the world Xbox 360 wants us to play in – it’s going to be expensive.