15 Years of Gaming: Part Fifteen

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Fifteen years ago to the day, for the first time ever, I held a game controller in my hands. Even though there have been moments where I've gone weeks or even months without playing a game, I've identified myself as a gamer first, before anything else. That first victory in Gran Turismo, a seemingly insignificant race at the time, has led to a long life of playing video games, dedicating thousands upon thousands of hours in front of a screen, playing whatever I could get my hands on or whatever I felt like playing at the time. It's been a good fifteen years. I've enjoyed just about every minute of it. You know, the moments where I'm not shouting at the screen in frustration.

I'm looking forward to what the future holds for me as a gamer. The eighth generation of video games has begun and already I'm behind. The Wii U has already been out for some time, but I don't have one at the moment. The reason is mostly because there aren't too many games that I'd play on it. I know that there will be an upcoming Smash Bros. game. I, for one, am hoping it'll be called Super Smash Bros. Fisticuffs, just to be out of whack with the rest. If there's a Mario Party game coming out on the Wii U, that'll be another great game. I've always kind of enjoyed the Mario Party series as a party game.

Most people I see on the internet seem to despise the upcoming Xbox One and almost glorify the PS4. No idea why people are clamoring over a console we haven't even seen yet. I've nothing against Sony and the people behind the PS4, but my goodness, that is a shocking controller design. It looks like two Move controllers with a giant touchpad connecting the two. How does that touchpad work anyway? Will I be able to see what I'm touching or do I just have to go nuts and hope for the best. I get that a screen would be hard to implement directly on the controller, but what is that? And do we really need a share button right on the controller there? I don't know. I said that at some stage, I wish to own all three next gen consoles, but unless Sony come out with a new controller design for the PS4 (think the Wii U Pro Controller here), I don't want a PS4. I think it might be the most awful design I've seen behind the Dreamcast.

Don't assume I'm sold on the Xbox One, either. The controller looks much the same as the 360 one, which is a definite plus. I still think, aside from the directional pad, it's the most well-designed games controller ever made. The console looks sleek and wouldn't look out of place next to my Foxtel unit (which a lot of people don't seem to like). Just that liquid black look is great. I wonder how black it is, though, if it's supposedly the darkest black possible. All my other devices, save for my Wii, are black, so if I pack my Wii up and all my other consoles are side by side, which would look the darkest. I'd assume the Xbox One, since they claim it's darker, but how much darker?

The one thing I'm looking forward to the most about the Xbox One is the new games that are coming out. Forza Motorsport 5 looks absolutely incredible. The one thing I don't like about racing games on the Xbox is that, as I mentioned earlier, racing games are that much better with a racing wheel. Logitech make excellent wheels but they're only for use on the Playstation 3 and the PC. How many people play racing games on a PC anyway, as opposed to consoles? There is Mad Catz, of course, but I don't ever see them at EB Games, only online. But, see, they're exclusively for Xbox 360. Why can't there just be one steering wheel compatible with every console?

But no, Forza 5 should be great. Another series I've still haven't put a lot of time into, which I'm hoping I can turn around as the next generation starts, is the Halo series. Basically, I've played a fair bit of the first game, but not much more after that. I've played some of the rest here and there, but one thing I've wanted to do is to play each game, back to back (not necessarily consecutively) in local co-op. I don't mind co-op online, but it's much more fun in local multiplayer. I'm wondering if Peter would enjoy the idea. Maybe we could get two people switching in and out so that there's more of us involved during a level. Like, when you die, you switch controls.

Something that we could end up doing is maybe setting up a Youtube channel and uploading footage of said co-op series, as well as some other stuff we could do. I know Peter's got a couple of ideas for that, so I've got to talk to him about that. Maybe we could get one of those channels going where there's a number of series at one time, if I can get all my mates into doing it. I wouldn't count on it, because that turned out great with the Pokémon trading card game that we were all going to play. Who knows, though? But yeah, that'd be something that I'd be likely to really get into. I know that Peter said he's got some stuff that he can use to get started.

So that's what lies ahead for me as a gamer. I've decided not to buy either the Playstation 4 or the Xbox One on launch. I'll wait for, say, 12 months so I can try and get a good deal on it. Sometime soon, I want to get a Nintendo 3DS, but there aren't too many good sales going on right now. In fact, all of the bundles just seem like their normal price. I'd be happy with $299 if two or three good games were included. I just hope that between now and the release of Pokémon X and Y, there's a good bundle I can get, because I want to get those games on launch. That's all I've got to say for this blog series. I've enjoyed the two weeks I've spent doing it. I hope you've enjoyed reading it.

Wii U, Playstation 4 or Xbox One: Which next-gen console has your vote? Let me know in the comments section below.

Contents:
Part 01 | Part 02 | Part 03 | Part 04 | Part 05 | Part 06 | Part 07 | Part 08 
Part 09 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15

15 Years of Gaming: Part Fourteen

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So I've decided: this will be the last part of my story. I'll still keep it as the fifteen-part series which I intended, but the final part will be one of those "what lies ahead" stories. I've been thinking about it for the last few days, because I didn't realise how close I'm getting to the current date. Obviously, I haven't mentioned every single game I've played, every single game I've beaten and every precious memory I've had. I'd struggle to remember all of that stuff. However, I do think I've talked about some of the more important and cherished memories I've had of playing games.

So what's 2013 been like for me, gaming-wise? Well, to be honest, not a huge deal. The game I've played the most so far in 2013 has been FIFA 13. I bought the collector's edition for $69. I bought it in late February, so in order to get one, I had to go all the way out to EB Games at Knox City. That was the closest one that still had one. I didn't really mind, though, because it was just one bus ride there, although it was a two hour one. Anyway, so I bought that, because I knew that Peter had definitely been playing the crap out of it (and he still does). I thought to myself, if the Collector's Edition and the standalone game are both $69, who cares if it takes me a couple of hours just to get there.

The ingame bonuses didn't work, but I wasn't overly concerned about that. I just wanted to get the game, but the steelbook case and the other goodies practically came for free. That's one way I buy my games sometimes. After, say, four months after a game comes out, its collector's edition goes down in price. One example is Borderlands 2's Vault Hunter's Collector's Edition, which, right now, is on sale at EB Games for $47. That's the same price as the standalone game. Not a bad pickup. Sure, Borderlands 2 is older than four months, but it's within the last year. So if there's a Collector's Edition of a game you're after which you don't want desperately, wait for it to go on sale and you can scoop up a bargain.

But anyway, back to FIFA. The main reason Peter kept pestering me to get it is because of one of the game modes, the Ultimate Team. You start off with a small amount of cash, which you can use to purchase packs, featuring some players, plus other goodies such as contracts (players need to be contracted in order to use them in your team), team kits, badges, stadiums, and other stuff. At first I couldn't afford anything more than a few bronze packs, so my players were pretty ordinary, and my chemistry was pretty bad as well. Chemistry is quite important. The higher your chemistry, the better the team performs. Stacking your squad with players from the same country or team help to build your chemistry up. Having them in the right position and correct formation also helps boost it.

I started to pick up how to build up my Ultimate Team. After a few days of getting used to everything and building up a bit of cash, Peter was kind enough to donate three gold players to me, and I chucked them straight into my squad. I used a bit of cash that I had earned to boost my defence, and now there were no bronze players left in my team. My defense was shocking, though. In online matches, I was conceding up to 10 goals a game. I thought, how can I improve? I took my team offline for a while. I started playing single player matches. At least there, I was actually winning, so I was getting the bonsuses that you get from winning a season. 

Before long, I found some really good players to add to my team, including Jermain Defoe from Tottenham as my striker and David De Gea from Manchester United as my goalkeeper, both for a really cheap price. It was at that moment that I decided to make a team full of players from England, with the Premier League as a backup for my chemistry. That way, if a player is in the Premier League, but not English, he can still boost the chemistry (such as De Gea, or one of my defenders, John O'Shea). It's a good feeling, building up your Ultimate Team. Now, I've finally got an overall rating of 83 and my chemistry is at 100, the highest it can possibly be.

But FIFA hasn't been the only game I've been playing this year. I almost typed "but Guitar Hero hasn't been the only game I've played this year." Which reminds me, yes, I still am playing Guitar Hero online. Earlier this year, I earned the Big Ol' Pile of Wins achievement in Guitar Hero III, which is earned for 500 online victories. It felt like it took absolutely forever. I've been working on that one since, well, pretty much since I got Xbox Live back in 2011. But it's rare that I'll find a challenge anymore. Most times, people will quit on that game if you beat them by a huge margin. However, if I notice a major difference in skill level, I'll quit. I can't stand beating people by more than 50,000 points on a song. I just want a challenge.

I just need someone who I can run with, not the other way around. Most times on Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, I'll be in a song in Quickplay, and someone will fail. It seems that half the time I'm having to save someone from failing. It disgusts me when I find out they're the one who picked Fury of the Storm. Man, I hate playing that song. It seems that every other time I play that song, someone fails on it, because it's just that damn hard. Heck, I've even been one to fail it sometimes. That's why I don't like playing it online. Half the time you don't get to the end of the song.

Other than that, every other game I've played this year has just been here and there, you know. I've played a tiny bit of Bioshock Infinite (I can't even explain why I don't want to keep playing that game), and of course, there's always games that I've been playing from years' past, like Gran Turismo 3, the first Bioshock, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and a couple of other games here and there. There are quite a few games I'm hanging out to play this year. Remember Me, which I believe comes out tomorrow, is one that I've kept one eye on since I first heard about it earlier this year. I'm also most likely to trade in my FIFA 13 for FIFA 14 when that comes out. But more than likely, I'll look at picking up some cheaper games, some that I missed from earlier this year or the year before. Tomb Raider is one of those games, as well as Hitman: Absolution.

What game have you played the most in 2013? Let me know in the comments section below.

Contents:
Part 01 | Part 02 | Part 03 | Part 04 | Part 05 | Part 06 | Part 07 | Part 08 
Part 09 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15

15 Years of Gaming: Part Thirteen

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So as 2012 began, I started my final year of school in Epping. Year 12, damn, that took a lot out of me. The days at school felt longer. The only classes that whizzed by were my History ones, and that's because half the time, my teacher would often reminisce about funny things that had happened in his other classes, memories with other students and other junk. Half the time we'd be doing work, someone would mention something, then he'd bring up some related topic and he'd go from there. He was quite eccentric, always over the top. He was one of my more preferred teachers throughout school. Not only were the classes more laid back, he definitely helped you with things like essay writing and stuff like that.

One funny thing, though. My English teacher (who was also my Media teacher), gee, everyone hated him. No idea why, him and I got on like two peas in a pod. Since most of Year 12 English involves reading and essay writing (so many practice essays come exam time), most of the time we'd just come into class and some of the less interested students would just sit there and pretend like there wasn't work to do. Except there was. You were supposed to come into class and write essays. That's not all we'd do, but if he hadn't deliberately told us to do anything within two or three minutes, you knew you were meant to start writing essays. They were exhausting classes, though. They took so much out of you, mentally.

I never really did homework in Year 12, not at home anyway. I'd do them at lunch times (or during those breaks, I'd be checking my Supercoach team, much to the chagrin of my mate Gavin). He'd see me in the main classroom at the computers and sometimes I'd be looking at sample essays, and he'd pull up a seat next to me, but once he caught a glimpse of my Supercoach team, he'd basically turn around and walk away. I remember constantly trying to tell him how good my team was doing, particularly my secret weapon, Dayne Zorko. I'm always telling him he's "rolling in the Benjamin's" for me. That annoyed the hell out of him. Good times. I think he was secretly laughing inside every time I said it, although maybe I couldn't hear it over the sound of me secretly laughing.

Doing all (or, really, most) of my homework at school allowed me to have more time to game at home. Most of the time it was something like Guitar Hero, or Gran Turismo, something that killed a bit of time, was fun, but something that I'm not going to take one eye off the clock and suddenly six hours have gone by. Also, last year was a bit of a sucky year for gaming. I didn't really have too many memorable moments, either. Just, you know, casual gaming. I didn't really have too much time to play my RPG's like Final Fantasy or Mass Effect, although I did play games like that on weekends.

One thing I started doing in about June, July some time, was start taking my Nintendo DS to school and playing that during my breaks. I got kind of tired of writing essays and I was content with doing about a dozen essays a month. I thought, if I do that as a bare minimum, my teachers can't really complain over that, can they? Anyway, so I've got my DS and Pokémon Diamond with me, but no one seemed to care. Sometimes I'd be with my friends and stuff, walking around the school, and I'd play while walking, but sometimes, when they were away or were playing basketball or something else, I'd find a seat and play. Some guys would come up to me and ask what I was playing, then upon hearing Pokémon, they'd just leave. Not sure why, it's a great series.

We had this excursion one time for History, and we went to the Immigration Museum in the city. Holy crap, that was one of the worst things I'd ever experienced. We had this tour guide who was just old and cranky as hell. It was almost like she didn't want to be there as much as I did, although really, nothing could come close to how little I wanted to be there. When we were walking back, we came back down Swanston Street, since we went past Chinatown towards the end. Anyway, on Swanston Street, we walked past a poster inside EB Games about a Pokémon Trading Card Game tournament every second Saturday. So while everyone else is grabbing lunch, I head in there and learn that the next one is the weekend coming.

So I pulled out my cards and got them ready. It was the first time I had used them since my friend Peter stopped playing with them sometime in late 2011. But it had been a while since I'd used them. I had virtually forgotten how to play. So the first time I went there, turns out my HeartGold/SoulSilver cards were no good anymore. They didn't say anything because I was a first-timer, but next time, I was advised to get some newer Black/White cards. They said something about the HG/SS cards being out of rotation or something like that. I still have them, but I no longer use them. They're in my special Pokémon drawer in my bedroom, just sitting there, pretty much, next to all my Pokémon DVD's.

I've really got to try to get my mates to come there with me, at least one of them. Hopefully Peter would want to do it sometime, since he's already got cards, although he's only got HeartGold/SoulSilver cards, so he'll need to upgrade if he wants to take part. The one thing I love about going there is they've recently implemented a badge system. You play against the Gym Leader (aka Ramsey, the guy who works there) and if you can beat him (which, so far, I haven't in four attempts), you'll earn a gym badge, just like in the Pokémon games (or the anime, or any other medium I'm missing). There are eight badges in total and they all have different rulesets (the fourth one, from memory, is no EX cards are permitted, but I don't have a single one, so I often joke that I'm halfway there).

The good thing about going there is that most people who go there just go to have fun. Some of the guys with the better cards, when I go up against them, I normally lose. But I've got a deck that's pretty good at dragging the game out, so even when going up against stronger cards, a match against me can take as long as half an hour, which it did the last time I went there. I kept using this ability which switched my current Pokémon with one on my bench, and used my Serperior to heal all of my grass Pokémon in between turns. My Serperior and Lilligant are such wonderful cards. Along with my Virizion, they're my key to victory (or to delaying yours). I see you loading your deck with fire cards over there. I forgot to mention my other awesome Pokémon. How can I have a deck without including my favourite Pokémon, Samurott? Your move...

All kidding aside, that's one thing I love about the Pokémon Trading Card Game. Just like in the regular games, no one card can win it all for you, although I've heard some people who I play against tell me stories about people who use four Snorlaxes, and the remainder of the deck is all Trainer cards. That's ridiculous. Probably just a way to have Snorlax take as much damage as possible without knocking out too many Pokémon. I wonder what kinds of Trainer cards would be in a deck like that. All I know is what's in my deck is what counts. I've tried other types, a fire deck, a grass/electric, a water/electric, but I'm most competitive with grass/water. I'm getting better and better every time I play. That first badge can't be too far away from being mine.

Do you have a place where you can hang out with fellow gamers? Let me know in the comments section below.

Contents:
Part 01 | Part 02 | Part 03 | Part 04 | Part 05 | Part 06 | Part 07 | Part 08 
Part 09 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15

15 Years of Gaming: Part Twelve

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So the last part of this turned into a GT vs. Forza clash of the titans. I didn't mean to turn down that path, but I couldn't help it, because both games have been very important to me. I'll try not to mention either for the rest of this series, at least not going all out like the previous part. Anyway, we'll skip the rest of 2010, then, and we'll jump to early 2011. March 2011, to be precise. My 16th birthday had just passed, so I bought myself a wireless network adapter, a 12-month Xbox Live Gold prepaid card and 3000 Microsoft Points. Being the complete noob that I am, I thought Microsoft Points were required. Silly me. I could've saved myself the $60 I spent on it and bought a game or something. I still think they're overpriced, even buying them online.

Speaking of online, the noobyness continued. I didn't know that you could sign up for Xbox Live over your console. I did it over the internet. There goes the 6000-odd gamerscore I had accumulated. Not that that's a big deal or anything, but I had to start from square one. Well, I had to anyway. For some reason, all my save files on my Xbox were gone the next time I turned on my console. I was pretty shattered after that. I had to start everything again. But not all was lost. I signed up for a Raptr account the next day. Raptr is a service that tracks your hours and achievements for any online gaming identities that you use, though I think some platforms don't track your hours automatically. I do know that it is automatic on the Xbox 360, so that's all I cared about, because that was the main thing I used. You can also manually track hours in case it doesn't automatically track, which I sometimes do if, say, I'm playing a game on an older system. But sometimes I forget.

In mid 2011, I moved. Again. Goodbye, Josh. I really miss seeing him every day at school. I was still in Melbourne, I just moved suburbs, from Craigieburn to Epping. Turns out he was moving anyway. But I haven't seen him since. And while the people who I became friends with in Epping were some cool people, most were just really 'ugh'. You know that feeling: just, when someone's saying something and you're stuck there listening, thinking the whole time "please kill me." No? Okay, it's just me who thinks that. But now that I've graduated from that school, I regularly keep in contact with about 10 people. Some who talked to me on a daily basis don't even acknowledge me anymore.

So just like when I was a kid, I needed a game which I could just be sucked into the world of. But there was nothing. So you know what was calling? Some kid named Ash Ketchum. That's right. I got back into Pokémon. It was a completely random thing. I don't know what made me do it, but I bought Season 1, Pokémon Diamond and a HeartGold-SoulSilver Trading Card Game Trainer Kit, totalling over $100, in one weekend. I started getting back into Pokémon in the hope that I could get my friend Peter into it. I even had plans to get some of my other mates to get together ever few weeks and play/trade cards, but that never took off. 

Since then, I've still been into Pokémon. I'm after a 3DS so that I can get Pokémon X and Y Versions when they release (plus there's some other games I'm after as well, like Mario Kart 7 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D). Pokémon X and Y are the main ones, though. I miss the days of knowing every secret of the original two generations. It's just, well, to be honest, I didn't enjoy the Ruby/Sapphire versions of the game (Gen III). It felt a bit lacklustre. I think Gen III had the weakest list of Pokémon of all five generations (not including X and Y, or Gen VI yet, it's far too early to say anything). But some of the Gen III Pokémon are so... weird. The worst starters, Treecko, Torchic and Mudkip. I can't even remember their evolutions. At least I can with all the other generations.

If I were to say my favourite Pokémon of all time, I think I would have to say Samurott. I've always preferred water Pokémon (so grab some grass or electric if you're up against me, though water is not all I use). I think aesthetically, the two most important things for Pokémon are how awesome it looks (a coolness rating) and how luxurious it looks (a grandeur rating). I think Samurott is one of the few Pokémon that manages to do both. Other examples are Articuno, Serperior, Glaceon, Bayleef and Gardevoir. For me, grass and water Pokémon do this in spades. They're some of the best designed Pokémon, in my opinion.

Samurott_zps689fded7.jpg

Yay, a picture. Of my favourite Pokémon, Samurott, no less.
Water and grass Pokémon have more consistency with awesome looking Pokémon. 

The disappointment of Generation III is the reason why, as a ten year old (that's how old I was when I first played the Gen III games, not how old I was when Ruby/Sapphire came out), I was no longer into Pokémon. But the thing I do love is how simple the games are, yet how deep and complex they can truly be. I just love how the variety of Pokémon types, weaknesses and strengths can make a huge difference. You can grind a water Pokémon, Blastoise, for example up to Level 40, then you're going up against a Level 28 Ivysaur and suddenly it's a challenge, with grass having a type advantage over water. The Blastoise might still win, but a Level 28 Ivysaur would be harder than a Level 28 Pidgeotto.

When I moved to Epping, I didn't have internet for a fair while. That's why Pokémon was such a refreshing change, I think. Another game I played a ton of was Final Fantasy XIII. I must have put in over 60 hours. I've still yet to finish it (I've played through it three times now and keep getting stuck at the same point, I can't beat one of the bosses). Now, this game has a huge number of haters, but then again, so does Final Fantasy VIII, and I think that's the best game I've ever played. Most of the complaints was around the supposed linearity (most locations in the game consisted of walking down a single path). Which, to be fair, is deserved. There was no world map of any kind, another downer.

But one thing I don't agree with is a lacklustre lineup of characters, especially Hope and Vanille. Hope was actually one of my more well-liked characters in the game, but Vanille, she wasn't an irritating prescence, but she was just... there. There were some cool, subtle things I didn't pick up on, though. When you first use Vanille in your party, you have three ATB bars (one ATB bar equals one attack, though some attacks require two bars, etc). Every other character you have only has two at this stage, until later. The game later explains to you the reason why, and you can connect the story with Vanille's ATB gauge in battles.

Speaking of battles, that was one thing that was actually praised. Battling is a fast, frenetic, yet smooth motion. It's sort of turn based, yet it feels free flowing. Basically, when your ATB gauge is full, it's your turn, and while it's refilling, it's your opponents' turn. But you can get abilities to make it fill faster, and therefore you can have more turns more often. There's also the chain gauge. Hit moves consecutively, and you'll fill up a meter. Once you do, the enemy will be staggered and you can do double or even triple damage until it resets.

So 2011 was basically one where I hardly had any access to the internet. It wasn't until early October until I got it again, nearly six months without it. My gaming still consisted of Guitar Hero, but I could finally return to the online stage and destroy some noobs with my newfound skill. At this stage, I still don't think I had peaked in terms of my shredding ability. In fact, I'm not even sure I have still. I would say I'm about an 8.5 in terms of overall skill on Guitar Hero, and I believe if I keep at it, by the end of 2013, I can make it a 9.

What's your favourite Pokémon of all time? Let me know in the comments section below.

Contents:
Part 01 | Part 02 | Part 03 | Part 04 | Part 05 | Part 06 | Part 07 | Part 08 
Part 09 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15

15 Years of Gaming: Part Eleven

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So I finally made the next gen jump in June 2010, when I bought my Xbox 360. I didn't have a great deal of games, but, Guitar Hero aside, I put quite a few hours into Forza 3. I got up to nearly the end of the game. I put a lot of my spare time into the game. It was one of the most delightful racing games I've ever played. There was a good variety of real world race tracks and original race tracks. Car customisation was great. Tuning your car is easier than recent iterations of Gran Turismo, but I don't think there's as quite as many options to choose from (although there's still a great deal).

But of course, at the heart of any racing game is the racing. And in Forza, it's solid stuff. After about 80 hours, though, it's become a little stale. But it's not like I think any less of it. Every race, be it a couple of laps or a huge endurance race, is thrilling stuff and if you can find a preowned copy for around $10, I'd highly advise the purchase. It's easily the best game in the series. Forza 4 is still great, but it almost feels too much like 3 and so if you're not sure which one to go with, or you'd only play one of them, go with Forza 3, solely for the fact that you'll get it cheaper.

It's not the greatest racing game ever, in my opinion. That honour would go towards Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec, particularly if you take into account how good the game is for its time. I've always said that the Forza games are better than the Gran Turismo games, but not according to the game's release date. What I mean by that is that the first Gran Turismo came out in 1998, and it was the best racing game, bar none. No competition. I was reading through some old Playstation magazines I found last month and they said those exact words. Gran Turismo 2 did all the same things its predecessor did and more. It's still my favourite game of all time. And yes, I do believe that your favourite game and the game you think is the best game ever can be two different games.

But when Gran Turismo 3 came out, everything changed. It came out within twelve months of the PS2's launch and I still believe it's one of the most entertaining racing experiences. I think it still holds up well today, I've been playing it here and there recently. There's a good list of cars to choose from, and you'll drive a good portion of them. While some people didn't really like that there were less than 200 cars compared to GT2's 600+, you have to take into account how much detail has to go into the car. That's why when Gran Turismo 5 came out on the PS3 with over 1000 cars, many of them were simply the same as the models used in Gran Turismo 4 with improved textures. Supposedly the figure of PS2 models was around 800. I think Sony should've done the same thing with GT3 here. I'd have thought nothing of a game with 250 highly detailed cars, rather than the PS2 approach. Gran Turismo 4 rectified it anyway with almost 750 cars, and if GT6 is actually coming out on the PS3 like the rumours state, well, they could've done the same again. It seems like they're going for two per console cycle.

Gran Turismo 4 just seemed like the complete package. There were so many cars, plenty of events, more real world tracks (unlike GT3, which only had two, from memory). Now there were sixteen, I think. It was at least a dozen. Tuning was better than ever. Just the one complaint over the game (a pretty big one, though). The events weren't all in the one place, unlike all previous entries in the series. Beginner Events, then to Professional. Oh, you're not at the 25% Complete mark, you can't do Endurance Races yet, etc. It made that World Map feel too clustered and there were too many things to choose from, even though most were the same thing. But the racing was still top notch.

I don't even know why I'm going backwards, though. I began this blog still in 2010, talking about my memories of Forza 3, and my GT fanboyism comes out and suddenly we're back in 2006. But no more going back. We must press on. Back to 2010. 

If you were to ask me which of the two were better games, I'd almost be split down the middle. I'd most likely go with the Gran Turismo series, solely because of how much time I spent playing the games as a kid. Like I'll always have those moments where I put many sleepless nights into GT2, earning all that cash, upgrading all those cars. That's another thing. I feel that the tuning system in Gran Turismo is more comprehensive and rewarding. I think that doing up a car from scratch in GT, turning it from a stock road model into a race spec machine is far more rewarding in Gran Turismo than in Forza. It seems like in Forza it's too easy to tune any car. Heck, as a joke, I tuned one of the weakest cars in the game, an old VW Golf. It took me less than 10 minutes for me to tune it so it could do 0-100km/h in under 6 seconds. That's where I think the flaw in Forza's tuning is. There's no reward for effort. Tuning in GT feels like careful consideration must be taken into account to create the car of your dreams.

This seems like a GT vs. Forza blog, so I'll probably just keep at it, I'm almost at the end of it anyway. I might even wrap it up here. I think you could go either way. Both have their ups, both have their downs. I think GT has always been one step ahead of Forza, but Turn 10 just seem to get better and better. I think if you've got an Xbox 360, go pick up Forza 3. You'll love it, trust me. If you own a Playstation 3, wait for the upcoming Gran Turismo 6. It'll be the best racing game the world has ever seen. Although with Turn 10's track record (no pun intended, trust me on that one), Forza 5 could well earn that honour. It just remains to be seen whether Polyphony Digital can fully utilise the power of the PS3, just go for one last big score before the series moves to the PS4.

Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport: what's the better series? Let me know in the comments section below.

Contents:
Part 01 | Part 02 | Part 03 | Part 04 | Part 05 | Part 06 | Part 07 | Part 08 
Part 09 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15

15 Years of Gaming: Part Ten

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At the start of 2010, I got into an argument with my mother. She started threatening me, so I basically got all my stuff together and got my dad to pick me up the next morning. I moved back to Melbourne right before the start of the school year (I think literally two days before it started, so I enrolled as quickly as I could, but I didn't have anything like all of my schoolbooks and stuff). It felt like home again, being back in Melbourne. I quickly made quite a few friends, but unlike my old school in Kaniva, there were as many obnoxious and narcissistic students as there were funny and entertaining people. You just couldn't win.

But I started hanging out with this kid named Josh. I noticed that he was in all of my classes except one, and I believe it was my English class. He wasn't a nerd by anyone's standards, but I don't think I've seen anyone be more dedicated to their grades. He basically knew what marks he was after and he kept trying to achieve them. And when we worked together to do stuff (which we often did) my marks improved as well. Some of the assignments that were for two people, we'd do them together, and we'd absolutely ace them. Half of the time, we'd get 100% on them. We'd put so much effort into them, far more than was expected of Year 10 students, according to my teachers.

We were like two peas in a pod, Josh and I were. It wouldn't be long before I started going to his house. I met his parents (well, actually, his father and stepmother) who were just awesome. She was from Michigan, I think, so she had that quirky Midwestern accent. Great cook, as well. The first time I stayed the night, she made these tiny little pancakes, but she didn't bother to taste them, and by the time she was done, there was a whole plate of bland-tasting pancakes. In their opinion. I wolfed those bad boys down. I thought, if this is bland, I can't wait to try some of her good stuff. And his old man was just one of the most down-to-earth people I've ever met. Geniunely funny, pretty wise, knew a lot of little things. Just the three of them were just genuinely good people.

I think it was the second time I went to his place, straight after school, I found him in his room playing a bit of Guitar Hero 5, which I'd never played before. I still had all of my PS2 Guitar Hero games. I didn't have my Xbox 360 at this time, so the only games I had played in the series were Guitar Hero 1, 2, 3 and Aerosmith. So he's there, playing on Medium, and he asks me if I want a go. Sure, I tell him. So I pick the song One Big Holiday, and I jump it up to the Expert difficulty. "Ooh, big boy," he taunts. Whatever, mate.

Then he sees me play. Now, it's not an easy thing to pick up, Guitar Hero. But if you can know how to read the chart and have relatively quick fingers, Hard shouldn't be a problem. But he's almost blown away for what really was not that difficult of a song. That green-red-orange hammer on section is quite hard, but other than that, the song was just average. Mind you, I knew the song beforehand, so I knew what to expect. But I'm missing a couple of notes here and there, and he's just about speechless. So after a 99% sightread, "Play the hardest song." And of course, I want to see what that is.

Wait, what? What did I just get myself into? Oh, just a little thing called The Spirit of Radio. To put it simply, the song starts with a wall of notes. Failed. 2% complete. Yeah. Okay. Just accept that, and move on. While I don't fail that song anymore, it remains one of the funniest things that's happened to me while I've played a Guitar Hero game. I'm just like, "Oh, this'll be a breeze" when the song was loading, and then I failed, practically straight away. I probably only managed to hit half a dozen notes before I failed the song.

It didn't take long for me to be known as the best Guitar Hero player in the school. There'd be a few guys who were all just trying to stir me up, you know. Guys who claimed they could get 100% of the notes on Through the Fire and Flames on Expert. Yeah, okay mate. You don't even play the game, you spend all your time playing Modern Warfare 2. But there was this one kid who, I think he was in Year 8. He heard about me and he said he's nearly as good as me, but he hasn't been playing for long. I saw a clip of him playing, not bad. So I went over to his house and gave him a bit of help, and he threw on the Greatest Hits game (the only time I've played that game). It was actually pretty close for the most part, except for when we played Caught in a Mosh, which I nearly doubled his score. Almost got an FC on a sightread.

In June 2010, I finally upgraded. I bought an Xbox 360. I got it for $450. The crappy thing was, the X360 S came out just  three weeks later, so I've got one of the Elite models. But for $450, I got the console, Forza Motorsport 3, Halo 3: ODST, a Guitar Hero 5 bundle, Need for Speed: Carbon, Mirror's Edge and F.E.A.R. Not bad, I think. But yeah, straight on to Guitar Hero 5. The guitar I got with it has been one of the most reliable controllers I've ever had. I've got close to (or possibly over) 1000 hours out of it. Just about everything that can go wrong has gone wrong. The Guide button sometimes doesn't work (which means the controller sometimes won't turn on). The sync button is stuck, so I can't take it with me. The design on the faceplate is a complete mess.

We've been through so much together. All the effort it's taken to complete all the hard songs like Through the Fire and Flames, Raining Blood, Fury of the Storm, Black Widow of La Porte and Sudden Death. The hours upon hours I've put into playing against people online, striving to be better than anyone I took on. The frustration of failure, the pleasure of success. I just love that controller to bits. It's my favourite controller of all time. So many memories of playing the game. It's almost a part of me, that one controller. Even the controller I got with my Warriors of Rock band bundle (basically the Guitar Hero 5 band bundle with a copy of Warriors of Rock) gets no love, that's how much I love my Guitar Hero 5 controller.

What's your favourite controller of all time and why? Let me know in the comments section below.

Contents:
Part 01 | Part 02 | Part 03 | Part 04 | Part 05 | Part 06 | Part 07 | Part 08 
Part 09 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15

15 Years of Gaming: Part Nine

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So in 2009, I might have made one of the weirdest decisions I'd ever made. My mother decided to move from Caroline Springs to some motel in a country town called Kaniva. I think from memory it is the last Victorian town before you hit the South Australian border, heading towards Adelaide. And I could've either moved in with my dad or stayed with my mother. I chose the latter. It's not something I regret or anything, I quite enjoyed the twelve months I spent there, but something I'd have to say is that the people who I became friends with, I haven't seen them since I moved back to Melbourne with my dad about twelve months later.

I moved to Kaniva in Februrary 2009, into a motel. By that, I mean my mother purchased the motel, I wasn't living in a motel room, there was a seperate living facility. It was so weird when we first moved in. She had bought it off some old guy and the houses had that old home smell. There was so much dust and spiderwebs in just about every corner. I spent so much time cleaning the house from top to bottom when we moved in. It was about three full days of cleaning. I'm talking 9-to-5 here. And then unpacking all of our stuff took a few days more. Once I brought all of my stuff in, I settled in to my own bedroom and started setting up things like my bed, my clothes and my TV.

So there I was, a couple of days before I was about to start school (2 weeks after the school year actually started), in my room with my Playstation 2 set up. I can't remember what I was playing, it might have been GT4, but it's not important. I started school with these new guys who had pretty much done nothing I'd done in the city. I didn't feel like an outsider, but I felt like a nobody. Confusing, maybe, but hopefully you know what I'm trying to say. It was a little different, the way I had to talk to them.

At my old school back in Melbourne, I could just go up to my friends and ask them "Hey, what games are you looking forward to?" Now, there were only maybe half a dozen people into games. Although, to be fair, there were only about 100 kids in the school, and in the whole town there were less than 1000 people. I often thought to myself that there were more students at my old school than there were people in this entire town. Good group of kids, though. I haven't spoken to too many since I left there, and I haven't met anyone from there in person. If the town wasn't so small, I'd be able to go without bumping into her there, but I wouldn't want that.

But anyway, these kids were more outdoorsy than people like me. I hated that. Most people I knew seemed to live on a farm or something, and I'd often hear people talking about things like how their crops are going or whatever. If there's one thing I hate doing, it's gardening. And sometimes you'd have to go out with your classmates to the school's little farm and water the plants or feed the pigs. You'd want to wear these overalls to keep your uniform from getting dirty. It was awful. It was a new experience for me. I didn't hate doing it, but there was mud and dirt all over me. That's why I hated it. I don't like the feeling of being dirty.

Being at such a small school, everyone practically knew everybody. At most schools I've been to, you pretty much only talked to people around your year level, or thereabouts. Picture a Year 7 hanging out with a Year 12. It just doesn't work. There's nothing really wrong with it, but at first glance it seems worlds apart. Like, I don't even know anyone who was in Year 11 or 12 when I was in Year 7. But at this new school, everyone talked to everybody. I was in Year 9 at the time, and my two closest friends were in Year 8 and Year 11. No one said anything. I even saw most of the Year 7's and Year 8's hanging out with the older kids.

Another thing, for the first time, I actually genuinely enjoyed my Sport class. I had this teacher who was interested in getting us to play more unique sports. I was tired of playing soccer and basketball in my sports classes. Heck, anything was better than those two. Particularly basketball. I've always hated that sport. I don't get the rules at all. But for the first time, I played squash, I played lawn bowls, I played lacrosse, I did archery (playing archery doesn't sound right), heck, even handball. I played croquet once again (but for the first time in school). I pretty much monstered through croquet at first until others started to pick it up. We did play basketball more often than I'd have liked, though.

Nothing was better than when I was talking to my mate Damon about games. There were some kids who played them, but he seemed to be the only one who loved them about as much as I did. I spent most of my time with him in the library, playing Mario Kart DS together (or some other multiplayer game, but mainly that). But I didn't do much gaming at home. I was never home on weekends. My mother didn't like me being in my room playing games all day, so I'd have to go out. But I'm in the middle of nowhere. So I'd go to Ballarat every weekend or two just to find something to do. I might as well have gone to Melbourne, but it was easier getting back from Ballarat, so I could spend more time there.

I talked to my dad in the summer of 2010 and I decided to move in with him just before the school year started. I moved in with my dad in Craigieburn, back home. There, I met some of my best friends. I didn't even finish school there, but it's the only school I went to which I still regularly talk to people from. However, I didn't do all that much gaming in 2009, so this isn't a huge gaming episode this time around, guys. Not even a picture. I might add one later if I can find something of relevance. A pretty sub par episode, I know, but tomorrow's will be so much better.

Do you guys prefer playing single player or multiplayer? Let me know in the comments section below.

Contents:
Part 01 | Part 02 | Part 03 | Part 04 | Part 05 | Part 06 | Part 07 | Part 08 
Part 09 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15

15 Years of Gaming: Part Eight

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Wow. Halfway through this series. You can kind of tell I'm struggling to get to the 15 parts I wanted to. People who have 10,000 word essays in uni, how do you guys do it? Anyway, continuing the story. I'd just finished primary school. Great school it was, aside from one crap year. Good bunch of kids for the most part, but I don't talk to more than a couple of people from there now, including Daniel, who I haven't seen or heard of since I left). This new school was still in the area, but it was a high school, whereas my old one was only up to the 6th Grade.

So yeah, Year 7. New school, new teachers, new opportunities. It was the whole one teacher per subject thing that was all weird. Not weird in a bad way, but in primary school, you'd be in your one class for all your subjects (save for Sports/PE, which would either be in the gym or out on the oval). Now we'd have different classrooms and teachers for each subject. It was crazy. The school was far bigger as well. In the first few weeks, I'd often rock up late to class since I'd have no idea where I was going. Sometimes I'd even wander right past my classroom and kids would yell out the window saying it's in here.

Anyway, what did I do in Year 7? Not a lot in terms of gaming during school. I remember simply hanging out with my friends out on the oval, and I'd bring my Game Boy Color to school and play a bit of Pokémon, but I didn't know anyone who had a Game Boy to battle with. Sometimes I'd join in when they played cricket, but most of the time they played soccer, which I never really enjoyed playing (at least in real life, in game form I do enjoy it).

School was good, though. My teachers were all pretty helpful, but things like tests and essays were a little different. Until high school, I'd never written an essay before. I had, I think, five teachers for seven subjects. One teacher was my English and Humanities, another for Math and Science, one for PE (who was actually my PE teacher at my primary school, which was awesome). I ended up having him as my PE teacher for five years. One more for Home Eco and one last one for Woodwork. Gee, that Woodwork teacher got a lot of unfair scuff from the kids. Nobody seemed to like him, and the worst thing was that he wasn't mean or anything. He was one of those teachers who was just... there, you know?

Yeah, gaming outside of school was much more convenient, though. I quickly became friends with some new kids who were much more into their games and I actually met people who had an Xbox 360. It was the first time I had played one, when I went to my friend Jake's house. We played a bit of Gears of War, which I guess was okay. I've never really been into the series. When I played Gears 3 at my mate Peter's house, that was off, but the first two are kinda average. That's coming from me having only put about 10 hours into all three games combined, mind you. Most of that was on Gears 3 as well.

Speaking of playing something for a first time, one of those local government-funded youth centres just opened up right behind my school. After school, three days a week (Tuesday, Thursday and Friday), I'd go there. They had about half a dozen PC's, a Playstation 2, a POOL TABLE YO, and a constant supply of cordial, juice, water and other snacks like biscuits, lollies, potato chips, etc. Fridays were the night session. Bring $1 and you got dinner, fish and chips. You basically got a serving of chips and a quarter piece of fish. Not a bad feed at all.

Anyway, bit off topic. Something for the first time. The PC's. I've never used one for gaming up to that point. It was really confusing, what, with the keys doing everything. There were far too many keys for me to keep track of everything. What keys did an action? What keys weren't assigned to anything? On consoles, that's no worries. All the buttons on, say, a PS2 controller do something for the game, but about half the keys on a PC keyboard don't do anything for the game. I couldn't comprehend it at first.

And I picked the perfect game to learn to play PC games. Command and Conquer 3. Wow, I was so lost. The computers were all hooked up to each other and we'd run LAN sessions against other players, either 1v1 or 2v2. Geez, I hated going against that Dwayne kid. Guy was a freak. He'd have so much stuff set up in the first minute or so. He could get more things set up in one minute than I could manage in about 10, heck, maybe 15 would be more appropriate. But I soon picked up how to play the game. Also, some shooting game (I think it was Soldier of Fortune, but it might have been Counter-Strike) was another game everyone played. I picked it up quickly, but I'd rather have played Half-Life. For some reason, though, no one wanted to play it.

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Apparently this game was more popular than Half-Life 2 a few years ago amongst kids my age.
I had to Google this screenshot. The HUD doesn't even look familiar at all. 

The youth centre was open three days a week, from 3:30 to 7pm. After 5pm, most people left, so for the most part I'd have the PS2 in the other room all to myself. They had Guitar Hero, so I'd shape up my skills there. It was at this place that I learned to make the transition to the harder difficulties, and early 2008 I started to play on Expert. Six months into Expert, I started to get a few 100% scores on some of the songs, as well as getting 5 stars on the harder tracks. Pretty solid effort, I believe. It's not a difficult game to learn, but man, is it hard to master, particularly the harder tracks on Expert. I passed Through the Fire and Flames for the first time well over three years ago, and I'm still even getting as low as 85% of the total notes in the song.

But the fact that I got roughly half a dozen hours a week extra practice on the game helped immensely. I suppose it was playing with others that helped, I've no idea. It's not as if I'd still be playing on Medium if I never played there, but it helped with things like my co-op skills. Another thing I learnt was how to use Star Power effectively, instead of a case of using it as soon as I got it. Use it where chords are rather than single notes. Repeating triple chords are Star Power gold. And so on and so forth. I'll take this time to end this part of the blog series here. Hope you're enjoying it. We're half way home.

What do you prefer to play your games on, a console or a PC? Let me know in the comments section below.

Contents:
Part 01 | Part 02 | Part 03 | Part 04 | Part 05 | Part 06 | Part 07 | Part 08 
Part 09 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15

15 Years of Gaming: Part Seven

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Anyone who knows me would also know that I play a lot of Guitar Hero. However, most people have no idea how bad I actually was when I played it for the very first time in 2006. I actually remember the first time I saw the game was the time when my cousin brought it over to my house one time. I remember watching him play, and at first, I thought it was weird. I didn't actually really give it a shot until just before he left, and I was playing on the Easy difficulty. But I failed on my first try. 15% complete. Easy difficulty. This game sucks. I'll never be good at this game.

So I made it my mission. I bought my own copy of the game for my PlayStation and I'd put every spare hour I had into the game. I'd soon get all the notes on Easy and Medium, but I couldn't play Hard just yet. I'm jumping a bit ahead here, but I remember it was in 2008 when I started to play on Expert. I went straight from Medium to Expert. Wow, what a step up it was. All these notes flooding my screen. Particularly on Guitar Hero 3, which was probably harder than the first two combined, with Raining Blood, One and Knights of Cydonia.

But anyway, this is chronological. We're still in 2006. At this time, I really just wanted a full-on game. Something that was simply (well, not simply, but) much more deep and complex than anything I've ever played before. Cue Final Fantasy VIII. Ever traded a video game with a mate? I practically got this for nothing. Literally, some kid from school wanted A Bug's Life so badly (for his younger brother), so he traded me his copy of Final Fantasy VIII (which I still have to this day), and I gave him my copy of A Bug's Life.

Trading A Bug's Life to get Final Fantasy VIII?
There's pretty much only one way to feel about that...

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So, Final Fantasy VIII. It was the first game in the series I'd ever played, back in the winter of 2006. And the cast of characters resonated with me moreso than Banjo-Kazooie did, although I wasn't miserable at school in the 6th Grade. I had a great teacher, I was enjoying all of my classes, even Art, and even though I wasn't Mr. Popular, people actually enjoyed my company now. I changed. I'm not sure how to explain it, but before I played Final Fantasy VIII, I was someone else. That game changed me. I learnt something from it, like some kind of coming-of-age lesson or something.

Pokémon aside, I never really played RPG's as a kid, so this type of game was completely new to me. But man, was it good. One thing though, a lot of people don't like Final Fantasy VIII due to the draw system, the junction system and some other reasons which I can't remember, but I enjoyed it. The whole thing. I've beat the game twice. It's another game I really should get back into.

The entire cast, as I said, were all great in their own way. Squall was that lone wolf type character, something which I see myself as something of the sort. I do love companionship, but there's nothing like accomplishing something without help. I think the game had a fair amount of comical moments, several of which came from Zell and Seifer's interactions. Selphie was kind of that light-headed, free spirited breath of fresh air. That girl who just lit up the room. Oh, and this is without mentioning one Laguna Loire, undoubtedly one of the greatest characters in any Final Fantasy game.

Although I've always considered Gran Turismo 2 to be my favourite game of all time, Final Fantasy VIII has the second spot on that list. And not only that, it's on top of my other list of the greatest games of all time. If you were to ask me which game was my favourite game ever, I'd tell you Gran Turismo 2, but if you were to ask me what is the best game of all time, I'd tell you Final Fantasy VIII. No other game has had an impact on me quite like the one that Final Fantasy VIII did. A bit of a weird and hard to follow story, but it was fantastic. Of course, had I played, say, Final Fantasy VII first, my opinion would likely be for that to be the best game ever. That's my reasoning behind Final Fantasy VIII being the best game I've ever played.

I really enjoyed Final Fantasy VIII, but I wasn't done yet with my quest to find more games that were both entertaining, a challenge, and immersive. I picked up three new games at this time (actually, they were all second hand), Tony Hawk's Underground, FIFA Football 2005 and SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs, all for $5 each. I played the first three Tony Hawk's Pro Skater titles and loved them all, but Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 took the series in a new direction. Backwards. Underground kept the open-world(ish) exploration but added a bit of polish and had a much better Story mode. However, it's not as accessible as the first three games. I can pick up Pro Skater 3 and play it whenever, for however long I wanted.

FIFA 2005 was great. Nice, cheap soccer game. Did its job. FIFA 06 felt too weird when I saw it (FIFA 07 wasn't out yet), so I went back. Great move. It was much cheaper and played much better. Not too much to say about it. I played it a fair bit but there weren't too many memories of it. Not enough to warrant a paragraph on this blog. SOCOM, on the other hand, was so cool. I loved the whole stealth aspect. I could take my time, kill the enemies silently. Unlike the run and gun feels of games like Call of Duty or Halo, time was on my side. If it took one hour to complete a mission, who cares? There's no better feeling than lining up this guy and silently taking him out, without a trace.

But yeah, all in all, I'll remember 2006 as the year when I turned from playing kiddy-type games like Banjo-Kazooie and Super Mario 64 to hardcore games like Final Fantasy VIII or SOCOM. Not that the first two are bad games, like I said, in 2004 I played the absolute crap out of Banjo-Kazooie, but before 2006, RPG and action types didn't really appeal to me. So basically, I'd play both, not just platformers and racing games. Games were really getting somewhere and I was enjoying just about everything I played.

What do you think is the greatest game of all time? Let me know in the comments section below.

Contents:
Part 01 | Part 02 | Part 03 | Part 04 | Part 05 | Part 06 | Part 07 | Part 08 
Part 09 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15

15 Years of Gaming: Part Six

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So in 2005, I returned to the Gran Turismo series once again, with Gran Turismo 4. Daniel started talking to me again, and I was really into the game. We'd basically come to school, and during lunch times, we'd talk about Gran Turismo 4 all the time. I bought a cheap steering wheel for the game (although it was one of those wheels that were simply detected as a regular controller. But we were really into it. We'd chat about anything related to it. What cars we used. What our fastest times were. The best ways to drive on a particular track. Tuning strategies. Grinding cash (Capri). We knew every secret and every trick in the book to beat the game. I was a great, clean driver, but I wasn't good enough to beat the Online League records.

Racing games have always my strong point. The racing simulator games like Gran Turismo and Forza moreso than other arcadey types like Need for Speed and Burnout. But anything to do with controlling a car of some sort, even, say, controlling the vehicles in Halo, Call of Duty, that sort of thing. The racing sims were more fun as well. Arcadey types often had something that made it too accessible. Not that that's a bad thing or anything. It just focused more on entertaining gameplay than realism. Some arcade racers are amongst my favourite racing games.

But nothing beats the feeling of success in a racing sim like Gran Turismo. Turning your 10,000 starting credits into millions, along with an expanding collection of racing machines. The race spec models are great and all, but the real fun of the game is picking up a car and turning it into a formidable racing machine. The best cars to do so with were any of the Japanese models, but careful consideration with your tuning needs to be considered depending on what track you're racing on. I remember this one time when I was racing against Daniel, he had this low powered car (I think it was a Pontiac), but he beat me when I was using one of my high-powered Nissans. It wasn't a blowout, less than two seconds, but every second counts in a racing game.

The steering wheel I had was a pretty good one for its price. It didn't have pedals, rather, it had paddles on the back of the controller used for acceleration and brakind (or whatever you assigned the buttons to in game). It was such a great controller, but unfortunately one time a couple of years ago I was playing another racing game, Juiced, a game which I've long considered underrated, but it's extremely frustrating. One time in a pink slip race, I lost, and threw the controller in a fit of rage. It didn't actually break exactly, but the dome of the wheel snapped off. If I find the wheel, I could still use it. I'd also need a bit of duct tape to help keep everything together.

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Any racing sim is that much more enthralling with the use of a steering wheel.
Don't feel that you have to shell out $400 for some of them. This one cost me $60.

Pictured above is the steering wheel I mentioned I had. There's one variety that came with pedals, but the only one I saw was one that just had the paddles. Although for this wheel, it was better. The good thing about the wheel is that it was compact. Pedals would've taken up so much space. You could sit however you wanted while using it. And best of all, it was less than $60. As good as Logitech's wheels are, if you're not a dedicated racing gamer, there's no need to pay the $399 or whatever it is for their G27 wheel. I've got to find where mine is. It'll be downstairs somewhere.

I always found a way to play games at school. None were a more fun experience than when I got Daniel and a couple of other guys to bring their PS2's to school. We snuck into the AV room one lunchtime (which was conviently inside the library, where we were, ahem, 'studying'), set up the PS2's side by side and played a four-car i-Link race. The two best parts about the AV room were that one, it was completely soundproof and two, it was dark inside. As long as the TV's were facing away from the door (and the windows), no one knew you were in there. Since you weren't allowed to go in there, teachers never checked in there. We just had to take care coming in and out of the room, to avoid being seen.

As I'm typing this, the temptation of stopping this blog right where I am just to play GT4 begins. It's not my favourite game in the series (GT2 and 3 take precedence), but really, every game in the series is just glorious. Some people believe Forza is a greater racing sim, but I'm not sure. I don't know if it's because I've played the Gran Turismo series since its beginnings, but there's just something that's extremely dry about Forza. I enjoy the racing, but it seems that I can't play it for more than a couple of hours at a time, and on the other hand, I can play any game in the GT series for the better part of a day. Which I might just go and do sometime this week.

Have you ever used a steering wheel to play a racing game? Let me know in the comments section below.

Contents:
Part 01 | Part 02 | Part 03 | Part 04 | Part 05 | Part 06 | Part 07 | Part 08 
Part 09 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15