Formula One Championship Edition Online Hands-On

We take to the world's biggest motorsports stage in our look at the online racing features in F1 CE.

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Formula One Championship Edition is set for its debut on the PlayStation 3 just a couple of weeks before the launch of the real 2007 F1 season. The series is coming to American shores after a lengthy absence for F1 games, and though we've had a chance to try out the game multiple times in the past, there was one aspect that we had no experience with: online play. However, that little problem was remedied today, as Sony producers held an hour-long test-drive session for F1 CE's online play, which we got to take part in.

Race online with up to 11 people, with the rest of the field filled out by AI drivers.
Race online with up to 11 people, with the rest of the field filled out by AI drivers.

A total of 11 people can race online in F1 CE, with the remaining 11 seats on the grid filled out by artificial intelligence drivers. During our online session, we raced with as many as seven racers, and for the most part, the frame rate held together nicely. We only encountered hiccups a few times, though it was nothing that caused us to miss a corner or completely screw up a lap. Still, it's nice that the first few races we ran had collisions turned off--as it takes a few minutes to acclimate yourself to the twitchy nature of F1 cars.

Most of the races we ran were three-lap affairs, with random weather effects turned on. The first race at Imola in a rainstorm was particularly tough, even with all the driving, braking, and stability assists on. After a few races, we felt more comfortable in the car, turned some of the assists off, and moved from an automatic to a manual gearbox, giving us more control over the car's cornering and acceleration, but increasing the likelihood of spinning out.

With a few sprints under our belt, we next moved to a few longer races. The first of these was at the historic Monza circuit. With collisions and pit stops turned on, this five-lap race proved to be more interesting. The game handles collisions in an interesting way. With collisions on, it seems you can only make contact with other player-controlled cars. In other words, AI-controlled cars will pass right through you. We didn't see a setting to turn on "full" collisions with all the cars on the track and assume this is the default setting. Also, even if your car is damaged severely, you will be respawned on the track after a heavy time penalty.

During the third lap, we were instructed by our team boss to come in for a scheduled pit stop (incidentally, there doesn't seem to be an option to choose when you come in before the race happens--it's chosen for you automatically). Once we turned into the pit lane, our pit-speed limiter engaged and we pulled into our pit spot automatically. From there, the pit stop proceeds as a minigame showing you various button icons on the screen; the goal is to press the associated buttons as quickly as possible. To change the four tires, for example, you press the R1, R2, L1, and L2 buttons--do it quickly, and you'll get a green check mark; slack off, and you'll get a yellow check mark. In a separate race, we had to change the nose cone of our car after damaging it. To do so, it required an extra press of a button (in this case, the triangle button). The faster you can get through the minigame, the quicker your car can get back out on the track.

We took part in other races at tracks like Suzuka, Nürburgring, and a frightful rain-drenched race in Hungary where the overwhelming speed of the F1 cars consistently struck us. Racing close in an online console game is as much a matter of trust between the two drivers as it is a competition. At those speeds, and with online performance not always a guarantee, you have to trust that both parties in a tight battle for position are going to race smart, brake at the correct point, and not make any stupid moves--like the one we made when riding too close behind a competitor at the Budapest track, braking too late, and bumping our opponent into the gravel. Oops! Sorry about that.

When joining a race, you can choose your team, but like everyone else who will want to join either Ferrari, Renault, or McLaren, you'll have to make a first, second, and third pick, thus at least guaranteeing you a seat with Super Aguri. You'll also have the option to make adjustments to the driving assists you use, though we didn't see any menu option to make actual adjustments to the car itself--such as changing tires, adjusting downforce, or changing the ride height. Between races, you can check on things like points totals for each player in the game or statistics of all players such as best lap times. In the pregame lobby, there's even a chat option, where you can type with either the onscreen keyboard or a USB keyboard hooked up to your PS3. If you aren't in a game, you can use the game's community feature to send notes to other F1 CE players or invite them to your game.

Speed isn't just measured on the track; your performance in the pits is essential to winning the race.
Speed isn't just measured on the track; your performance in the pits is essential to winning the race.

When it comes to creating your own online races, F1 CE has a lot of options for you. You'll be able to adjust settings such as weather; race distance; grid order (qualification, ranking, or random); race rules; and the ability of AI drivers, as well as the aforementioned collisions and pit rules. In all, it looks like you can create precisely the type of race you'd like for your skill level (and those of your friends).

We enjoyed our time checking out Formula One Championship Edition's online play, even if we didn't manage any wins on the track. Beyond a few performance hitches here and there, the game ran very comparable to the single-player experience, and the wealth of options looks to give the game some extra legs after its release. We'll have a full review of the game once it crosses the finish line in late February.

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grand17

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the demo is easy, i won everytime but i just got the real game today so i'll give a full review in a week or so

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alberto2045

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the game is so hard to play man I downloaded the demo and it was so HARD , like without help, why would you make a game that makes you win no matter what. and hey I am a real Formula 1 fan but I dont like the game

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GeneralEz

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would be on my wish list..

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pal411

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My rumble on my ps2 broke years ago but i didn't realise untill my friend noticed when he went off road in TOCA. So I personal dont think its that important, I much prefer the SIXAXIS any day over the rumble. But if the do make a SIXAXIS rumble controller then I will probably get it. I think its more of a disapointment that the XBOX360 only can play 4 player because I have more than 3 friends. But dont care cause I'l get ride of the 360 when my annual favourate games come out

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chamber303

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DarkNeji14 It may be so but only to accomodate the players still prefering the rumble than the motion. I would like to have both types of controllers cause the sixaxis is in some cases better than rumble. The good thing is that Sony will once again do another good thing

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DarkNeji14

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Sony is working on getting rumble back in this 2007 or if not 2008 i read this from somewhere i forgot but it was official not fake fan news

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StanBlocker

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Here are some of the features in the game I personally am looking forward too. Next Generation Experience – Greater processing power on the PS3 system and Blu-ray technology enables high definition visuals, full surround sound, extensive circuit details and lighting effects, progressive dirt and car damage make for the most realistic racing experience to date. True Realism – Feel the buzz of the paddock and the excitement of race day with authentic pre-race car preparations. Warm up your tires and get ready for the race with the parade lap. Live Action Racing – Experience the real pressure of a GRAND PRIX race thanks to unexpected collisions and race incidents. Introduction of the Safety Car – Choose the correct race strategy when the safety car is out: will you make an early pit stop to avoid being stuck in the traffic? Not having the rumble in the controls sound worse than it is. You never really notice the rumble in a PS2 game that you get used to playing. I've played hours of ToCa and only remember the rumble when I first got the game.

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AnklyosoR

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the pit looks a bit empty though but nice graphics, n gameplay; driving tru all the other cars is an option yu can turn it of. 11players online is not that much for a next-gen.

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SonyPSP

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"After a few races, we felt more comfortable in the car, turned some of the assists off, and moved from an automatic to a manual gearbox, Ha ha ha very funny gamespot! usa!

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samad5

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Dont know about PS3 specific wheels but maybe PS2 ones will work? As for the rumble feature its the legal case that caught Sony out. But surely they can just pay the initial producers some royalty and get this gizmo back on the market, otherwise it'll be a bit of a shame for gamers.

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poliveto

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I hear so many complain about no rumble. I was one myself, irate with Sony for leaving the feature out this generation. As much as I appreciate what rumble is good for, all-in-all, I have to say it is overrated. When I first brought home my PS3 and popped in Resistance: Fall of Man, I think it wasn't until the 6th hour in that I realized there was no rumble. I stopped to take a break and wipe the sweat from my hands noticing that my hands were trembling. Normally numbness is from the rumble, but this was pure adrenaline. If the game is immersive enough, developed well, you will not notice the missing 'shakes'. I think the high sales on the portable market sorta proves that people don't need rumble to enjoy games (anyone know someone with a DS or PSP that vibrates?) Don't get me wrong, if Sony were to release an aftermarket controller featuring rumble and motion-sensing, I would be one of the first in line. Again, I like having rumble options in my games, but I am not going to miss out on the PS3 just because of it!

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bboycookie2

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Does the PS3 have a wheel?Just wondering because if they dont this game is gonna kinda suck.I mean no point in making the game unless you can immerse the driver in tha game.And yes the rumble would make this game better i think.Just the added feel of you being on the tracks helps you imagine you are really driving.I mean i could probably play it without but i wouldnt do it for long.I love the sounds in the trailers and stuff for this game.Makes me want to get a ps3 but i will just take Forza 2 over this one for now.(cheaper investment) but im definitely looking at this game.And for the UK guys i agree Gamespot should not review racing games.And im an american saying this hahah

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macksed

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why dont you get someone from GameSpot UK to review it?

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Eclipse83Lives

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Dang from the looks of their positions compared to the rest of the online players. Looks like they were getting whipped pretty bad. Im gonna take a guess that gamespot editors are not big on racing. Me :P Motocross since 5 years old, and Kart. The game looks like it could be decent. I don't know if it will be what a GT 5 will be, or even a Motostorm? But still.

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thomasonfa

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It does need a rumble feature and I hope they take the time to add damageable models, also the option to turn on collision. If a F1 goes out of control it wouldn't be that easy to correct yourself. But it is a game and I want to play it. I use to love the F1 series on the PS1. Sony please do the fans some justice because personally I'm still waiting for that killer game before I spend the money for a PS3. But so far great work,

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jofy

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Amazing

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NND1

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The demo was really nice. Too bad there was no rumble to accompany the nice physics..... This is one reason I have not picked up a ps3 yet...

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DOOM_SONYMAN

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The demo was cool

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daveg1

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ive never liked f1 games so i doubt i'l like this one either.

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chamber303

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check out the rain on the tv screen. wow it's amazing. cell power right there people.

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garskem

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Hey i was just saying my opinion but i love F1 games, i got a whole bunch for ps2. So I'm still not sure whether I'm getting a ps3 yet. The weather affects look good but the screens their showing look blurry or something. If im gonna buy an F1 game i want it to be as realistic as possible so i hope in the final build it will allow full collisions because that would suck and im sure all of u F1 fans would agree. If this game turns out to be good then maybe I'll buy a ps3 because of this game.

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Doolum

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looks cool so far but with no rumble i do t think the game will feel right.

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Zoomer30

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Anyone who thinks this game looks bad needs to clean their glasses. This game is the reason right now to get a PS3. Look at the PS2 version of the game, that thing looks like a cartoon. Cant wait till the good PS3 games (like F1) come out, perhaps we can cut down on the number of 360 fanboi PS3 bashers that hang out here.

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clubside

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Another PS3 online game that doesn't support voice?

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shadystxxx

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garskem Wow the graphics look bad. You go through the other ai cars when collisions is on what is that, thats not next gen technology. Looks almost like my ps2 game but that had full collisions. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The graphics are lovely, this is the best looking ps3 game so far in my opinion. I have been contemplating on buying a ps3 at launch or soon after but everytime i think about it i keep telling myself the smart thing to do would be too wait as i have a 360,high end pc,ps2 and a wii which sits aroound collecting dust as theres no games i want i finished zelda, i have plenty of 360 games to finish,ps2 games to finish plus gow 2 coming out soon and plenty of pc games to start playing. But after seeing F1 am tempted to just go all out and buy one at launch but i fear after finishing resistence and f1 it may just sit around collecting dust also as there's not many games i would buy for ps3 apart from heavenly sword,mgs4,dmc4 and thats only 1 game this summer heavenly sword and 2 this fall. Im still debating but games like F1 help make my mind up, but at this moment am still pushing towards waiting as i would buy multi-platform games for 360 as all mates are on 360 to play online with, but who knows when i see one in store i will more than likely buy it i cant help myself need new tech and i need it now, after i buy ps3 thats me set for several years of top notch gaming.

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gavlam69

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garskem "Wow the graphics look bad. You go through the other ai cars when collisions is on what is that, thats not next gen technology. Looks almost like my ps2 game but that had full collisions. " mrjasler "the graphics are weak.. let's be realistic.. GT3 on the ps2 looked way better than this...? the roads look too clean .. the environment looks bland.. no real next gen technology being used.... " ^^^^^Garskem, there is a reason why you can drive through the AI cars, it was to help them with getting used to the game. Im sure there will be an option to have it on or off. And the collisions are for the human players, my guess is that they incorporated the no collisions with AI so the testers could find it easier to play. And you comments about looking like a PS2 game? Im sorry but you are obviously blind. Mrjasler, you obviously dont know alot about F1. Have you ever seen an F1 track? They are incredibly smooth and clean because those racing cars are only centemeters away from scrapping the floor. So if the roads werent clean, there wouldnt be much of a race. And the environment in the game is from actual race tracks, but like i said you obviosuly dont kn anything about F1 so you cant appreciate it.

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Colsworl

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Wow, the racing looks really fast; its good that AI cars go through you otherwise you would be crashing on every turn. Getting this game opon launch.

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garskem

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Wow the graphics look bad. You go through the other ai cars when collisions is on what is that, thats not next gen technology. Looks almost like my ps2 game but that had full collisions.

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steve_89

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wow if you say the graphics are bad you obviously have not played this game

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SirNicoli

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Played the demo and the graphics are great, especially in the rain. obviously gran turismo graphics are better, its the best looking racing franchise and most realistic. but his game seems alright, i dont like racing games and this demo was fun, specially crashing

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mrjasler

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the graphics are weak.. let's be realistic.. GT3 on the ps2 looked way better than this...? the roads look too clean .. the environment looks bland.. no real next gen technology being used....

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super_davem

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NO NEED TO AROUND SOMEONE, JUST GO RIGHT THROUGH THEM!!! HA HA HA...... CORNY

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RaiKageRyu

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AI cars going through you? Not a good decision.

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peeweeshift

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the new game screenshots look a lot worse than before. I hope they don't reflect the final product because it's close to release. ah well. it's the best in its franchise.

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GamersNightmare

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This game is long awaited by many and will sell very well. I for one can't wait and it looks simply amazing.

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G-Legend

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Yeah the demo is cool and fun :D, the effects are amazing :D

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hovan316

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I can't wait for this game!!! Plus free online...what more do I need :-)

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ryanblomquist

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the graphics look aiight but its not really blowing me away

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bassjean

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Wow very nice...

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anarchicgoth

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meh- boring

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grognard

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I've really enjoyed the demo and can't wait for the full release later this month! I like that you have the option to turn collisions off so the experience can be a bit more like a shared time trial. I probably prefer that because I'm always the guy that screws up and makes everyone else crash though. ;)

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ticalmc2k2

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They need to correct that "only collisions w/ online players not AI" thing though. Why even have bots in the online race if they make no difference in the race? I think they should have allowed full online multiplayer though instead of having bots at all. Or just get rid of the bots and keep it only at 11 online players. Other than that, I cant wait for this.

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wolfboy20

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this game is awsome!!!! cant wait for it!!!

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lord-of-gamers

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lol quote from earlier bout the destruction derby - you have to admit tho man that on a crap day when i come home i am so gonna do that when i get this game rofl sorry if ur in the same game but hey it would be funny :D

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ticalmc2k2

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I'm definitely getting this!! I've been waiting for this since it was first shown at E3. This demo was the best on PS3, better than Motorstorm I think. F1 racing games are the best. These games need to be more popular in the US. The graphics for this game are insae too, especially playing in the rain.

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Darkiewonder

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Cool. I still need a racing game. I'll probably get this.

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super_davem

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WTF!!! The cars past right through each other. “NO BUMPING” is this a “sim” or “arcade” game?

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Shtinky

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Is that John Davison from 1up I see playing in those F1 screens? And is he in the lead? Wouldn't be the first 1up has 1up'ed Gamespot huh?

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J-X2731

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man this game's gonna kick ass!!!!!

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Paul_TheGreat

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Sounds pretty good.

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