Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Forza Horizon: completed!

As I said before, an excellent game.  So much so that it became my go-to racing game, and I've been working through it at a pretty steady pace.  About half-way through I got a little bored, and took a bit of a break (from racing games in general, apart from Mario Kart 8), but once I returned I was compelled to complete the game.

And let's be clear, there's a lot of game to complete.  As well as the overall career, where you get points from doing well in races and earn wristbands to unlock more races, you get to race against the tournament's stars, compete in street races, do PR stunts, and compete in absurd 'showcase' events where you race fighter planes and hot air balloons.  And on top of that you can get achievements for driving on every road, finding advertising signs, doing races again and competing against Xbox Live friends ...

And I've done it all.  I've actually won every race, both official and unofficial.  I've taken photos, got skill chains, increased my car collection to about 30ish, have around 4million credits in the bank.  I've even bought a Land Rover, a Mini and a Beetle so that Nicholas can play with them in free roam.

And I've just ordered Forza Horizon 2, because I've heard it's even better.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

80 Days: 89 days

It's been a while.  I've been playing a fair bit - progressing in 200cc grands prix in Mario Kart 8, getting the gold wristband in Forza Horizon, pootling around the world in Majora's Mask.  I've completed Peggle Blast and found that I am hopeless at Worms Reloaded.  Maybe at some point I'll write more, particularly since I have a draft post on the last of those half done.

But what I wish to talk about today is 80 Days.  It's an iPad game, although it can be played on a phone if you really must.  It's a text adventure with trading and route planning, based loosely around the Jules Verne novel but with a great deal of artistic licence thrown in.  Your primary objective is to get around the world in 80 days, but if you fail (as I have done) you simply restart but with knowledge over what may happen.  There are hundreds of routes to choose from and the world seems to be based on a random seed meaning that no two games will be the same.

I started well, travelling through France and Germany, then up to Scandinavia.  Unfortunately routes to Russia were limited and I ended up having to travel back down through Turkey and the Middle East to India, arriving in Japan at around day 45.  Not too bad, but my journey across the Pacific (a direct boat to San Francisco) was interrupted by a storm, and we lost a number of days heading down to Hawaii instead.  I led a mutiny to get the boat to depart for the US West coast immediately, but travelling across America took a long time and on day 80 I was aboard a paddle steamer, just after it had exploded.  No oceanic transportation from New Orleans meant a slow trek up the coast to New York.

It felt a huge anticlimax, and this made me realise just how exciting the game had become.  Every time plans went wrong, or I arrived at a city with no clear path forwards, I was feeling genuinely anxious.  I remember watching Michael Palin's second travelling series Pole to Pole, and feeling that without the time constraints of Around the World in Eighty Days it felt a little pedestrian.  Here again I could see the deadline creating the tension.

A game like this needs to have good writing and a clear visual style, and 80 Days has both.  It's a testament to its quality that as soon as I'd arrived in London I was ready to set sail again.  On my second journey I managed to make good time across Europe and Russia, until on day 23 I was thrown into a Russian military jail.

Let's hope I can continue at this pace.