Read Stuart’s column every week in The Scottish Sun, where he shares his reviews, news and podcasts with the 99.3% of the World’s population not fortunate enough to be able to buy a physical copy of the paper. The following appeared originally in The Scottish Sun on Sunday 3rd September 2017.
F1 2017 (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £49.99)
IT must be one of the toughest challenges in the world to make a yearly update to a game. But Codemasters have embraced the challenge with F1 2017. They took the recipe for the 2016 game and improved it in almost every area. There is a word of warning. F1 2017 is a sim racer — it is the purest racing experience you can get at the moment.
The meat is the career mode which is great fun as you work your way through the ranks and sign on for a team then try to stay there. It has added an almost bewildering R&D upgrade tree which is full of improvements that will help you get the edge over the pack. There is also a durability system where you have to swap different parts over the race weekend. That pays off in the long run but you have to put in the hours to get started. It is not all about the racing — there is a real management system which shows how tough the sport can be.
There are a host of other modes to sink your teeth into — from special events to championships while you can always take on the online challenge to see how good you really are. One of the big highlights is the return of classic cars. Sadly, there isn’t a classic career mode which would have been a nice touch although there is the occasional invitational event. The Codemasters guys have done a stunning job with the graphics. The level of detail in the cars and the tracks is mind-blowing. But some of the out-of-car scenes make the people look a bit creepy.
But the roar of the cars will give you goosebumps and the commentary by David Croft and Anthony Davidson is really good. The game does have a few issues that may bug you. The AI is better than 2016 but does have a few hiccups. But F1 and sim fans will think this is a winner.
Forza Horizon 3: Hoonigan Car Pack (Xbox One and PC, £5.79)
JUST when it looked like the sun was setting on Forza Horizon 3 ahead of the Forza 7 launch, Playground Games dealt a killer ace — the Hoonigan expansion pack. Horizon 3 has always had a good relationship with Ken Block — they collaborated on the Blizzard Mountain expansion which saw you tearing up the slopes in his 2016 Ford Focus RS RX #43 rally car and he sports Forza stickers in Block Gymkhana videos. Block and his pals bring seven signature rides to the game — from the 1979 Hoonigan Baldwin Motorsports “Loki” K5 Blazer to the RX-7 Twerkstallion and the 1991 Hoonigan Rauh-Welt Begriff Porsche 911 Turbo and the beast that is the 1965 Hoonigan Ford Hoonicorn Mustang.
Each car has faithfully been recreated down the smallest of decals on the windows and tyres. But there is more to the Hoonigan pack than wild machines. You also get to try stunts and challenges to nab an extra 250 Gamerscore. This is not as big an expansion as Blizzard Mountain or the Hot Wheels pack but it gives you something to do with the new toys other than just tuning them. You can buy the pack as a standalone for £5.79, but if you pre-order Forza 7 digitally you get the Hoonigan Car Pack for both games and unlock an exclusive ride for Forza 7 — the 2003 Hoonigan Holden Commodore Ute.
If you are still ripping around the Outback or just looking to spice up your weekly Forzathon runs then get the Hoonigan pack. Who wouldn’t want the Hoonicorn and the chance to bag yourself a few achievements this Hoonigan’s holiday?
Ryan Cooper Interview
FORZA Motorsport 7 is set to play a starring role when the Xbox One X hits the shelves in November. The guys at Turn 10 reckon they have embraced the new technology to bring out the biggest and best Forza yet. Executive producer Ryan Cooper took time out to tell me about the partnership with Porsche and what fans and racers can expect from the new title. Copper said:
“We are very much in tune with what the community want. It is very important to us that we make the most authentic racing experience every time we release a new version of Forza Motorsport and we feel this version is the best one yet and it looks, sounds and really feels unlike anything we have ever created.”
But Cooper is really proud of the six-year deal with Porsche. He added:
“We have a long-standing relationship with Porsche and the announcement of the six-year partnership signals a strong commitment with Porsche. We have had a strong relationship with many manufacturers over the years. We have over 700 cars in the game so we need to continue those relationships as well. Porsche as a partner is interesting as they are the most successful racing team in the world so it is natural that we team up with them. The fans love Porsches as well so it was the natural choice to pick a car with as much power as the 2018 Porsche 911 GT RS.”
But Cooper admits that, in the current climate, gamers want more than just a shiny reskin if they are to part with their hard-earned cash. He promised:
“The first thing you notice is that the game looks beautiful. It is presented in ultra-high definition and is running in native 4K. So all the content — that’s over 700 cars and 30 tracks — had be built from the ground up to look their best on 4K TV sets. We think that’s important as it creates a greater sense of immersion and we know our fans and the community want a game that looks beautiful. We also think the driving aspect is really important. Forza Motorsport 7 doesn’t drive like any of the past games. Imagine going down that track at 200 miles an hour with the parts starting to rattle and the driver moving with the physics of the car. We have new collision cameras to create a more intense and more thrilling racing experience which we think is fun.”
Cooper and Turn 10 also admit that the game is ripe for the eSports stage. They have already seen a number of successful tournaments. Cooper said:
“I think our eSports scheme, the Forza Racing Championship, really is the opportunity for the very best in the community to compete and find their way to the podium. We hope that, as eSports continues to grow, the community will grow with it. I think it’s got a really bright future and Porsche is a big part of that.”
Cooper also loves the Forza community. He said:
“We are committed to our painters and tuners and photographers. They are a really important aspect of the game and, in Forza 7, personalisation continues to be at the forefront as we continue to support those features. We have also added the new driver gear which lets you personalise how your driver looks. We have over 300 race suits at launch. We think fans will really enjoy this new feature. We have carefully and meticulously selected the race suits we think people will enjoy. They have been crafted with an incredible amount of detail. We have everything from vintage to modern suits and ones that are related to pop culture. There is a range of different styles that open up a new world of personalisation.”
Forza 7 will be racing onto the Xbox One and PC on October 3.
On The Download
THE Boss Wave is a podcast by a group of gamer guys who needed somewhere to discuss their passion. Robin Brown, Chris Williams, Richard Nattrass and Pilch Read reckon talking games is the next best thing to playing — the fact that the show is recorded and sent out for other people to listen to is an added bonus. They discuss current news, what they are playing and do sections on retro games.
“If you love video games then give us a listen, or better yet, start your own podcast.”
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border, catch ye’s…