Tag Archives: videogames

Who wants a new car anyway?

Mini One DI have been driving my Mini for about 18 months now and I have come to a few conclusions. The first is that BMW make a very good car and the second is that I don’t want a new one. A bit of a contradiction? Maybe, but my reasons are firmly fixed in my personality, let me explain a bit further. Continue reading


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Videogames. A way to a clean license?


I have been an avid gamer for more years than I can remember and at time of writing I cannot see me stopping. I know this is a car column but I think driving games of today are of use to us when we drive for real.

This really is a golden age for games, the consoles that we have available to us cost absolutely nothing in comparison to what we had at the start of the home videogame era. 1080p HD graphics, 5.1 Dolby stereo, superfast processors bring to us a realm of virtual reality that can make us jump out of our skin when playing Silent Hill or wince in pain as we take a bullet in  Call of Duty 4. We didn’t experience that sort of thing back on the ol’ Atari 2600 where, to quote Grand Theft Auto Vice City, ‘The red square chases the green square, or for variety, the green square chases the red. That is NOT to say these early consoles were rubbish, they were far from it. I cannot tell you how many hours I lost playing Crystal Castles or Yars Revenge, but by comparison the only way we could get anywhere near realism would be to visit an Arcade.

Oh how I mourn the loss of the Videogame Arcade! For any of you that were born after about 1975 and have not experienced the smoky, dark cavern that thumped to the sounds of Duran Duran or Spandau Ballet in the very early11013_17020922433 ’80s have missed out on somthing special. How cool was it to climb into the cabinet of the Star Wars machine, slip in 10p and hear ‘Red Five Standing By’  in your ears as you gripped the controls that had been lifted straight from an X-Wing? Or wandered down row upon row of Jamma cabinets (Game geeks will know what this is, so dont worry) All running different games, all glowing with amazing cabinet art just to get you to put in your 10p. So many firsts in the 80’s, Gauntlet gave us 4 player simultaneous gaming, if the Elf shot the food, the player got a dead arm from the Warrior.

The cabinets that got my attention were released in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Things were still woefully un realistic back home, my Sinclair Spectrum (48k, rubber keys and I still have it!) was good, and to be fair all I ever played on it was ‘Elite’ (remember ‘LensLok’?)But it was a long long way from actually ‘being there’ but luckily something happened to me in 1986 that changed all that, I discovered ‘OutRun‘. Now here was a game that had it all, amazing 1111155102colour graphics, a killer sound track that you could choose by tuning the radio (HOW cool was that??) but by far the best bit was the fact that the whole cabinet, that was shaped like a car, moved. It was SO awesome that you could almost smell the sea and feel the warmth from the sun and you sped along increasingly difficult tracks, tracks that YOU chose depending on the route you took in your bright red Testerossa, oops sorry I mean Red Sports Car (Sega sort of forgot to ask Ferrari if they could use the car in the game, Ferrari went nuts until it saw how popular the game was and how well it showed the car off, don’t forget this was also the decade for ‘Miami Vice‘ so we all walked around with our suit jacket sleeves rolled up, wore deck shoes with no socks (dear lord I did too…) and LUSTED after a white Ferrari Testarossa with only one wing mirror (don’t believe me about the mirror? look it up! its true) Ferrari forgot to be cross and jumped on the bandwagon, check out the line up in the latest Outrun on Xbox 360 and PS3. These new cabinets were amazing. They moved they were bigger so you sat and became part of the game, rather than standing and just playing. Some, like G-loc in the R360 cabinet, a flying/shooting game, strapped you in so you could do a full 360 loop!
By this time though the new gen home consoles were really getting going, I don’t want to bore you with the history of  videogames (I could write a darn book on it, yes, I’m THAT geeky) but we are at a point now where realism, proper physics and ‘feel’ are almost achievable at home.
Gran Turismo was released in 1997 for the PS1 and it caused a sensation. 10 million copies were sold and we couldn’t get enough. I bet none of you out there in Blogland knew what an R32 Skyline was until you played this game and built the 1000hp monster (in green livery) The Skyline is one of the most desirable cars on the planet to the ‘Playstation Generation’ which I am proud to be part of. Not only did it introduce such interesting cars like the Chaser, Soarer, Cyborg etc it also introduced the concept of  tuning. Not the usual ‘bung a Webber on it and add  a sunstrip’ that used to adorn most Escorts, but real tuning from  exotic sounding companies, Mugen, Nismo, Ralliart and so on. Physics were not bad either for the time, and the replays, wow!

We are now at a point where using force feedback controllers and steering wheels we can adjust the tiniest thing on our virtual car. Thanks to software like ‘Forza 2‘ we can tweak the anti-roll bars so it will corner flatter,
forza2soften the suspension or adjust the boost so we can get round Nurburgring in under 7 minutes, its got to such a stage that there are virtual tuners out there that will tune your car, tweak and fiddle until its perfect, for a price of course.forza 2 So how does this relate to driving a real car?  I am convinced theory can be learned from games like this, how to place yourself on the approach to a corner, how power affects handling etc.

But the main difference is, that if you screw it up on the Nurburgring while playing Forza, you can just hit reset.

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