Games Inbox: What’s your favourite racing game this gen?

The Wednesday Inbox asks the eternal question of whether there’ll ever be a Half-Life 3, as one reader wants to know what Metroidvania means.

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Favourite drive

With all the excitement around Wreckfest at the moment, and the tumbleweeds blowing around Need For Speed: Heat, it made me think about what has been the best racing game this gen. There hasn’t been many to be honest and I can’t say I cared much for Driveclub, GT Sport, or Forza Motorsport. Forza Horizon 4 was great though, I really enjoyed that one, although I’m not sure whether most of that wasn’t just down to the excellent graphics as it didn’t do much else that was new.

The DiRT games are too serious for me and while I enjoyed Mario Kart 8 (I haven’t played Crash Team Racing but I remember the original) it seems kind of cheating to nominate that. So I’m gonna go a bit crazy and say that TrackMania Turbo has been my favourite.

I’m sure many people have never heard of it before but it was free with PlayStation Plus one month and I absolutely loved it. It’s an arcade racer, not very realistic but not like any I’ve played before with crazy courses, jumps, and a really bright, fun attitude. I suppose if it had been more grimdark it might have been more fun but it’s definitely the most fun I’ve had on four wheels in a game this gen. Unless Wreckfest can outdo it.


Not great, not terrible

Bought my oldest boy an Xbox a couple of months ago and it came with a copy of Anthem. I didn’t even bother trying it due to the horrible reviews. However, he did. He hadn’t read the reviews and went in blind. And loved it.

In fact, he enjoys it so much that I’ve just bought a copy cheap from Amazon and I have to say I’m enjoying it too. The combat and flying is fun and it’s all quite enjoyable. I know a lot of updates have been done to improve things and therefore I would cautiously recommend it if you can get it cheap enough.

I paid £14.99 which seems fair to me. Although I perhaps should mention I enjoy Fallout 76 as well so…

GC: We wouldn’t say the reviews were horrible exactly. We gave it 6/10 and the Metacritic for the PC version (the only version EA sent out before launch) is 59.


As advertised

Sunday marked the 10-year anniversary of Batman: Arkham Asylum. What a game. The innovative Freeflow Combat with the stealth system. Bringing back those who were part of the legendary Batman: The Animated Series in writer Paul Dini, the voice work by Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Arleen Sorkin.

The atmosphere, presentation and those Scarecrow sections. The launch trailer billed it as, ‘The Batman game you’ve been waiting for’ and as a lifelong fan of the Dark Knight, it was worth the wait. I rate this as the best of the Arkham games and one of the greatest games of all time.
Paul Clay


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We don’t need that scum

I would love for there to be a Mandalorian video game. I can’t believe there’s never really been a Star Wars bounty hunter game when I always thought they were one of people’s favourite parts of the original trilogy. You’ve a bunch of pre-made characters that people don’t know much about but look cool – the perfect excuse to make a game around some or all of them.

Instead all we got was a lame Jango Fett game that could’ve been about anyone and didn’t really have anything to do with bounty-hunting specifically. I want to be out there roaming an open world, picking up bounties and getting embroiled in a big story.

But, hey, why go to all the effort to make that when you can just knock out another Battlefront? The amount of ideas Disney is leaving on the table with Marvel and Star Wars is just staggering. At least they’re finally making some headway with Avengers.


Always two there are – no more, no less

I wonder if Valve will ever learn to count to three? They seem to prove that they can’t with Left 4 Dead 2 and Half-Life 2 but no actual Left 4 Dead 3 or Half-Life 3. Perhaps if someone were kind enough to forward them some maths courses that they could do, they may eventually learn about the number three and then be able to do both Left 4 Dead 3 and Half-Life 3.

It is 2019, going on 2020, and Valve isn’t doing itself any favours by ignoring the upcoming next gen, now is it? Either they cannot count numbers or that they may never have heard of the number three.

On a serious note, all joking aside, do you even think we will ever see a third Half-Life or Left 4 Dead 3 or are we all doomed to these last gen titles for ever?
gaz be rotten (gamertag)

GC: Valve has always been primarily a PC developer, so we doubt they care very much about console generations. That said we’d say there’s always a chance, since they’d basically be doing it on a whim and not because they need to develop new games to make money.


Tracer blinks in!

For those wondering who else will be added to Smash Bros. Ultimate as DLC…

Someone by the name of Wario64 has tweeted an Amazon listing of an Overwatch themed Nintendo Switch case! It looks to be an officially licensed product by Nintendo and Blizzard.

Any Overwatch character would be right at home in the Smash Bros. world but it’s likely to be the unofficial mascot for the game, Tracer that will feature.

Of course, that Amazon listing has now been delisted but as we all know, once something has been put on the Internet, it can’t be un-Internet-ed (yes, I know that’s not a word).

GC: Removing it from Amazon was the best indication that it’s true, and significant. The rumoured Nintendo Direct next month could end up being very interesting…


Quiet moment

I noticed in your Astral Chain review that you mentioned how, if the games budget was more, they’d have less room to be creative. This got me thinking about how a lot of really unique and inventive games that reviewed well often don’t have the biggest budget, as companies don’t want to risk them flopping due to a lot of customers potentially being put off by their unusual concepts. Which makes sense as there are way more titles out there that adhere to the tried-and-trusted formulas.

This got me thinking that developers should try and release these more unique titles right at the start of a generation, as the release schedule is usually barren for months after a new console comes out. I realise this is easier said than done but I’ve lost count of the people I’ve seen talk about how they never would have bought Bloodborne as it wasn’t their thing, but did so because there wasn’t anything else out – and they ended up loving it in the end.

I imagine GC will hit me with an example of my idea having already happened and failing miserably but maybe not!

GC: Maybe they could also manage not to release new IP a week after Gamescom, and a bank holiday, on exactly the same day and with exactly the same review embargo. The lack of forward planning in the games industry is, and always has been, absolutely appalling. And the beginning of the generation did you use to be the prime time to launch new IP, even amongst big companies, but that never really happened this gen.


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Keeping it real

Sometimes I think that games designers can be incredibly stupid and can ruin their own games. Being a role-playing fan I rather fancied playing Kingdom Come: Deliverance. However, having read the reviews I decided that it did not warrant a full price purchase. So when it came out on Game Pass I was delighted. At first impressions were excellent, with good graphics and voice-acting, etc. so I was quite impressed and I was enjoying the game.

However, unfortunately this did not last long. Fairly early into the game there is a section where you have to steal a suit of armour from a couple of possible locations. Following along I went along to the suggested location only to be caught by a guard spawning through a wall. Somewhat disgruntled I reloaded and tried again, only to be caught by what I can say is one of the most pathetic spawns I have ever seen as this guard was wearing completely the wrong livery.

First game I’ve ever played that blatantly cheated during a stealth section. So I took the ‘hint’, reloaded and eventually found the location the that the game wanted you to use. Needless to say you could have set off a crate of bangers here and nobody would have noticed.

Picking a very easy crate I attempted the lockpicking only to discover that the designers felt that since locking-picking is hard in real life they had better make it doubly so in the game. So what did they do? Needless to say they exploited the weakness of the thumbstick directional controls when it comes to close control and then added some vibration to make it even harder.

It’s all rather unfair and there are much better, fairer lockpicking mechanisms in the industry. It was at this point I decided to call it a day and thanked god for Game Pass. Needless to say, I won’t be buying anything else by this developer. I have nothing against realism in a game, but just using it when it suits you will not win you many friends.


Inbox also-rans

What do you mean by Metroidvania? What does that term mean in layman terms?

GC: It means games that are like Metroid and Castlevania. The sub-genre is very popular amongst indie developers but extremely rare amongst full price games, which means most are usually 2D only. Batman: Arkham Asylum, which is mentioned in today’s Inbox, is one of the few exceptions.

Is it me or is Microsoft not even trying to push Gears 5? It’s out very soon now and I feel like I’ve seen and heard virtually nothing about it. Was it even at Gamescom?
Ashton Marley

GC: There was a behind closed door walkthrough of Horde mode but no hands-on.


This week’s Hot Topic

The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Tomen, who asks what is your favourite story campaign?

Despite all the talk of single-player going out of fashion they continue to be made and often play a role even in multiplayer-focused games, but which one do you think is the best? You can nominate any campaign from any year or format, whether it’s single-player only or if the campaign is just one part of a larger game.

When games have a mix of multiplayer and single-player which do you primarily buy it for and do you ever ignore one or the other?

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear twice daily, every weekday morning and afternoon. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word 4Player viewer features at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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