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BAM. Ride Along – Forza 6 Let’s Play

This week kicks off the release of the Forza 6 demo on Xbox One, as a change of pace I decided to capture some of the gameplay to showcase what to expect. Since I’m doing a single installment I’m breaking these down track by track in text but the video will cover the experience. Not all videos will be this way but when it’s something new and pretty direct like this I might change it up.

That said, I used the stock Xbox One controller, I don’t have a racing wheel for the system so that’s where things will come from on the platform as I’m not sure when I’ll pick one up or if any companies would be interested in jumping along with a donor.

Video removed for now – Content ID claims for music made the original recording impossible to use. I’ll have to do another recording without the soundtrack. Future note, if you want to use Forza 6 footage on Youtube, the content creators will flag the life out of your videos. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem that Microsoft has sorted out anything to help the community at all.

First up we’re in Brazil on Circuito Do Rio De Janeiro in the 2017 Ford GT, the supercar takes to this street course against a pretty heavy lineup of opponents. As the first experience of Forza it’s also the safest delivery, the game sets all the controls to easy mode so you’re coddled along with safe lines, turning assist, braking assist and assist assist. For some it’s perfect because you have kids or others playing so you can just hold the trigger and basically have a racing experience. If you want to fudge the controls you can do manual braking and line switching and escape the grasp of the support system to some degree.

It’s a beautiful track though and without the assists in a Ford GT I think many players would leave chunks of that car scattered throughout the stage. Fortunately that’s not the case and it’s just scuffed bumpers and lots of rage in the narrow corridors of the track when passing feels nearly impossible or line blocking becomes the most frustrating experience in history.

After you complete the first level you jump into car selections, yada yada yada classics skip the hubbub pick your favorite car / the Subaru Impreza 22b or RX7 (it’s okay you know you want to) and jump into the mix.

The first of the qualifying series brings players to the Lime Rock Full length track, it’s 3 lap race where players work on coming in Top 3 over the 1.5m course. The track is fairly relaxed with open corners and lots of wiggle room, if  you’re new to the game leaving it on easy or normal is probably a good choice to understand things a little more with the car selected. The AI tends to let off in the easier corners and avoid any connections on the rumble strip so passing is usually possible on most inside turns.

Following Lime Rock is Yas Marina Circuit, for some it’s a pretty awesome track full of challenges… but it’s always been a nemesis track for me. Yas focuses on grip and downforce and without the right mixture it means going off-track is a given and struggles to regain that grip will act as a constant throughout the race until a steadier approach hits. This race isn’t a pretty one but I’ll keep taking cracks at it until I’m able to really produce a clean run without having to resort to flashbacks.

With Yas turning to a distant memory the qualifier skips to a drivers challenge with a battle at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a 7 lap Indy run. Going from heavy corners and low 100mph speeds to 220mph is a change of pace, fortunately as long as upcoming traffic patterns are anticipated correctly it doesn’t turn into a nightmare. The goal of the race is high-speed without ramming the car up the backside of all the opposition. Key things to remember are the behavior of the car under acceleration and deceleration as those will become critical during passing. It’s an enjoyable break and for the most part the experience was clean minus a few bad calls or late turns where I did end up touching with other cars.

The last leg of the journey ends at a wet and rainy Sebring International Raceway, it’s a nightmare to say the least with puddles and hydroplane for all. The key factor here is harnessing the power of the car to avoid bad slips when crossing puddles. For those in RWD cars that means working the gas as needed to keep up control of the car without sending the car into a race ending spin. Traction is obviously reduced and plowing the car off the track with understeer increases along with it, so it’s just a wild wacky fun zone of under and oversteer with a side of traction loss and spin. Gotta love it. The 22b used the AWD to its advantage most of the track to help pull it through fudged corners and away from the pack in general, it’s a good overall car but it’s not without challenges in Forza 6 as seen with Yas Marina.

The demo is a well-rounded experience for Forza 6, good variety of cars and tracks and it showcases the weather system and some of the custom options for players. Given the full game is only weeks away it’s worth checking out if there is any interest in the game, on top of that players can also earn special perks that transfer over to the retail game so why not?

BAM. Ride Along – GRID 2 (Cote D’ Azur Touge)

GRID 2 action is back again, the Skyline GT-R (R32) is taking on the Caterham SP300R in a battle to the limit on Route D’ Azur course. It’s a tighter track with unforgiving side walls but that’s generally the breaks when you’re on Cote D’ Azur in any game. Given the weight of the GT-R it’s not entirely with the biggest advantage, the power of the car and the 4WD are the strengths the car needs to rely on here since it slides and there’s not a ton of room to really play with on the roads here. Given the Caterham does have the weight advantage it should be able to hold its ground a little better even on the uphill climbs.

As you can see, I have a few wall bumps and sketchy moments but it’s the beast mode of the GT-R that carries it through. Late braking and throwing as much speed into the corners without dogging the engine is a key element to staying afloat, managing that it allows the torque of the GT-R to really come into play and pull ahead with the fastest average speed throughout the course. The biggest challenge to the GT-R usually for me on Cote D’ Azur is the braking challenge as it’s easy to get caught up in the momentum of the track and push some of these switch back sections a little too hard leaving for some bad crashes.

The Caterham put up a fight but the SP300R wasn’t destined for greatness this round, maybe next time guys.

More features will continue dropping through the late summer and Fall season, keep an eye out for more adventures with the GT-R and everything else I get sucked into.

My setup:
AMD FX-8320 @ 4.4GHz
ASUS R9 290 DirectCUII @ 1000/1250
Gigabyte 990FXA-UD3
Logitech G27 Racing Wheel
DXRacer King Series – OH/KS57/NB

Gamebalaya Podcast 46: 08-01-14 – Drop a Sample Into The Reactor

This week we are joined by David, Lydia and Gabe as we talk about our adventures at San Diego Comic-Con! We also talk about GameStop, the types of people you see in pre-order lines, Homefront 2, Deep Silver, Crytek, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Battlefield Hardline, Google buying Twitch, Escape Dead Island, Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris, Youtuber controversy, Destiny, The Crew, MechWarrior Online and more!

Check out this episode!

Black Ice – Cyberpunk FPS, Hacking, RPG begins a journey

Retro inspired games have a unique market, generally delivering 2D sprite based environments as a throwback to the early days of gaming. Black Ice goes in a different direction, instead focusing on the neon glow that haunted the 80’s with a dash of Tron inspired computer environments in a 3D world. It’s a game of hack and dash with RPG elements as players have to tackle difficult hacks to obtain crucial tech to advance and eventually take down the master system.

While it sounds potentially easy, it’s a mind boggling mess, shooting speed and ammo are based on available RAM (within the game world) cycle speed and other factors are crucial for survival. While it seems like a given to just beef up your memory and hacking  speed it’s not that easy, Black Ice provides an array of enemies including reaaally annoying spiders that slowly eat away at your soul / health. Normally I don’t care about insects of any level, suddenly I do and I can thank this game for that.

It’s not all trauma, the weapons are brilliant when you have the right stats, using a plasma cutter to mow through everything (yes everything) is magically rewarding given how swarms bite and chip away so often.

While words could go on forever about Black Ice in it’s early stages of development, I’ll leave it to the two current videos recorded to demonstrate what there is within. If you’d like to try Black Ice for yourself, head over to the website and grab the latest demo.

Review – Alien Rage (PC)

At E3 this year I was able to catch a glimpse of Alien Rage, an sci-fi shooter aiming to bring back some memories from the old days of Unreal combined with score counters, combo levels and heavy levels of AI swarms and massive bosses. This isn’t Gears or COD, its a massive solo assault on a horde of bad guys set on total annihilation.

Our review focus on the PC version in single player mode, Alien Rage is launching soon and as the servers populate with traffic I’ll have a feature for that. The game takes place on a mining rock where humans and aliens clash over the most powerful potential fuel in the universe.  Things go sour and soon the aliens are the only ones standing still, to even the score and keep the Earth safe, a lone soul lands and sets forward on fixing the score.

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Alien Rage focuses on discovery (finding audio files to fill in the history) and massive amounts of survival and scoring players on how well they can do it. While this might seem easy, it’s actually rough because the AI rushes, shoots longer and uses technology beyond what players have. It’s a bit stacked against players and then you get the big boys, the guardians who occupy the main transitions it’s just a massive stab at proportional balance as they have bigger guns and just general size.

Thankfully there’s a motivator, Alien Rage has scoring, combos, achievements and well, scoring. Every combo, every headshot, every melee combo and successive streak rings with badges, bonuses and rewards for taking down hordes, it’s excessive to the point where you can run around even a minute later and have the game catch up with how much damage and how many streaks and combinations you’ve executed in a short spree just prior. 

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Action comes from a variety of weapons, machine guns, shotguns, rifles, rocket launchers and so much more. Each possessing primary and secondary firing options, for pure players, the primary presents a unique challenge to progression but it’s possible. Secondary firing modes are incredibly powerful, they are the equalizer to any flood and they decimate anything in their path. Alien Rage offers tons of options and it’s up to players to manage ammo and the best gun for the job before death just pours in from all sides.


This quick impressions video drives home all the reasons I loved checking out this game, if you can’t take people talking on video just skip to about 40 seconds and watch what I assembled for you.

Performance wise, the Unreal 3 engine continue challenging PC’s, Alien Rage delivers intense environments with heavy particles, detailed textures, depth of field and so many other options. It’s a gun’s blazing joy ride through a world of eye candy. On the test system (Phenom II X4, 7870) there haven’t been issues going into launch for speed and the frame rate at the recommended setting of High post-processing, medium textures and medium shadows ran at 60fps solid with few dips.

Coming in at $19.99 (15.99 if you pre-order) Alien Rage is a great value on the PC, the single player experience is incredible and long and torturing even for experienced players, crank up the difficulty and it will simply induce nightmares for weeks. If you’re on Xbox or Playstation, the game does not include online play but the single player is strong enough to keep players engaged.

PC gamers can find Alien Rage on Steam tomorrow, I suggest lining up early for those $4 off while it lasts.

The good:

  • Intense action in single player that isn’t rushed along
  • Tons of weapons with their primary and secondary fire modes
  • Immense boss fights, incredible odds at stake
  • Gorgeous level design and details surrounding each area
  • Scoring allows players to challenge themselves when replaying levels

The not so good:

  • For difficulty sensitive players, Alien Rage doesn’t just roll over
  • Graphics really do benefit from higher level settings

Review – King of Fighters XIII – Steam Edition

The King of Fighters lands on Steam, bringing the latest engine packed with redrawn visuals, HD backgrounds and tons of goodies that make the game pretty exciting to play on the desktop, notebook or what keeps players gaming now. It pops in at $29.99 on the market and delivers online and offline competition to keep the challenges coming. For those wondering if it’s just a plain rehash, it’s not, the game also packs in Iori, Nests and Mr. Karate DLC to drive the roster to 36 characters. All the Xbox DLC in one spot for this celebratory installment so that really adds some extra value for a title I’m sure many didn’t see coming to the PC.

When KOF XIII launched on the 360 a while back, I enjoyed the game as it was a large improvement over XII which lacked in move variety and options. It’s not the perfect installment although they kept pushing to make up for it by including DLC characters to complete the fan requests and build a diverse lineup. My stance on KOF XIII remains the same, the story, AI, character moves and experience are memorable and are easy to return to. Players can beat the game with pure domination, come back a month later and get destroyed just because they were slow or missed a connection. It’s always fun, it’s always a challenge and learning new moves and combinations every time is just really rewarding.

The graphics are beautiful on the PC, crisp on my LCD’s and it scales surprisingly well in Eyefinity, character resolution in the art is able to scale heavily for the game it’s just fantastic. Those hoping for a vivid and crisp experience are in for a treat using classic 2D mechanics vs cell styling or a 3D engine trying to support classic fighting mechanics. The only flaw is a simple one, on my build I was unable to display subtitles, it made the cut scenes dry as those without knowledge of Japanese aren’t able to take note of the events unfolding.

Where it all gets a bit sideways is the online experience, SNK is working like mad to get this fixed and optimized but in the moment, it’s sketchy. The beta leading in had decent latency (not amazing but not awful) but at release I was unable to find players at all with the search stalling. People love competition, this is a huge item for SNK to tackle if they want KOF to really take off, it’s not the first game of the genre to launch on the PC and others have bridged this gap. If it’s a matter of days or week’s it’s hard to say, if they return to the netcode from the most recent branch it would return the game to an online playable state even if that includes some ghosting or glitching.

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Additionally, controls are suffering from issues when using specialty hardware, Hori sticks have reports of issues and those hoping to use custom keys for keyboard input face limitations in an awkward array.  Trying to use my arcade stick I wasn’t able to properly map buttons which neutralized the use of it in the review. I was able to use an old Logitech USB controller but that’s about it. Very unfortunate but it’s part of the ongoing patch list for KOF now, it is a hard disappointment but using at least some form of controller helped keep the delivery. Even having an ini file to manipulate would aid heavily.

I love KOF games, I have since they debuted in my hometown arcade, watching the series expand, experiment and evolve has been fun but gaming is moving into the personal space so KOF has to adapt to the times to survive. I just wish SNK was able to perfect a system that had suffered some setbacks even on the Xbox 360 for quality. Right now there are many hoping the net play to shape up again and that’s just a rough hit for everyone.

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King of Fighters XIII Steam Edition rewards players with DLC and a real arcade experience, unfortunately it now struggles to deliver on network experiences for online play and control. Fighting enthusiasts love their hardware and they love beating up on each other, both of those have obstructions and it’s hurting that word of mouth and hype train. I want to see the Steam Edition flourish with players and fans so we can see more installments but buyers need more than this and hopefully it comes through.

The good:

  • Beautiful visuals, detailed and crisp delivery
  • Fluid frame rate, 60fps solid with great response
  • Controls that work deliver quick movement and easy actions
  • Strong AI and challenges, keeping players on their toes constantly
  • Custom character options, design their look as desired

The not so good:

  • Netcode is buggy, matches are hard to find or lagging needs improvement still
  • Controller support is off, Hori, X-Arcade and other models are struggling to deliver
  • Subtitles enabled please? None available at 1920×1200.

Would I say it’s worth the investment? Yes, in general King of Fighters is a good bet, the SP campaign has lasted with the test of time and a full roster of 36 characters makes it extremely enjoyable. One can hope that SNK continues to heavily devote themselves to fixing the control and network issues and this release will stand out as a gem. Given their interactions with the community so far, it seems likely we’ll see brighter days ahead.

Link: King of Fighters XIII Steam Edition Product Page (Steam)