Tag Archives: downloads

Best of 2008 Awards: Best Racing Game

Zestful Contemplation’s Best of 2008 Awards

Way the hell after 2008 is a thing of the past, it’s Zestful Contemplation’s Best of 2008 Awards.  I’m not pretending to make my awards comprehensive or unbiased or any of that other pretentious crap.  The fact that these awards reflect my own personal experiences, tastes, and dislikes is exactly the point.  I haven’t played every game that came out this year and I’m not going to consider a boatload of titles I never played.  But I did play a huge number of games this year, and these choices reflect my personal tastes and thoughts about the games I spent time with in 2008.

Best Racing Game

  • Burnout Paradise
  • Mario Kart Wii

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As much as I love Mario Kart and as great as I thought last year’s particular rendition of the game was, let’s face it, it’s not really in the running here.  Mario Kart is fun but this iteration was probably even less innovative than the GameCube installment.  There’s nothing wrong with that mind you, and I had plenty of fun with it, but come on, it’s up against Burnout Paradise.

Mario Kart Wii’s biggest new feature was probably its motion controlled steering, which nobody who actually cared about winning every once in a while actually used.  On the other hand, Burnout Paradise took an already awesome racing series, took a rather spectacular leap into an open-world setting, and made it significantly more awesome in the process.  Seeing your Miis cheering from the sidelines of the race courses, while awesome and much-appreciated, just can’t compare.

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Rarely does an open world game truly feel like it needs to be open world to me.  Most of the time all it means it that you have to walk farther to get to where you need to go instead of being able to select it from a far more convenient menu.  Sure Burnout Paradise should have given up some of its realism for a restart option, but it used its open world setting to its fullest.  Just driving around randomly at top speed for no reason was immensely entertaining.  Every street had its own records to set.  Every stretch of road contained its own challenges.  Showtime mode is addictive in its simplicity and can be played at any time the player desires.  The game is filled to the brim with fun stuff to do and is one of the most refreshingly fun racing games to appear in quite some time.

On top of all that, the developers have produced what has to be one of the more impressive efforts of post-release support for a game seen outside of the Rock Band platform.  The sheer amount of cool free stuff they have released for the game combined with the paid content that is quickly forthcoming has kept this game relevant and continually fun and fresh for far longer than it would have otherwise.  The motorcycle content alone could have been its own $10 download and few probably would have complained.

Plus, we’re getting our restart option now too.  And for free.  It’s nice when a developer listens to its fans.

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From the Archives: P.O.A.: Patched on Arrival

Having written quite a few random articles over the years for various tiny, short-lived blogs and web sites nobody has ever heard of, I have a number of articles lying around my hard drive.  Some of them are actually worth reading.  Maybe.  This is one of them.  It was originally posted to an old blog of mine on February 25, 2007.  It has been slightly cleaned up, but is otherwise untouched.  There are plenty of things I could have tacked onto it to make it a little more relevant, such as the PS3’s need to actually install bloody everything now on top of downloading it, but I resisted the temptation.  Enjoy.

Welcome to PC Land, console kiddies!

The day has come at last!  The cute little consoles have finally grown up to experience the glory that their hairy, adult, deep-voiced big brothers, PC gamers, have been basking in for so long.  No longer shall the TV-tethered entertainment boxes be deprived of the brain-shattering wonder that has been dangled in front of their faces like the prospect of anything resembling a decent Sonic game before dazed Sega fans for so long.  No longer shall the land of mind-numbingly confusing keyboard layouts; innumerable Civilization rip-offs; bloated, aging Windows installations screaming to be put out of their misery; graphics cards priced in small children rather than dollars; and enough driver updates to choke an innocent 60 GB hard drive have bragging rights over those poor, simplified, outdated children’s toys cursed with lower prices, more consistent user experiences and a significantly reduced chance of catching one of those nasty email viruses that translates your documents into Swahili and erases all of the Easter Eggs off your DVDs.

Yes my friends, the day has indeed come.  Finally console gamers the world over can open the shrink wrap on their shiny new game disc developed by a friendly marketing department near you, pop it into their system of choice, turn the console on with the power button on the controller instead of the system itself because Jesus-in-a-hair-metal-band it’s so much cooler that way, and enjoy the sight of a glorious download progress bar before they even glimpse the title screen because the developers couldn’t be bothered to actually finish the game before shoving it into our greedy, greasy, impatient hands.

I’m sorry little Timmy.  Your game never stood a chance.  There was nothing we could do to save it.  It was P.O.A.:  Patched on Arrival.

We’ve been able to see the dark cloud of downloadable evil floating our way for quite a while now, ever since that blasted Internet thingy started creeping its insidious way into our beloved boxes of isolated joy.  All we could do was hope that maybe we could be spared the fate of those poor bastards the PC gamers, who have had to go through this shit ever since 28.8 Kbps modems became the coolest thing since fried ice cream.

Alas, it was not to be so.

Crackdown is just the most recent offender.  Many before it in our new generation of orgasmic high-definition awesomeness have undergone last minute digital surgery, if not right at launch, then soon thereafter.

“It’s really not that big of a deal,” I can hear you whiny little bastards protest from the sidelines.  Well of course it’s not you little pricks, but that doesn’t make it good.  Don’t shovel unfinished crap on me and then expect me to act as your beta tester.  If I’m going to be a game tester I want to work 27 consecutive 24-hour stress-filled days fueled by pizza, soda, and self-loathing like the real thing, not have the task forced upon me when I’m expecting a finished game.

It’s a snowball effect that’s going to be damn hard to stop, too.  Once one lazy developer sees they can get away with it, news of their success is going to spread quicker than that of Alisha breaking up with Adam at the 12-year-olds’ gossip convention until every game on the shelves will be a half-finished pathetic excuse for a real game just waiting for a magical Internet transfer of ones and zeroes to make it whole (or ¾ anyway; whole is probably stretching it a tad).

So sit back and weep, gamers.  The day has come and, alas, it is a dark one indeed.

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