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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Video game futures?

I just stopped playing World Rally Championship and Gran Turismo 4 for the Playstation 2. Gran Turismo 4 is an incredibly realistic driving simulator, getting car physics perfectly and making a near true to life racing experience. World Rally Championship is a mayhem simulator. I can take a rally car of my choosing, all of which sound like they have chunks of granite in their transmissions, to one of many mountainside rally tracks. The gearing in these cars is so short that it has to shift to fourth before it hits 20 mph, making the driver in the car look like he is having a caffienne induced spasm as he shifts, puts his hand back on the steering wheel, and then snaps his hand back to the shifter all in a fraction of a second. The real fun comes when one realizes that the car can be taken off any of the many cliffs and jumps that line the sides of the road. Now, unfortunately, the game only allows for excursions of three seconds before it teleports the car back to the track. This does not detract from the fun, as it just resets the game after taking the car into a football-like spiral off a canyon wall. When the car comes back to the track, it has dents, dings, and makes a ludicrous amount of smoke. The best part is that there is insufficient clipping in the car model, so the smoke just pours into the car. It's especially fun to go flying off a hill into a passing sheep or spectator because the simply do not budge. They are apparently made of some sort of titanium alloy and have shafts that stick into the bedrock. When one takes an in car view, it only adds to the hilarity that the driver and navigator are completely calm. Even as the car careens over a several hundred foot high jump, the navigator keeps his head burried in his map, even calling out future turns as the valley floor rapidly approaches, and the driver continues to not blink, ever, just like real rally drivers. So, I guess it is realistic after all. Having watched rally racing, I realize that these are not humans driving these vehicles, but some sort of androids. In the thirty seconds that the camera is pointed at the faces of the "people" in the car, there is no blinking, sneezing, coughing, shifting, scratching, or breathing going on by either the driver or the navigator. I think that they truly would not notice if they just flew off into nothingness. The driver would still be turning the wheel in accordance with the turns that he would encounter, were he not hurdling towards certain doom, the navigator would be completely oblivious to the fact that gravity has now started pulling in the opposite direction as the car is now upside down, and the specatators would still be snapping photos and shouting things in various foreign languages. So, that makes me wonder why tracks such as the Pike's Peak course still exist in our modern age of intense and constant lawsuits. It seems to me that if a driver had a nervous tick, he could go off the track with such speed that he wouldn't hit the bottom of the mountain until everyone there had enough time to pack up, go home, get dinner, feed the pets, take baths, and go to bed. Meanwhile, the driver of said car would have completed the course in his mind only to find that he would be able to construct a crude glider from materials found inside his own car and fly to safety before his car hit the bottom of the stupifyingly tall Pike's Peak. All this, of course, makes for a very fun video game. Except I haven't figured out how to have my driver make a glider when he spins off the top of a tall mountain so he can save his own butt. In all my games, he just looks kind of contented with his fate. Anyway, all that being said, Gran Turismo 4 is still a far superior game. So there.


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