Monday, March 7, 2011

Days Of Thunder XBLA Review

So now that I've played through the game for a few days, got 200/200 gamerscore, unlocked everything, and played online, let's talk about the game for real.

First of all, on all the social sites, everyone was running out saying how terrible this game was.  Now that everyone has given the game a "second chance," they don't think it's so bad after all.  I think it's that "NASCAR is stupid" mentality that the mainstream gamer has.  Dude, WTF people.

Now for the racing.  Initially, the controls may be a bit sensitive.  It's really easy to whip around and lose control.  But hey--is every racing game supposed to be easy?  Go play Mario Kart or Cruis'n World and give me a break.  But there's two reasons why handling may suck--one, because tires get worn out over time and two, because you can upgrade your tires if you play into the career mode a bit.

Racing is rather intense and the sense of speed is good.  It's really easy to get into pileups, but it's also easy to straighten out.  Your car has some forward momentum at all times so you aren't automatically down and out.  Be careful because too much car damage leads to an explosive wreck.  Quick pit stops remedy car damage and tire wear.

 Obligatory screen shot

There are two powerup bars to fill--the hammer and focus.  Hammer is basically a turbo boost that speeds you up by 60+ mph.  You get it by drafting and passing other cars as well as by running clean laps and leaving the pits.  Focus slows the game down and makes it easy to dodge crashes.

Now most of the turns in the game can be taken at full speed (even at max stats) so practice dodging cars and staying off the grass.  Use hammer on the straightaways.  The AI cars in this game are as dumb as bricks as they often "die," laying there in the middle of the road doing nothing.  It's kind of funny to see Cole Trickle himself in need of the ambulance.  There's a few competent cars per race, but you can usually make a good run for first because the rubber-band AI usually goes in reverse, making it easy to catch up.  Once you pass the AI though, they rarely catch up if you race well.

 Unfortunately, there are no Mello Yello ads in the game.

You can create up to six cars of three models.  You can apply basic paint jobs and numbers as you would in a PS2 game.  You get a sense of ownership over the car but not much since it's nowhere near Forza 3 customization.

The rest of the career mode is boring though because it's a bunch of long-winded races in a row.  The races get longer and if you're like me, you'll blow through them easily.  Three of the ten tracks are big ovals that you can basically take at full throttle and once you're in the lead, it's just easy sailing.  Best way to get through career is have two cars, one for ovals (top speed & fuel), one for road courses (tires & durability).  After you beat the career (some 5-6 hours later), you unlock the Rowdy Derby where you smash into other cars and I only did that a few times to get the achievement.

 Hey, at least you're not playing the NES version

I really like the quick pit feature.  You drive into the pit, mash the A B and X buttons as fast as you can to repair and refuel the car, then you get out of there.  Reminds me of Danny Sullivan's Indy Heat.  If only you could refill one bar at a time it would increase game strategy but since you can refill all three, pits only last a few seconds.

Online isn't too bad.  You can have up to 12 players.  Regardless of your career car's stats, you're maxed out online so all cars are on the same playing field.  Problem is if someone gets out way ahead, you can't draft or catch up to him barring a huge mistake.  That's where the dumb AI cars come into play--use them to fill your hammer and catch up.  But if you find some players of equal skill, it can be fun.  Good luck trying to find more than 4 players though since online doesn't seem too active.  You can't join games in progress though so just be patient at first.

I'm just about done.  There are ten tracks in the game and the graphics are okay.  The color palette is a bit dreary but I'm fine with it.  The soundtrack consists of some Southern rock that's okay at best.  The pit chief says stupid stuff like "Fill that hammer real-quick-like" in that stupid voice so I just shut him up.  The Las Vegas oval is a subtle hint to Daytona USA considering it has the same layout as Daytona's beginner course as well as the casino/slot machine theme going on.

 Sure thing, gramps!  (not an actual screenshot)

Oh, and one more thing that's kind of stupid.  If you smash your car into the wall at an angle, sometimes you "hit a brick wall" and lose all speed which can be really frustrating on tracks like Atlanta Road.  Usually happens if you clip the inside wall of a turn which I've always had a tendency to do in racing games nowadays.

This ought to give you a good sense of what the game is like.  Just skip around and ignore the guy's voice since that isn't mine.

When you consider this being worth 800 MSP, it's not so bad.  Really, you can nitpick about it, but it's a cheap little game so screw it.  If you practice the game, you can zip around the tracks at nearly full speed (215+ mph) and that's pretty fun--as close as you're gonna get to Daytona USA in a loooonnnnngggg time).  It's exciting at first but I can see it becoming old if you don't have online buddies to play with.  Maybe this game will get a DLC track pack, but I highly doubt it.

Review Score: 8/10 I guess.  A real hit-or-miss kind of game.  BTW, there's a Playstation Network game of this that looks better, not sure how that game plays though...

Psssh...WEAK, we got the lame version of this game.  Go play PSN version.

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