Can You Smell What The Devs Are Cooking? GRIP

Can You Smell What The Devs Are Cooking? GRIP

Since the first few months of 2014, a massive nostalgia wave seemingly shook Kickstarter and the gaming industry alike, and we’re not talking about some weak, two meters wave, but a full scale tsunami of hopes, dreams and returning gameplay formulas that were believed to be lost in time: a hype storm that promised to deliver a new hayday to many amazing sub-genres that have been silent for too long.

One of those subgenres happens to be arcade racing, which scene has been bombarded with titles, being them classy Anti-Grav racers like Formula Fusion and Red:Out or powersliding-based games like Drift Stage or Power Drive 2000, soaked in neon lights and synth beats…this roll call left only one type of game behind, and that’s what we’re talking about today: a spiritual successor to the PSX’s Rollcage, GRIP takes it to the streets with the speed of a bullet train and the grace of a steel-plated rhino.

 

 

The Flipside of Future Racing

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More Furious than Fast, if you ask me.

Welcome to GRIP, the future you can watch via pirate TV for just 9.99 a month.

Basically, this game explains what happens while the shiny anti-gravity crafts of the official racing leagues smoothly zoom through exotic racetracks on earth: a bloodsport originated from traditional street racing -you know, the one without military grade weapons mounted on the cars-, but that devolved into all out battling once it got more and more famous throughout the solar system, because as we all know fame means money, and there’s never enough money, so why not murdering your opponent with a Scorpion Missile to get your hands on his paycheck too? He won’t be needing that anymore, right?

Well, i hope you took that into consideration, because that same opponent is now charging a railgun at you. Good luck.

 

 

Unstoppable Force

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Just like a Turbo Spin!

There’s a high chance that the first thing you noticed while looking at the thumbnail, were the strangely big wheels on that armored behemoth hardly resembling a car anymore, well guess what: they’re the game’s main gimmick!

The vehicles currently come in two classes: the all-rounder Dominator and the sturdy, combat focused Dreadnaught, and the friction caused by their insane speed makes them stick to the ground so much that they manage to challenge gravity, wallriding to extreme extents, making even ceilings possible surfaces to take advantage of.

But wait, did i say ceilings? So what happens when the tunnel’s over and the craft hits the ground upside down, you must be asking. Well, there’s when the wheels’ size comes into play: being them actually larger than the frame, they make the vehicle un-overturnable, and effectively unstoppable unless it’s hit by a weapon (even then, when that happens the craft is just sent flying without any great momentum loss, but still taking damage from the hit). And this is what this game is all about: exploiting momentum and physics to shave off your times, while trying to land and dodge as much fire as possible.

Now, as far as the weapons go, in this current build (updated the 7th of july) we have the Scorpion Missile, a simple guided missile with medium damage output, the Aegis Backshield, which is…well…a shield that protects your backside, the Gattler machine gun, which is self explanatory, an EMP emitter that sabotages all the vehicles in its area of effect and the equivalent of the much feared Blue Shell from Mario Kart, the Assassin Missile. More weapons are in the making of course, including the aforementioned Railgun, for a total of thirteen weapons, chosen randomly by passing over a weapon pad, in a Mario Kart-ish fashion.

 

 

The Aestethic of Violence

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From the ground up: Jahtra, the space colony “Orbital”, Norvos and Liddo, just some of the various worlds you’ll find yourself charging onto to get that first place.

Needless to say, this carnival of burning wreckages and roaring engines has quite a grittier tone than other futuristic racers : gone are the fancy branding, elaborate team color schemes and titanium plated tracks, leaving the place to gritty alien landscapes that have been clearly bulldozed down to build the makeshift courses in which the races take place, and their “DIY” nature is reflected both in their visuals and gameplay, with details like flares signaling where the road is supposed to be on FIC Outpost, or most of the track on Transport, built around what used to be a minecart rail, and shortcuts made up by parts of the enviroment that didn’t get torn down probably because of the organizers own lazyness, and because leaving them there could spark up the competition a bit.

As of now the current build has four total tracks, two of them i already mentioned: the FIC Outpost on Norvos and Transport on Liddo, while the other two are Figure 8, a night-time track possibly located on Jathra, and Yuri Industrial, the track featured in most of the press material and the first to be added, definetly located on Jahtra. They’re playable in three competitive modes (eliminator, time trial and of course, regular race) and a practice mode, while Playground Mode is more of a “lab” to test tricks, weapons and physics on, and it’s only playable on its specific “area”, a textureless arena reminiscent of Team Fortress 2’s fan maps, which is not even a flaw, being it a “test mode” that will probably get removed somewhere near the game’s full release.

 

 

Killer Grooves

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“Minds of industrial”, a perfect album to choose from for a game like GRIP.

While the original Rollcage didn’t have people like Tim Wright and The Prodigy in its OST, quite a few big names got their song to be part of it: we’re talking Fatboy Slim, E-Z Rollers, Ed Rush and Hoax, but in this case the music didn’t have the pivotal, mood-setting role that it had in WipEout, so when GRIP came around the artist selection was completely redone, shifting to a more industrial, heavy sounding shade of DnB, to better give that feel of speed and ferociousness, and artists like Full Kontakt, Xtigma and Silence Groove did god’s work, with tracks like Cyborg, Power Train, Reconnect and The Creeper flawlessly managing to give that “mechanically savage” vibe to every race.

 

 

 

What ARE those devs cooking?

To wrap it up, we can say that the lovely folks at Caged Element are cooking something the likes we haven’t seen in a long time: a mixture of simplistic yet effective driving mechanics, slightly busted combat and physics shenaningas that, combined with the fair share amount of customization promised during the Kickstarter campaign, and the yet to be implemented online AND local multyplayer, is probably going to be a must have for hardcore racing fans and casual speed demons alike.

I hope you found this article entertaining and somewhat insightful, this is the 3rd Runner, looking for a cheap ps1 to play Rollcage on.

 

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EVO ’16 with The 3rd Runner: Of Downloads and Thuggery

EVO ’16 with The 3rd Runner: Of Downloads and Thuggery

So, last time we talked about fighting games (see: CEO with The 3rd Runner: The Rift), we left off with a pretty big question: could the regulations over typical FGC behaviors, perceived by the higher ups at Capcom as thuggery, hamper the overall Evolution Championship Series experience, in favor of a more sanitized and less entertaining enviroment, more akin to other eSports competitions?

Well, except for a couple of pretty dumb decisions made mostly to pander to the ESPN 2 audience (because surprise surprise, the Street Fighter V grand finals were broadcasted there too!), I can safely say we’re not yet in MOBA territory: players faced eachother side to side like usual, still showed spontaneous signs of respect beyond conventional handshakes, like little fistbumps and eventually hugs, so yeah, they still haven’t robbed us of our emotions!

Unfortunately, though, i can’t say anything about our beloved Heels, because this year they apparently didn’t make it to Top 8, and the most villanous player i can describe is Hollywood Sleep, Killer Instinct’s champion, that still proved to be a pretty decent person outside the metaphorical ring, only displaying his inner Heel by showing off a damn ruthless Gargos (the final boss character of Killer Instinct, which is -needless to say- pretty overpowered); we can assume they maybe dropped their villanous personas for this special occasion (after all they were on national TV this time), saving boisterousness and theatrics for smaller, less public events? We may never know until the next WinterBrawl.

What we may know is that ESPN’s management section doesn’t like women’s physical attributes, beaches and white rooms full of squares, since they forced all Street Fighter V players who used female characters with slightly skimpier outfits to switch to alternate costumes, banned the “Kanzuki Beach” stage because the 10mm of water on the ground could “alter the perception of the characters’ position” and the Training Room Stage, a white room with a square pattern on the walls and floor, generally used as the “grand finals” stage because the squares helped players manage their spacing better, because…well…it looked bad. Now, while these restrictions WERE stupid, the Training Room problem was solved by Capcom, that recently made a stage just for competitive events like EVO and Capcom Cup, the bombastic Ring of Destiny…which is now being sold to us uncultured swines for 25 bucks…one step forward, two steps back, right Capcom?

Even through all these restriction, though, the tournament went great i must say, with Infiltration completing the download of the “Final_Apocalypse.exe” program into his brain, managing to pull off three (three!) no damage, perfect victories DURING GRAND FINALS with his flawless Charlie Nash against Fuudo’s R. Mika (one of the ladies who got their costume censored) which, even though put up a good fight, couldn’t really stand against the Sonic Hurricane called Infiltration. The other tournaments were, of course, no less exciting, with Pokken Tournament being surprisingly hype and the Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR- finals showing off the power of a fan-favourite returning character; the katana wielding american Zorro: Johnny. Omito, Johnny’s user, still got soundly beaten by Machabo’s monstrous Sin Kyske. Last but not least, the Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 tournament was finally won by Chris “Touhou” G, who surprisingly didn’t burst into a maniacal laughter after realizing his victory, like the son of a Succubus and a Demon that he is,  and instead reacted quite…modestly.

So, to put it short, this first year of the FGC’s eSports transition went smoothly all things considered, and probably had a good effect on the community’s growth…but as much as i hate leaving discussions open, this isn’t the kind of subject you just archive and leave be: truth to be told, I feel this is just the beginning of a new era for the FGC, and like in any “new era”, changes will be inevitable, even if sadly only time will tell what kind of changes they will be. As far I can guess, though, we behaved pretty well this time, so i feel no further restrictions will be needed in the future.

What do You think, dear reader?

I just hope you found both EVO and my article over here entertaining, but this time for the insight you’ll have to look on EventHubs, DustLoop or whatever wiki your game of choice has when it comes to competitive, this is The 3rd Runner, off to practice some Sol Badguy Fafnir Counter Hit mixups!

 

 

 

 

CEO ’16 with The 3rd Runner: The Rift

CEO ’16 with The 3rd Runner: The Rift

So, guess who’s back from a little hiatus? And this time we talk about competitive gaming, finally! Not quite eSports, as much as “WWeSports”, because Evolution 2016, the biggest fighting games tournament of the year, is only a week away! So, to better get “in the zone” with this Whole fighting game business, today we’re talking about Evo’s louder little brother: Community Effort Orlando.

Now, part of the reason of this “pause” i took was that i couldn’t find a proper way to talk about an event like this, since it’s not really the same as E3, and since it’s a tad late to discuss the highlights of the various tourneys, a matter that would also require countless hours of technical explanation, let’s focus on a different, but not less important, topic: a “rift” that it’s starting to form between Community events and “official” events.

Allow me to explain: the fighting game community is famous for being a lot more similar to the old school pro-wrestling scene, revolving around “personas” and “feuds” rather than teams and coaches, like “regular” eSports, and with feuds come various degrees of trash talking, grudge matches with money on the line, and general behaviors that don’t take the PG limits of the eSports scene much into account. All of this, even if in some cases can get slightly obnoxious, is pretty entertaining and has contributed to give to the FGC its unique flair and “personality”, and community founded tournaments like CEO are the best way to witness both its virtues and vices. CEO in particular is the one that tries its best to be somewhat wrestling based, with players facing eachother in actual boxing rings, the catwalk to the ring for those who want to try more “theatrical” entrances and a straight up belt (like the one in the picture above) given to tournament winners! Quite fancy, huh? Because we’re not done! Get this: after years and years of buildup, players getting more and more elaborate entrances (Kenneth Bradley’s replica of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s, complete with Stunner performed on the referee, along with Dieminion’s Undertaker entrance, both from last year’s CEO, being the pinnacle) and mentions of the tournament from actual wrestlers, CEO ’16 hosted a once-in-a-lifetime Street Fighter V showdown between New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Kenny Omega (pictured above, on the right) and WWE’s Xavier Woods, both already well known above-average Street Fighter players, both well determined to put on a show and to bring their recently born “friendly rivalry” to an end: it was the closest the FGC has ever been to becoming what i like to call “WWeSports”, and honestly even more entertaining than some of the most recent WWE events.

That sounded quite hype, right? Well, sadly there’s no coin with just one face, and the other face of this coin doesn’t really like how this whole situation has been evolving, having other plans in mind for the fighting games competitive scene: we are, of course, talking about Capcom, Street Fighter’s publishing company and the one with the biggest influence when organizing competitive events, being Street Fighter the most conpetitively played fighting game.

You see, since the release of Street Fighter 4, the FGC has been slowly but steadily growing, gaining notoriety and getting more and more in the public eye, a public eye that came to consider those player behaviors as “thuggery”, an adjective that Capcom -of course- didn’t like to see associated with events they sponsored, so they straight up introduced more and more regulations in regards of gambling, trash talking, money matches and so on, to try and “conform” EVO and Capcom Cup with the rest of the MLG-organized events, instead of continuing being the “black sheep” of the bunch: the consequences of these “disciplinary actions” will be seen for the first time at this year’s EVO, broadcasted for the first time on ESPN2…will there be that much of a difference? Will the personas we all know and love be hampered by the trash talking regulations? Will it feel too “sanitized”?

We’ll find out in a week, i guess!

While this article wasn’t that insightful, i hope you found it at least entertaining, this is the 3rd Runner, going back to Guilty Gear Xrd’s training room, since i don’t have a ps4 to play Street Fighter V.