By William Chandler
I haven’t done one of these in a bit. Here are some games I’ve been playing.
(Image courtesy of Codemasters)
Dirt Rally (Early Access)
I caught myself getting pretty excited when Codemasters decided to stealth drop Dirt Rally into Early Access on Steam a few weeks ago. I’m a pretty big fan of the Dirt series even though Dirt 3 and Showdown, the two most recent entries prior to Rally, missed the mark by a pretty wide margin. Thankfully, Dirt Rally represents an extremely strong return to form for the series, even in the feature limited Early Access version that is currently available.
Perhaps return to form is a bit inaccurate. Dirt Rally is, by all accounts, the most sim-like of all of the games in the Dirt series, so its more like a return to Codemasters’ earlier Colin McRae titles. Dirt Rally, with the default level of assists and AI set to the easiest difficulty, proves to be a decently challenging experience for several hours of play. The handling model in the game is generally more realistic than past titles and will require some getting used to. Not to mention the fact that the tracks are often more hazardous than ever with roadside debris, hairpin turns and slick surfaces all looking to fuck you over. Dirt Rally required a decent amount of studying before I ever felt like I was even a little in control of my vehicle.
Of course, I am traditionally not a sim racing player. I tend toward more arcade sim racing games like Forza or Need for Speed: Shift. And while Dirt Rally definitely feels like more of a sim than those games, I definitely wouldn’t consider it as hardcore a sim as something like iRacing or Assetto Corsa. Hell, just the fact that I can perform decently well in Dirt Rally with only an Xbox One controller proves that the game is on the more accessible end of the sim racing spectrum.
The game is also a blast to play. The feeling of immense satisfaction when you finally nail a corner perfectly is just as enthralling as the string of curse word laden runs that you will likely have the first few times you play a track. Dirt Rally actually manages to be engaging when you completely suck as well as when you finally start to “get it”. This is helped drastically by the strong sense of immersion from the pretty visuals and great sound design. Between the gorgeous cliffside vista, the whine of the engine, the rumbling and crunching of gravel underneath the car, and the sudden crash of twisting metal from a turn gone wrong, Dirt Rally does an incredible job of making you feel like you’re actually the highly unskilled driver at the helm of this wreck.
Presently, players can only choose between Greece, Monaco, and Wales, each with five or so tracks on offer, and the only mode is a time trial style Rally event until Hillclimb is released sometime at the end of May. But, even with the limited amount of content, Dirt Rally is a damned good game that should certainly satisfy anyone looking for a slightly more realistic experience.
(Image courtesy of Gamespot)
Killing Floor 2 (Early Access)
I can tell this is going to become more and more common as companies of all sizes embrace the Early Access model as a viable way to ensure the public’s desire for a game. That said, some games definitely do Early Access better than others, and I have to say that I’m more than a little bummed that Killing Floor 2 (at the time of writing this) only has three official maps. I’m pretty burned out on the game after playing the same three maps on repeat for nearly a month. But, on the other hand, the fact that I was willing to do that really says something about the quality of the game.
Killing Floor 2 is better than the first in just about every way. The guns feel great, the kills are satisfying, and the perk system has much more depth this time around. The game is also quite a looker on max settings thanks to some great lighting, detailed guns, fantastic ragdoll, and absurd gore.
If you played the original then you know the drill. A bunch of zombie esque dudes come out of the woodwork in waves and so you and five other human dudes must kill them all while trying not to die. At the end of a wave, everyone takes the money they’ve earned killing zed dudes and invests it into better guns and equipment which makes killing dudes easier. But stronger zombie dudes are also introduced with each wave. Rinse and repeat until finally you face a big bad boss dude and then hopefully you can kill him too.
There’s a class system with perks and levels that all specialize in different types of weaponry and fill some pretty basic roles. Right now there are only Commando, Medic, Support and Berserker classes playable in the game but they do plan to add more over time. The classes are varied enough to provide relatively unique experiences when playing each one although some are definitely much easier to level than others. For instance, the melee class, Berserker, has a tough time leveling early on unless you have an extremely attentive medic on your side.
The game does require a decent bit of cooperation in order to succeed but if you have some people who are at least a little bit familiar with their roles then the game stops being a challenge on normal. However, Hard is borderline impossible without having leveled up your class to about ten(which, by the way, takes a long fucking time), so I definitely found myself wishing for a difficulty in between the two. The boss does present a pretty strong challenge even on normal, though, making beating him for the first time feel like a pretty decent accomplishment.
Killing Floor 2 is highly satisfying and extremely addictive even if you are playing with a bunch of random internet people. Get a few friends together (alcohol optional) and you’re guaranteed to have a pretty gleeful time mowing down the undead hordes. Just know that the game is pretty light on content at the moment.