Review | 2008.01.28

We finally got on the bandwagon. Hah hah hah hah hah hah hah hah hah hah hah hah hah. Apologies, sore tendons makes me giddy. Rock Band is basically Forza with instruments instead of a wheel. It takes practice, patience, and you really can't compete at a high level without knowing the track. Damn, pun counter is at two already. I'm on fire.

I might not be putting in the effort to learn the skill were it not for the awesome fact that it's a four player game. Indeed I didn't play Guitar Heroes 1-3. The co-op element makes it a far greater experience. Alas, the game comes with a single axe and there are no Xbox guitars to be found (the official one won't be released til April). But who really needs a bassist?

Surprises - there's some strategy involved in getting high scores. And the little extras like character customization and cities/venues add a little meat to the great gameplay.

Complaints - the difficulty is all over the place. The game has four skill levels and places each song on a spectrum of difficulty, but this can be a pretty bad indicator.

Music - there's some epic stuff from Iron Maiden, The Who, The Stones, etc. Just a few annoying ones like Weezer and Rush.

Review | 2008.01.24

Here it is, the opinion of our third reviewer. Connie is the feminine voice of reason at movie night. Or is that voice of feminine reason? Whatever the case, here's what the girl thinks:
The Fast and the Furious (8) CS

Initial D (7) CS

Driven(6) CS

Preview | 2008.01.23

Title courtesy Ty(R).

Review | 2008.01.21

I like to consider myself an connoisseur of crappy movies. Among the many genres is the awful motorsports film. You've seen them, Biker Boyz, Tokyo Drift, Redline. The list goes on. But how do you know what to rent? I propose a rating system, and have thusly scored several such movies. Further, I have enlisted the critical talents of Erik as the Gene Siskel to my Roger Ebert (as well as system coauthor).
The rating system:
We'll start with the modern classic and an inspiration to most recent car movies for better or - who am I kidding - worse...

The Fast and the Furious (8) CR

The Fast and the Furious (7.46) EA

Review two: the quintessential drifter movie...
Initial D (7) CR

Initial D (7) EA Last night was movie night, we watched...

Driven (5) CR

Driven (4) EA ... and these classics we will be (re)watching at a movie night to come...

Storypost | 2008.01.13

Today featured a long-anticipated Del Mar session followed by a screening of Streets of Legend. Unfortunately the movie did its Sundance award little justice. And there wasn't much in the way of racing. But I have high hopes for Driven.

Story time. Here's what became of E's tire hunt, in his words:

I flew through the drive up atm at wamu on the way out from Morelos and got down to the hood as soon as I could, but no luck, the guy was home. True to his ad, these things were in great shape and the tires were barely used, still had the little hairs on em. No luck getting a deal from the wife then.

The tires, new as could be, were CHAMPIRO 328s. That's not a name I was familiar with, but they looked like an aggressive tread and a rigid pattern, plus, if they don't quite grip like an spt, fine by me. They are 3" larger diameter than my old ones, so it's a really close fit by the shock, but a test mounting showed promise and I scooped them up. One in the trunk, two in the back seat, one in the front seat, "streets of legend" and "redline" on the dashboard, and a pair of red racing gloves on the center console. At this point it was hard to play dumb for the officer that I didn't know what caused my car to fishtail on that last turn.

Let off with a lecture about how he has to tell the parents of punk racers like me that their children died in fiery auto crashes (I think he actually used the phrase "fast and furious" and "ricer boys") I was on my way again.

At home I decided to research the exalted CHAMPIRO 328. to my delight, it seems to be a very well received tire in the drift community, as gave it a great review. It then dawned on me that only sells champiro, made by GT radial, their only brand, and that the rest of the site doesn't exist (hit the home button). Well, I guess I got taken. This is kind of like the "powersauce news break: powersauce bars are now more awesome than ever" sponsored by powersauce. At least if they bill themselves as a drift tire, they have half a chance of performing as such.

Turns out GT RADIAL is an Indonesian company, manufacturing in china, that did contract work for japan, Pirelli and was recently aquired my michellin. I am thnking they are sort of like the scorpion helmet of the tire world. Chinese copy of Japanese design that is well executed but doesn't have the name recognition, racing sponsorship or premium price of the japanese equivalent.

E: so, you going to help me carry in my rims?
I: oh, what did you get?
E: went up to 18s
I: they're gonna look ghetto!
One hour later:
E: I finally found new wheels with good tires
K: what kind?
E: 18 inch, my last ones were 17s
K: they're gonna look ghetto...

Review | 2008.01.01

At long last I got my hands on Colin McRae's DiRT (henceforth referred to as Dirt). After Polyphony introduced rallying in GT2, off road competition has been a necessary complement to racing sims. Since Forza is all tarmac, I had my eyes on Dirt since its release.

Mechanically, the game feels significantly more arcadey than Forza. Far be it from me to claim expertise on the performance of seven-digit racing machines. All I can say is that the physical forces one becomes intimately familiar with in the sim racers are there, but far less pronounced. Maybe it's because everything in Dirt is a race car - indeed the race models are far easier to drive in Forza and GT. Maybe the designers were simply aiming for approachability. Whatever the reason, I'm glad I don't have to worry too much about weight transfer while snaking through the forests of Norway at freeway speeds.

The game's presentation is top-notch. Load up begins with a segment (below) reminiscent of Climb Dance featuring Rod Millen's Pike's Peak Celica. The menus are cleanly stylized and the car models are unmatched in their detail. Travis Pastrana's incessant words of encouragement could certainly have been omitted, but E for effort anyway.

Dirt features a large variety of events and machines. Of course you can slide around in Imprezas and 307s, but I did not expect trophy trucks, semis, and the treacherous Group B racers. In a straight up rally game you'd never see an opponent's car, Dirt provides for many different racing scenarios.

I do find myself wishing for the extensive modification engine that the sim games provide as well as their nonlinearity, but Dirt really comes through in areas I never expected.