Another title which delivered actual game playing thrills rather than enthusiastic promises was Forza Motorsport 2. The sequel to the award winning simulator will be due in time for Christmas and the graphics, physics, damage and tracks are all finished and spot on.
I found the intuitive racing line of its predecessor has been tweaked even further to give greater indication of where and how to accelerate or break and after hopping behind the wheel of a Ferrari F360 I found it so intuitive that after a few faultless laps I had to deliberately slam the car into a wall to test the crash damage. Jarred wheels, shattered windows, smashed lights and horrendously scratched paintwork was the result and this really should be on the Christmas list of any serious racing fan.
The same can be said for arcade racing junkies with Need For Speed: Carbon. This title is pick up and play at its most literal. It is set in its usual urban setting and doesn’t really do anything particularly revolutionary (you can build and race against rival teams - assigning instructions like blocker or scout to crew members - but that’s about it) yet thrills and spills are delivered by the bucket load.
It’s a series which needs little introduction and if you want more of the same (albeit polished within an inch of its life) you won’t be disappointed.
Tony Hawk’s Project 8 and Half Life 2 (including Episode’s one and two) are also noteworthy titles. There’s little I can say about Valve’s classic series that hasn’t already been written a thousand times other than it will indeed feature HDR lighting (which looks wonderful in action). As for skateboarding games, they may be obscenely popular but remain a complete mystery to me.
In all I have to admit I can’t remember seeing a more impressive array of pre-release titles on any format and when you combine them with the console’s bargain HD DVD drive and mass of exclusives you sense there won’t be many restful nights at Sony…