“Racing is not a contact sport.”

•October 19, 2017 • Leave a Comment

While that rule of thumb holds true in most race circuits, I am sure quite a few NASCAR fans would disagree.

As a fan of racing sim games, I have always appreciated that Gran Turismo takes a few years every cycle before bringing out the new and shiny. Forza is courteous enough to give us a sim every two years and stick their Horizon racer in between. But this is the year I hate. I really have to make a choice between the two. I am that weird type of gamers who can not mix my games. I either will play Forza or Gran Turismo and then maybe some F1 when I need a break from the others. Having spent a few hours with each, I will try to address the major differences if you are trying to decide between them as well.

*note: Both games are deep as usual and for different reasons. This is really just first impressions. 

Graphically, both games are stunning. While I was able to play GT on the PS4 Pro in 4k, I only played Forza at home in 1080. I was able to play Forza in 4k at an event last month, and it is absolutely gorgeous. Graphics should not be a real concern for you with either game. The biggest difference in graphics and gameplay is that in Gran Turismo, time of day and weather is static. In Forza, you could be halfway through a race when rain rolls in and it will completely change your gameplan and playstyle. In Gran Turismo, you choose your time of day, and that is your race.

The biggest difference between the two is how they approach how you should play the game. As usual, Forza gifts you a nice little hot hatch and sends you off. It is the first of many (over 700 actually) cars you will accumulate over your racing career. I have seen Forza car garages described as Pokemon like… You gotta catch them all. I have always felt that way in Forza. You start in your little Mini or Golf and start working your way through each series. As you win points in each series, you unlock more and more series where you will race in ever faster cars.

Gran Turismo though is different. The game has Arcade and Sport modes, as well as trials to make yourself a better racer. Where Forza makes no bones about it, it is a game with levels to grind and cars to collect, Gran Turismo wants you to believe that you are actually in a simulation.  It currently boasts a mere 160 cars to purchase and 28 tracks. The game wants you to learn to be a better driver. There are driver certifications to earn as always. If you have never played a Gran Turismo game, this will teach you to be a better racer. It encourages you to learn how your car will behave in every situation. Every test builds onto the next test. Once you have mastered your car, you then can break down each track and learn it. Study its curves. Learn the race lines corner by corner. Break everything down in meticulous detail. Now, go race online. Wait. Before you head online, you have to sit down and watch a couple of videos. Learn about what sportsmanship means. Learn that it is not just what is in the rules and what is against the rules. What does it mean to be a professional and a sportsman? Another video shows you exactly the type of behavior that is frowned upon. If you have raced in nearly any online race, you’ve seen these yahoos all over the track. OK, now go race (I was not able to race online today. It wasn’t immediately clear to me how to enter the daily races, and once I did, I was disconnected from the servers twice. Each race is about 15 minutes between entry, so I gave up waiting). There is another lobby mode that allows you to group with friends but as of this writing… I have no friends. In all, offline mode is nothing more than training for online. Arcade mode is fun to grab a track and race with the AI, but at the end, it is not really progressing anything for you other than miles earned (which you spend on other shiny things).

A few final thoughts before I jump back into a game. There is a lot of rumbling about the loot crates in Forza. I have not played deep enough for it to really factor in yet, but I see the concern. The sweet credits you earned in each race previously would allow you to buy more cars. Credits seemingly roll in slower now, unless you use a mod. The mod only has so many uses, and to get more, you have to win it from a loot crate. And you buy loot crates with, you guessed it, your hard earned credits. So it is a way to slow down progression. Turn 10 will seemingly add in microtransactions later this year to assist you in buying the crates with real-world money, but… F that noise. I support buying tracks and VIP car passes, but the crates are one thing I won’t budge on. You should not either. As for Gran Turismo Sport, it does have the feeling of the older “prologue” games. I enjoy the game and love what it is teaching me, but I can not shake the feeling that this is an in-depth demo for something else.

 

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Spicy spaghetti sauce

•August 9, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I was cleaning out the cabinet the other day when I came across a recipe for sauce on the back of a red wine vinegar bottle. Feeling in the mood for pasta, figured why not?

  
   
 My changes:

  • More bacon. I think. I used about 8oz before cooking. 
  • No onions. If something calls for onions, 90% of the time, I’ll skip that ingredient. Tonight, that statement holds true. 
  • Red pepper flakes “to taste.” A little heavy handed on the flakes tonight, but it ended up tasting like a spicy vodka sauce, and… we like spicy. 
  • Two garlic instead of 3. I used minced garlic, which is about a clove per 1/2 TSP. 

I decided to save a pot tonight and cooked everything in my Nordic Ware pot. I started with the bacon and sliced it before instead of after. I figured this would let it cook down well, keep all pieces relatively the same in crispness, and save from cutting after it cooked. I forgot how long it can take to heat up the cast iron pot and over medium I let the bacon cook for a good 30 minutes, starting by adding the bacon to the cold pot.  

Now if you make this a few key things. First, after adding the red wine vinegar the sauce will be super thin. And super red wine….y. Winey? I was worried that I had missed something at first. But that’s where patience pays off. After 30 minutes of a nice brisk simmer, the sauce had thickened up and the red pepper/bacon goodness came out. 

  
Outcome: good. Again pretty spicy but you can use less.  

 
A little toast and some fresh Parmesan and we have dinner. 

Rating: on a scale of 1 (never) and 5 (can I eat this every day?!?!!) I would say this is a nice 4. I would make and eat this monthly. 

Sam Fisher…

•April 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

will kill you if you forget to turn off the lights. Seriously. Ok, that was my late night half asleep/ half awake dream. Instead of sneaking around killing bad guys, Sam would run around the office, turning off random lights, then sneak up on you and make you pay for leaving them on. I know, you should not eat sweets before bed time, you’ll have weird dreams.

Anyways, I beat the story mode of Splinter Cell today on realistic mode. While I died more than I want to say, I really enjoyed playing on this setting.  You can kind of play it as the gun slinging bad ass who kills all hostile in the area, the stealthy killer who picks off his targets, or by trying to evade detection and kill the minimum amount of people.  Also, being able to learn from your mistakes is huge. Well, actually learning to be patient and waiting for your spot is huge. I always seem to have this death wish where I want to run in the middle of the pack of bad guys wearing a tiara and a pea shooter and believe I can take them all out.  The game was just hard enough to leave me frustrated on some levels but not so hard that I wanted to toss my controller through the wall. While it was on the short side, I feel that I will probably go back through it and try the missions in different ways or even play some online as well.

Overall – 8 out of 10.