This week, I hit the tracks with Table Top Racing: World Tour on the PS4, got the hell out of Kyrat by finishing Far Cry 4 (spoiler warning), and wrapped my hands to strike with Animal Boxing on the DS.
Let’s take a look at what I’m playing now!
Table Top Racing: World Tour
I don’t play very many racing games (Mario Kart and Modnation Racers being the recent exceptions), but for whatever reason, I had the urge to do so this week. I thought about placing an order for Mario Kart on the Wii U, until I saw Table Top Racing sitting in my digital PS4 collection (it was free with PS Plus some time ago).
Given that it was already on the console and that there would likely be enough players to find online matches (because the game was free for a while), I dove into Table op Racing, starting first with the cup missions.
Once I found my bearings and remembered how to properly control an in-game car (Far Cry 4’s over-simplified one-stick control scheme was still messing me up), I quickly found that Table Top Racing is an awesome and imaginative title.
Admittedly, there isn’t really much room for racing games to further revolutionize their content; whatever innovations and improvements barbecue, the fact remains that vehicles or persons of some kind will need to try and reach a specific point faster than their opponents. With this considered, logic indicates that racing-game developers would simply focus their creative efforts on improving fun. Although I’ve once again not been particularly close to the genre, it doesn’t look like many games do this (instead focusing on features and layered depth). Table Top Racing, however, does.
Sure, the controls boasted by the title are solid, and similarly to the way that it doesn’t “drift” too far from traditional mechanics in this sense, the power-ups in the game are also pretty normal. Where Table Top Racing really shines is in its stages, which create an undeniably impressive quality of character and atmosphere.
During my relatively limited time with Table Top Racing, I cruised through a fancy barbeque setting, the bedroom of a run-of-the-mill 80s child, a well-stocked sushi restaurant, and an auto factory, amongst others. Each of these stages is littered with cool and eye-catching decorations and items (Simon Says in the bedroom, the waving cat in the sushi restaurant, etc.), and the attention to detail is remarkable. These immersive environments—which make watching the road and other drivers a challenge—are what push Table Top Racing above the competition.
Despite playing only a few online matches (partially because everyone else is so damned good), the multiplayer functions of Table Top Racing worked well, for the most part.
The fun within the title can be easily found by players, as can its lesson to the industry: you’re not going to break any new ground with a racing game, so you might as well focus solely on making it enjoyable to play.
Far Cry 4
I don’t know what Ubisoft was thinking when they created such infuriating story characters, allowed them to trample all over the player (defying logic and reason in the process), and then didn’t bother to include any revenge path.
I chose to kill Amita only because I assumed she’d be an issue in the future, and I was hoping to overthrow and execute Sabal with as little trouble as possible (I was nearly certain that Ubisoft was going to include one of these missions at the end). The two went from being fundamentally split on core issues to ordering the main character around and saying the dumbest, most nonsensical dribble in imaginable. This same sensation, in my opinion, was found in the game as whole—especially during the last third (that jail sequence was awful).
Sure, with the crazy and deceiving ending, Far Cry 4 was different than many other titles. But it leaves the player (or this player) feeling so unsatisfied, confused, and frustrated that it’s not worth the shock value
Different doesn’t always mean better, especially when the components that need to be switched-up—the missions, healing style, controls, activities, and much more—are the same as always.
When I purchased Animal Boxing for next to nothing from Best Buy’s used game sale a while back, I admittedly didn’t expect much. I was intrigued by a game that seemed crazy and relatively obscure. Its low price of roughly $2 was also appealing.
Much to my surprise, Animal Boxing is actually fairly good! The story is predictably weak and not even worth mentioning, but you get to play as a human and compete in the Sweet Science against all kinds of animals. In the bronze cup, I faced the likes of a chicken, chipmunk, lizard, and another couple animals I can’t quite remember.
Like its core concept, the gameplay found within AB is unique. I was very skeptical at first, but to play, you turn the DS completely upside down. Then you use the touch screen to select your strikes. Throwing straight punches (simply tap), hooks (slide towards the target from either side), or an uppercut (slide vertically) is very responsive and straightforward. Believe it or not, the tap-based gameplay feels excellent like this. In fact, it’s hard to imagine playing any other way; using the touchpad with the system situated normally would be cramped, given the frequency with which strikes (taps) must be utilized. The top screen also displays some imagery when the system is upside down, and the control pad is used to block punches and dodge left or right.
If you’ve ever had the urge to try and outbox a chicken, I wholeheartedly recommend Animal Boxing. It’s not the best game ever, but if you play with an open mind, you’ll find a lot to enjoy—especially for the price.
Because I complain so much about my backlog, I figured that I’d add a feature to each “What I’m Playing Now” piece that highlights my video game purchases for the week, to demonstrate the essentially indestructible force that I’m forced to tackle whenever I sit down to play a game—something much more powerful than in-game enemies and multiplayer opponents.
Mass Effect 3: Special Edition on the Wii U—$6.17 Shipped
Because I have a free month of Walmart’s Shipping Pass until the end of August, I went ahead and ordered Mass Effect 3 on the Wii U. I’ve only played the first two games, I don’t use my Wii U enough, and this version received pretty impressive reviews. The free shipping and low price also helped.
Motor Storm: Arctic Edge, Socom Tactical Strike, and Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow on the PSP—$9 Shipped (Total)
I was on the fence with this purchase because I don’t play the PSP very much anymore, but the free shipping, low prices, and new condition sealed the deal for me. I ended up getting all three of the Sony-developed games for around $9 shipped ($2.81 each and tax). It might be a while before I tackle them, but this price was too good to pass up.
Brothers on the Xbox One—$5.30 Shipped
I don’t know much about it, but Brothers has always looked appealing. I missed the game a while back during a Microsoft Store sale, but this is roughly the same price it was available for there.
Next week, I’ll play through Ether One on the PS4 and some other games which I haven’t quite selected yet. I can’t believe No Man’s Sky is almost here (while I’m excited about the game, the basis of my disbelief is mainly the fact that it’s already August), and I’ll be playing that upon release as well.
Enjoy the games!