Vic B’Stard’s week in review

Vic B'Stard
It's football NOT soccer!

It’s somewhat ironic, at a time when the rest of New Zealand is going mad for rugby that this Englishman has spent the week sitting in front of Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 enjoying a proper game of football.  None of that odd game played by gentlemen with funny-shaped balls around here.

The big problem is that if you mention football in gaming circles, all you are going to hear is FIFA. EA’s football gaming franchise has pretty much got the digital version of the sport sewn up. I’ll admit to being rather disapponted when what I’d have preferred to be a nice review copy of FIFA 2012 actually turned out to be a copy of Konami’s PES 2012 instead.

PES 2012
Not FIFA but still nice!

My initial distain for Konami’s effort quickly turned into a surprising bit of admiration. Sure PES 2012 is missing the rather essential English Premier League licence, but it still plays a damn fine game of football.  If your grandma buys PES 2012 for you, mistaking it for the FIFA 2012 you asked for, don’t take it back to EB; I’d recommend you give it go instead, you may be pleasantly surprised. Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 will be out on Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Windows PC from 14th October. Check out my PES 2012 review at Game Culture NZ here.

At the same time I’ve been taking Codemasters’ F1 2011 for a spin. I’m a great fan of what they have been doing with there racing games over the past few years. The first Dirt game was amazing and, whilst the the second game was a bit too AWESOME for me, it was still a great game (I’ve yet to find the time for the third). Even the underrated Grid, whilst no Forza, did a good job of bringing road racing to the console and PC. Last years F1 2010 was a great return to form for the worlds most glamorous motor sport competition; though not without its issues.

F1 2011
But is it fun?

Not wanting to spoil my review, but in a genre populated by the likes of Forza and Codemasters’ own Dirt series, just as in real life, Formula One racing is a bit dull in comparision. The real Formula One competiton is as much about the prestige and exotic locales as it is the actual races themselves, something impossible to translated into a game. The F1 circuits are only surpassed by the will-sappingly dull NASCAR circuits on the boring scale. To make things worst, modern F1 regulations have made all the cars virtually the same (arguably better than the days of Williams’ or Ferrarri’s technicalogical domination). For the avid fan 80 laps around a 3 mile circuit may be fun and probably the only way to get the full experience of the game, but seriously- who has the time?

Batman: Arkham City
The Dark Knight returns

The other problem with F1 2011 is, whilst doing a stirling job of persueing realism with the inclusion of the safety car etc., the graphics still look like a bloody cartoon. Great CGI for a late 1990’s cutscene, but not realistic in the slightest. All it would take is a turning the saturation down a smidge and they’d be half way there. Maybe something to look forward to in F1 2012? Codemasters’ F1 2011 is out now on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Windows PC.

It’s less than two weeks until it all kicks off. This years gaming wallet emptying season begins proper on October 21st with the release of Batman: Arkham City. Sure we’ve had the likes of Gears of War 3 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution already, but they were just a preamble to whet our appitites. The Dark Knight’s next outing promises to be something rather special, especially given the rave reviews that it’s getting overseas.

I’ve been reading Paul Dini and Carlos D’Anda’s Batman: Arkham City prequel comic-book which,despite a slow start, has got me even more fired up about the game. A collection of the 4 issue series will be available soon; check out New Zealand’s best comic shop, Mark One Comics, for details. Batman: Arkham City will be out in New Zealand on Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Windows PC.

Exciting times ahead!