Review: Project Cars 3

Project Cars 3, a game that became surprisingly divisive for a racing game. Not solely because it’s a bad game or the devs did something shady or microtransactions or the worst of them all, has a bad ending! Simply because Project Cars started as a crowdsource sim racing game. At it’s release, PC1 was probably one of the better sim racing games out there. As it came out right around the time Assetta Corsa was released. It was a little more forgiving and as a result a little more beginner friendly. All in all it was a very fun game.

Then came Project Cars 2, which built ontop of Project Cars 1. But shifted just a little to simcade experience, but had what many consider one of the better VR modes for a racing game. The Physics weren’t quite as real Assetta Corsa or iRacing and weren’t quite as simcade as Gran Turismo or Forza. But at the time, both of those were console exclusives as microsoft hadn’t quite taken the platform as a service approach that has now brought forza to PC. As a result, it filled that ground on PC for someone who didn’t quite want the punishment of more realistic physics. And didn’t want to go full arcade in something like Need for Speed. Or even, someone who wanted a sim experience but with a little more structure with it’s quality single player mode.

Which brings us to Project Cars 3. Which while PC2 was a small step to simcade, Project Cars 3 is a giant leap fully into simcade. Despite the cars being very understeery and requiring you to turn in very early compared to other games, you’ll easily find yourself drifting around each turn. With a little practice (and perhaps the benefit of me playing on a wheel), I was able to minimize this after I would drive a car for a few laps and start to improve my lap times. And while I’m someone who has always preferred the simcade style of Gran Turismo to the true sim of Assetta Corsa, I was able to find a lot of fun in Project Cars 3. The physics are consistent enough you can learn and adapt and push the car faster. The track list is large so you don’t have to keep doing the same track over and over. The car list is large enough, but there’s always going to be something missing. And the AI, on most tracks, is able to be quite a bit of fun (once you get past the first 1/2 – 2/3 of a lap). All in all there is a lot to just enjoy.

The multiplayer is setup to mimic Gran Turismo Sport, but unfortuntely the playerbase hasn’t been there to allow it to work. As it has scheduled races which helps with matchmaking in theory by having people queue up at the same time, but in the couple of races I tried I was only getting 3-6 cars of varying skill to join. The rivals mode, which consist of a daily, weekly, and monthly challenge. Are essentially just leaderboards to compete against each other. I had a lot of fun in these, especially in the GTB/A series cars. The first week of launch the weekly challenge was the race car version of the Ford Mustang on Laguna Seca. I came away with a happy enough for me finish of just outside the top 200. I know i’m not a good enough racer to be in that top 10-20%. So that was fun and it was nice to see you were doing well compared to others.

But, the core of this game for me when I bought it was going to be about the single player experience. Specifically the career mode. That’s where Project Cars 3 just…falls a little flat, but in a way that could be patched if Slightly Mad Studios doesn’t give up on the title after a poor launch. In the game all of your ability to earn credits is tied to leveling up your profile. This is nice in that, anything you do earns you credits. This is less nice in that…certain things earn you more experience then others. And also, there feels like no reward for winning a race…and afterall isn’t that the point of any racing game? Instead of results based goals, each ‘series’ is divided up into 3 events + a championship that is 2-3 races.

The events can be a simple race. Where you will be given 3 goals you can unlock once each for some bonus experience. Sometimes they are something like lead a lap or win the race. Othertimes it’s something like go 170MPH, master 10 corners, have a clean lap. The variety could be a nice touch…if there still was the reward for winning on top of it. The other events is qualifying lap, a single hot lap where you have to beat some predetermined times. While these start off easy…they very quickly become exceedingly hard. And there is no difficulty slider to adjust this to your skill level. Even with a wheel and sometimes spending 30-60 minutes on a single event, I would only walk away getting 2 of the 3 time goals. The other event is called Pace setter, like the hot lap you have a predetermined time to beat. However this time it’s an average of your 3 laps. I generally found this easier to hit the 2nd time then the hotlap. But again, I had the benefit of playing with a wheel which makes controlling the car much easier then those playing with a controller. This also has the problem of if you get any penalty, the entire event is invalidated as you have to have 3 clean laps. So if you mess up a corner and hit a wall, not only is your time ruined by hitting the wall. Your entire 3 laps become null and void. This creates a frustrating experience.

The last event is breakout, which was fairly fun. Basically a series of blocks are put all over the track worth either 10,20, or 50 points and you have 1 minute to hit as many as you can to get as high of a score as possible. Often these would require you do have a little creatitify in finding the most efficient path. While following the racing line with a quick pace would generally be enough to get the 2nd tier goal, if you wanted all 3 exp rewards you’d have to go away from the line. Be it taking the track in reverse or finding some board off the track.

And while we’re on the career mode, one thing I absolutely hated was…it felt like half the events were done in weather effects of some level of rain. I found that this would take the game from fun to hate inducing. As this highlights one of the 3 major flaws of the AI. The AI doesn’t care about weather. Like most racing games, the AI doesn’t run on the same physics engine as you. It’s just a waste of processing power so games don’t do it. Unfortunately this means that there is no meaningful difference when the AI is on the weather. In some races you’ll start dry and finish in the rain. And while you built up a 4-6 second lead in the dry, you finishing 4-6 seconds beyond in the rain. Perhaps I’m just a worse driver then I realize, but anytime the weather kicked in, I knew I was going to have much less enjoyment.

Now, for those other 2 parts of the AI that would drive me mad. The first is just the AI is very inconsistent from track to track. On Hockenberg I would have to put the AI down to easy while on others I could have good races on hard or even insane on a few. This just makes for a frustrating experience, no one likes being forced to lower the difficulty, but when the AI just does things you can’t do, you either keep getting mad or lower the difficulty to move on. The other part is the AI is not great at respecting your line. And the AI is all very close to each other. This makes the first half of the race until you can either get in front or at least with the first 2-5 cars a large crap shoot. Sometimes you might scoot through, others the AI might push you off the track (giving you a cut track penalty which can result in the game hitting the brakes and spinning you out and a quick trip the restart race menu option). Othertimes the cars in PC3 have a kind of heavy stickness, I imagine this was done to make multiplayer a little better by reducing the impact of collisions from bad drivers. But it creates this odd situation where you’ll be catching on car going into a corner, but you’ll catch a corner of his car and where his car probably should spin out. Instead both your cars become kind of attached and all your momentum goes to his car as you now are going the same speed and no longer gaining. As the AI often finishes from the first finisher all the way back to the 31st if you put max cars, within a few seconds. It becomes critically important to pass as many as you can in those first turns or there just isn’t enough laps in the generally 2-3 lap races that the single player is.

While the game is far from perfect and really needs some patching to the career goals and hopefully adding some positional rewards to races, at it’s core there is a fun physics engine here. That I would say falls in between Forza and Gran Turismo. I’ve already dropped 50 hours into it and I’m sure it’s something I will come back to and put some more time into as I wait for Gran Turismo 7 to come out. The graphics are lack luster for something releasing so late in this generation of consoles, even as I played it on steam. And if that patch doesn’t come, there is always the free play mode where you can take any car onto any track and go and set up how many laps and how many cars and what type of cars and enjoy what the game does well. And simply avoid some of it’s rougher bumps. Unfortunately you only get one chance to make a good first impression, and Project Cars 3 suffers from the feeling that it didn’t get any quality assurance from final build to release build. Things that could easily have been found and changed and helped change the narrative of the game.

Instead, Project Cars 3 sits as a game without an identify. It turned it’s back on it’s sim roots for a more casual experience. But ignored the casual players skill level and expects them to grind like a sim enthusiast. Which just results in this game feeling like it was made for an even more niche…racing fans like myself that want a Gran Turismo single player experience, but don’t want to hook up or Playstation 3s to do it.

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win!

The Covid season, which at the last second got a messy playoff expansion forced in, is officially underway for all teams. As the Chicago Cubs have wrapped up their first game of the season with a 3-0 shut out of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Off the back of a great 105 pitch performance from Kyle Hendricks, the Chicago Cubs took a 2 run home run by Ian Happ and an insurance home run by Anthony Rizzo into a victory. Realistically, the bats were relatively quiet and relying on the long ball has not been a successful strategy for the Cubs in the past. They got 2 runners on first then quickly ran into double plays. As Brandon Woodruff of the Brewers did pitch fairly well only giving up 4 hits with 5 strike outs in his 5 innings of work. But the result of Hendricks being even better with 9 strike outs, 0 walks, and only 3 hits. All of which were to the 9 spot hitter. Means that the Cubs win their first of the 60 game season.

With the shortened season each game has a little more importance and teams that get off to a slow start aren’t going to have the time to come back like a baseball season typically affords. Strong starting pitching like tonight is going to be critical for the Cubs to find success in this short season. With the bullpen remaining a question mark coming off a rocky 2019 with no major improvements in the off season.

But for now, we’ll enjoy the Cubs win as they start the season 1-0, with 59 games to go.

MLB Covid Season Edition

As baseball is set to get started (finally) on July 23rd (or the 24th for most of the league), we take one tiny step back towards normal. While there won’t be any fans in the stands. The season is only 60 games long. The awful DH will be in the National league. The schedule is unbalanced. Extra inning start with a runner on 2nd. And given how this year has gone, it’s probably not going to finish. But at least for now, for today, we can look forward to Major League Baseball playing again.

While the Cubs might not have quite the hype and buzz that they had entering into the 2016 season that they have been chasing ever since erasing that 108 year World Series drought. They will look to see if getting rid of a fantastic manager of Joe Maddon with a fantastic player of David Ross is going to get things going back in the direction they are going. The NL Central is considered to be one of the more open divisions with the Reds, Brewers, Cubs, and Cardinals all having strong reasons to believe they will walk away the winner. It should make for an interesting, if odd, season to watch.

The Cubs will have to make the decision on to commit to their core of Rizzo, Bryant, and Baez and the hundreds of millions of dollars that is going to take or if Theo and the Ricketts believe they can strike gold twice and look to rebuild another great core for another great run. It will be interesting to see how David Ross handles being a manager. Grandpa Ross as he made himself a household name in Chicago with his excellent game calling as a catcher, his strong arm gunning out would be runners, his endearing personality, and not to mention that home run in game 7 of the World Series. The belief is that he is expected to be the yes man that Maddon couldn’t be. To listen to the Analytics guys and follow in line what Theo Epstein wants. The talent is there with Contreras, Rizzo, Javy, Bote, KB, Schwarber, Hendricks, Lester, Darvish, and Kimbrel. Not to mention players like Almora, Happ, and J-Hey. Too similar to last year, the bullpen does leave some concerns. Perhaps the shorter season will help with the lack of depth in the bullpen.

Beyond the quest to find out who will be the Covid Series Champions, there is that lingering issue of the Astros cheating scandal. Without fans in attendance the Astros players will get off a little easier without being subject to boos across the league as they play. But perhaps more importantly is the fans belief that this was an issue isolated to just the Astros. As the news broke the players reaction initially wasn’t outrage at cheating…but outrage at the player who outted his former teammates for cheating. Players like Tucker Barnhart in an interview with Pat McAfee talked about how it’s not cheating, it’s just part of the game. While the Astros were getting all the headlines, the Boston Red Sox were also punished for a similar scandal. This one involving Apple watches to signal players instead of the Astros Trash cans and other alleged tools. Ultimately MLB, and Rob Manfred Especially. Handled the entire situation about as poorly as they can. With their insistence that the cheating didn’t occur in the post season and that it isn’t more wide spread despite the players reactions and with Manfred calling the World Series “just a piece of metal”. It left no one really satisfied. The punishment was light, the investigation didn’t go very deep, and it made it’s way to all the headlines to remind people that cheating and baseball go hand in hand. As baseball still struggles to move past the Steroid Era and the perception it puts on the league. So we’ll see, did the extended break and will the lack of fans let the story be swept under the rug. Or will the return of the season bring the story back the front of everyone’s minds.

But no matter what is to come, if it’s a few weeks of baseball or the full shortened season. Today, we look forward to baseball returnning. And for that, I’m happy and hopeful.

Go Cubs Go.

Final FANTASY 7 Controller Not working

After deciding that I wanted to re-play Final Fantasy 7 and play with the the various mods the available with the 7th Heaven Mod Manager. I ran into an issue of, it wouldn’t recognize the controller. Not on it’s own, not with launching from steam, not with xpadder, or joy2key, or all the other dead end trails of various forum post suggested. As those solutions presumably will work for Windows 7, which I don’t use and is becoming increasingly less common. Eventually I was pointed into the direction of this steam community post here. So for a fix for Final Fantasy 7 controller not working, try the below.

as steam user flat4wd detailed on this forum post . Try the below for a fix for Final Fantasy 7 Controller not working on Windows 10.

  1. Open Windows menu
  2. Select Settings >> Devices
  3. Click Devices and Printers on the right-hand side
  4. Find your Xbox One controller icon in the window that opens and Right-Click it
  5. Select Game Controller Settings
  6. Select your controller on the dialog that opens, then click Advanced
  7. This opens the dialog that allows you to choose which controller to Use With Older Titles — Select your controller again and click OK
  8. Close your device windows, close your game (if open), restart your controller (for good measure), then restart your game.
  9. press X to get past it and then you can use your controller.

Persona 5 Royal: Review

While I’ll preface by saying I’m a huge Persona fan of the ‘new’ style of Persona games that started with Persona 3. It just scratches an itch so well for me, the dungeon aspect is fun and breaking it up with the social aspects works well for me. The ‘gotta catch em all’ to go with collecting personas rounds it out. Persona 5 Royal isn’t going to do much to fundamentally change your feeling towards the franchise. But, it does improve on an already great Persona 5 experience.

Before buying like many, you looked at what the royal edition was adding over the original, and charging full price, and you kind of knew you were being exploited and you probably should wait for a sale if you already played Persona 5. I of course did not wait for a sale. And I ended up pleasantly surprised that while you can write up the changes in a few sentences, they feel more impactful when you’re actually playing. As they’re just sprinkled in enough throughout everything that while it doesn’t make it a completely new experience, it keeps it from being quite exactly as you remembered it. In a good way.

Probably the biggest gameplay change was changing how ammo works within the game. As you now refresh your ammo for each fight, using your guns is something you can do much more frequently. Rather then being something you needed to save incase you encountered a weak to gun enemy and your MP was getting lower. This resulted in me using the guns more frequently, especially when you can add the chance to inflict status on them. Other chanes also added to the game as well. And admittedly with how long it’s been since I played Persona 5, often I was wondering “was that in 5 or is that new?” All in all a lot of quality of life improvements were added to keep the game from getting in your way.

This does have the impact of making it a much easier game, even though I played on Hard from the start, only one boss gave me any real difficulty. You’re also given more free time in the social world, so maxing your social links should be something you can do without needing to pull up a calendar guide to make sure you’re being as efficient as possible. And if you are efficient, there’s some new activities to spend your free days doing to increase the stats of your and your teams personas. I don’t view the ease as a bad thing, but that’s for you to decide how you feel on it. I still ended up putting 140 hours to complete the game. So it’s not like it allowed me to breeze right through, though I imagine i could have shaved up time by not grinding in mementos like I did to max out another of one of the new mechanics of the game.

Beyond the improvements that are sprinkled out, the main aspect of Royal is adding the two additional confidents and an extra semester to the school year. This adds another dungeon and playable character. I would have favored these fit more into the ‘sprinkled throughout’ portion of the game. There is a bit of oddity of taking a game that as mentioned took 140 hours to complete, and limiting some of that new content to just the final 20 hours or so. It’s not a major con, but a slight disappointment.

All in all the game was very fun and is a solid improvement on persona 5. If you haven’t played Persona 5 and you’ve been thinking of it, Royal is better in every way. Just wait for the price to hit what you’re happy with. Though, for a 100+ hour RPG, even at full price it’s hard to say it’s a bad value. And if you have played Persona 5 before, then it’s something I’d recommend to give another play through an already great game with enough new added in to make it a better experience.

Overall, I’d give the game a 9/10. A few minor quirks keep it from being 10, but still a game that held my interest from start to end which is becoming increasingly less common these days.

And Back again

For the third or fourth time we’ll see how long this blog last. As with the previous entries. We’ll write about what interest me. Which will probably be Video Games, Movies, maybe an odd programming quirk I stumbled across, or whatever else interested me enough to put words to the internet.