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Tycho / on Fri, Dec 14 2007 at 12:35 am

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Tachyons, My Constant Foe

After Gods & Heroes was scrapped, developer Perpetual Entertainment was sued by their PR company.  People are being sued all the time, and we should know, but in this case they were being sued for really interesting things: namely, a kind of "bounty" on initial sales based on their tireless promotion of the title.  Is that common in these arrangements?  I don’t think most people consider that role especially powerful, but companies don’t write in clauses like that for no reason.  The articles you see on news sites are written by people you know, but the content, timing, and (if they can swing it) tone of those articles is typically part of a fairly scientific structure cooked up by PR.  They contextualize the demos in their entirety, negotiate access, and stud their speech with tactical phrases they hope will find their way into the final piece.   

Perpetual has since shifted its focus to Star Trek Online, about which little is known, except that the developer has apparently taken the source material to heart.   

I never knew quite how to describe Test Drive Unlimited while I was still playing it.  It had a number of shockingly sophisticated, almost futuristic features that I don’t believe its publisher especially valued or understood.  Burnout Paradise picks up that theoretical ball and then runs with it, presumably into a hypothetical "end zone."   

In essence, they’ve done away with the game’s "front end" altogether.  There is no front end!  Don’t look for it.  There is only driving, and as you move from place to place, at virtually every intersection, you will discover the events you would have selected before.  By holding Gas and Brake, you’ll pop immediately into one of the franchise’s many events.  I didn’t know how it would work, and more specifically, I didn’t know how it would feel.  Turns out, it feels like Burnout.  There are the explicit challenges I’ve mentioned, but there’s also just tooling around finding new routes to enjoy.  Absolutely ruined cars are simply replaced, after you watch the car crumple front to back in an incredible update to their damage model.  For cars which merely mangled (rather than obliterated), a drive through an auto shop repairs the car in real time and you’re back on the road.  Gas Stations top off your boost, also in real time.  Add a few friends to your world, also in real time, by pressing right on the d-pad and picking their name.  Seriously, they’ll just pop in.  I accepted an invite yesterday, and the process was so smooth I didn’t realize that it had happened.  It’s pretty slick.  Queue up the demo, if you get a chance.   

Because it’s a demo, though, I don’t really know which things are the real meal deal and which things are snapshots of some earlier phase of development.  There’s no way to simply "retry" a race after you’ve failed it, for example.  I understand that this is an "open world," and this world is also my menu system, but despite what they might believe in their hearts I don’t want to drive two or three scale miles to select Retry. "DJ Automica" is a sadistic war criminal who should be tried in the Hague for ear crimes.  The demo also has no traditional race events in multiplayer, which seems like, um…  an oversight.  There’s a lot of successes here though, and a very strong vision - enough for me to anticipate its January release.       

(CW)TB out. 


  get this winter over with


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