Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Video game number fifty five: World of Outlaws: Sprint Cars

Game review number fifty five in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "World of Outlaws: Sprint Cars".

So far in this challenge, I've played quite a few racing games, including some lesser known ones like this. This isn't just because of the challenge, I actually really like driving games and I was aware of this one before the launch, even if it's not a "big" title. Although I wasn't dying to play it....I was planning on trying it simply because it's a new racing game with online multiplayer and I'm always looking for diamonds in the rough. The cover art on the box features little race cars with the big wings on top. I'm pretty sure I got to mess with cars like these in a game before. It might have been in Dirt, Dirt 2, Rallisport Challenge or some other game with dirt tracks in it.

Turns out this game wasn't at all what I was expecting. By the way, from this point on, this review has background music. Simply right click to open the following link in a new window....it'll make sense in a moment.

Music playing? Good. Ok, so for some reason, I was thinking this would be a "rally" of some kind, but it turns out I guessed wrong. The track you start out on is just a big circle. "Ok", I said to myself..."they're just warming me up". Then the next track was a big circle too. "Hmm", I thought to myself... "Maybe the entire first level is like this". I beat a few races (two of which were each 30 tedious laps long)...and moved on to the next circuit. More circles. That's when the Soul Coughing song came to mind.

I wondered if maybe this was what the entire game was going to be. It seemed unrealistic, but after 3 or 4 races, I knew I was already sick of driving in circles. I jumped into the multiplayer mode and hosted a game. Got an automatic achievement for doing that, but no one joined, so I backed out and joined someone else's game. Another free achievement. Cool. I instantly found a match and was greeted by three or four people talking to me. I didn't have my headset on yet, but I heard lots of conversation coming from the speakers in my TV. I put my headset on.

I'm not sure what it is about racing games, but they seem to have a much nicer community following them than shooter games do. Dirt 2 had one of the best online experiences ever for me. Just about everyone I met in the game was friendly....and I ended up with several new folks on my friends list while going through to get all 1000 points in that one. In World of Outlaws (Or "W.O.O!" for short), I found a lobby full of friendly people and we started a race. Holy crap, another circle.

"Hey guys, this is my first race....are they all like this?" I asked.
"No, you'll get better" one of the players said. He then proceeded to give me a bunch of tips on how to win, which were really helpful...even though I hadn't asked.

I thanked him and said: "Cool, I'll try those...but what I meant is, are all the tracks like this? Big circles, no jumps or anything?". Two or three of the folks in our match laughed in unison and one said: "Yeah, it's Sprint Cars, man!"

Clearly, I'm not educated on sprint cars. I sat back, listened to the tips they gave me, and finished out our match. I placed 5th out of 5 racers and got lapped a couple of times. Afterwards, I went back offline to try some of my new skills against the computer. I raced a few more races, and eventually won using the tricks the guys had told me about. The cars are extremely temperamental, apparently just like the real ones.

How do I know? Simple. I had to look it up, because I had no idea what Sprint Cars were all about. According to Wikipedia: Sprint cars are high-powered race cars designed primarily for the purpose of running on short oval or circular dirt or paved tracks.

In other words folks, it's NASCAR in the mud. That was all I needed to know, and I called it a day.

Overall 3/10. Making left turns in the mud for 30 straight laps in a row is not nearly as exciting as it sounds.

Achievements? So...here's a funny note. I actually got an achievement for using my windshield wipers 40 times in this game. It's something I encountered naturally, because the screen gets so dirty you can't see (I suppose to simulate a windshield), and you can turn on the wipers. The funny thing is, you only get so many "screen wipes" per race, so you actually have to use them carefully. Me getting my 40 achievement after only a few races means I probably used them too liberally...but there it was anyway. I also got an achievement for NOT using my wipers in a race. That one, I did on purpose. :-)

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