Codemasters’ F1 series has taken hundreds of hours from me since 2017, and in return it’s given me a rich, new sports fandom even in my late 40s. And now, F1 2021 is teaching me to expect imperfection, to own my mistakes, and forgive myself. The result may be messy, but it’s mine.
Charging up a shot is still essential, as that makes it faster, and therefore harder to catch or dodge. A lot of successful Knockout City plays, for me, came down to knowing how long to charge up a shot. At certain close ranges, additional power is unnecessary. But there I was, in close-quarters range, laying on my right trigger out of ... instinct? blind faith that a stronger attack is better? ... while my unarmed opponent caught a lucky rebound and immediately bullseyed me. Other times, I fired way too early from a longer range, which often ended in my shot getting deflected in midair by someone else's throw.
Rally driving, for me anyway, is about plowing headlong into the unknown, understanding the risk of fast driving in a way you can’t on an oval or a well-known circuit. That makes taking a square left perfectly, or drifting through the full 180 degrees of a switchback, seem even more high-five-myself awesome. And I got exactly that in Art of Rally. If that’s the experience you want, too, Art of Rally will serve it as much as it will an escape from the present day, for a delightful joyride through a beautiful countryside.
That means some kind of personal journey or transformation for the star, and supporting characters with some depth and likability. Given every chance to be a preening overdog, newcomer Vince Washington turns the character Hendrixx Cobb into a warm, believable friend instead. Michael K. Williams (Omar from The Wire) is just shady enough as a streetwise mentor to make an endgame choice - one the game even forced me to reconsider! - both reasonable and personally regrettable.
Narcos: Rise of the Cartels succeeds completely at just one thing: It makes me interested in watching the Netflix series. The game had a lot of potential, and at least superficially it looked like something that may be better than the standard advertorial we’ve come to expect from this kind of tie-in game.
In present day, Need for Speed Heat seems limited, reminding me of all the things that made it distinct, but still hedging against them in case I don’t find them enjoyable. I’m confused about what would have made this game better, but the series seems just as confused about what it wants to be.
The player character customization is also a lot more detailed than its Division cousin, which of course sets up an opportunity to throw even more microtransactions at the player. The good news is that player progression isn't tied to anything that can be bought for real money. Though the in-world currency is sold for real cash, there is no need to buy it if you'd rather avoid the premium economy.