For starters, the plot is adapted from a Chinese 16th century novel called Journey to the West. The work was done by Alex Garland – the bloke who wrote The Beach. That’s a better starting point and a better writer than almost every videogame that’s ever existed.
The story doesn’t take place in dynastic China – instead, it’s set 150 years in the future. Most of earth’s population was wiped out in a war with angry robots, and the few survivors scratch a living in well-defended communities, fuelled by paranoia and survival instincts. The remaining robots roam the broken, overgrown remains of an increasingly unfamiliar world.
The Gran Turismo series ushered me from Road Rash and V-Rally towards serious racing games, and I’ve always loved the franchise: its graphics, gameplay and depth have always been first-rate, I snorted up the gimmicky engine smell from GT2’s disc, and I marvelled at the leap from PS1 to PS2 when I spent hundreds of hours playing GT4.
I’m enjoying Gran Turismo 6. It has a stupendous 1,200 cars across hundreds of marques, and I love searching out odd motors for new events – a method in the spirit of the game, unlike the dozen cars GT6 recommends you use for each successive class of races.
I love the cars on the track, too. I savour the kick and acceleration of a turbo, the rumble when I take a corner on the limit, the satisfying feel of nailing a section by balancing throttle, oversteer and everything else. I love feeling cars pitch forward when breaking downhill or leaning left or right thanks to neck-snapping G-force.
PC hardware often isn’t glamourous, but it’s never been so important to know about the silicon that powers the latest PCs and consoles. Valve’s CES press conference revealed a horde of Steam Machines: PCs designed for the living room, built by third parties, coming with Valve’s SteamOS and controller as standard. The machines range in price from $499 to more than $6,000. UK pricing and availability will be announced in due course. Steam Machines make sense. By using Linux for SteamOS, Valve has more software control than it has with Windows – important when Microsoft is moving away from the PC and towards the touchscreen – and Valve also has a tight grip on the games allowed on the OS. Valve’s controller gives the firm more control and, crucially, an easier route to the sofa: it’s more familiar to console gamers, and more comfortable than the keyboard and mouse. Like all great…