Studio711

Gaming

Forza Motorsport 7 Review

I don’t spend much time playing video games anymore, but I always make time for Forza games when they come out. Racing simulators are my favorite and this is one of the best. I also know a couple people who work on the game so it’s fun to see what they’ve been up to.

Forza 7 is gorgeous and the driving experience is wonderful. This version adds night racing and dynamic weather conditions. You might start in the day time or dry weather but you could end in night time or rain. Other than that, though, it’s another series of races to enjoy. If you liked the previous ones, you’ll like this, but if you’re hoping that this version adds an epic story line, look elsewhere.

One thing that I’m unhappy with in this version is the lack of incentive to make the game more realistic. For example, there’s no incentive to turn on realistic car damage. You don’t pay for any of the damage after the race or suffer ill effects during the race. Just smash your way up to the front. Sure, you can change this setting, but it doesn’t give you any more money or lead to faster lap times so how many people will really do this? I’d like to see a cash bonus if you run with damage enabled or maybe a penalty after the race for how much damage you did to your car.

In general, I’m still waiting for two things in a racing simulator:

  1. Let me play Forza with virtual reality goggles on. I’d probably puke after 20-30 minutes of it, but I still want it.
  2. We have all this great real world map data available. Let me plug in an address and drop my car there. I don’t even care how real the graphics are. Just get the turns and the elevation changes to match the real world and I’d be thrilled. How fast could I make it to work on empty streets with a Ferrari? I want to know!

Sushi Go

“Ben, you’re a nerd. All these board games you’ve been writing about are too confusing and weird.” Never fear! I have a game for you too: Sushi Go.

The rules of Sushi Go can be explained in one minute. All the players are dealt cards. You look at your cards, play one card and then everyone passes their cards to the player next to them. You’re trying to build sets and matches but so is everyone else.

The game goes extremely quickly, but it’s a good introduction to “hand passing” games. This one is great for large groups that contain people who don’t play a lot of these games and/or include younger players. We often use this one as a filler when we only have a few minutes to play a game.

Pandemic

If you look at a game of Pandemic, it feels a bit like Risk. There’s a map of the world and a bunch of little pieces on it. In Pandemic, however, all the players are working together to stop the outbreak of four different diseases. You can do a little bit of disease cleanup by visiting the various cities, but you’ll rapidly fall behind. To cure the disease, you need to collect cards that match the colors of the various diseases.

Each player has different skills that are represented by cards dealt at the beginning of the game. You might have special abilities to heal infected cities, cure diseases with fewer cards, or move players around the board. That mix of skills changes with each game.

This game is one of the hardest ones I’ve played. It’s a team game and it requires everyone to be playing with the same strategy. You can talk freely but still, it’s hard to keep it all in your head. I love it though! There’s a version for Android where you get to play all the characters and using that, I’ve been able to win a few times on the easy settings.

Munchkin

Monday and Tuesday started with board game posts so let’s just go for a whole week of board games. Up today is “Munchkin“. This game starts off easy and gets more complicated as you play. Everyone starts off at Level 1 and is trying to become a Level 10 munchkin. You gain levels by defeating monsters that you encounter, and you defeat monsters by using items you have acquired and deals made with other players.

Every card you play has the ability to dramatically change the game and even change the rules of the game to some extent. The game is intentionally comical and open to definition. You’ll run into situations where the various rules conflict or are vague and you just get to argue it out. The instructions make this very clear from the start by explaining how to start the game. It says: “Decide who goes first by rolling the dice and arguing about the results and the meaning of this sentence and whether the fact that a word seems to be missing any effect.”

During the game you might find yourself as an elf carrying a flask of glue wearing pantyhose of giant strength, but if that all helps you defeat a maul rat then you just gained a level. Let’s just hope someone doesn’t curse you with a sex change.

There’s plenty of strategy and it takes a lot of concentration to figure out how to apply all the wild cards in your hand to win the game. I love this game but it’s on the complicated side and can take a while. If you somehow get bored of the base game, there are endless numbers of expansion packs available.

Oldies But Goodies

After writing about Fluxx yesterday, I thought I’d do a few more posts on my favorite board games. (And yes, I probably use “board games” incorrectly since some of these are tile games and others are card games.)

To get started, I’ll rip through some of the “classics” that I’ve already written about in the past:

  • Settlers of Catan – This was one of the first games that opened the general US population (myself included) up to modern board games. I’ve played this hundreds of times and will happily play it again at any time. The rules are pretty simple but the board changes every game so you need to be able to employ different strategies depending on the situation. Once you get a few games under your belt, you can read my strategy guide.
  • Ticket To Ride – This is probably the next game that most people played after they discovered Settlers. I like this but it’s not one of my favorites. There is a LOT of luck involved in getting the right cards, but if you play enough times, the better players will eventually win more games.
  • Carcassonne – This is a tile based game. You build up a shared board with the other players and carefully place your followers to gain ownership of a road, field, city, or cloister. I actually enjoy this one a bit more on a computer/phone/Xbox because scoring can get a little tricky in person.
  • Dominion – We were looking to branch out a bit from the classics listed above and this was recommended by a lot of other gamers. It’s a card game where the rules and strategy change with every game (this is a common theme in modern board games.) I enjoy this but for some reason it doesn’t get picked as often lately. I think part of the reason is because we have so many new games to try out.

All of these are solid choices. Prices range between $30 and $50 depending on the game. That might seem like a lot of money, but think about how much a group of 4 people would spend for one evening together if they went out. Even if you only play the game a couple times, you probably got your money’s worth.