GRAN TURISMO 6 (E)
Sony Computer Entertainment
200 racetracks. 1200 cars. In its bid to one-up rival racing series Forza Motorsport and its paltry 200 cars, Gran Turismo clearly chose the route to quantity rather than quality. But the reality is that, unless you’re Jay Leno or some other die-hard auto aficionado, once your collection is up to a hundred cars or so, you’ll have a hard time telling most of them apart. It’s not that the 100 varieties of Mazda (and there are seriously 100 Mazdas) aren’t painstakingly modeled after their real world counterparts. It’s just that most real world Mazdas probably have similar handling, so in a game designed for gearhead wish fulfillment, it’s not entirely necessary to have every single one of them. It’s the Ferraris, the Porsches, the thrumming muscle cars and exotic concept car prototypes that you really yearn to take for a spin, and the bulk of them are locked away in parking garages in the darkest, most distant recesses of the game.
Obtaining the most coveted of high horsepower vehicles can be extremely hard or extremely easy, depending upon your tolerance for being ripped off. Longtime devotees of the series will quickly notice that this sixth installment is much stingier than usual when it comes to dishing out in-game currency and free cars as you progress. That’s probably due to the game’s “optional” microtransactions. If you don’t feel like slogging through the countless races necessary to earn the particular sports car you want, you can purchase it with a few bucks of real world cash. You don’t have to obtain the car this way, mind you, as long as you don’t mind suffering through the unprecedentedly sluggish career mode. Gran Turismo 6 certainly isn’t the first game to include additional expenses, but since it’s offering for a price what in previous installments we got for free (and with far greater ease), it feels ever so slightly like extortion.
ADVENTURE TIME: EXPLORE THE DUNGEON BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW! (E10+)
Fans of the Adventure Time animated TV show, might expect any game based on such a bizarre, quirky property to offer an original experience. Unfortunately, what we get is Gauntlet re-skinned with the likenesses of Finn and Jake. Apart from a few rare cut-scenes that come close to evoking the random, madcap quality of the show, this is just a straightforward dungeon crawler, crippled by a few mechanics that had managed to become dated prior to the end of the 1980s.
MARIO & SONIC AT THE SOCHI 2014 OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES (E)
Video game mascots and three-time Olympians Mario and Sonic are back once again to compete for the gold in a series of mini-games. Technically, there are eighteen events to choose from, but it feels more like three, since most of the sports (e.g. skiing, snowboarding, ice skating) play identically. Your athletes are guided with a tilt of the Wii remote or Wii U GamePad—a mechanic that is frustratingly imprecise. Until this series introduces more variety and an option for analog control, this longstanding rivalry between hedgehog and plumber will remain a disappointment.