Steam Freebies

DiRT Rally is free again. This time on Steam. Free to keep when you get it before 17 Sep @ 3:00am (Don’t know which time-zone). Some limitations apply.

Also free on Steam is THE GREAT GEOMETRIC MULTIVERSE TOUR. Same conditions. Free to keep when you get it before 17 Sep @ 3:00am (Don’t know which time-zone) . Some limitations apply.

Grid

Grid, also known as Race Driver: Grid is a racing game from 2008 that is kind of half simulation and half arcade racer. Start as a race driver for hire and work your way up to have the most successful racing team.

Pros

Everything looks good. Not as good as newer games, but it is good enough for me. The car damage looks particularly good.

The car damage model strikes a great balance between realism and fun. With enough damage, your car’s performance will degrade. It is also possible to render your car undriveable, whether that be by continuous damage or crashing too hard. Lucky for me, repairs are automatic and do not need to be paid for. Here is a replay video showing a Ferrari F430 turning into a semi-open-wheeled racer. Unfortunately, the audio failed to record.

The sound is also good. I don’t know how the real cars sounds, but they sound good in the game and each car has its own sound. The speech from the guy that tells you information while you are driving and your business manager also sound good.

To keep things interesting, there are different event types including drifting, demolition derby and even the 24 hours of Le Mans, which only runs for 12 minutes. There is enough variety of cars and tracks for the different events. Just don’t expect it to be as big as Gran Turismo.

Flashback is a nice helper feature for those that want to use it. It allows you to go back in time about five seconds to alter your driving. Avoid a crash or take a corner quicker. That is what flashback is for. The number of flashbacks available are limited by the difficulty setting and there is a cash bonus for not using them, so choose wisely.

Cons

Grid is the most keyboard unfriendly racing game I have encountered so far. I don’t think the driving assists does enough to help digital controls. The steering is also way too sensitive compared to other driving games. I could still win most races on the easiest difficulty of basic, but it still made me feel like playing other racers instead.

The music is downright annoying. Thankfully, there is a separate volume control for music. I turned it down to 0%.

There are some replay camera angles that shakes so much, you cannot see anything. Codemasters are probably trying to give a realistic live TV view of the race, but I think it is just pointless in a game when you can show off the good graphics with pristine clarity.

I have won all events except for the very last head-to-head race. Playing with a keyboard, the only way I could win races was by setting the difficulty to basic. The last race’s difficulty is fixed to the hardest. It does not look like it is possible to win with the keyboard. Some people might say, “go get an analog controller.”  I prefer to say “go get another game.”

Other Points

Outside of career mode, there is the standard pick your track and car and simply race. There is multiplayer capability as well, but I think the online servers are dead and I did not have an opportunity to try out LAN play.

No pit stops, not even in the 24 hours of Le Mans race. Of course 12 minutes is short enough to finish in one play session. As this game is not aiming to be a ultra-realistic racing simulator, I do not hold this as a con point.

You buy cars with race earnings, but there is no buying parts and tuning cars.

Although keyboard driving is terrible, navigating the menus in the game is very well done. There is no mouse control at all.

For some strange unknown reason, the manual is not available from Steam any more. For those that are interested, you can get the English manual from here.

To get the game to display in 1920×1080, I had to manually edit the file hardware_settings_restrictions.xml and remove the lines:

<data>
<res mem=”270″ maxWidth=”1280″ />
</data>

After that I could set the resolution to 1920×1080. The file hardware_settings_restrictions.xml is located in the <Grid install folder>\system\. For more information see this discussion.

I highly recommend playing with the 8 Ball & Prestige Packs DLC mod and the GRID World DLC car mod. The first mod adds extra cars plus the Mount Panorama Circuit in Bathurst, Australia. The second mod makes the extra cars available in career mode.

If you are really game, you can try my Mt Panorama in Career mod. It is a simple mod that adds the Mt Panorama track to the demolition derby event and all the Global Racing League events except for the Drift GP event. The tracks listings do not display properly, but the races seem to work fine.

Biases

I got Grid for free.

Test Drive Unlimited and Screamer are the only racings games I have played recently.

As stated above, I have completed all events except for the last head-to-head race.

Titan Quest Anniversary Edition

Be like Perseus and fight a Titan. But you are not a demigod so you have to work your way to be powerful enough. Welcome to Titan Quest. Having just got off the boat, you find the local town under attack. Save the town and start your quest to discover the origins of the monster attacks. Fight your way through myriads of monsters and level up with better abilities and equipment.

Pros

Being the good action RPG that it is, there are plenty of fights, loot and customisations.

A tutorial help box appears on the right side when you encounter a new feature in the game. The help box does not take up much space so you can try things out while the box is opened. These tutorial boxes can be turned off for experienced players and can also be opened on demand to get help at a later time.

Overall, the audio including the music, sounds good. The ambient sounds are particularly good in my opinion.

There is an automatic pick up items action similar to Sacred. Unfortunately, it only picks up gold, potions and relics. There is no option to pick up everything.

Even with the large play areas, there is plenty of fighting to be had. Each time you load a game, monsters are respawned. This means you can always get into the thick of the action quite quickly.

Once you have finished the game on normal, the next difficulty level is unlocked and you can take your character through the campaign again, but with higher level of monsters and equipment. There are three difficulty levels to get through.

There is a shared stash mechanism between all your created characters, much like Torchlight.

Upon reaching level 2, you get to pick a mastery which determines what skills you get. Each time you level up, points are given for you to spend on acquiring and improving skills. You are also given points to level up your general attributes like health and dexterity. What makes Titan Quest even more interesting is being able to pick a second mastery at level 8, effectively dual classing your character. There are 9 masteries to choose from (10 with the Ragnarok DLC) which gives a great variety to play with.

This is one game where I definitely cannot say “It’s all Greek to me!”. With a name like Titan Quest, I thought the entire game revolved around Greek mythology. That is what I get for buying a game without reading the description. Colour me surprised when I discovered that the game spans four acts with Act I being in Greece, Act II being in Egypt, Act III starting in Babylon and ending up in China, and finally Act IV in the… I won’t spoil it. There are also more acts in the form of DLCs that take you to more locations.

Each act is wonderfully fleshed out with their own environments, monsters and quests relating to their respective localities. I am not familiar with all the stories, but the game feels like it digs deep into each area’s mythologies.

Everything in the game looks good. Not as good as Marvel Heroes, but that maybe just my Marvel bias.

With the very brief time in multiplayer games, I can see that Titan Quest would be great fun with a dedicated group of friends. There are no separate multiplayer campaigns or areas, but the difficulty level adjusts to the number of players in the game, which is good. Loot is shared, so some sort of organisation of who gets what would be good for the party.

Cons

I have no con points for Titan Quest.

Other Points

The story is not spectacular, but it is better than Torchlight. Having an interest in Greek mythology probably made it more interesting for me too.

There is a day/night cycle, but like Sacred, I am not sure if it does anything except being a cosmetic feature.

Titan Quest automatically saves your game when you exit. There is also a manual save feature for just in case the game crashes… I think. You cannot create save game slots to reload later like Sacred, so it is just one save per character. Everything about your character gets saved, except for your current location. Locations are saved at checkpoints called rebirth fountains. Loading a game always spawns your character at the last activated rebirth fountain.

If you die, you leave a tombstone at the location of your death and respawn at the last activated rebirth fountain. As a consequence, you also lose some experience. You can reclaim some lost experience by going back and touching your tombstone.

Titan Quest is not an open world game like Sacred, but it has so many side quests and large play areas that it does not feel so linear like Torchlight.

Biases

I have always liked Greek Mythology. Never studied it in detail, but the stories were fascinating, both the historical ones and the completely new made up ones. No surprise that Clash/Wrath of the Titans movies are on my favourites list, along with The Odyssey (1997 miniseries)

I enjoyed playing Torchlight, Sacred and Marvel Heroes before Titan Quest.

I have completed Titan Quest with a defense/nature character on normal difficulty. For this review I have been mainly playing with a new hunter starting from scratch on normal difficulty.