Hello everyone and welcome back to my last recap article from E-3 before I get back to my regularly scheduled weekly column. I think next week I’ll focus on all the information pouring out of the Goblinworks camp about the Pathfinder Online alpha. But until then let us talk about another ground breaking MMORPG, World of Speed, only in this game instead of taking your avatar and picking up mighty weapons and slaying prime evils you… race cars?
World of Speed is a MMORPG racing game being developed by Slightly Mad Studios, appropriately named because I think you quite literally have to be slightly mad to think up the concept on this game. Slightly Mad is also the development team behind the Need for Speed franchise so this crew definitely has the chops to make a racing game. The only question is if they can make it an MMORPG.
I sat down in a racing chair for our demo and took control of the game with a controler. I participated in two races against a fellow media types, and even though I had my own personal pit crew of fellow MMORPG.com writer Terry O'Brien, I was clearly over matched by the media representative from another outlet that I will not name in order to protect their top secret identity.
During our demo the team behind Word of Speed wanted to make one thing absolutely clear. This game is an MMORPG. I find it funny they went to such herculean efforts to get that point across while so many other games are trying to shake the MMO stigma. I’m looking at Destiny and their infinite wisdom to refer to their game as a POS, (Persistent Online Shooter) not to be confused with that other thing you would call a POS. The Slightly Mad team proceeded to give us a breakdown of features you can find in their game that are a one to one equivalent to what you would find in a feature complete MMO. You are the player. You have a garage. The cars are your characters. You can progress your characters/cars through a number of ways. You can get paint jobs and different decals to affect the cosmetics. You can get body kits, upgrade the tires, change the suspension, add a nitrous system, and do just about anything else you could image to trick out or tune your ride (I originally wrote 'whip' and then realized I’m too old to say that).
Slightly Mad also recognizes not everyone that is going to play their game will be a great racer... in other words people like me. The last racer I played seriously, besides every game in the Mario Kart franchise, was GT2 for the PS One, so needless to say it has been a while. In order to soften the learning curve for the players that are more used to racing in Mario Kart as opposed to Need for Speed there are bonus objectives like quests you can complete inside the races to earn money and experience. You can then use this currency to spend in your garage. So even if you don’t win a lot at the start you will be able to earn rewards that will help you improve your cars. Also the quests themselves are designed to help you become a better driver. The first quest I completed required the driver to take the best line on the track for 65% of the race. There are also quests designed to encourage teamwork between drivers in the same club.
Speaking of clubs, that is World of Speed's equivalent to a guild system. While they were not given the greenlight to talk to us about clubs too in depth the team did provide us with one interesting bit. Clubs will compete across the world to take control of tracks. Once your club owns a track it your club logo will appear on the loading screen for that track and everyone that loads up to race on that track will have to stare at your club logo. This is intended to provoke rival clubs into trying and taking control of that track.
While I’ve been beating around the bush and not outright telling you about the drubbing I took at the hands of my rival driver, the time has come for that tale to be told. We were both armed with an unmodified Subaru WRX for our first race around the track. The car handled like a brick. It was heavy and hard to steer and to be honest my failure was probably a bit of both the car handling clunky and me just being terrible. The other driver beat me, and he beat me bad. The second time around the track we each had a decked out Subaru WRX. This time the cars were much more responsive. They handled better in the corners, they accelerated faster out of the turns and I was able to hold the best line on the track for well over 65% of the course. When I wasn’t running into the walls on sharp turns that is. For a large portion of the race I managed to hold the lead but surrendered it on the last quarter of the track. Even though there was a very tactile difference between the cars with the upgrades the game does promise a lot of horizontal progression as previously mentioned. Because of different track types you will also be encouraged to purchase multiple types of cars and not just stick to one which you fully kit out.
While most of the elements in the game felt like they are pretty standard to the current crop of racing games it was refreshing to see Slightly Mad’s take on the genre. Until we know more about the club functions I think it is a bit premature to speculate how this title will play out as a MMO and how it will encourage players to work together in what many people envision as a teamless sport. If nothing else it looks to be shaping up as a mighty fine racer.
Robert Lashley / Robert Lashley is a Staff Writer and Online host for MMORPG.com. Rob's bald and when he isn't blinding people from the glare on his head talking in front of a camera you can find him spending his free time checking out the latest games and technology. Feel free to hunt him down on twitter @Grakulen
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