I’ve always been a big fan of racing games. I’m terrible at them, but I love them. They allow me to play against other people competitively while not having to worry about disappointing super competitive, hardcore players who might be my teammates. So when I first heard about World of Speed I was quite excited. Unfortunately as I learned at Gamescom when I played it, you are part of a team and you can let them down.
First I had to get my head around the idea of World of Speed. They call it a racing MMO but what does that really mean? From what I can tell it’s just like any other racing game you’ve ever played except that it’s online so you can play with anyone anywhere in the world. As such I really have my doubts about calling it an MMO. But, the developers say it’s an MMO, so it’s an MMO.
When I pulled up my chair to the demo I was greeted as you might imagine I would be, with a choice of cars. Not being a car fan I couldn’t tell you the specifics of what I saw, though I do know there were some that hadn’t been announced yet. I scrolled through them all and picked the one I thought looked the prettiest. Why? I just wanted something nice to look at while I played. After a quick introduction to the controls we were off.
It was a simple 2v2 race, red up against blue. But this isn’t your average arcade racing game. World of Speed offers challenges for you to complete during the race. Completion earns your team points and decides who the winner is. It was absolutely no surprise to me to find out that I suck. The only challenges I actually managed to complete were the ones for mastering the track, in other words, actually going. For a brief time I was able to get behind someone from the blue team for the Slipstream Challenge, but the first time we came to a sharp turn I lost them. Why? I’m terrible at sliding around corners and I have no concept of using the brake (brakes are for losers and people who want to win.). Oh and I spent a lot of time playing with the camera angle.
But that at least is something to talk about! World of Speed offers you several choices for camera angle. You can be in the driver’s seat and see your hands, you can be the car (something I don’t recommend for people who get motion sick), and several others. Of them all I preferred the traditional third person view of the car. Though some of the others may provide more of an advantage as I did find the surroundings in Red Square quite distracting.
That of course brings us to graphics. World of Speed is…well, I’ll just say it, it is stunningly beautiful. You can easily find yourself distracted by how fantastic the surroundings are. This of course is made even more awesome by the fact that you’re driving through a real place. The cars themselves are beautiful even. They all have that never been driven off the lot shine to them that no real car can ever hope to achieve after its first drive. But there was one thing that surprised me. When I changed the camera angle to be from my point of view in the driver’s seat I discovered I had really ugly hands. They were plastic looking and had odd lines that made them look like they belonged in a Nintendo 64 game, not the beautiful racing game I had been playing. I know a pair of hands will hardly make or break a game but they really stood out in the game. I also would have liked the option to have feminine hands but that’s another point entirely.
Thankfully the World of Speed team knew players would want to see what the press got to play. So they released a Gamescom video which shows off the track we were on, a few cars, and thankfully nothing from the press play sessions. You can see some of the challenges we were presented with and hopefully get a feel for the game. Or at least get as good of one as I did. Though a few wall crashes wouldn’t have hurt to include, we are press after all, if there’s one thing we do it’s play new games badly.
In the end, after playing two races and losing them both miserably I can’t wait to play again. It was fun, had some difficulty to it, and offered a little bit more than your average racing game. I would recommend everyone gives World of Speed a go. It can be casual enough to play with your Grandmother or competitive enough to please the most hardcore gamer. I certainly plan on playing it casually. So if you do sign up for the beta and you’re looking for some easy points (I’m honest at least) keep an eye out for me. Load up your driving playlist and get ready for a high speed ride.