Sunday, October 23

The Demo Downlow: Sonic Generations (again!), Forza Motorsport 4 and NFS: The Run

Welcome to the second instalment of The Demo Downlow. In a bout of deja vu, I'll be reporting on another demo for Sonic Generations, as well as trials for Frostbite 2-powered racer Need for Speed: The Run, and Microsoft's automotive heavyweight, Forza Motorsport 4. All demos were played on the Xbox 360, this time around.

Sonic Generations
The latest demo for the Blue Blur's retro-themed platformer features a cleaner version of the Green Hill, Zone 1 shown in the first demo that surfaced in June. The camera keeps up with the action this time around, and the whole experience felt a little smoother; to the point where I'm actually looking forward to its release. Also present was a reinterpretation of this zone which featured the behind-the-back perspective that's featured in Sonic's recent adventures. To my surprise, it wasn't horrible. Don't get me wrong: enemy placement and the rigid camera led to inescapable contact with enemies, but it was still possible to regain momentum. When it was actually possible to evade enemies, the action was easy to follow when compared to the disastrous Sonic Unleashed, or even the slightly less horrible Sonic the Hedgehog (2007).  

The Verdict
Sonic Generations will be an interesting package to say the least. The levels designed with the old school in mind may actually be enjoyable, and - shock horror - the modern levels may actually be playable!

Forza Motorsport 4
I'm not a huge fan of racing sims: unless it's got karts or power-ups (Blur, anyone?), I usually find it hard to sustain interest in driving on the track. So with that in mind, Forza 4 shouldn't have stood a chance; but gorgeous visuals and a bevvy of difficulty options ensured that the demo was well worth the bandwidth. One track and three cars are available in the trial, and I was blown away by the cockpit views and lighting effects. Each vehicle handled differently - for those who know me, it's not fair for me to judge realism in the realm of driving - and I'm left wanting more. 

The scenic route

The Verdict
The indelible impression left by my three rides in Switzerland may have been enough to justify a purchase, a motion seconded by my wife after only one play through. This is racing at its most beautiful, and flexible.   

Need For Speed: The Run
Two tracks and two cars - one with the caveat of dragging your friends along for the ride - await those with the requisite time and hard drive space available. It's clear that the developers, Black Box are trying to create a cinematic feel with this latest instalment of the storied racing franchise; particularly in terms of the camera moves during the race. Initially, it was off-putting; particularly after the supposed realism of Forza 4. A few minutes and replays later, and I felt as though I was getting the hang of things. It looks and plays similarly to last year's effort, Hot Pursuit; however, without the fun found in takedowns and weapons. Things got a little muddy in the second track. Multiple avalanches without any great impact on the frame rate aside, the action looked unacceptably blurry. It's also worth noting that as per the intro, the action is powered by the Frostbite 2 engine that will be under the hood of the inevitable blockbuster, Battlefield 3. If this game is anything to go by, Battlefield 3 may not look so good on the 360 (or PS3).

Walk - don't run - for the latest Need for Speed game

The Verdict
Need for Speed: The Run felt a little too Hollywood for me. A lot of style with familiar substance.

What demos have you played recently? Anything to recommend?

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