Monday, September 7, 2009
I love Formula D. It's one of my favorite games of all time. I just totally dig the fact that a game where I'm using dice and a gigantic game board can feel like I'm screaming around corners, burning rubber, and smoking my brakes in a hell-bent-for-leather crazy race for the finish line. Plus it's awesome when people crash.
The problem is, I want to race different places. And since the boards aren't modular (and really couldn't be), that means I need more tracks. But the tracks have to be interesting, or they're really just more of the same. I need variations in corners, really tricky technical turns, and hopefully a nice long straight road now and then to get into sixth gear (I kind of wonder why they ever put rules for sixth gear into the game in the first place - in the 50+ games of Formula D I have played, I have seen someone roll that 30-sided die exactly once, and it was me, and I crashed because it's almost always stupid to shift into sixth gear).
Plus the new Formula D (as opposed to the old Formula De) has these really cool street racing rules, and they're awesome, so I love to get new places for my adrenaline-junkie wannabe-felons to break traffic laws and endanger innocent pedestrians. The best tracks for street racing are the city streets where you get intersections and bridge jumps and tunnels. And I want lots of them. Official racetracks are boring if you want to blow off red lights and run from the police.
Unfortunately, if you primarily dig the street racing rules in Formula D, the latest expansion track isn't going to help you at all. The first expansion had Chicago, which was awesome and reminded me of playing Midnight Club (don't feel bad if you didn't know what that was - it's a video game. Not all my time is spent on high-brow snobbery). Expansion track #2 has two official tracks meant for professional race car drivers. There aren't even any special rules for crazy spots on the track.
But even if the new tracks aren't great for illegal night races, they're still good tracks. In fact, one of them is awesome, and will almost certainly claim the inexperienced driver. The other is also great, especially if you're teaching people the game for the first time.
HockenheimRing is the first track, with some very nice straightaways and no seriously difficult turns (trivia: it is also German for 'I have something in the back of my throat. Could I get a glass of water?'). Most of the turns on this track are rated at difficulty 1, with only three 2's and no 3's. Plus there's at least one straight piece where you can really open up and haul ass. It's a great track for teaching people, because there aren't too many places where a halfway sensible driver can burn out his tires, and you'll be able to show the newbs how much fun it is to pass each other in fifth.
The flip side of Hockensumdamthing is Valencia, and right off the bat, it's way prettier. Part of the race is on roads built over the ocean, and another part goes through a construction site, so it's not like looking at an aerial photograph of Texas Motor Speedway (another way it's not like Texas Motor Speedway is that you can't see any drunk women so fat you can read the innapropriate slogans on their t-shirts from outer space. Also, there are no ads for pork rinds or watery beer, and nobody shows up in an RV converted into a swimming pool by lining it with trash bags and filling it from a gas station water hose).
Valencia is a very tricky race. The first two turns are going to require a little forethought - you may want to drive up to them in a low gear so you can take off in fourth, because then you've got a comparitively long difficulty 2 turn right before the longest straightaway in the race. You have to be careful - you don't want to blow out your tires, but if the next driver can exit in a higher gear, he's going to blow past you like you were driving a Segway. The rest of the track is just as tricky, and the better driver (and luckier) is going to win more often than not.
Obviously, as a somewhat experienced Formula D player, I prefer Valencia. But it's not like I have to pick - you get both in the one package. So the question really is, should you get this expansion in the first place? To help you decide, I've created a quick quiz:
Question 1: Do you own Formula D, and do you play it a lot?
Question 2: Do you prefer the original rules to the crazy hijinks of the street racing rules?
Question 3: Do you have a combover?
If your answers were Yes, Yes and Yes, then you should get this expansion track. Also, you should roll the windows up if you're going to drive fast, or it will blow that ridiculous flap of hair straight up until you look like you have a hair-shaped arrow sticking out of the side of your head. If you answered No, No and No, then I wonder why you're reading this review in the first place, but at least you're not sporting a silly haircut.
If you're only looking for good street racing tracks, get Chicago. These two tracks are for serious drivers in serious cars. But if you dig a good technical race, one that forces you to drive like you had a pair, you're going to love Valencia. And if you want a forgiving track that lets you enjoy the game with new players, Hockenbooger is a great pick.
And if you really think pushing one long piece of hair over that bald spot is fooling anyone, you're delusional.
One great track for beginners
One excellent track for skilled racers
More variety is better
No new street racing map makes little Baby Jesus cry
If you're getting good and bored of the maps in Formula D, and want some fresh meat, you can get Formula D Expansion #2 here:
Posted by Matt Drake at 3:01 PM