forza motorsport 7

I got an XBox One recently because I very specifically needed a machine to play my old XBox games. My 360 controllers are old as fuck and have the sticks have drift on them that the JoyCon could only dream of, and since finding a new unfucked 360 pad is impossible, I got a whole new system instead.

Now the thing is, I bought this so I can play my neglected collection of old games. While I have been doing that, I have also been distracted by a couple of games I’ve missed out on in the past hardware generation. I’m talking about Forza Motorsport 7, naturally. This is actually my first time playing any game in the Forza series, actually. My love of Auto Racing came after I had to admit that my I couldn’t really play anything on my 360 anymore. Sure, I could’ve gotten Game Pass or simply bought the game off of Steam, but FM7 is a 70 GB game. That has to compete with my PC’s internal storage, which ain’t really all that big. It has to compete with all my art projects, all the fighting games, a large collection of music and pornography, among many other things. A game console does not have these problems, so it’s easier to simply download it to that and play on a big ass TV. Which I did.

the rain effects are really cool

Before I played this, I tried a little bit of Forza Horizon 4. Seemed like it would be cool: a semi-realistic driving game with a big open world, Burnout Paradise style. Instead I got a bunch of loot box bull shit, a storyline full of characters who look like their names are on the Epstein flight logs, and winning races didn’t unlock cars, but instead unlocked ads for cars that I could buy via microtransactions. Also, the game doesn’t run at 60 FPS. I’m not some asshole stickler for FPS or FOV or PIV or some shit, but if you make a racing game, it should run as fast as possible. The only exception to this rule is Ridge Racer 4, and that’s only because that game was good enough to make up for that weakness in other ways. A racing game on 8th gen hardware should not be having this problem. Anyways. Forza Horizon 4 sucked, and I wasn’t especially looking forward to trying out FM7, but I felt like I still should.

Good news: Forza Motorsport 7 is awesome. It is a game that gives me what I want: being able to drive really fast in cars that you can only afford if you game the stock market or commit a war crime (though I repeat myself) on courses that I’ve seen on TV. That’s it. Get a starter car, win some races, take the points you’ve earned from competing to buy more cars, and race those cars too. No bull shit about being a high-society dickhead or trying to become a movie star or whatever the fuck Horizon was about. No fucking lootboxes, either. Yeah, FM7 has some DLC, but it’s significantly less predatory than its competing spin-off. The whole reason I’ve been focusing on covering retro games is entirely because of shit like this; I remember a time when I would buy a video game, and I would be able to play the entire fucking video game. Not get an ad to let me know that I can purchase additional content on top of my already spent $60 that should have been in the game to begin with, that doesn’t even run at a good frame rate. Am I so out of touch? No, it’s the developers who are wrong.

yeah fuck this and fuck you forza horizon

But enough about bad racing games. I have spent the last two days with FM7, and I have not had this much fun with a racing game since the days of Gran Turismo 6 on my PS3. I drove an Indy Car at Daytona. I drove a Ferrari 340 at Monza. I drove a Nissan Fairlady in this gorgeously rendered Dubai, where bits of sand get caught up in the wind, creating this drifting wave across the road. On courses with rain, the raindrops gather on your windshield, and then your wipers kick on every few seconds to help you maintain visibility. That is, assuming that you’re using the cockpit view, which you should. For as much as I loved GT6, I couldn’t use the cockpit view in a number of cars, because they were so detailed that the frame rate would drop. FM7 does not have this problem, so I’m always looking through the windshield.

I do have a couple of complaints about Forza here. One, there’s a stark lack of Toyota representation. Two, and this is more of an XBox problem: I can’t just plug in a USB drive and import my own music to listen to while I drive like I could with GT6. I get that that isn’t super realistic, but who cares; it’s not like I need to hear the engines roaring as some sort of tactical thing. Other than that, I have no real issues. It’s exactly what I want, a racing game.

There’s a real beauty to FM7’s simplicity. All you do is drive, buy some cars, then drive some more. Racing games have worked that way since the 80s, because it works. The formula was perfected right out of the gate, and everything since then has been reinventing the wheel (so to speak). I’m glad I played this after I played Forza Horizon, if only to see just how much one company can fuck up the concept, and then see how a different company gets it right. In any event, I get the hype for Forza now; I’ll put it on par with GT. They’re both great.

dragon marked for death

Inti Creates is a developer with an interesting output. Mega Man Zero was a fun series, albeit hard as fuck. I loved their Mighty Gunvolt 8-bit throwbacks. The mainline Gunvolt was pretty fun, and had some unique stuff I really liked. Mega Man 9 is…it’s a game I have complicated feelings on. Bloodstained would probably be a cool game if my PC’s fan didn’t start sounding like a helicopter taking off if I play the game for more than five minutes (seriously, only Bloodstained and Elden Ring do this. Not Guilty Gear, not Resident Evil 8, not KOF XV, nothing else.). Sweet Fuse is my second favorite dating sim on the PSP. They do tend to have more hits than misses, and only one of those misses wasn’t really their fault (Mighty No. 9).

In addition to all of these games, Inti Creates also made a multiplayer Action-RPG with character classes and loot mechanics. It’s called Dragon Marked For Death, and until I was gifted a copy earlier this week, I had no idea it even existed. That’s a shame, as this game rules.

Most people would compare this sort of game to something like Diablo, Monster Hunter, or Castlevania: Harmony of Despair; games where you get together in a party of other players with an art style best described as “even more gothic Disgaea,” fight a bunch of minions, a big boss at the end, and get a bunch of items, hoping that you got the one particular item with a 3% drop rate that you were looking for, then do it over and over again. A particularly addictive sub-genre, even though it sounds boring as fuck on paper. The thing about Dragon MFD (because I am not typing out the whole title every time) is that even though most missions fall under “kill the big guy,” there is a surprising amount of variety to these missions. There are vastly different locales, ranging from the typical fantasy forest, to Sengoku-era Japan, to large castles, to the inside of a large monster, each with new enemy and boss types within them. They all have different objectives as well, like the dreaded escort mission, finding an item, activating switches and locks, needing to convince ghosts that they are actually dead by showing them their bodies, purifying a poisoned water supply, and lots of other things that involve me using a comma in between them. Every time you think that you’ve seen the extent of Dragon’s variety, there’s always something new.

It also doesn’t hurt that Dragon is also really fun to play. The way characters move gracefully from section to section: dashing on the ground, dashing in the air, double jumping, swinging with a grappling hook, floating, wall jumping. Getting adequately leveled and tearing through low-level enemies like a lawnmower, before you show off your memorization skills and avoid every hit the boss delivers. Cool thing is, unlike certain other Inti Creates games (Gunvolt), bosses don’t have bull shit full-screen attacks that kill you immediately. There is a real sense of style to playing Dragon that rewards you for paying attention. This is a game made by the Mega Man Zero team, and it shows.

Other than being really fun and a game that you can mindlessly spend hours in grinding away to make numbers get bigger, I think that I dig Dragon because it’s like a 32-bit game transplanted into the modern era. This game looks, sounds, plays, and animates like one of those criminally unloved games on the Playstation and Saturn that you could only read about in the back of a gaming magazine. The kind of game that you only ever heard about on message boards from the one guy who could get access to imports we couldn’t play because American executives have completely liquefied brains (taking this parenthetical aside to once again say GO FUCK YOURSELF BERNIE STOLAR).

I wanted to talk about this game, not just because I really enjoyed the week of it that I have played, but because I felt like I needed to raise awareness of Dragon Marked For Death. Here’s the problem: NOBODY IS PLAYING THIS FUCKING GAME ONLINE. Maybe it’s different on the Switch, but here on PC, it’s a ghost town. I was able to get some multiplayer sessions in with some friends who also owned the game, and it was great. A game like this should not be some unknown title with a dead multiplayer element. Dragon is something that is certainly enjoyable solo, but becomes so much better when playing with three friends. Monster Hunter is understandably getting all of the attention, and there’s still a dedicated playerbase for Phantasy Star Online, but there needs to be a bigger spotlight on Dragon MFD.

Even if you’re only going to end up playing with randos, playing Dragon MFD gave me those old warm and fuzzy feelings of Summers playing Metal Gear Peace Walker and Resident Evil 6 with other people. In a better world, this would be similar: the kind of game you throw on when there’s nothing to do, and you don’t feel like going out because it’s a hundred degrees outside, so you set up a quick run of some Dragon MFD levels and maybe meet a couple of cool weirdos along the way.