Sasquatch News Update - Nov. 8, 2010

We're not normally in the business of talking about the daily ins and outs of the gaming industry, but sometimes we need to touch up on some topics. Two topics I've written on specifically recently require a little bit of updating: The Supreme Court hearings on the Schwarzenegger vs EMA violent video game law case, and my review of Formula 1 2010.

Schwarzenegger vs EMA

As we previewed last Monday, the landmark Supreme Court case had oral hearings last Tuesday. While the official verdict is not expected for a long time — perhaps months — many in both the video games and mainstream media have covered the case. Pertinent for gamers are GamePolitics, which has the full transcript of the hearing as well as some choice quotes, and also Joystiq's complete coverage of the case.

The crux of the argument for California is that the sale of violent games can fall under the same "Miller test" as the sale of pornography — thus not requiring a First Amendment exception, which would be unprecedented action from the Supreme Court. However, the EMA and pro-video game forces are confident their argument was heard; that argument, as mentioned in the preview of the case hearings, is that violence in video games is protected free speech no different from violent content in movies, books, comics, movies, etc.

We will provide further commentary and coverage of this Supreme Court case once a decision has been rendered.

Formula 1 2010: Patched and playable

As mentioned right at the top of our early October review of Formula 1 2010, I would be addressing the review of the game and opinion of it once the game was patched. As of last week, the game is now patched — the update trickled first to PS3 gamers, then PC and finally the Xbox 360 version. Though the on-the-track racing was (and still is) quite good, there was a litany of frustrating bugs in each version of the game (PS3, Xbox 360 and PC). Along with the same bugs seen in the console versions, PC gamers also experienced performance issues.

Now that the patch is out — here's an official list of what issues are addressed in each version of the game — the game is far less frustrating. While many minor graphical or gameplay issues are tweaked and made better with the patch, the bigger issues like a bug that would corrupt save data, one that would allow other cars past the player as they were held in their pit box during races, and other AI tweaks have been fixed, making the game much more playable. Previously, if you brought your car into the pit lane the same lap as the AI, your team would hold you in the pit box while everyone else would stream past — the bug has moved me from 5th out of 24 in a race to 20th. The other AI changes both make the opponents a better challenge in wheel-to-wheel racing, and also means drivers properly move over for a faster car during the practice or qualifying session, just as they would in real life. Of course, removing the fear of losing a save is also a weight off your shoulders.

In short, the game finally feels complete. There are still issues with game design or lack of features, but not major problems due to bugs or being unfinished. It's taken more than a month, but the game is now complete. I've finished a year of the career mode and have been truly hooked on the experience, as evident in the recent Backlogs. It's still a title that won't suit everybody, but with the scaling of driver aids and AI difficulty, it's one of the best racing titles of the year and probably the choice racing sim for 2010.