Bandai Namco's free-to-play - sorry *vomits* free-to-drift - racing game Ridge Racer Driftopia's year-long beta will come to an end in around 60 days. Normally that would be the time when a game graduates from beta to, er, 'the one after beta', otherwise known as 'released'. That's not happening here: Namco Bandai Namco (delete as applicable) have announced that they're to take the project offline instead. By August 15th, Driftopia's servers will be shut down, while its Steam Early Access page will presumably be Old Yellered in the back of the head. Given the staggering number of negative reviews on that linked page, I shan't think people are going to miss it.
Since Next Car Game was first announced, Bugbear have created a Kickstarter, released a trailer, cancelled the Kickstarter, released a demo, and crowdfunded through their own website. You'd think that at some point during that process, somebody on the team would have raised their hand and said "hey guys, how about we call it 'Smashy Smashy Bang Vroom'?"
The destruction derby racer is now available on Steam Early Access, where yes, it's still called Next Car Game. If you buy it, it will be available through your Steam Library, where it will still be called Next Car Game. Is it really so hard to come up with a video game name? How about Metal Mayhem: Origins, or Super Scrapes: Awakening, or, if they'd rather go for a celebrity licence, Tony Hawk's Reckless Roadside Endangerment? I know he's more closely associated with skating, but he's not done a game in a while, so he'd probably be up for it.
The holidays were good to Next Car Game and its particular vision of motorized mayhem. After Bugbear Entertainment's Kickstarter to fund its latest racing game fell short of its goal in November, the developer asked for support through the project's website. Backers there have contributed more than $490,000, well clear of its original crowdfunding goal.
It's Friday afternoon. Here, at the PC Gamer office, you can hear the unhealthy whirr of the coffee machine; and the stern bark of "Xbox" drifts over the partition, as the Edge team grapple with their new console. Around these desks, staff writers fire plastic guns at each other, and generally, there's the feeling that the weekend is almost here. At such times, it's good to have some enjoyable video game destruction in the news chamber. True to this ideal, here's the first footage of Bugbear's Next Car Game.
I have a horrifying feeling that they're actually going to call it Next Car Game. Sure, they might not be actively planning to do so, but at some point someone at Bugbear will say, "well, it's what everyone already calls it, so why not?" But no, Bugbear, don't do it. Call it something that more accurately reflects your destruction derby intentions. Something like CAR METAL HYPER FORCE SMASH TIME. Whatever it might eventually be called, it's appeared on Kickstarter, as Bugbear look for a turbo injection to their development fund.
Do you want to see a car drive into a clutch of rotating grinders and then see it vomited out the other side in a flurry of shrapnel and screams? Of course you do! Bugbear Entertainment's next car game, Next Car Game, has a very nice damage modelling system so they've tortured a car over and over again to show it off in their "car damage fun" video. It won't seem so fun when that car's children find out what happened and start an epic quest for vengeance in Next Car Game 2: Car Harder.
Bugbear Entertainment have briefly popped their head out of the development garage to offer an update on their next car game, Next Car Game. That update, to paraphrase, is: "can we have some money, please?" As you'll see from their pitch, the former FlatOut devs have broken out the standard template, comprised of: 1) the announcement of a crowdfunding scheme, 2) the comparison to older games, and 3) the declaration that publishers are rubbish and smelly. Again, I'm paraphrasing. Check out their video to see those concepts more tactfully put, as well as some pleasing footage of crumpling cars.
Upcoming free-to-play Ridge Racer Driftopia—which already has kind of a cheeseball name—has coined a new term, "Free 2 Drift," which I'm sure is a name that nobody will regret within the fortnight. And it's out now. Kind of. It's technically in closed beta, but worming your way into the racing crowd is a cinch.
There's almost a resigned inevitability to the act of giving your upcoming game the working title "Next Car Game". Bugbear previously created the FlatOut series, and worked on the unhinged Ridge Racer: Unbounded. Surprise! They're working on another car game.
Not that they sound unhappy about the prospect of more motor madness. A short message on their newly opened website reads, "We're making a new car game. This time we're going back to our roots - just like all of our fans have been asking us to do!" A short trailer teases what the studio are planning, and while it may be cars, it definitely isn't racing.
FlatOut was a stunt racer with a mode in which players attempted to launch their drivers through the windscreen of their cars and over obstacles. Ridge Racer is best remembered as an arcade racer about blue skies and power slides. These two games combining is only the first counter-intuitive thing about Unbounded.