Published on December 3rd, 2010 | by Remdog8
Oh Where Art Thou Racing Replays Gone!?
Once upon a time top down racing games were what anyone knew or loved from them. You simply played races, won and moved on or retry had you lost. However as time went on and our racing games technologically evolved, a feature called “Replays” started to exist in them. While we all know the meaning of it, by definition Replays are a showing again of a sequence of action or recording to be played again. What was the meaning of such thing, well back in the day it was to merely see how you played out during the race or catch a funny moment. As games graphically got better, they became a way to showcase, highlight, or see crazy moments that one had during said race.
While watching a races replay was fun and simple it did reach a point where it was overhauled as a full fledge feature within a game. They became cinematic like watching an action film or able to save and share amongst the games community. So anyone would figure that something like this would never go out of style right? Well over the past couple of years replays have started disappearing from racing games and we’re not entirely sure why. It would seem that on a developers side it has become a mere element from past games and is not really something they should focus on. They think to us it is not a big deal but what they don’t understand is that it is and we want it back!
The good old days
The Need for Speed series is a beloved racing franchise with some of the best racing games to ever hit consoles and pc. Since the days of Need for Speed 1 that was released in 1996-1997 on the PC, Playstation 1 and Sega Saturn the game had always had one key component, a replay function during the end of a race. What better way to watch cops chasing you and some slick cars then in a replay? Four NFS games were released after that all with a more robust version of a replay mode and the best one being Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 for the Playstation 2 developed by Black Box. The six game was the first not to include a replay which was Need for Speed Underground, why the sudden change? While you might think this was maybe a mere hiccup, it wasn’t. NFS Underground 2 did have replays but it was soon to be the new standard that all NFS games in the next generation platforms were to not include replays. NFS Most Wanted, Carbon, Pro Street and Undercover are all next generation games missing last generation components?
Need for Speed Shift was the first game in four years and four games later to bring back the replay function and even then seemed tucked away. This year Need for Speed brought it back to its roots, what gamers wanted most from the serious. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit was what we were all waiting for, or so we thought. Aside the fact that at its bare has some key features that the old Hot Pursuits had, its missing plenty but most importantly its missing replays. A Hot Pursuit tradition at this point but without mention it is just not in the game. Why are replays being fazed out and put on the back burner? Racing games from Playstation to Dreamcast to Xbox have all had games with replays on it so why at a time where replays could look better then ever are they simply disappearing? Here are a couple of reasons why this might be happening.
In an economic change that we have been under the past couple of years, development time is very important. Not only that but is also expensive and I won’t pull the wool over my eyes as I understand that not everything can be fit onto one game. Developers start to way in what they can and can’t put in over the time constraint of what they’re given. This may not always be the case though as it may also be due to the game and platforms limitation. In an interview with Split/Second creators BlackRock Studio when asked why there was no inclusion of a replay mode after a race they reply’d, there were many moving structures by way of explosions and other factors. Replays took to many resources from the game and the console can’t process it. In other words our consoles are alot more limited then we can imagine? As developers engines get better, there having limitations in other aspects which affect replay. I find this very hard to believe as this really has to due with the lack of engine optimization to take advantage of a full on replay with consoles and pc’s.
Where are our replays!
Whatever the case maybe it definitely something. Project Gotham Racing creators Bizarre Creations were known for having a cinematic style replay system in there games, hell you could even race online and save them which they started. Their newly developed racer Blur however had no inclusion whatsoever of a replay and while I don’t want to claim had a little to do with the games somewhat flop, I can tell you that fans of the racing game genre are speaking up.
In an age where not only is it not wise to remove any features from a past game unless it was a total bust, there are so many benefits to having these features in. Youtube, Facebook and other sharing medias have taken over the internet and with so many ways of bringing that content to life online, not having something as minimal as replays in them is just foolish. Criterion Games also followed a similar pattern by having replays in burnout 1 and 2 but their standout was Burnout revenge on the Xbox 360. They included not only a replay mode but a way to cut clips of it and share them to be rated and viewed amongst the Burnout Revenge community. To bad that was the last time any sort of replay function was in Criterion’ racing games as Burnout Takedown and Paradise did not receive the same love. Paradise went as far as to remove other fun features that were in Revenge.
We also live in a time where DLC (downloadable content) is all the rise. If something is broken, new content releases or features need to be added then it just comes out as DLC to be updated in the game. So why have we never received a replay mode on a game via DLC that didn’t have it?
Look I’m all for having the best gaming experience I can and if one feature had to be removed to take place of another I understand that. This doesn’t mean that you cut things that are a no brainer to begin with. There are gamers out there that are completely satisfied from what something like the new Need for Speed hot Pursuit game brings to them but if they think realistically, then we are getting fewer features and additions to games now then we did in the past. Play as Cops or Racers, compete in time trials and race in two game modes online (head to head is not a real mode) … thats all you get in the new Hot Pursuit. No Knockout races, speed gate racing, check points, an insulting photo mode and a useless open world (unlike Test Drive Unlimited).
For developers who think this isn’t a big deal, it is. For developers of racing games who think that we don’t care that much, try telling that to the developers at Bungie , Capcom or Treyarch who have put a replay theater system in there games and have benefited from it. If they also think it is not important then why do all commercials and trailers from racing games with ingame footage are from a built in replay mode? Because they look cool as hell! So please bring back our replays because we want them back. If it takes 5-10% more of development then so be it because they are well worth it. You don’t give gamers what they want, even if they don’t come out and say it, sooner or later they’ll show you how they feel. For developers who think they can keep brushing it off, well alot of gamers including myself will spend our hard earned cash on games with features that deserve to be their.
No Objection here?