Your cheatin’ heart

Last night as a way of “relaxing” I decided to put in a little track time with GT4 (a racing simulator for the Playstation). The air quotes started to settle around my relaxing experience pretty early on.

I started a race and quickly found myself falling behind my computer-controlled competitors. It wasn’t that I lost the lead; I never had one. Like most games, you don’t start at the front of the pack. The game always starts you in 6th place and you need to overtake everyone during the course of the race. The game also ostensibly makes the other cars competitive in terms of power and speed, but on straightaways I just kept falling behind. In corners the computer cars have perfect racing lines, which is more than I can claim. They hit the corner at the right speed, turning in well, cutting the apex and powering out. They never miss, or spin out. So you need to be as perfect, or more so, than the computer. In an attempt to give myself an advantage I’ll try to knock a competitor out of the way, or get them hung up on an obstacle. Even if I succeed they’re back on my tail in just a few seconds. If I get hung up on an obstacle it puts me 15 to 20 seconds behind; game over. There was literally no way to keep up or win. It feels as though the game cheats.

Then after those fiascoes there came the races where I’m revving the engine on the starting line and when when it’s time to go the engine just stalls; the revs dropped to zero and it took 20-30 seconds to get going. Not enough that I have car problems in real life, I’ve got to deal with them in a game too.

Despite my initial attraction to the game it’s becoming clear very quickly that it’s not for me. I’m looking for something I can get into and relax with that also doesn’t require a huge chunk of time to master.

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