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Hidden in the mass of uninteresting emails the other day, was an innocent looking message from Playstation Network. I mindlessly clicked through just out of interest and read the competition terms.
Wow, what a competition. It took a good two read before I believed what was on offer. The third time through I was happy that I hadn't misunderstood. On offer here, in this inauspicious little video game competitions was a real life chance to get a drive in a proper race car in a proper race. This is not only unheard of in racing circles, but also represents some serious amounts of money. Just the experience alone would be priceless to a buddy race driver.
As you can imagine, it didn't take long before I had signed up. That afternoon I was ensconced in my Game Racer chair in the lounge, getting stuck into stage one of the competition. A simple challenge - 'get a top 20 position on a special downloaded track in GT5 prologue'.
This is not only unheard of in racing circles, but also represents some serious amounts of money.
The catch, a Nissan 350Z with standard N1 tyres, made for some interesting early laps. This car is plenty tricky to drive. It understeers like crazy and just as you think you've got it back, apply the power even a tad too much and it oversteers as you pull away.
Not only that, but it is so twitchy that one heavy application of power causes you to spin uncontrollably towards the nearest Armco barrier! Before too long however and I am starting to carve out a respectable time. Pretty soon I am in the top 1000 and heading in the right direction.
As in real life, time spent watching those drivers putting in top times reaps dividends. After studying a few of the quicker times on replay I get my time down to 1m24s and start to steadily improve my smoothness going into and more importantly out of the tight bends.
It's so twitchy that one heavy application of power causes you to spin uncontrollably towards the nearest Armco barrier.
A few hours of play later and I am down to low 1m23s and have hit a wall - I simply can't seem to go any faster. The fastest times are all sub 1m21s and I am beginning to think they must have cheated somehow. Maybe it's because I am using a projector and the signal delay is causing me to be slower. I can't really blame the controller as I am using my trusty G25.
I finally manage a 1m22.272 and briefly enter the top 100, only to be pushed out by other faster times within a few hours. I have to say, at the moment I can't see how I will be able to get any quicker than my current best time but I will be trying right up until the 18th July when this first stage of the competition closes and the skilful few in the top twenty go on to the European finals.
With any luck I will be there!
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
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