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p4head.jpg (8375 bytes)   June 2001

Meet me out back/Show me what you got/I got it in the trunk/It’s just a little blood/One more than forty-nine! ("Hello viewers!")

This month, chums, the first in a semi-new series – People I’d Really Like To Savagely Assault With A Jagged Rock.

I’m just a little punk!




And the first Person I’d Really Like To Savagely Assault With A Jagged Rock, pals, is whoever the moron was who came up with the idea of releasing games that you could only play about 10% of.

I’m talking about those games which, when you first load them up, have 90% of the tracks/levels/vehicles/weapons/ teams/whatever "locked", so that you can only play them after you’ve completed certain tasks/missions/ stages/the entire game twice etc.

Man, I really want to hurt that guy.



To fill you in on the background here, this week I stumbled across that rarest of beasts, a PS2 game I actually wanted to play for more than 10 minutes. It was EA’s Rumble Racing, one of those Ridge-Racer-meets-Mario Kart jobs.

Despite some bland graphics and truly awful music, Rumble Racing is a sweet little game, with arcade-friendly handling, brilliant track design and non-stop racing’n’fighting action. It’s - and if you’re a PS2 owner I fully understand that you’ll have a little difficulty grasping this idea - fun.



So why does Rumble Racing make me want to savagely assault people with rocks? Because when you pay out your 40 quid and take the game home, you can play on just three of its 15 tracks, and with a handful of its cars. The rest have to be painstakingly unlocked one at a time, over hours and hours of playing the game’s Championship mode.

When, exactly, did this come to be thought of as a good idea? When did playing videogames come to be a job of hard work rather than a fun way of passing your spare time?



Don’t get me wrong here, chums. I’m all in favour of SECRETS, extra stuff you can find by exploring or completing games. But you shouldn’t have to put in hours and hours of work just to be able to play with the game’s basic features.

Rumble Racing is full of great tracks, but the best ones are - as you’d expect - the last ones to unlock, and I’d say you’d be looking at a minimum of 10 hours’ work to get that done. But what if you just want to race your buddies on the good tracks straight away? For 40 quid, haven’t you earned that right?



In fact, the craze for having to "unlock" all but the crummiest bits of a game is nothing but a cynical ploy by developers who don’t think their game is good enough to keep you playing on its own merits.

Since people don’t like to waste their money, they’ll tend to play a game until they’ve unlocked enough of it to justify the cost, even if they don’t enjoy it. (I’m reminded of a recent newspaper feature about Championship Manager, a player of which said "It’s addictive, but it’s not actually fun.")



Rumble Racing isn’t the worst example of the phenomenon (recent DC/PS racer Vanishing Point takes that award by a mile, forcing the player through endless hours of unbelievably annoying racing just to earn a new hubcap at the end of it).

But it’s an especially sad one, since the latter tracks are great, but many people will grow tired of racing the same old early tracks over and over and over again before they actually get far enough to see the good ones. So I’m here, pals, to do something about it.



The password to unlock every track of Rumble Racing (in case you don’t have access to great tip websites like www.gamefaqs.com) is ZEAGTLUKE. There. Now you can hand over your 40 quid and actually be granted the courtesy of playing what you’ve paid for.

And let’s see a bit less of useless developers hiding 90% of their crummy games away from the people who pay their wages. Games are supposed to be enjoyed, not be a gruelling task to be endured before you actually get to the fun bits. Says who? Me and my rock.

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