Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Rant: G1 Jockey 4 2008 on PS3

So a couple of weeks ago I finally pulled out my PS3 from storage and I decided to start playing it again. Last week I purchased "G1 Jockey 4 2008" because it was on special at EB Games. Gotta love Christmas sales!

My first impression was "how the-WHAT THE FRICK?". Honestly. You start off at Jockey School, where you learn the ropes. BUT you learn the ropes by reading how to ride your horse. There was way too much text in this and it left me more and more confused the more I read into it. You do get to practice but they're short practices with only one objective - to do the thing you just read. After I give that a few goes I decide that I feel ok to race. Which then takes you to 4 races before graduation. I had to do these 4 races twice because I had to leave the house later in the game and you had to save manually which I didn't do. More about this later, back to the races. So the first time I raced, I finished 2nd last, last, last and last. The second time I raced - this time with more insight into how to race, I finished last, last, last and last. Of course I didn't win any trophies.

So right after graduation, you head off into the "real world" and get lectured by so many people! Well, it felt like lectures. You get feels-like-forever conversations with the trainer you  join up with, the assistant trainer, Emily someone, Emma someone, some random trainer dude who pops up randomly and of course your classmates from Jockey School. I decide to pick the trainer N.Moore in support of our gender, she has the eyes of Stana Katic and Moore was the name of one of my favourite biology teachers in high school. It all fit together.

When you're able to finally get to the races, you have to negotiate which horses you want to ride on the two days. Since I did week 1 races twice: the first time I had no offers and I wasn't able to persuade the other trainers to give me a horse to ride, the second time I had two offers from N.Moore which I picked gratefully. Unfortunately, I still had little clue as to what I was meant to do during the race! Fast forward two months (the game ages by weeks) and I finally won my first race on a grey two year old filly, Dionne. I was then offered to become her regular jockey which I took up. That was a major highlight. I honestly was thinking of quitting because not much I was doing was making the horse go much faster and every single time I didn't get "good" results I would get lectured about not changing my horses leading leg which gives you a little extra boost. Why? Because I was too busy "strong driving" the horse to double click R1 or L1!

By the end of that year, I had gotten the hang of racing. I managed to score 46 wins out of 117 races which meant I won the Champion Apprentice Award as well as scored the Champion Jockey Award for highest win percentage. It felt great after all the hard work I put in (haha). Year 2 came around and all the jockeys started at the same place which made the playing field relatively even. I managed to rank #1 in the jockey rankings for THREE months consecutively!! Honestly, I felt so proud of myself! In April week 1 I lost my winning streak to my apparently good jockey friend. Now in June week 2, I've managed to thrash my friend, scoring 49 wins over his 35 wins. Also, I've been in my first G1 race which I won riding Gallant Time.

This game also gives you an option to breed and raise your own foal. Before I lost data because I didn't save, I thought this would be the greatest part of the game. However, when I got my colt, you had to train him up (of course!) but it was very very hard, especially for a beginner! You have to specifically work out your horse to achieve a goal in a rather short amount of time. Truthfully, I kind of felt glad that I didn't have to keep training the colt when I lost data. Looking back, I'm glad I didn't decide to make a foal the second time I had to do year 1 as I didn't feel comfortable with the whole game. It's too late to make one for me now that I'm into year 2 but I'm starting to feel as though I could give it a shot.

Now to some more of the annoying things of this game...
  • Why does this game feel laggy at the most crucial moments? When you whip your horse, it literally takes a couple of seconds for the jockey to start hitting the horse. Same goes for when you stop hitting the whip button - the jockey's still got a couple of more rounds of whipping to do! This does cost you valuable seconds where you could be a few metres ahead.
    This lagging can also be felt at the starting gates as well as the jumps. I gave up trying to time the starting gates right so I've been smashing the get-out-of-the-gate button as fast as I can which surprisingly works. Unfortunately this doesn't work very well at the jumps so I've been completely avoiding jumping competitions. Personally, I don't mind this - it gives me the time to dedicate to flat racing.
  • Stewards enquiries. Oh I wish I could go back and disable it!! You, as a player, are the only one who will get enquiries! Well, so far in the game that I've seen. I've had 11 enquires, 1 where I was pushed from 1st to 6th position and a 1 week suspension in this career. Remember how I didn't save last time? Well in the short time I was playing then I got 3 enquires and a 1 week suspension. Maybe it's just me but I feel as though that the game is quite... subjective at what situation calls for an enquiry. I ride the horses the same way, I over take horses the same way and keep the same distance yet I get enquiries when I didn't think I would get one but get en enquiry when I thought I didn't do anything wrong (which i must add, is usually when I'm boxed in).
  • The reading of text, both the storyline and tutorials. This racing game is complex which makes it both interesting and a headache. The tutorials could be improved by more showing via doing than text. But in a way the text gives you a good general idea on where the horses' strengths/ weaknesses are as well as the chances of winning. G1 Jockey 4 is originally Japanese with a storyline that is apparently dramatic and competitive. However, according to many sources the translation looses the edge to it. Honestly, I was pressing the X button as fast as I could sometimes. 
  • Training. Of course it would be hard but it is seriously hard!! Speaking as a beginner, I cannot do most of the workouts!! The only two I can do are the starting gates (which I think in a way I'm cheating) and the timed runs where you have to run 3 furlongs in 43 seconds or run 5 furlongs in 63 seconds. I guess it's down to practice but I get so frustrated at workouts that they are the only two I do.
    I've also now just begun to delegate workouts which is handy in some cases. The assistant trainer has a certain percentage for successful workouts which is annoying but realistic. I was hoping she would have a higher success rate than what I've been having with her.
Overall, this game is a pretty decent horse jockey game to play. It's complex which both is a flaw yet an advantage. Many a time I was predicted to come 6th or 11th and I manage to win by a nose or neck. After you get used to the style of the game as well as score a few wins, you become more determined to get more wins. G1 Jockey allows for different styles of racing which I think is brilliant. It also pushes you to change technique which can be beneficial, especially when you get to the G races and you need to have a good way of racing. On the down side it there is a lot of text and some parts of the game are hard if you have just begun the game however, when you do push through the tough bits you do feel rewarded with the trophies and leader boards. As a horse lover, G1 Jockey does allow you to get a feel of the horse racing industry however this game doesn't allow much horse interaction.

Game rating: 6.5/10 stars

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