SBK? Oh yeah, I’m there!Posted: December 31, 2010
I’m at Best Buy because the family dragged me along since they needed my plastic… Mr. Slow is up to no good, as is the norm. He’s going to get my daughter @BrandyyPants and her fiancé a PS3 system for their upcoming wedding. This used to be my favorite store, before motorcycles took over my life. I meander through the aisles looking almost forlorn. I definitely lost my geek. Wait! What is that I see? A PS3 title called “SBK” in the value section. $19.99. Well… I snatch the box up and turn it over to read the back of the jacket. You can see the girl wearing a Hayabusa vest nodding to herself, the smirk of devious satisfaction slowly emerging and replacing her quasi-bored facial expression. This promises real physics and real track layouts. Digital knee dragging for twenty bucks? Gotta have it. This is educational software. Uh-huh. Now if she could only roll her S1000RR back into the living room and park it in front of the LCD TV, that would be sweet… but she promised Mr. Slow that the crotch rocket would stay outside after the last incident that made the house smell of carbon monoxide for a week.As I insert the disc into the console I realize that I haven’t touched a video game controller in earnest in over two years. I have an account on the thing, but don’t remember creating it. I patiently wait for the game update to finish and go find my eye glasses that I’m supposed to wear since childhood but refuse to put on 90% of the time. But it does make it easier to read backlit fine print, so I succumb in the name of wrinkle reduction by less squinting. I go into options and set everything up to be as realistic as possible: physics, inertia during braking, unlinked brakes, tire wear, damage and injury on, traction control off, off-track help off, blah blah blah. I also change the controller’s mapping, since the default does not make any stinking sense to me. R1 becomes the front brake, R2 is changed to rear brake. L1 is turned into a downshift and L2 into an upshift (because I shift GP style, thank you very much). Left stick left and right remains steering, whereas up and down becomes rider position, forward and back respectively. The previously unmapped right analog stick now pulls acceleration duty. The remaining functions are remapped to the ☐,✕,Δ and O buttons. There that should do it. Now everything is how it should be.
I start the game. Loseil International Circuit. I am controlling some German road racer whose name I can’t remember on what looks to be a Ducati 1098. As I sit on the grid — pole position, no less — waiting for the signal, I notice that the bike seems way too big for this dude… and why can’t I pick a damn girl?!? Oh, that’s right… these are all digitized versions of real racers on their respective machines. Oh well… can’t have it all. Go! I rev it up, put it in gear and dude puts his right foot on the peg and is off, pulling a wheelie in short order and I loop it. Spectacular!!!! Restart. Ready. Set. Go. Rev, shift, shift, turn in… going extremely wide and end up throwing rocks everywhere since I’m off-roading it on Pebble Beach. Shit. Shift, shift. Gas. Wooohooo… back on the track and immediately off the other side. Hell! Front brake, oversteer… German dude ends up in the grass, shortly thereafter executes a glorious face-plant onto his front tire. Damn! That had to hurt. Restart. Throttle… click… click… brake, turn in, steer… weeeeee… I’m still going wide, but I stay on the racing surface (barely). Crap, I forgot to shift, my RPMs are way down, shift, shift, throttle, wheelie, back brake, front slams down, throttle, Turn 3, judicious use of the grass (yet again), clippings and dirt flying everywhere… results in a lowside. Dude’s ass bounces once or twice, too. Nice. Restart. Highside, lowside, stoppie gone horribly wrong, lowside, off-roading, running out of time. I decide to change my approach. I granny it. Run out of time… damn! Guess I should go faster that 60 mph. Crap. Screw this.
I back out of the menu and decide to see what’s shakin’ in the pits. Hot damn! They got garage space. Nice. Snap-on tool boxes?!? Sweet. Oh, look a pit crew and my dude (Neukirchner? Is that his name???) just sits around chatting with the engineer. Must be nice. I look through the options and see all sorts of things one can tweak to their desires. Most of which I recognize and know what to do with, except I don’t know how much German dude weighs or what his riding style is. I’m assuming the game has set his bike up for him? Oh well….I enter a real race. 22 laps? Hell no, my arms and thighs protest after about eight and I’m ready to hit the pits… we’ll do three, just for laughs. I change my position on the grid to the very last one (since we want to keep this as realistic as possible, even though German dude does not do my buttocks any justice) and start the race. Umbrella girls? I want an umbrella dude! For Chrissake! How sexist is that? Oh yeah, I’m a dude… ok, but I have the ugliest chick on the grid. Damn, just my luck. Oh well… The race starts and I promptly forget to put my bike in gear and over-rev the engine. Ouch! Ok. Click. Everybody’s gone in a hurry and vanished around the first turn meanwhile I’m still trying to get up to speed, of course I forget I have front brakes and try to take the first corner at twice its speed and make judicious use of the grass (maybe that’s why I like Barber so much, all that lush, awesomely soft and manicured lawn everywhere, it’s inviting)… two lowsides and a highside later the game stops and tells me that my Duc is trashed. Damn. I try a few more times then throw the controller at Mr. Slow and tell him that this is shit. I’m better than this in real life. WTF?!? He mumbles something about the lack of feedback and the problem with realism in video games without realistic input and controls and then shows me how he rolls. Showoff! He did manage to cartwheel his bike onto himself after a stoppie. Nasty! That’s gonna hurt in the morning, I’m sure of it.
Too bad this thing doesn’t have an easy way to record some of these glorious get-offs. I think I made Troy Corser execute the longest ass-slide in the history of WSBK. He actually out-slid his bike and passed it on the right. Take that!
I suck at racing games. Always have, always will. I can’t judge distance nor speed and even though my brain knows what needs to be done and what must happen, my fingers apparently don’t want to respond. Did I mention my feet were twitching? I’m freaking weird… I need a damn track day like a junkie needs a fix! No, seriously. I’m going nucking futz here!