‘The Crew’ Diary } First Impressions

For those who don’t know about The Crew just ignore this post and any posts that has the title from here on. But, you are following this game, should pretty much subscribe to this blog/RSS feed as I will be putting in a ton of material which help you with this game in long run.

For starters anyone who is thinking why do I need to put in stuff around a game in a blog.. because The Crew is a MMO and like any MMO every decision we have in the early stages will impact our gameplay in the long run and when it matters most you wont be to change it. Also, given this is a MMO if you have to restart, you cant just delete save files and start over. You are stuck with your game play and given the save file is linked to your PSN ID or XB1 ID; you may end up starting a new account of struggling in later stages of the game. So hook up to this feed..

TLDR;

This is the best racing game that I have played in a long time and when I thought racing genre was dying Crew came out and I was hooked from the day I saw the launch trailer back a few months. The game meets every expectation I had and even more. It’s pure simple amazing. I will give this game a 10/10. The only downside for me has been that UBISOFT and Sony hasnt been able to deliver my Gold Edition content for 3 days now. Apart from that – everything is just great. Well done Ivory Tower and UBISOFT and everyone who worked to make this game  such a huge success.

 

First of all it’s important to ensure that we get some basic understanding of the game as it is not your typical Racing game and from what I have read a lot of people don’t like this game because they don’t understand what it is. On this point, I think UBISOFT (Producer) and Ivory Tower (Developer) did not do a good job of informing people what it is all about. They said what it will do, but little they would know that the the a lot of gamers out there still are so naive.

This is not a simulation racing game.

And it’s important to understand that. If you are looking to get in a few cars and a new car every 3-4 races this wont happen. You have to get a couple of cars and look to level it up. Also, you wont find a car with most optimum handling and getting into an options screen and tweak how it drives. This is RPG or shall I say CaRPG. By design it’s meant to handle not very good at start. The levels start at 1 and go upto 1299 which means that your first car will handle 1/1299th than it would be when fully upgraded. It will slide and difficult to turn – this is by design and not a flaw.

You are free to go anywhere and do anything

And that too anywhere in US with 7 cities detailed out (of course at a scale). That is the level of freedom you get. If you can see it, you can go there – no invisible walls. Of course this comes at a price of not excellent graphics. But, the graphics are pretty good for the scale we get. I can get to these various landmarks and they look beautiful. The day-night cycle is great and night looks like night. Drive in NY at night and then take a trip outside the city and you wont see many cars. thats because this is how driving in US is at night. I am sure thay can do AC U graphics, but it was not needed for all of us. We wanted a beautiful game with lots of stuff and not something that is just as small as Europe with kick ass graphics. It’s a tradeoff – you like it or not; in the long haul you play to drive not to watch the graphics. As a matter of fact when you are driving an intense race you don’t even notice those smaller things.

Never Drive Alone

Just as the logo goes, this is right. (at least for me) there was always someone to see around of joining a session or do a co-op race. The only challenge I had was that for Story missions everyone is at different level and either I am too far ahead or too far behind. While I may be cruising in Miami, someone will ask me to do a missions in Detroit and if i accept after the missions I will be in Detroit and then I have to go back and travel to Miami again (no fast travel for me). Also, the other point is that I have been playing this game with objectives… next 2 hours I will be just hunting hidden parts or I will be leveling up my car and I dont like to be disturbed in doing something else so when I get an invite I struggle to accept it right away. Then the most disappointed part is that for faction missions, I get into a race and my crew quits on me because it’s very very long and I am forces out of the missions (I was not the crew master both times) and I sense that people have similar challenges too. So what everyone wants is a quick co-op mission for a good score or progress. Which needs me to find a permanent Crew – people I can trust and do stuff together. I am gonna find those 3 people and then i truly – Never Drive Alone.

Invest in Perks

Some perks are really valuable and you should definitely take time to get some on board. The ones I like are – braking and handling. Just max level them and if you need to buy a few with Crew Credits thats a very good investment. Also, the racing line one is a good one. Given this is a street race, you are not told of your route upfront and then suddenly you have to take a turn and you screw it up. For Faction missions it’s a lot of problem. Just 1 level of racing line is enough to give you a route and make predictable turns.

If you are gonna buy some cars, ensure you have that spec perk on as it will save you a lot of bucks. But be careful every reset doubles up the price (thanks to Florin Blaj). So chose them carefully.

Play how you want to play it

This game needs a long haul. The max player level is 50, but the game doesn’t stops there. Getting to 50 can be rewarding but how the story is progressing and I have been Level 14-17 for 2 days now i still have tons and tons to do. I personally want to go slow and if I level up my player it’s okay and if I dont thats okay too. I just want to get my cars very high level. I think getting to Level 20 and unlocking some new kits and Perf Specs is key to reach fast. after that this game needs to go a bit slow. Take the time to climb the leaderboard, redo some stuff and do some missions. Just running to Level 50 and finishing the story can get really challenging. The AI is tricky and Normal races can get hard. The problem you will have is you wont get Gold Parts and your car level will struggle a lot while you keep growing up and up. I still have to understand the progression and maybe car level catches up with higher parts, but i am not sure. So take is slow and enjoy the game.

Car Upgrades

this is very interesting and important to understand. When you get a car and install a spec kit – they are like 2 cars for you. Anything you do on a Street Spec Mustang will not be there on Dirt Spec Mustang. So let’s say I play with Street Spec (SS) Mustang and win Gold parts for all categories. I just can’t go to Mustang Dirt Spec (DS) and buy/quip those parts. I will have to do those missions again or win those Gold parts so that I can upgrade DS mustang again. The car you use to do a missions gets the part automatically, and the Spec you used will have that part unlocked. Any other Spec will not get the part. Let’s take an example

  • Use Mustang SS for Initiation mission and win a Differential Gold Part
  • Install DP on Mustang – Differential Gold Part is not available for Dirt Spec
  • Buy Shelby and install SS on Shelby
  • Buy and then Equip Differential Gold Part on Shelby immediately
  • Buy Charger and install Dirt Spec – Differential Gold part is not available
  • Switch to Charger and do the Initiation mission again – win ECU Grip Gold Part – auto quip on Charger
  • ECU Gold part if available for Mustang DS only (Shelby SS and Mustang SS wont have those parts)

Hope this makes sense; so you will have to use various specs if you want to level up. Just playing one single spec wont work. Remember CaRPG.

Also, remember the Parts have levels too. If you win a part which is applicable for a higher player level it will just wait for you in the Workshop and will unlock when you hit the level. Every missions (skill, story, faction) has a level and the higher you go the better part you will get. Sometimes you may have a Bronze part which is better than a Gold one as it higher level. The higher the level on mission, the higher the part, the more impact points you will get on car. This is where you I think car level should even out, but then if you climb too high you wont get a lot of Golds as missions get tougher.

 

Next thread will cover

  • Missions – various types and how to get most points
  • Tips for a starter

 

Rotate Sachin? Why? Even Stats are saying otherwise

Sachin Tendulkar, Indian cricketer. 4 Test ser...

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Yesterday (Feb 12), was when India beat Australia in a ODI in a decent manner, yet all I felt was disappointment. For the first time, I was not happy that my team had won, I was rather sad how they have decided to treat their master batsman.

India in the recent CB series came up with a rotation policy – they started off by resting Sehwag, followed by Gambhir and on Sunday they rested Sachin. From all the various games I have seen over the years – Cricket, Soccer, Basketball – rotation has been a useful thing when a team is struggling and they managers/coaches/captains need to find a set of players that tick. However, the way India management (including Dhoni) has handled rotation simply makes no sense to me and to experts as well – several articles have been published where people have questions this policy. A few are listed here:

Let’s simply look at how the top 3 have been performing in Australia in recent times (not considering the ODI on Sunday because decision to rotate out Sachin was done before that match) – and I dont have to put forward stats to tell that Sachin has been most consistent. Sachin has not amassed a big score yet has has provided us with consistent starts. Gambhir on the other hand was a complete flop in test matches, but in a few T20 and ODI that we have played he had already played a crucial inning in T20 to take India to a win. Now, lets ask what has Sehwag done – apart from that one inning in Adelade in Test match and that too where he got out to a full-toss.

Understood that we do not want to play all the 3 because that forces us to leave Raina or Rohit out – that makes sense. But, when you have 2 openers – Sachin and Gambhir doing well for you – why rotate them out? Makes no sense to me – does it make any sense to you? What it only does is add extra pressure to the top-3 for India. Where they lived in harmony, not they are playing for a spot (including Sachin and Sehwag). You can call it team work and that everyone understands, but  hear otherwise because Gambhir after scoring a crucial 92 quoted

This XI had that belief that we can beat Australia today. For me this was the best playing XI. It’s not about names, it’s about people who can go out there and have that belief from No. 1 to No. 11. If they have the belief that ‘yes, we can win this game’, that’s the best playing XI. You don’t want names, you want people who can deliver. We have shown it, I think

“We don’t want names, we want people who can deliver…” would I be wrong if I read this as “Sachin is a name” – do you want me to bring out the stats again? Gambhir is a captain – KKR and he could be looking at the vice captaincy in some time. He has to be wise before saying. I can see that he might be under stress with his position in the team not sure at this point especially when Kohli has been doing so well.

To the rotation policy, this is the last thing we want to happen in the team – when one player thinks that the person who has been rotated out is not needed any more. We need to send a clear message if someone is dropped. And then if India team has to drop out Sachin Tendulkar especially in his current form or should I say in Indian team’s current form, does not make fans like me happy. If Sachin is available for selection, I want to see him play. Sachin is someone who knows when the time has come to go and he will go. He if God of cricket and if you have God on your side and you dont play him, even when your other openers are not preforming…..

I have this bad feeling in my stomach since yesterday that tell me, that Sachin maybe has outgrown the game – maybe he should just let go. We all know he loves the game and we know he is still performing, can will continue till he knows he can perform. It is just too hurtful to see our beloved icon, sitting on a bench.

Immortals of Meluha: The hidden messages | The inner anti-matter

I picked up the book last week, because I heard a lot about it. The idea of Mythology + Fiction did not seem too exciting, but I was in for a surprise. Amish Tripathi places the book at a breathtaking pace. The story is about a man Shiva who as per legend is the savior. If you are looking for a review, I found a good one here.

Last 3 chapters – “A Stunning Revelation”, “Island of the Individual” and “The Question of Questions” are by far the most gripping ones and pass on several messages. I started to narrate this story to my 4 year old who insists on hearing bedtime stories and on reflection I find that the book all along the way holds several messages that are resonate with how the world is today. I found another blog that talks about the fusion of faith of fusion being a best seller and also bring into notice the work by Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code on these categories. On the whole I agree with the author but there are subtitles where I will disagree. I am not a reviewer as the author may be, so I am going to stay away from that discussion. However, I will bring out the messages that I found relevant to our current society.

via Immortals of Meluha: The hidden messages | The inner anti-matter

Roger Federer: A Player; A Champion

Roger Federer against Juan Martín del Potro in...

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I was waiting for Australian Open to start this year, and I was somehow under the impression that it starts on Jan 19, but then by chance I noticed that I missed the opening day only to catch up on it just now. Day 1 unfolded with only 1 upset where Tomic defeated Verdasco. With all the top guns (men and women) moving ahead into the second round it seems that this year is going to be nothing less exciting.

I have been a fan of Tennis since the days of Stefi Graf and Pete Sampras. Those are the two players who once motivated me to play the game. It was when these two retired, that I lost my love of watching the game and it was mainly because i did not see someone who could replace them.

Last year, I figured out that I missed an era called – Roger Federer and it was an era I am sad that I missed. And, then I started to watch tennis once again only to see that Roger is already at an end of his. While I see Nadal and Djokovic take over as the new kings of the sport, I continue to root for Roger. When I see Roger play, I see what I saw in Sampras which is effortless play. Roger makes the game look so easy. Roger won his last Grand Slam in 2010 when he won Australian Open. Last year (2011), when he lost the Australian Open to Djokovic for the first time since 2003, Roger was not the defending champion of any of the Grand Slams. Yet, as I open the Australian open Fan tracker he is ranked 2nd. And why not? Someone who defines finesse on the court. I have seen him show emotions but even they have a respect for their opponents. They assertive, but are for self-realization, unlike others where they mock/challenge other players.

Records speak for themselves, where Roger has scaled the Mt. Everest of Tennis and sits on the top with 16 singles titles across 8 years of span (consider his last title was in 2010); only to be followed by Sampras, Emerson and Laver. Rafa (King of Clay court) already in his 8th year of tennis is 6 title short of Roger and I do not see him equalling him because Djokivic has a say in it now.

Truly a champion, not just because his tennis is the of that of a champion, but because he showcases on and off the court, how champions live. It is my true belief that Players will come and go, but Champions like Sampras and Roger are remembered through ages.

Where is Indian Cricket Heading

It was in July-Aug 2011, during the Patoudi Series when India lost their #1 ranking to England. They lost the series 0-4 and it was pretty humiliating as it was coming off the famous World Cup win in April 2011. India’s win in World Cup kept India safe from the criticism. However, the dust storm was waiting to unleash itself, yet no one surprisingly saw it. Everyone was hoping that 0-4 loss to England was one off thing. And, then came the Agneepath series (Border-Gavaskar series) and all hell broke loose as India lost first 3 test matches to Australia in a humiliating fashion. As i write this post, yesterday was when India lost their 3rd test match and hence loosing the series as well. And thus started the blame game.

Dhoni is suggesting in a correct diplomatic fashion that after this series he will think about getting the right mix of senior and junior players. What surprises me is that in the article and many others comments he has made, yet there is no mention of how we can improve India’s batting and bowling in the nations where we have fast pitches, which evidently is everywhere else except the sub-continent. This has been the crest of India’s problems since FOREVER and even now after another mini-crisis looms, I do not hear anyone talking about fixing that problem. I will not call myself the best cricket judge over all the talent pool we have, yet I am surprised no one is talking about this or atleast I an not reading about it. I just read this article which finds Gavaskar say:

“I think a lot of soul-searching needs to be done. We need to look at first-class cricket structure, pitches that we play, scheduling of matches, it has to be a really long hard look at everything.” – Sunil Gavaskar

“When Tendulkar and Dravid and those boys retire in a couple of years, where is Indian cricket going to be. Are the youngsters coming through?”
Australian opener David Warner is perhaps mindful of Australia’s badly handled transition

This article summarizes quotes from many great players and I would agree with all of those, it simply suggest one thing – Dhoni and selectors have been waiting too long trying to ride the “luck” Dhoni has had. And, yet their Karma has expired finally. Things do not happen on their own, they happen because someone needs to do something about it. Thinking that everyone will keep doing their job which was half as good as Australia did when they were at their peak was calling for trouble and trouble came calling.

I will quote ESPN from an article

Srikkanth, stuck to his belief that the failure of the batting line-up was behind India’s abject performance on the tours of England and Australia, though he said it was too soon for a post-mortem of the series. “It is the same problem that we had during the England series. In the last two series, the batsmen have struggled to find form. I don’t think too much of a post-mortem will lead us anywhere.

In the same article, Shukla said:

all teams had disappointing periods in cricket, and that the Indian team management would take steps to ensure a better performance on the rest of the tour. “We admit that the team’s performance has not been up to expectations,” he said. “But it happens with all teams. Recently, former world champions Sri Lanka were all out for just 47 [43, against South Africa in Paarl].

“We have won on foreign soil in the past. No one says anything then; all this criticism has been raked up due to defeats in England and Australia. Corrective measures will be taken by the team management so that the team does better in the final Test and the ODI tri-series.”

What Shukla said is perhaps right, we do not say a lot when all is going well, and when things start to go wrong everyone feels it is everyone’s right to critisize. And IT IS. We are fans, who view the sports, who make it what it is. We are the ones who make Cricket what it is. If it was not for us, Cricket may have just faded like Hockey in India (which turns out to be our National Game). Yet, Shukla seems worried about the criticism. I wonder if this is because he was also riding Dhoni’s luck.

Enough of criticism; I believe in the philosophy that if you see a problem, bring at least one solution on the table.

India cricket needs a higher calling; they need to work on getting their home in order. Having spin pitches for international matches is not a bad thing. If Australian curators prepare fast pitches to give their team the advantage, India curators should do exactly the same. But, that should not stop us from getting our international team some practice on fast pitches during Duleep trophy and other domestic formats. I am not sure, how many of our international players play domestic format. But, there has to be a way of bringing up the right talent.

Why can we not have specialists for Test Cricket who can have the edge in foreign soil; time is now to find methods that go beyond the conventional methods. We need to reinvent the way we are selecting players. Pace academies have to be setup. Seeing a little of all matches in recent series, I can say with certainty that Australia’s bowling attack was not invincible like in the past. They won because of their consistency. We need to get our bowlers the same set of consistency – bowl 6 of 6 bowls in the same spot and then we will be what others. Lets have different coaches for each division with a head coach (a strategy followed by many American sports). Let specialist focus on the problem to solve it.

Lets hope someone does something. We can afford letting go of all senior players in a flash. We need the right mix of experience and fresh blood. As Anil Kumble said – we need to have a transition plan to make it work. We are already late by 12 months, but we have to salvage all that we can.

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2012 Goals

Looking back the year 2011, it became crystal clear to me what was required to be done in 2012 and unlike me – this time around I came up with Goals I would like to achieve in 2012. After some thinking, I decided not to call them as Resolutions; but look at them as Goals. My Goals will be categorized into 4 categories. I will share some specific goals with you all while some private ones I am going to keep “private” (this didnt come out that well). But, for the private ones, I will share a higher level of description so that you do understand where I am going with them.

I have come up with 18 Goals for the entire year of 2012 – and all of these have to happen all around the year. I have categorized these under – Finance, Health, Quality of Life and Wisdom.

Read the details on my blot here – http://blog.kapilvirenahuja.com/2012/01/02/2012-goals/.

Goodbye 2011

I recently read somewhere – “Nothing really ends when a year ends. But a lot can begin when a new year begins”. But, a beginning without an introspect would be simply be aimless. While this may be okay for some, for me 2012 has to be in perspective of what 2011 was – this is simply a way of trying to improve on things.

2011 for me can easily be categorized in 4 buckets:

  1. Agneepath
  2. Vanvaas (Exile)
  3. Dream
  4. Awakening

Read more here: http://blog.kapilvirenahuja.com/2012/01/02/goodbye-2011/