Cold Rainy Monday

need for speed carbon

It's Monday and it's raining outside. It's cold and nasty and I have the poops, which is not to be confused with simply pooping. Oh no, it is very different.

I scrolled all through my Drafts folder looking for something witty and sly I could slip out there for you all, but I didn't see anything that made me feel inspired. And I don't have anything in my head right now that I think is particularly inspired either. Soooooo .... I hope this goes somewhere 'cause I'm just making this up as I go along.

My Wife didn't know what to buy me for Christmas. I didn't know what to ask for. Two days before Christmas she was panicked. So I said, "uh, buy me an Xbox." So we went to the store to see if there even were any or it is was a typical videogame console year and they had all long ago sold out. Lo and behold him, born the king of .... I mean, lo and behold, there was one sitting there on the shelf. So we asked the salesman to open the damned cabinet and get me my Xbox. Then I, being a big videogame officianado, asked him what games he recommended.

"What age kid is this for?" the dickhead asked me.

OK, so maybe it was a perfectly reasonable question. Still, I wasn't thrilled to have to say, "he's in his 30s and looks a lot like me."

So he recommended three games that I had never heard of and I ignored him. I bought a game I had played a long time ago when it was new and only came on PCs. I bought "Need for Speed." The new version is called "Carbon" for some reason. I don't know why and I don't care, so if that's your big comment for this post you can ... well OK, now I'm curious. Tell me why.

As we were paying for my big damned toy I noticed that the woman in line behind me was also holding a big Xbox.

"Hmm," I thought to myself, "I guess there's no shortage of these things this year."

Then some kids came running up to the counter to scream at my salesman, "Where are the Xboxes?!" they shouted in panic.

"These are the last two," was his embarrassing reply.

Yes, I, a grown man with no kids was buying the second to last Xbox and leaving the poor kids to do without. I felt like a moron.

"But honey, everyone at work has one," I reminded My Wife with my eyes. "And they're going to expect me to spend my weekends engaging in some kind of team battle that will take all my time, too." OK, I didn't tell her that last part. To be fair, I don't intend to get involved in that. I just want to drive my cars around real fast and blow off steam. But hey, how much better can you blow off steam than by killing random players all over the world?

But enough about that.

So Christmas came and we pulled out the Xbox and I played my game. I came to a part where you have to race some dipshit through a canyon. I was having trouble driving my lovely car with the handheld controller. I couldn't pass the guy. I passed him once, but I wiped out right after and he passed me back. I was getting tired of this.

"Hey," I thought to myself. "I'm a grown man. I have money. They make steering wheels for this damn thing. If I buy the steering wheel then I'll drive much better and have a lot more fun."

Yeah, that was the plan.

So back to the store I went. More money went out the window as I bought myself a wireless Xbox steering wheel just so I could continue playing the only game I own for this stupid toy. Yay me. I felt like a moron to be spending so much money just to play a stupid game.

But little did I realize how much more of a moron I would soon be feeling like.

When I got home I actually sat down and read all the instructions. I set up my steering wheel, which came complete with gas and brake pedals, and settled in next to My Wife to become the greatest driver the world of Need for Speed has ever seen. Look out, all you 8-year-olds on the internet 'cause here comes a grown man with more money than brains!

I started up the game. I could feel the excitement building as I punched through all the menus to get to my canyon race. Oh yeah, baby, I was gonna beat this guy now!

5-4-3-2-1 GO! The race began!

"What the fuck?!" I immediately said out loud. My car was all over the road and I felt like I was driving with a piece of rope.

"What?" My Wife asked. "How come you're driving so bad?"

"I don't know," I cleverly replied. "This thing seems almost disconnected from the car. Look, I turn the wheel and it doesn't respond, but then I turn a little more and it just swerves hard into the wall."

"Maybe you didn't set it up right," My Wife suggested, trying to be helpful.

I tried several times to run my race, trying everything I could think of to get the car to drive in a straight line and only turn when I told it to. No luck.

"The wheel came with a racing game. I swear it drove fine when I set it up with that. Let me try it again," I grumbled, pulling out my Need for Speed game and putting the game that came with the wheel back into the Xbox.

Sure enough, I was Mario Andretti with the other game. I raced through the streets of London like a master, sliding around turns and driving on the sidewalks just like I was back in high school ... I mean ... just like I would do if I were a race car driver in real life. The wheel was tight, I was winning races, and the world was good again.

But as soon as I put Need for Speed back into the console it was nightmare city once again. "What the hell is wrong with this thing?!" I cursed. Then I checked the boxes to make sure they said that my game was indeed compatible with this steering wheel. "Yep, it says right here that you can use the steering wheel to play Need for Speed. This thing must be broken somehow."

By now I was cursing and My Wife was less than thrilled with my new toy. I had become convinced that the wheel must be messed up and that I needed to take it back for an exchange.

My Wife had become convinced that she was married to an idiot and she happily said so. "You're supposed to be having fun, not cussing at the game. I didn't buy this to make you mad," she informed me, as if I were thinking that the whole point of buying me an Xbox was to see how many cuss words I know.

So anyway, I didn't take the wheel back. Instead, I did what any self-respecting genius would do. I Googled "Xbox Need for Speed Steering Wheel" or some variation of that combination of words. And what I found reaffirmed my manly driving skills, my computer skills, and my home installation skills, while at the same time pissing me off.

The game I had bought, my only game, Need for Speed, is only compatible with the steering wheel in the sense that the game recognizes the wheel as a valid controller. But as far as being calibrated for the wheel so that you can drive with it, that's another matter. It isn't. And everyone else who is too old to be playing games and buying steering wheels for their game consoles has experienced the same trouble that I have. You just can't use Microsoft's wireless steering wheel with my one and only game that I wanted to play.

So now we play the game that came with the steering wheel. And I say 'we' because My Wife has since learned to sit in my seat and grab the steering wheel and pedals while I'm in the potty. She's a decent driver, too, so at least we're having fun. But I guess I'll just have to get used to driving the Need for Speed game with the hand-held controller because this steering wheel is a pain with that game.

Then again, they say that Logitech and some other company make steering wheels for the Xbox, too. So I wonder if they work any better with this game? Hmm ....
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