Like sports games fans, simulation racing games enthusiasts are a minority on sites like these. The idea behind racing games is very simple concept, and as a result it has led to a surfeit of releases in the genre. It has gotten very easy to pass by a simulator and think, “this is just another derivative cash-in”. You can over generalize, look past all the physics modeling and attention to detail in the tracks, and find another game that forces you around a track that you’re not very good at. You really can do that, but in this rare case, you‘re doing it wrong.
These games are in a different league to your first person shooters and role-playing games. These games are about subtle physics fixes and improvements, graphic updates, audio updates, an increased number of cars and tracks; car love.
This doesn’t mean that games in this genre can’t be bad, or developed helter-scepter. As much as I do love Forza 2, it was rushed out. Turn 10 worked heavily on the more important aspects of the game (physics and online features), but I can’t ignore all of the things they dropped that were in the original game as well as some new established features in the genre (drift points system - in car camera).
I appreciated where their priorities were, but I was largely bitter about the exclusion of point-to-point races; especially downhill races. Although it’s one of my favorite games this generation, it did feel like “Forza 1.5”. The awesome-factor of all of this is that Polyphony decided to release a .5 release of their series, but that ended up being way more overpriced than Forza 2. It lacked features, lacked cars, and lacked any real indication that Polyphony has decided to stop being so conservative with their game. It was like, “hey, pretty graphics and GTTV! Go nuts!”
It sort of feels like Turn 10 did the opposite of what Polyphony did. They released a game that was solely focused on the core mechanics, while the Gran Turismo crew decided aesthetics were more important. Though, I don’t disagree that the way a car looks plays a large role in car fandom I just think that the feeling of tires meeting road is slightly more important.
So, after pouring over all the details in Turn 10’s press release, I’ve come to the conclusion that this won’t be another .5 release. There are plenty of new features and recurring ones that I’m exuberantly waiting on.
I guess I can start on the basic love of vehicles. Shallow, yes, but what anyone first sees in a car is, well - the car’s look. You can’t help it. Cars are our major use of transportation and they've become a norm.. It isn't a surprise that what we most care about is the car's look. We know they're a tool used to get us from point A to Point B. What we want is something more. They're something that one wants to admire, or something that a person wants to bring attention to oneself. They've turned into an accessory for a lot of people.
Did Turn 10 properly capture these car’s appearance? Hell to the mother friggin’ yeah!
Car porn would not be an incorrect term to use in this occasion. The cars are gorgeous, and so are the roads they’re racing in. It was a vast improvement over the original, and I’m actually shocked that they did it. They were so hell bent on getting the framerate of the second game to remain at 60. I really hope that’s still their goal. The game looking that good and running that smooth will surely give Polyphony and the PS3 a run for their money.
There’s also hope for an improved damage model. The one in Forza 2 is outdated and silly. I noticed that in one of the trailers, a Ford GT went airborne and did a flip. I did see the press conference, and from what I saw it seems like that's confirmed. The original game would not allow you to flip your vehicle. Turn 10’s excuse was that car manufacturers were being very protective. Though, I guess now when everyone’s hurting, they’re kind of OK as long as their cars get some exposure.
The things I’m really more excited about are the tracks. It was announced that 50 plus courses would be shipping with the game, and when I noticed that they weren’t all just plain circuit tracks, I lost my brains (and my ability to control my erections). Downhill and uphill roads are back!
I am glad they are going to expand on the different race types. Forza 2 had a very large and dedicated drifting crowd, but because there was no points system, it had to be judged by other players. It worked out well, but trying to record drift competitions was a pain in the ass. Forza 2’s replay cameras were dreadful. They were forced to set cars on off the road to record in places where the set replay camera failed to capture the action.
The last bit of news I want to highlight is the Porsche branded racing wheel that includes a clutch. Those out of the loop won’t notice or care, but clutch control in a game like this is big. You can get even more precise, even more control (especially for drifting), and even more realism now that it’s possible to use one. It also has a 900 degree turn radius which is a massive improvement over the old wheel. It wouldn’t even allow you to do a full turn. Oh, and it has a 6-speed stick instead of those obnoxious floppy paddles!
Color me excited, folks.
Need help with simulation racing games? Check out my guide. Part one is complete, and part two will be out sometime this month. Check back soon.