You may not know this, but I am a huge car and racing game nerd. It all started in an arcade back in the ’80s, with OutRun, progressed through Rad Racer on the NES, Cruisin’ the World on N64, many Need for Speed games on PC, followed by obsessive playing tuning and hacking in Gran Turismos 2-4. When 5 was set to come out, I recalled my 2 year pre-order, due to release date delays, and decided to change sides. GT5 had already been delayed that long, and would go on for even longer before being released. I picked up Forza 2 and have enjoyed every minute since. Next month, on the 11th, Forza 4 will debut, a title which I’m expecting to be the greatest car game of all time, thus far. Today, the media embargo was lifted by Forza’s creators, Turn 10 Studios, so I thought I should highlight some of the new reasons why I feel so strongly on this game that I haven’t yet played.
When I say “the greatest car game of all time, thus far” about Forza 4, I don’t say that lightly. I have played the new Gran Turismo, and so far, from the “true feel of driving” aspect, it is the master, as of right now. I own the game even though I don’t own a PS3 (I borrow one when I want to play). The feel of the cars turning is like nothing I’ve ever felt outside of driving a real car. I honestly haven’t gotten to play it much, but it was enough to realize it’s “feel” of turning as being superior to the current Forza 3 “feel,” so to speak. I’d say that the awesome Tokyo Xtreme Racer-esque, Shotoku Expressway-like, Wagan run on the Special Stage Route 7 is the first track in a video game that I have honestly for the first time ever felt fear from. Load that track up and set the view to interior or hood and you will feel a true feeling of fear, the fear of going way too fast. But sadly, outside of these two instances and the quality of the photos it produces, the game really fell flat to me, especially considering how long Polyphony had worked on it.
What does Route 7, and the driving in general in GT5 have that all previous Forzas have lacked so far? Camera jiggle. People’s heads don’t stay entirely still when they’re driving around in a car, and when the camera holds solid to the car in Forzas 1-3, it breaks the simulation a little. From videos posted on Gamespot today, it looks like Forza 4 is truly getting’ jiggy with it.
Now, so far the Forza franchise hasn’t really surpassed the Gran Turismos, but when GT5 came out after 5 years in development without 5 years of real progress, and Forza 4 was just a year away, I knew that GT’s days as #1 were numbered. Forza 3 was already catching up in nearly every other area, and surpassing in some places, community for one and game flow for another. With Forza 4, we’re getting the realistic camera jiggle, head tracking, 16 player lobbies, 500+ cars, and Top Gear tie ins like the great Clarkson doing voice over work in Autovista mode, not to mention a much more self-guided career mode. Because of all this and the much lower and more consistent development time, I believe this will be the year that Forza takes the top spot of the console racers.
The big thing that my Forza friends and I have really been looking forward to is Rivals mode. In fact, my friend Jeremy and I have been setting lap records on the ever-challenging favorite mountain road of Fujimi Kaido. I was proud to previously hold top times among my friends on this course, but Jeremy has toppled them all. I keep breaking them though. He sets a new one, I break it, he sets another, back and forth. He’s holding more low times than I am right now, but I still widdle away at one a week or so. It’s a great way to pass the time before Forza 4 shows up. And it satisfies my need to compete. I didn’t used to be that way about video games, that is until I started racing nearly every Sunday with friends from evolutionm.net: Jeremy, Ray, Suraj, and Brian. Friends that I’ve never met in real life, mind you, but good friends none the less. If you’re on the Fujimi B class leader boards and spot TrampaOnline or The Stig 12287, you’ll see our little pre-rivalry going. Feel free to make a run at topping us. The more the merrier. It’ll get even better in Forza 4 with Rivals mode and car clubs. I can hardly wait. I’m so excited! I hope to see you all out on the virtual track. We’ll see whether it comes through as the best game or not (expect a full review in the near future). Until next time, happy hooning.
All shots in this article are from Forza 3. Forza 4 images to be posted upon it’s launch.