What I learnt from Forza Motorsports 6

Pretty much the saving grace of the XBoxOne is Forza Motorsports 6 (ok, the latest Doom is pretty cool too.)  I splurged for my birthday, and bought the 6th version of this, and I was not disappointed.

VW Corrado from ForzaI began playing back on my old Xbox360, with Forza 2, and was hooked. The cars, the tracks, the physics were what made the game. Each major release upping the ante, making it more realistic, and thus more enjoyable. Ah, the modded VW Corrado I had in Forza 3, a joy.

Of course, it isn’t perfect, even when I bought a steering wheel it was a bit arcade like (and when I moves from Tucson, I sold that at a Garage sale). It is an Arcade game, but it still has enough realism to make it fun.

The 6th version brings the best rendering of the cars. Tracks that are both gorgeous and accurate. It adds weather and even night racing (the Nordschliffe at Nurburgring at night is haunting), and tacing in the rain makes all tracks challenging.

Things I have learnt:

  • Audi’s with their 4 wheel drive make navigating the courses enjoyable. As expected, the all wheel drivetrain gives a benefit in handling, all else being equal.
  • A race spec Honda S2000 is a monster, and hard to control. While in street trim it is a pleasure to drive, it is not for the faint of heart in race trim, getting squirrelly easy.
  • Hypercars are fun. I have (I won it in a spin) a Bugatti Veryon, and hooboy that is a fun car to drive. One day, I must buy (in Forza) a Koenigsegg, or Pagani. A Ferrari seems so mundane next to one of those hand built beauties.
  • The ‘Drivatars‘ (avatars of other racers that provide AI to the competitors) are fun. You see some really bad driving. Then you realize that you drive just as bad. I am sure that the drivatar based on my driving is as much of an asshole as I am racing directly.
  • While the simulation and physics are good, you still are given a lot of latitude to screw up and recover. Things that in real life would be race ending or even life threatening. Nothing like diving under a pack of cars in a tight apex turn and using them as bumpers to get around the corner (and pick up a bunch of places).
  • I should have bought the Porsche add-on package. It seemed expensive at $20, but as I see their catalog when buying cars for races, I am wistful. Sigh.
  • American heavy metal muscle cars are shitty to drive fast on the track. GT500 or Shelby Mustangs are just awful at going around corners.
  • I think I would really like to drive a WTCC Honda Civic. About $300K but it is an amazing piece of kit on the track.

Summary

Ok, I guess I shouldn’t be so harsh on the Xbox One. But the truth is I do mostly play Forza 6 on it. I am also able to play some of my old Xbox 360 games (the Namco Arcade Classics are fun on it too).

Doom

1993, December, actually a little before, I had the inside tip, and an FTP site to get this new game, “Doom”. I remember downloading it at 16kbps dial up. and installing the shareware “beta” on my computer, a 486DX33.

Original Doom artworkI was captivated. A DOS game, it caused me to upgrade my ram and build a faster machine. But it was awesome. While it was not the first FPS (the first I played was Wolfenstein 3D), it was ground breaking.

As soon as I could buy the full version, my money left my wallet, and I could hardly wait for the full version.

It wasn’t really 3D, the graphics were rather primitive, but it was addictive.

I had a DWANGO account, so I could play dial up multiplayer (this was before the real internet existed for this) and lost a lot of time.

I bought the sequels, and the 2007 remake, and of course the Quake series.

Read moreDoom

My affair with racing games

Coming of age at the dawn of the video game revolution, I pumped a lot of quarters into the machines. I loved many of them, but the one that really captured my attention was Pole Position.

Pole0000Prior to that I had played the “Night Driver” game on the Atari 2600 (I remember playing at a friend’s house) but it was primitive. Pole position, with its steering wheel and the perception of real driving was captivating.

From there it gets fuzzy, but I remember playing racing games in monochrome on an IBM PC clone, and a variety of driving games on dos based systems throughout the 1990’s.

In 2006 or so, I splurged on an Xbox 360, and the first game I bought was Project Gotham Racing. An arcade style game, it had impressive graphics, and incredible game play. I probably put 400 or more hours on it. There was a follow-on version, that I also voraciously played.

Then I lost interest. It was too arcade-y, and got less enthralling. The Xbox was used solely for playing Golf with Barbara.

Introducing Forza

Forzamotorsport2coverForza 2 was introduced. It took the realism to a new level. The car models were scary accurate. And instead of exotic and high end sports cars, it had a wide selection of common cars too.

Add the ability to customize the cars, to improve the performance, and I was again hooked. I spent more hours playing, building my garage. Adding things as mundane as a Mini, and a highly modified Volkswagen Corrado.

Forza 5, and my new Xbox One, is my new passion. It is a refinement of the game, with even more realism. The career mode leads you through a development path to hone your skills, and to become more proficient.

A new twist is the “drivatar”. Instead of just using simple AI drivers against you, the avatars are based on real drivers, that are about at your skill level. So they drive off track, and ram you (and each other too), so it is more like racing multiplayer live. It does make the game more fun.

Of course, Forza 5 is now a year and a half old, and the newer version is available. I will buy that one day, but for now, I am greatly enjoying discovering the Forza 5 career mode.

Ok, now I need to get back to the game…

Toys – XBox One

With the move, I made a singular splurge. While I have cut way back on video gaming, I do have a humongous soft spot for racing games.

Pole0000From the first time I played the Pole Position arcade game back around 1983. I was hooked.

My favorite game on my XBox 360 was the Forza series, and when the premier launch game for the XBox One was to be Forza 5, I knew I was doomed.

I held out for over a year, but with the move, and a new TV, and of course the demo of Forza 5 in the local Best Buy, I was hooked.

So, I cashed in the rewards coupons from Best Buy, and the 10% off any one item coupon (thanks to the change of address form) and Best Buy matching the Amazon price of the Halo Master Chief bundle, and I was out the door with taxes for $212. Not bad.

Plugged it in, added my XBox Live account information, and I am good to go.

A few weeks before I bought it, Amazon had one of their flash sales, and Forza 5 was only $20, so I nabbed it.

Of course, I am starting at 0, and working my way up through my career, but it is enjoyable escapism. I will post later about Forza, but it is impressive.