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).

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…

Movie Review: Rush

I rarely watch movies on airplanes, but on my last trip, I noticed the person seated next to me wathing a Racing movie. It piqued my interest, so I dove into the inflight entertainment.

The movie was called “Rush” and it was about a rivalry between auto racers in the 1970’s. I had heard about this tangentially and thought I would enjoy it. But it would be a “Netflix” movie for me (I can’t recall the last time I sat in a theater).

Anyhow, the movie starts with Formula 2 racing, where James Hunt and Niki Lauda got into a (more than) friendly rivalry. Dogging each other at all the races, it was a classic rivalry.

The film does a fabulous job capturing the essence of the racing mindset (talent, determination, grit, and uber competitiveness) and showing the inside story.

Great story, and I thought it had to be fabricated, but alas, the characters exist, and the rivalry happened.

I won’t spoil the story for you, but I will assure you that it was a thoroughly enjoyable romp, and I highly recommend adding it to the Netflix list.

5 stars

Wow, what a race. Marc Marquez wins Laguna Seca

What an amazing race. Today, the USGP motoGP race in Monterey at Laguna Seca.

Marc Marquez, who became the youngest rider to win his first MotoGP race at Austin earlier this year, and who won the last round in Germany, went out and had a blistering race today at Laguna. Starting from second, he had an OK, start, but quickly got into 2nd place, following Stephen Bradl. Probably the best moment is when he went around Valentino Rossi on the corkscrew, on the outside and running it on the inside on the way down, just like Rossi did to Casey Stoner in 2008.

Marquez had a ballsy pass on turn 11 before the start/finish straight, and never looked back.

Marc Marquez is leading the championship points chase, and he has won three races this year so far (all of the races to date in the US). What will this man do in the future?  I can hardly wait to see him in the next race. Keep an eye out for #93, big things are sure to come!

Phew, glad that the Tivo recorded it, because I am going to have to watch this one again.