Tag Archives: Turn-10

Two steps forward, one step back: A Forza 5 Review

I can safely say, at this point, I have a love/hate relationship with Forza 5.  After playing in career mode and free play mode for nearly two weeks, I think I have my finger on the pulse of the game so here are my thoughts…

It seems like Turn 10 Studios made big improvements to all of the polish in Forza 5.  Little details that heighten the enjoyment of playing are immediately noticed.  The dashboard reflections, blinding sunlight and various dirty effects such as dust/rubber that collect on the car throughout a race are impressive (particularly in photo mode where the dust effect is very subtle but realistic).

Also, Turn 10’s upgrades aren’t limited to what you can see on the screen as massive improvements have been made on the audio side.  Considering how authentic the sound was in Forza 4, I am pretty floored at the level they have achieved here.  Tires squeal and screech more gradually and this actually helps you find the grip limit in the corners.  On turbocharged cars, the spool is more noticeable and it’s different from car to car as are the blow off valve effects.  One other audio enhancement I noticed was how the environments effect what you here.  When you’re near a wall on a closed course, the exhaust noise echoes (especially on a home theater system with DTS processing).   On tuned naturally aspirated cars, valvetrain and intake noise are much more pronounced now, which heightens the impact of modifying cars in the game.

So, things look and sound better than before…great!  So how is the gameplay experience?  Well, I have no complaints about the actual racing experience (aside from the music which can be turned off).  Racing is as intense as ever, and tuning/hot lapping is about the same.  I do think that they changed how mods effect overall class rating, but I can compare that another time.

Unfortunately, what Turn 10 studios removed from Forza 4 is just as noticeable as what they added.  Several tracks are missing from previous games such as the famed Nurburgring, the Fujimi Kaido mountain pass and Maple Valley (my favorite).  I can’t understand why they think removing beloved tracks would sit well with the fans!  In addition, hundreds of cars are missing from Forza 5 entirely and cars that remain are not as tunable as they were in past iterations.  Plus, of the cars that made the cut, most of them can’t even be played in free play mode unless you own them!  Thankfully, there is a glitch around this that most people are aware of (for now).  Also, some body kits from Forza 4 have been removed are the Forza 5.  For example, only the “racing” front/rear wings are available for a 350z!  Moreover, the selection of wheels seem the same as Forza 3, 4 and Forza Horizon.  There are many other wheels on the market, even from the manufacturers they already have licensing agreements with.  I simply do not understand…

The final verdict is that it seems the focus on Forza 5 was to improve the details at the expense of the overall package.  At this point, I’d expect a next-gen title to be able to make marked improvements without sacrifices made to features people already loved about predecessor titles.  I am hopeful that they can rectify many of this with some downloadable car/track packs but I feel apprehensive about paying more to complete what, at times, feels like an unfinished game.  I am still enjoying myself, but I’m also hopeful that Gran Turismo 6 can return to its former glory.  GT6 will be in my hands tomorrow, as will Need for Speed Rivals for Xbox One.  For now, enjoy some pics.

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Simulated Comparison

I really love a well written head-to-head comparison in the automotive magazines (or these days on YouTube).  A good article will inform the reader of the characteristics of each car and make them feel how one performs in the real world.  These days, driving games are so accurate in their depictions of cars…how does the game experience stack up against a real comparison?

I recently watched a Motor Trend comparison of the new Focus St and the 2nd generation Mazdaspeed 3 so I decided to give a virtual comparison a whirl.  I took each car out on the Maple Valley track for a 5 lap blast.  This course is a good measure of grip and suspension as you need to maintain speed to be quick.  Plus, there are nice sweeping corners and some elevation changes so it’s a fairly technical course.

Not surprisingly, lap times were super close with a best laps in the 1:51 range for each car.  The mazdaspeed was about half a second quicker omy it’s best lap but I think the Ford has more potential.  Like the Motor Trend comparison noted, the Focus feels very nimble and precise.  It rotates very easily like the real car and Turn 10 studios even put in the aggressively amplified intake noise that Motor Trend loved.  In the game, the noise is more like a Honda VTEC transition as it comes on strong at 6000rpm.

By comparison, the Mazda has a bit more midrange power than the Ford, but the difference isn’t as huge as the video may lead you to believe.  After all, Torque is a measure of force which is hard to replicate in a game.  Regardless, the Mazda was also fairly accurate compared to the Motor Trend commentary.  It isn’t as sharp as the Ford and it feels larger (despite the Ford being bigger in real life).  The Mazda was easier to drive and required less shifting than the Ford on this track but the Ford does indeed feel better.  I think with larger tires better ore aggressive alignment, it’s possible to get the Mazda to have the same “snap.”

Ok so this isn’t a very technical post, but still…it’s impressive how accurate the game experience is.  If anyone at Turn 10 ever reads this, I’d love an office visit to see how it’s all done!!!  That’s right, I said it!!

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Forza Horizon the first mis-step in the series?

The games in the Forza series are the games I go to most often, either for a quick romp or hours of deep gaming…no contest.  So when I first heard of Forza Horizon, I was seriously excited.  Unlike previous games in the series, Forza Horizon looked to expand on the tried-and-true formula of track-based racing and move deeper into the real car culture by simulating meets, makeshift parking lot shows and (sigh) street-racing.  Early news about the game touted an open-world environment where players can meet, cruise and race and that really interested me.

Last week, the official demo hit Xbox Live and I got on that download quickly!  Unfortunately, after playing, I’m a bit weary for this title and I don’t think it’s going to live up to my expectations.  I was anticipating that “Horizon” wouldn’t feel quite the same as the previous 4 games since the focus is wholly different.  However, I at LEAST thought it would feel authentic and it really, really doesn’t.

“Horizon” looks and feels like an amalgam of several games from several publishers.  The driving feels like a Need for Speed game and the menus and assorted finishing touches look like they came straight out of “Grid” or “Dirt.”  And wouldn’t you know it, there is a very good reason for that!  Turn-10 studios co-produced “Horizon” with a new studio called Playground Games.  Playground games employs staff formerly from Codemasters (who developed Grid/Dirt/Dirt2).

I really expected more and I think this may be the first setback in the Forza series.  I’ll still pickup my reserved title on 10/23 and I’ll still give it a fair shot and a full review…I just don’t think I’m going to love it.

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The initial race with “Flynt” feels more like a Need for Speed game than Forza…

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There is something about the color pallete, camera angles, and camera “shake” that feel like the Grid/Dirt games by Codemaster.