This week I have been mostly playing Forza Motorsport 4. Unlike certain other motoring franchises Forza 4 is all about accessibility and fun. Whether you want some arcade-style racing with plenty of driving aids switched on, a more simulation-like experience or are simply filled with a desire to drive your car into a friend’s as fast and hard as possible it’s got something for you.
It does not dither about with self-promotion delaying your first behind the wheel experience. Its first act is not to confront you with any obtuse menus. Instead it chooses to drop you straight behind the wheel of a supercar on a grid filled with similar beasts on a high-speed track that dares you to try taking the corners without lifting. Then you’re racing; engines are roaring and tyres are screaming at the punishment they are being forced to endure.
Only once that race is over do you finally arrive at some menus, eager to get behind the wheel of another car and race again. And again. And again. And you know what, it doesn’t feel like a grind. You don’t have to race for hours and hours only to receive a car you probably don’t want or already have and will likely never drive.
Instead as each of your driver levels is reached you are presented with a themed selection of cars to choose from, be they hot hatches or past rally stars. The selections likely including a car you’d like or something more unusual that you may not otherwise try. But the crucial thing is that you have a choice.[drop2]Can you tell I’m enjoying it? Sure it’s not as pretty as GT5 can be, but it maintains a v-synch’d 60 frames per second so there’s no screen-tearing or ‘juddering’ gameplay and its shadows don’t look like the vehicles casting them are made out of Duplo. Seriously, if you’ve got a 360 and are at all interested in racing games you should be playing this one.
I’d better stop gushing about Forza now, before I’m accused of being a corporate shill again. It hasn’t completely monopolised my gaming time or even racing time this week. Gears of War 3‘s Horde 2.0 is still as compelling as ever and Beast mode, that I’ve read somewhere accurately described as “Horde mode for the impatient”, which turns the tables and has you playing as the Horde against the humans and their fortifications is also glorious fun.
Gran Turismo 5 has seen some action too. As the DLC was for one of the three tracks on my wish list there was no way I could resist. Despite all that’s great about Forza there’s no night racing, changing times and weather, or racing on dirt, gravel and snow. GT5 is still improving while Forza evolves and I consider myself lucky to be able to play them both.
Aran has been playing Oblivion the last couple of weeks while awaiting the release of some of the season’s big hitters. Lately he’s just been taking in some of the world’s sights and trying some of the side quests on for size, sometimes finding out that his arena gladiator is as tough as he needs to be, prompting the odd hasty retreat. In between picking flowers to atone for some light-fingered-ness regarding some Mage’s Guild literary material he had a slightly odd encounter:
I was just walking along south of Bravil when I encountered a hunter chasing after a deer. I followed, wanting to see the outcome and saw both deer and hunter run into the lake and drown. For all I know it might have been a very elaborate suicide.
I wonder what Dan’s been playing? “FORZAAAAAAA 4!!” Well that answers that quite succinctly. “I’ve clocked up about 13 hours so far”, says he, “which I thought was pretty good until I checked the stats and saw I was only 2.4% through the game”.[drop]He’s also been playing Ace Combat Assault Horizon which he tells me is good but not without its issues. You can read all about them in his review I’m sure. Leaving the high-powered machinery to one side briefly he’s been getting his groove on with Just Dance 3 and Dance Central 2.
“Great fun”, apparently, “and the look of utter disappointment on my wife’s face as I danced to the Pussycat Dolls was priceless!”. We all look disappointed Dan because you haven’t provided a video. It might have helped push Kris’ dance video further back in our minds for a while.
Methinks that perhaps Toby would benefit from a spell of chilling out with a dancing title as yet more FIFA 12 seems to be leading more to frustration than enjoyment. Indeed, it has left him looking for a target to take his rage out on. Place the controller calmly on the floor Toby and step slowly away from it.
Just for all the rabid GT fanboys I’ll end this weeks post with some more raving about Forza 4. Not my own this time but Peter’s. “It’s everything I hoped it would be”, he enthuses, “I really love the way doesn’t ever hold you back or make it feel like a grind.” What could he be comparing it to?
I’ve also been using the new 360 wireless speed wheel. After a little period of adjustment, it works really well. I’m not sure it makes sense for those that want a proper wheel set up but as a convenient step up to decent amounts of analogue control, it’s better than I expected.
You can read more about the Speed Wheel in Dan’s review. If Peter’s been a good boy and the postman has been timely (judge for yourself the likelihood of those both being true) he should by now have his head down studiously reviewing Batman: Arkham City.
With Batman out today and the next three weeks bringing us Battlefield 3, Uncharted 3, Modern Warfare 3, and Skyrim I trust you’ve all been trying to make some progress through your own back catalogues to make room for them all?