What We Played #23: Forza 4, Oblivion, Ace Combat

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?



  1. Yay, my favourite article of the week returns :) Not a lot for me this week really (I’ve spent most of it bitching about Batman:AC and its DLC ;])

    Tried out the Dance Central 2, Kinect Sports2, NFS and Forza 4 demos, which were all pretty good actually, especially F4 which is definately on my “to buy” list.
    Other than that, I started Rage, which I found extremely boring after a couple of hours so continued my playthrough of Resident Evil (GC)

  2. Exactly that – still trying to finish some games and do some 100% trophy grinding ready for my BF3, U3 and MW3 preorders! (No doubt my wife will divorce me when these come out).

    Once again it’s been FIFA 12, Dead Island and Moon (Nazi Zombies) for me this week. I have next week off so might play ICO, plus yesterday I bought RDR GOTY Edition and Might & Magic Clash of Hereos on DS, so plenty to keep me busy.

  3. shame I don’t have a 360. I managed to win my coop season with my friend on F1 2011 which was a struggle, consistency was key for me. Also I managed to play fifa 12 last night with a couple of mates and pizza. I take back anything bad I said about it, it was awesome! :)

    • Did the pizza win? :p

      • it couldn’t play, it would grease up the controllers otherwise ;)

      • So how come you changed your mind about FIFA? At first I couldn’t get on with the defending – on Semi-Pro I’d win too easily, and on Pro the strikers would all behave like Messi, twisting and turning, and finally scoring against me. I stuck with Pro and now I’m getting used to it, it just clicked after a while and now I love it. I just follow the runs and don’t dive in with any challenges. However, I do think EA need to improve the AI – the more you increase the setting, the more the Ref doesn’t give you ANY decisions. I’ve hardly had ANY free-kicks anywhere on the pitch, and I’ve had shots and crosses that have been deflected out for a corner, yet he’s given a goal kick. If this was EAs attempt at realism then fair enough, but surely it should work both ways! :)

      • (should have said “difficulty setting”)

      • Well after the demo I hated the tackling and shooting. Just wouldn’t work for me. But playing against my friends (I only play fifa online with friends nothing else) it all seemed to click. It was 2 vs 2 btw. I tend to only slide tackle because that’s the way I prefer to play, so I realised the tackling wasn’t a huge issue. Also the shooting felt so realistic after getting used to it and by the end of playing for about 2 hours I had cracked it and was scoring some wonderful goals. Did recieve about 5 red cards though, and I felt the ref’s were a bit too lenient! The commentators is now much better, they seem to have more emotion. Overall very very good and will be getting it just after christmas :)

      • Ha ha – your slide-tackle-only approach will defo be the reason for the red cards! I know what you mean about the lenient Refs, I think it’s because the players can ride the challenges a little better. You may find some issues if you play the CPU, but against other players you don’t notice the new tackling system so much.

        Yeah, the shooting is better I think, the power isn’t so ridiculous – in FIFA 11 too much power meant the shot went miles over the bar. I’ve scored a couple of crackers, you can get your shots away quicker whilst the ball appears to be under the players’ feet…so I’ve surprised myself with a few goals that I thought would be easy saves for the keeper.

      • haha yeah I’m one of the most indisciplined players on FIFA (I’m a football ref too :L). I noticed the keepers were a bit better as well and if anything the shooting is much less powerful as you’ve said. The best fifa I’ve played to date.

      • Agreed, it’s very good! Now I wish I was at home playing FIFA. Curse you job and long working hours!!

      • *looks to fifa 11* uhhh…no. At least you have 12.

  4. This week I discovered that there is nothing more frustrating than the 3rd Colossus on hard time attack in Shadow of the Colossus. Woe be me.

    • Which one is the 3rd one? Not started it yet and it’s been a while since I completed the PS2 version.

      • Tall fella with a sword kinda thing. Have to climb up it when he slams it into the ground. 5 minutes just isn’t long enough! I managed it on the PS2 version but it feels harder now somehow!

      • Oh I see – I hate time limits!! No doubt that’s for a trophy?? I’ve got next week off work so I’m hoping to finally open my copy of Ico/SotC!

      • Gold trophy for completing hard time attack! Also golds for all the white lizard tails, all the fruit etc etc. Good game for trophy hunting.

      • Oh no, my OCD will take over and I’ll need to Platinum more games!! :(

  5. I’ve spent most the week playing Deus Ex (finally!), but Arkham City came yesterday so I spent most the afternoon playing that!

    • Oh, and all calamities aside, it is a really incredible game!

      • does it have a lot more exploration and free roam possible than AA? something that I was really disappointed by in AA

      • It’s city it’s quite big but only played an 1 hour and the veiws are spectacular!

      • that’s good to hear :) hoping one of my mates get it soon so I can borrow it off them after :P

      • Yeah there is loads of exploration. It took me a while to get used to it, as I wasn’t using the map much and for some reason hadn’t spotted the navigation bar. The Riddler clues still confuse me as well, I can’t work out the borders for the outside ones or how to view them again.

        Exploration wise, bizarrely it feels a bit like Spiderman, swinging and gliding around the city, stopping random crimes.

      • It really does sound great. That’s what I felt B:AA just didn’t have. There was no exploration at all and with Batman I really wan’t to fit into the scene and become the dark and I think that’s going to be possible for me in AC.

      • DrNate do you need assistance on Riddlers challenge I can explain everything to you on the PS3 until you understand, I don’t want to spoil it in here as others may want to try it on their own, and don’t worry I am not telling you the answer just explain how this system works ;)
        Find the asnwer yourself =P

  6. Just got my Onyx for completing Beast on insane without restarting,fkin tough but ooh so sweet.Also really enjoying Rage (often agree with you Eldave0 but not on this one:))and can’t wait for Bf3.
    Other than that i spend about 12 hours a day moaning about Gears 3s Sawed off shotgun.

    • “Other than that i spend about 12 hours a day moaning about Gears 3s Sawed off shotgun.” LOL, that sounds like me when I played the beta

    • I’ve not played many Gears vs. matches since they reduced the gib range of the sawed-off. Has that not really helped?

      • No it hasn’t Watchful,on paper it seems like alot of fun but in reality when you have a team of 3 or more sawed off users against you the only counter for an average gamer such as myself in public games is to use the sawed off.This doesn’t apply to any other starting weapon and basically is moronic.
        Thats my issue really,the public versus games just not needing me to use my brain which in the long term will kill it for me.So thats why i’m looking forwards to Bf3 really,hopefully DICE will deliver.
        I do think however the changes made to the retro hip firing have been spot on so heres hoping.

  7. I played Homefront Multiplayer alot (aiming to get 200 Special weapons kills) Played a wee bit of Madden and finally got the MUT Team to 80 but Chemistry is not good lol.
    Also played GT5 aswell to gain more money and leveling up my A-Spec.
    Started Batman last night and will continue tomorrow
    Oh almost forgot I got the Superhuman trophy last night with skibadee on Resistance 3 had great session and was fun. Just glad that is done and dusted.

  8. I keep meaning to go back and trying Oblivion again. Especially with my anticipation levels for Skyrim reaching fever pitch (maybe I could try a Cartman/Wii scenario).

    Then I remember how angry the level up/level scaling system made me. :/

    • The levelling is something I hope they fix in Skyrim.

      • They have done away with it and have gone for a Falloutish way of leveling up. I think every skill requires experence and will tell you. I think they have said that some areas with have high level enemies regardless of your level and some areas will be level dependent. Plus each level comes with perks.

      • Yeah, I heard the same thing LoneSteve. Which is one of the reasons I’m so excited about Skyrim. Oblivion with Fallout style leveling could possibly be the perfect game! (for me anyways)

  9. If I wanted an essay in 360 fanboy-ism I’d be reading Gamefaqs… ;-)

    But seriously – Borderlands GOTY has dominated my playing time this week. Can’t believe this one went under my radar for so long. If anyone still plays Co-op hook me up.

    • Glad you’ve finally discovered Borderlands. I lost many scores of hours of my life to co-op on Pandora.

  10. I have been playing Job Hunting. The graphics are life like but the gameplay is repitive and the story is nonexistent. -100/10

    I’ve been playing Bioshock 1 but i have bumped into an annoying visual glitch which requires a new playthrough to hopefully solve.

    And i have also been playing the Elder Scrolls 4:Oblivion. I plan on closing every Oblivion gate, selling the loot and buying the mansion in Anvil also i’m a Breton Mage who uses the sword and sometimes light armour for self defence. I kinda rushed through Kvatch as i was leveling up a bit faster then i would have liked and the NPCs are crap when you level up due to the sometimes dumb but gives you a challenge leveling system.

    I also completed Bioshock 2 on Sunday and got the best ending. Brought many tears to my eyes. Unlike a certain heartless Killer. :p

    • heartless killer? I mentioned that I didn’t find the ending emotional so I think you could be referring to me :P I started a new story on Bioshock 2 so I will be playing through it again very soon.

      • You both should go to the meet!

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