We gamers, and this site not least, often lament how modern games have ever less variety- how modern action games are clones of one of Call of Duty, Uncharted or Gears of War. We often complain that seeing something different is far more unusual than it should be, and we get perhaps over-excited when we see something that is- see Watch_Dogs. On the face of it, one might think that racing games would be the most guilty of this- the premise of driving a car around a track is identical for damn near every one of them, right?
Well, maybe. As a car fan without
money for cars, I’ve been spending a lot of time with the two biggest
names in console race sims- Polyphony Digital’s Gran Turismo 5 and Turn
10’s Forza Motorsport 4, and it turns out that the variation between two
outwardly similar games is greater than it appears; it seems to me that
there is a fundamental difference in design philosophy, pervading every
aspect of the games, that sets them apart from one another to attentive
presents a simulation experience, pure almost to the point of
harshness, but deep too, with multiple disciplines, a huge range of cars
and meticulous attention to detail. Over a thousand painstakingly
recreated vehicles make up the roster, and each one drives differently.
Real world and virtual tracks are included, all with their own subtle
nuances, and the player can race at night, in the rain, or on snow or
dirt tracks to their heart’s content. Career progression and menus,
however, can be very clunky at times, and AI opponents often seem
oblivious to the player’s car- it’s clear that this is a game that is
all about the driving simulation, with no room for compromise.
on the other hand, is a far more player-focused experience, offering a
more structured campaign and the polish for the smoothest possible
player experience. The career mode is smooth and well-designed, menus
slick and car customisation intuitive. The online suite offers the ready
usability of a Call of Duty game, and carefully planned DLC offers new
cars and tracks that add to an already complete experience. For all its
polish, though, it lacks GT’s range and depth of cars and experience,
not to mention a little of its character.
from menus (slick in Forza and intimidating in GT) to race physics
(with GT’s lending each car more personality but Forza’s superior
feedback) to my mind illustrates that these games, supposedly
interchangeable, are in fact two very different creations born of very
different but equally worthy visions. Which is better? I couldn’t
possibly say; Forza seems to represent the console ideal of challenging
gameplay accessible to all, while Gran Turismo’s unwavering focus and
clear passion are admirable. As a car fan and a game fan, I like both
very much; both sold well and received praise from critics, despite
taking very different approaches to the same basic formula. Neither game
releases annually, either, and both are receiving impressive post
release support in the form of patches, DLC and community events.
then, do so many developers seek to follow trends and copy the
competition? Here, surely, is proof positive that visionary and talented
game creation yields a truly worthwhile (not to mention marketable)
product, distinct from the competition. Forza and GT are franchises with
unique identity and vision; trends come and trends go, but I believe
that a game with that identity can stick around for a very long time.
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