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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Forza Motorsport Thoughts

John Marine | 9:48 PM | |
(UPDATED: July 25, 2013)

Since my JGTS announcement, this first post marks my first post in the new direction of "John's Gran Turismo Space." The best racing game franchise not named Gran Turismo is Forza Motorsport for the XBOX consoles. Long considered the principal rival of the Gran Turismo series among many racing game faithful, Forza Motorsport is a racing game series very much proud of being very fan-driven.

Most of what you are going to see is my own personal introduction to the Forza Motorsport series as I will introduce topics to, of, and related to Forza Motorsport among the many topics here. Get ready for a lot of commentary and thoughts on this series.


JUL 25 2013 - added extra section, added video, edited closing table

About the Label: "Forza Motorsport"

Even though this blog is about Gran Turismo and Tourist Trophy, part of the new direction of JGTS is in providing other racing game content in addition to GT. Posts under this label feature topics regarding the Forza Motorsport series. These are topics of and related Forza Motorsport and the Forza Motorsport series. Posts under this label also consist of Forza Horizon.

--- Forza Motorsport in General ---

The Forza Motorsport series was born in 2004 for the original XBOX. This game series was seen as a title that was a worthy contender to the Gran Turismo series even though GT is not on any XBOX console or Forza on any PlayStation console. Reception for the series has been positive over the years for the Forza Motorsport series and for good reason. Some people look at the Forza Motorsport series as the anti-Gran Turismo. The series features a number of elements that Gran Turismo games lack or have lacked previously- damage, paint/livery, and online play among others. In fact, the disappointment of certain factors regarding Gran Turismo 4- namely online play- have led some to defect to the Forza Motorsport series when the first game was released. As more and people began to appreciate what all the Forza Motorsport series had to offer, it became plain as day that FM is the truth. A commercial for Forza 1 even noted one magazine saying this game is "better than Gran Turismo 4."

The man behind the Forza Motorsport series is creative director Dan Greenawalt. He is to Forza as Kazunori Yamauchi is to Gran Turismo. His Turn 10 Studios is to Forza as Polyphony Digital is to Gran Turismo. Forza was designed more like a racing game series XBOX gamers can be proud of. Most of its inspiration comes from the Gran Turismo series. That's why in the past, I questioned whether Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport are true rivals. FM is only a Gran Turismo rival if you think FM copied lots of things from GT to make itself better. And... you'd be dead wrong- Forza is completely original. Well, maybe except the biting of the New York City tracks.

If there is one thing Forza Motorsport does well, it's establish a proper connect to the cars and the racing you do. Continually racing a certain make of car earns you some discounts with the loyalty and affinity you earn in races. Keeping a connection between cars and racing is very important to me because it makes you feel like you actually care about racing the certain cars in the game and not feel like you're racing certain makes of cars just because you have to. The car choices and tuning options are incredible, allowing you to make your cars YOUR cars. Having this sort of freedom and control can be great to showcase especially when online.

I know my Gran Turismo fans couldn't care less about a series like Forza Motorsport. In this blog post, and with the new direction of this blog, I will surely discuss this series professionally and with class to my readers.

--- Forza Motorsport: My Thoughts ---

These are general thoughts of mine regarding the Forza Motorsport series. You are free to have a look at some of my basic thoughts on FM.

General Thoughts and My Experience.

I have only played Forza Motorsport 1 at a kiosk at a mall. I have played the demo to Forza Motorsport 2, and I played the Forza Motorsport 4 demo. NEVER touched FM3 in any capacity.

Here is my Forza Motorsport story. When I first heard of Forza Motorsport, I wanted to play it because my friends over on had a thread on Forza Motorsport. I played the demo to Forza Motorsport 1 at a Wal-Mart store. After getting roughed up by the AI, I was thinking... really? THIS is better than Gran Turismo? I failed to see exactly what made this game even remotely or potentially better than Gran Turismo. FM1 was ugly and had bad AI, yet people complained over Gran Turismo's AI. Even the fact you could play this online didn't mean the computer AI has to be intentionally bad. So I couldn't help but laugh when people thought of Forza as being better than GT.

Even more frustrating was how people could say that Forza Motorsport was better than GT in the car department as well. I do admit the sounds are worlds better in Forza than in Gran Turismo. What angered me was how people hated Gran Turismo didn't have world-class manufacturers like Forza does. I mean, is Alfa Romeo a world-class brand? What about Mercedes-Benz? Mainly, the ones who complained about GT's lineup were those who felt Ferrari, Porsche, and Lamborghini are all very important to feature in a racing game. While the first Forza didn't have Lamborghini (it would debut in FM2), Ferrari and Porsche were still included. Those two marques alone meant FM (to most people) is more worth playing than any Gran Turismo.

Over time, I got to eventually appreciate and respect Forza Motorsport. I began to love the variety of races and cars as well as the entire suite of tuning options. It felt like I could make my cars MY cars. The environment of Forza games is well-tailored to many a gamer with its options ranging from driver aids to difficulty settings. My dislike turned into respect. And to this day, I fully respect the Forza Motorsport series as a gaming fan- let alone a racing game fan. I even sometimes think about aspects of Forza Motorsport that could make Gran Turismo games better.

JUST TO LET YOU KNOW... Part of my ambition to take this new direction of "John's Gran Turismo Space" was to offer topics and discussion of other racing games. Part of that ambition was to discuss Forza, because there are some interesting topics and discussions I feel I could contribute to this game and to this blog.

So NOW go call me a Gran Turismo "fanboy" after having read this! Dare you...

--- Forza Motorsport: Why Bother? ---

I feel my GT readers may be given a disservice by talking about another racing game. However, there is a reason why I am featuring certain other racing games along with my GT discussion. One such reason is because I want to discuss more racing games as well as aspects of racing games. So let me give you reasons to care about Forza.

Why bother about this series? Here is a breakdown:

Why Bother? - Cars.

The most common complaints regarding Gran Turismo was the lack of interesting cars. Forza Motorsport has delivered on a combination of daily drivers and high-end sports cars, and it also includes a handful of racing machines. I've read all in my time on GTPlanet where people complained about GT4 having 50 Nissan Skylines/GT-Rs and 25 Mitsubishi Lancers, most of them complaining of a lack of world-class manufacturers (namely Ferrari, Porsche, and Lamborghini). Some people may even complain of Japanese bias in Gran Turismo. Yet, hardly anyone complains of a mostly American bias in Forza.

Not only does Forza have a vast variety of cars (though not really to the mind-blowing number of cars in Gran Turismo games), the amount of detail both in the cars and in the tuning aspects are reasons to care.

Regardless, one can't complain too much about what cars Forza Motorsport games have to offer. It is as diverse a lineup as you can find. That is especially if you think the Kei cars shouldn't be in any racing game.

Why Bother? - Locations.

The many venues of Forza Motorsport encompass a certifiable world tour. To my knowledge, only Forza Motorsport 1 has featured tracks in South America (the streets of Rio de Janeiro) and Australia (Blue Mountain Raceway- inspired by the Mount Panorama Circuit (Bathurst)). Every other Forza has featured tracks from North America, Europe, and Japan. Forza Motorsport 1 has featured two point-to-point race tracks- Pacific Shipyards and Fujimi Kaido. You can race on the streets of New York City in Forza Motorsports 1 through 3, but the track seems to follow most of the same trail as New York from Gran Turismo 4 and Tourist Trophy. FM1 featured the streets of Tokyo, and it's completely original as it is much different from Tokyo Route 246 in Gran Turismo.

The signature racing course of Forza Motorsport is Maple Valley Raceway. According to FM4, this fictional track is based in New Hampshire. Its beautiful Fall/Autumn scenery and challenging elevation changes will test the metle of many a Forza driver.

Forza has a fair share of great real-world tracks. From the outset, Laguna Seca Raceway has long been featured among the real-world circuits. Other real-world courses include but not limited to: Road Atlanta, Road America, Silverstone, the Nürburgring (including the Nürburgring Nordschleife), Circuit de Catalunya, Mugello, Tsukuba, and Suzuka among others.

There have also been more locations of various testing-type courses, such as

Why Bother? - Tuning and Customization.

Forza Motorsport has always featured robust tuning suites that surpass Gran Turismo's models. Tuning comes in the form of many exterior and interior options. I remember from the very first FM tuning outside options ranging from car color to even the color of the windows and the glass. Some people have made builds of cars in Forza Motorsport 4 that far surpass almost anything you could do in any Gran Turismo. The customization aspect alone is enough reason to even remotely care about Forza, not to mention wishing you could perform the same sort of customization (or to a similar level) in a Gran Turismo.

Why Bother? - Racing.

For many people, the deal-maker is in being able to compete against either in-game AI or against XBOX Live opponents. You could even engage in an in-game career against XBOX Live opponents if you feel like you deserve better than in-game AI.

As for the variety of racing itself, Forza Motorsport seems to take itself more seriously than most of Gran Turismo's races. Having an actual set of races in various categories keeps things interesting. Gran Turismo games have a lot of One-Make races and nationality races. Forza did pretty well establishing sort of a rivalry system. For example, FM2 has a sort of rivalry series where you could race either a Camaro or a Mustang. One other series showcases the Impreza and the Lancer. Maybe if you're a more hardcore racer, you MAY be disappointed with the length of endurance races in Forza Motorsport.

Speaking of in-game AI, you can actually adjust the difficulty of the AI so you stand a better chance if you are not as adept. You may even use your Drivatar to compete in races you rather not compete in properly. The Drivatar is an AI driver that drives each car based on your level of driving skill. So it is almost as if it tries to be you in racing the way you normally would race. See where I'm getting at?

This is just a basic overview of as much as I know about Forza Motorsport through my own experiences.

--- What to Derive From This Post ---

While the Forza Motorsport series may not be overly welcome to feature in "John's Gran Turismo Space"- a blog about the Gran Turismo series and Tourist Trophy, the Forza Motorsport series still has a number of things to set itself apart and make you think how much better the Gran Turismo series can be. You can't always just think you are alone on top of the mountain. Others will try to reach the same summit you've reached and established long ago. I don't talk about series like Forza to say that Gran Turismo is bad or losing its touch. All I am saying is that the competition is there for a reason. After all, Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport are the two best console racing game franchises in history. Gran Turismo set the bar, and the Forza Motorsport series has reached and even surpassed that bar.

I just think Forza has a few fresh ideas and a few other things to make itself better than the Gran Turismo series. At some point, Gran Turismo will need to find new ways to enhance the franchise to keep it fresh while also remaining top dog in the racing game world. All the great gaming franchises know how to improve and show improvement- whether through minimal changes or leaps-and-bounds improvement. Look at the Mario games. Look at the Legend of Zelda. Look at the Street Fighter games. Look at the Sonic the Hedgehog games (in its heyday). If the Gran Turismo series could pick up on a number of things that made Forza become wildly popular and well-respected, GT will last longer and better in the long run. Gran Turismo shouldn't, however, try to copy Forza in certain respects. Sometimes, rivals can help you become better even if you feel you can't improve any further.

--- Forza Motorsport: Preview ---

I found this video on YouTube. You want video proof of what Forza Motorsport has to provide? This video will fill you in. Click on the link below the video to view on YouTube if you can not view embedded media:

^ "Forza Motorsport Series Intro

Now you have video proof of how this series has come along.

--- A Special Message (Bonus Section!) ---

I don't want my loyal GT fans to think I am turning this Gran Turismo blog into a Forza Motorsport blog. I simply want this blog to be an avenue for not just the Gran Turismo series and Tourist Trophy, but also because I feel this is my best avenue to discuss various racing games as well as Gran Turismo and Tourist Trophy. I don't want to give up on my blog and all I've worked for just to make a new blog. I could, but I want the most visibility. Look at it this way:

• Pizza Hut offers food like sandwiches and pastas besides just pizza.
• Nike offers more than just sneakers.
• Honda makes MUCH more than just automobiles and motorcycles.

So to me, this is about evolving a product and offering much more while still staying true or mostly true to its roots. This is still a Gran Turismo blog. I just choose to discuss other racing games as well as various other aspects of racing games. You could say this is a racing game variant of my main blog. Only instead of talking about almost any sort of issue that I can make a halfway decent blog post about, I chose to discuss racing games and aspects of racing games in addition to my Gran Turismo and Tourist Trophy content.

I hope you appreciate my efforts to evolve my content and offer a lot more different things that you may already love about me and my blogging.

This concludes the first post in my evolution of "John's Gran Turismo Space" and of my range of topics for JGTS. I hope to offer much more content to evolve this blog as much as possible. Thank you for reading!

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