The Forza series is proof that racing games have come a very long way from the early days of Turbo and Pole Position. Forza, Italian for “force”, developed into a force to be reckoned within the racing genre for the level of detail, depth of car customization, massive garage capacity, exciting replay cameras, and tuning and livery options. The size of the 2Old4Forza clan indicates the popularity of this sub-genre racing series. The series’ progression has met with both praise and consternation: for every addition to the game something else is taken away. For every bright spot in the Forza community, there lies a dark secret. For every car made awesome, another is undeservedly nerfed. I have raced the Forza series since its inception on the original XBox, and I have a few suggestions for Turn 10’s development crew to get the series back on track. In order to make an ultimate edition, the next numbered entry must have cars intended for and worthy of track racing, better track selection, a career mode and event list that parallels real world racing events, better leaderboard options, and a revamped replay system.
The Hybrid Hubris
One of the great things about a racing game is that players can own and drive lifelike representations of vehicles that they could never possibly hope to own in real life. Turn 10 also loves high performance cars, but apparently also loves commuter cars. I currently have two cars parked in my driveway: a Chrysler PT Cruiser and a Honda Civic. Both of these vehicles are also parked in my virtual Forza garage. The Civic I can understand...almost. It can be modified to be very quick and agile, but it can also be driven to work. The inclusion of extremely low performance, ultra-boring cars like the Nissan Leaf, Nissan Sentra, Toyota Yaris, and Volvo 850R Station Wagon doesn’t make sense. These cars are fine for a spec race where everyone is driving the same car and build, but I’ve never whipped my Yaris out in a lobby.
I question the reasoning behind the inclusion of dozens of cars, like the Yaris, when we have only two NASCAR Stock Cars in the entire game. Why can’t I drive Richard Petty’s Stock Car? Why do we not have spec Trans Am or ALMS racers? I would like to see more muscle cars (naturally) such as the Monte Carlo SS, Gran Torino, etc., more high end exotics, the inclusion of open-wheeled cars, such as the Caterham, Plymouth Prowler, and Ariel Atom, more real-life purpose-built race models, and fewer grocery haulers, such as the Sentra. Forza did a pretty good job of including some in-house and aftermarket super tuners like AMG, Mines, Hennessey, and RUF. Forza could only benefit from expanding on this by bringing back some of the omitted tuners, like Tommy Kaira and Lingenfelter, and introducing some other aftermarket guys to the game, like Roush.
Dan Greenawalt reportedly once claimed that Forza fans were car guys, not track guys. That’s not necessarily true. Forza fans have lost a lot of great tracks during the progression of the series: Alpine Ring, Tokyo, New York (long and short), Rio De Janeiro, Blue Mountains, Bugatti, Pacific Shipyards, Positano (long), Sidewinder, and Camino Viejo Extreme (reverse). Call me nostalgic, but some of my most memorable racing occurred on those tracks: racing insane Indy cars through the chicanes on New York, attempting to drift the hairpin with a Challenger at Tokyo, cutting across the grass at the Bugatti Circuit in an attempt to deprive Cotter of a win, and slipping the bricks and dodging a parked semi at the Pacific Shipyards. I can assure you, Dan, we are track guys also.
Pacific Shipyards from First Forza
Since I’m adding tracks to Turn 10’s newest project, why not go whole hog? Forza fans would love a crack at some more real world asphalt like Brands Hatch, Daytona, Pocono, Talladega, Pikes Peak, Monaco, Watkins Glen, Donington Park, Jules Tacheny Circuit, Rockingham, Spa, Valencia, or Woodbridge. Driving the streets of Adelaide in a Holden or plowing through a half mile oval at Charlotte might be enough to silence the de-track-tors (see what I did there?) for a while.
The current career mode allows players to basically pick their class on nearly any race in any year of their career. Why would a professional GT2 racer suddenly participate in a D-Class event at Iberian in an AMC Pacer? He, or she, would not. The career mode should advance the difficulty of the game and test the limits of the player as they progress through the seasons of their career. The first year should be a short season in F-Class cars only, progressing to R1 Indy cars in the final season.
Real life racing leagues should be represented in the event list as well. ALMS, Indy League, Trans Am, British Touring Car, and NASCAR events should have real-life specs and restrictions, and should be raced on the appropriate tracks with the appropriate rules applied to those events. In other words, rolling starts should be applied for the appropriate events, cautions should be in place for accidents, and perhaps even throw in an AI pace car to up the authenticity a notch. I thought we called this a sim racer for a reason...
1980 Indy Pace Car
Ahead of the Pack
The leaderboards progressively became more vanilla throughout the progression of the numbered series. The first two games both featured wonderful local leaderboards that tracked the players’ top five cars on a certain track in a certain class. However, this LB option disappeared in FM3 and hasn’t been seen since. I would love to know what my top five cars at Fujimi Kaido were, not just number one. Failing that, why couldn’t we track this information in the car’s history, a personal leaderboard for each individual car in the car’s history? This latter suggestion would be more of a pain in the ass than a local leaderboard, but at least the information would be there.
Play it Again, Sam
While the replay system certainly improved over the years, it’s a long way from being perfect. My biggest gripe with the replays in Forza is that the cars seem shaky, especially if the players use a controller as opposed to an aftermarket racing wheel. I realize that controller racers utilize a “micro-correction” technique to keep the vehicle between the ditches, but this should not show up as a stutter on the replay. Smooth that shit out, you’ve only had a decade to work on it!
The Finish Line
Forza has a lot of fans playing the shit out of these racing games. We love the series, buy our LCEs a year in advance, and often play these games to the point of disc-degeneration and eventual replacement. This does not mean that we are happy with losing tracks or racing hybrids. Give the fans what they want, and they might even buy Horizon 2 in appreciation. Please note, while this article is meant to be one fan’s opinion, everything I suggested here was already discussed at length in the Forza Motorsport forums, in conversations with my fellow racers in lobbies, on the forums here at 2Old2Play, and on Raptr...I am not alone!