Monday, April 2, 2012

A clean pass

Racing games are a vacation. No plot, no characters, just getting from one end of the track to the other as quickly as possible. The come in varying degrees of realism, with Gran Turismo on one end and Burnout on the other, but the best one are the games that find a nice, comfortable middle ground. This used to me Project Gotham for me, but since Bizarre Creations met their end after the unfortunate James Bond: Bloodstone by affections have turned to Forza. Forza 4 not only hit the middle ground between arcade and boring realism perfectly, it also lets players shift that focus in either direction as will.

Difficulty settings in Forza have always turned on and off various assists. The player can get help with little things like a racing/braking line all the way up to ABS, traction control and steering assists. I have always played Forza on medium and have become completely dependent on the racing line. In Forza 4 medium also means braking assist beyond ABS: if the game thinks you are coming into a corner too hot it hits the brakes for you. Sometimes this is good, but sometimes I want to bomb into the corner too fast and use the quarter panel belonging to the car in front of me to slow down. Braking assist doesn't like that. 'Surely, this man is not that big of an ass and he just missed the breaking point.'

No, I am that big of an ass. Thankfully Forza lets the player change these settings in a very granular fashion. It really is the racing game for anyone. Even the tuning process, which previous had been home to all sorts of things that I did not understand, has been simplified for the rest of us. Yes, you can still go in and purchase aftermarket parts, then go in and fine tune settings to your hearts content, but not I can going into a different menu and say 'make my a car a B' and it will do it, assuming it is possible. This is the right kind of streamlining: the kind that removes things that aren't fun for most people but leaves the option to go back to them.

I will not 'finish' Forza 4, nor will I ever attempt to race online. But I will certainly enjoy my time with it because Turn 10 has made it very easy to do so. Polyphony Digital should take notice, that have just been beaten soundly as their own game.

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