Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Kicking things off right

First off, Happy New Year.

When Gran Turismo 6 arrived I assumed that I would play it for an hour or two, realize that I should be playing Forza 5 instead, and that would be the end of it. Gran Turismo has always struck me as very sterile in both presentation and execution. The career mode is little more than a series of races, there is no car damage and the physics engine handles collisions by pretending they didn't happen. It's like the hospital of racing games: it has everything you need but you still don't want to spend much time there.

One night passed and I kept playing it. Two nights passed and I am still playing it. I think that maybe, just maybe, Gran Turismo 6 is a better simulation style racing game than Forza 5. Had it come out at any time other than a few weeks after the start of a new generation people would be all over this. Instead it came out and no one noticed.

First the dry facts. Forza 5 has, out of the box, 200 cars and 14 tracks. There is no weather, no night driving. There are no rally courses, no point to point races. It is a the very definition of a launch racing title: stunning to look at but lacking in content. Gran Turismo 6 has 1197 cars. It has 37 completely different venues (not tracks) with 71 layouts. It just has more of everything. It does not look as good as Forza 5, in fact it still has the everything is too clean, this doesn't look real thing going, but being able to drive at night or in the rain makes up for it.

I was repeating tracks in Forza 5 within thirty minutes of starting. Gran Turismo 6 could go on for days before I have to run the same event for a second time. If I get bored there are license tests or coffee break challenges or an almost impossible hill climb course in which the road is about two feet wider than the monster of a car you are given to drive. Last night just as I was about to shut it down I unlocked a mini go-kart race. Exactly the change of pace required to keep me playing for just one more event.

It may not be fair to compare these two directly. Gran Turismo 6 is the culmination of 15 years of Gran Turismo. It has all the tracks and all the cars and all the experience built up going back to the PS1 condensed on to one disc that happened to land at the very end of its systems life. Forza 5 is starting over from scratch. It chose flash over substance, a requirement for it place at the forefront of moving new hardware, but not something that will keep this jaded old gamer coming back for more.

Gran Turismo 6 is a better simulation style racing game than Forza 5. Age before beauty indeed.

No comments:

Post a Comment