Arnold's Press Pause and Rewind: June 24th
Some Call it Zed, Some Call it Z
I am haunted no more. That's right, the agony is over. If you read the recap from June 3rd, you may have remembered me talking about buying a 350Z. I had said that it felt like various companies were spying on me by featuring 350Zs in every advertisement: Microsoft with Forza, for instance and Meguiar's with their leather cleaner wipes. It was pretty painful stuff to endure, I must be honest.
Well, yesterday the pain came to an end and I am very proud owner of a beautiful 2006 350Z. Essentially, for the past couple of years, this has been the car of my dreams. A modest dream, as you can see, since it isn't the status quo Ferrari or Porsche. But hey, this is the car I've wanted for years now, and I finally got it. I'm definitely in love with it and I really couldn't have asked for anything more out of a vehicle. On top of that, it'll also feel exceptionally nice to own a car that I can actually select and race in a videogame, seeing as how Maximas were never once featured in any racing game.
Where's The Beef/Cream Filling?
Before I began writing this very portion of the column, I decided to go out for a little leisure Sunday night drive. After my drive ended, my main thought of the week came to me; when will racing games replicate the feel of an actual car? The obvious answer is clearly; not for a long time. While Gran Turismo gives us the proper physics of a car, emulating its characteristics, there's still an enormous gap in feeling it. Sure, steering wheels now have proper 720-degrees of rotational spin and on top of that force feedback...but that gap is still quite large.
It dawned on me today, the Z gives me the taste of adrenaline in my mouth. You know, that almost battery acid like taste that develops on your tongue and saliva when your blood is rushing and your adrenaline is going. It's not that I was driving fast, because I swear on it that I wasn't. It's just that immense feeling of sudden and rapid acceleration that drives your head into the back of your seat. Polyphony Digital does have those simulator machines that you sit inside and play the game on three screens, and Subaru frequently uses at auto shows, but those things cost in the thousands, and are practically impossible to come by - not to mention they're quite large.
While people bash on Gran Turismo's sense of speed, it's actually the only game that renders speed accurately. Other games tend to exaggerate sense of speed with blur-effects, or just flat out speeding up the game altogether. But in reality, sense of speed is more than just how fast your car is going, it's a culmination of the screaming engine, the burling exhaust, and that feeling of G-forces (as minuscule or grand as they may be) that really defines sense of speed. There's a reason why most people aren't afraid of going excessive speeds in videogames, because there's no sense of fright. And there'd be fright if the sense of speed was present, but in a much more physical and involving way - as outlined above.
Still, just like all of my other entries, I don't mean to bash videogames. It's just me simply looking ahead at what's, hopefully, in store for the industry. Videogames are beginning to teeter on the edge of photorealism, especially racing games, and with that will come the task of eventually accomplishing a proper simulation of driving/racing a car from the comfort of your home.
6/24/2007 Arnold Katayev