Microsoft Should Stop Taking Jabs At Gran Turismo
Microsoft has an irritating habit of attempting to tear down the competition while simultaneously promoting their own; a marketing tactic we don't see as often from either Sony or Nintendo. ...and people wonder why there are a growing number of gamers who simply don't like Microsoft and how they handle their business.
But one thing they definitely need to do, before they make themselves look foolish amidst a bevy of hardcore car and racing enthusiasts, is continue to take jabs at Gran Turismo while telling everyone how great Forza 3 is going to be. First, Forza director Dan Greenawalt says GT "dropped the ball,", and then, he makes the mistake of talking some more. Let me explain something to you, Microsoft: no Forza installment has proven itself against any Gran Turismo entry in the category of realism and authenticity, as any fan of simulation racing will tell you. It'd be one thing to make bold claims and take jabs at the competition if any one of your titles had managed to say, "hey, I'm the most realistic racing experience you can have." But this has never been the case; in fact, Forza has been a borderline joke to racing purists in past years.
Now, I'm not passing judgment on Forza 3 as I haven't played it yet (even though Microsoft's magic ball can somehow tell us that it'll be better than Gran Turismo 5), but I've played the last two. I played them because I'm one of those people who only play simulated racers, and I want the best ones I can find. Of course, that has typically been GT over the years, but that's just the way it is. We at PSXE have a little thing for cars; Arnold and I had 350Zs for a little while (until I turned "traitor" and got rid of mine), and he always has an interest in the hobby. My father and other members of my family have been mechanics for years and although I don't claim to be one myself, I certainly know enough to spot simulation differences in video games. I've played Prologue, which, all on its own, is far more realistic than Forza 2 ever hoped to be. The problem with Forza is that they continually make allowances for a larger, more casual group of gamers that may need some assistance.
I don't know what they're planning with the third entry, but the past two can best be described like this (and ask any amateur or professional racer, who will undoubtedly confirm the assessment): it's a simulator superimposed over an arcade racer. In other words, its authenticity routinely makes way for the understanding that the player may not appreciate every last intricacy involved in the sport. Now, while GT offers something similar in the default mode, the Professional racing mode is something quite different, and as close to realism as I've seen. There are certain things you can do in Forza that just don't translate to real life, and that rarely happens with GT. Furthermore, if you're even going to bring up the idea of car damage, save your breath. You know what simulated damage is? It's grazing a wall at 35 m.p.h. that can cripple your tire and send you to the pits. It's getting bumped from behind and suffering an alignment issue that was no fault of your own. And if you want to get detailed, it's effing up on an engine upgrade (can't put the turbo in without altering the engine accordingly) and having your car blow up halfway down the straightaway.
Hence, we have never seen realistic car damage in any game, and whatever that was in Forza only made the experience laughable. It didn't make it "better;" it made it ridiculous. "Wait...after what just happened, I'm still racing...? Ooookay." Again, I have not played either Forza 3 or GT5 yet (unless you can count Prologue), so I have no idea how they'll turn out. I expect great things, certainly, and as an objective simulated racing fan, I really don't care which one beats the other. But I will tell you that thus far, GT is still the king, and Microsoft shouldn't toss their words around so freely. You haven't won jack sh** yet, so until you do, how's about keeping your eyes on your own paper? Don't worry about what Sony is doing; just deliver the goods. Is Microsoft at all capable of promoting themselves without going after the competition? I have difficulty finding examples of any first-party Sony developer doing any such thing in any interview anywhere, but hey, whatever. I'm just saying.
6/9/2009 Ben Dutka