Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why "Forza 4" blows the doors off "GT5"

Closing arguments

Ok, ok, you know it's coming. The comparisons between Gran Turismo 5 - the driving simulator - and Forza 4. The argument is valid. What Turn 10 has accomplished in a couple years it took Polyphony Digital several years to accomplish. Plus, Forza 4 adds some necessary life back into the innovative, but title-lacking device, the Kinect.

Here are 7 points why Forza 4 takes the crown as the best racing game on consoles at this moment.

1. Ease of use. This is an easy one. With or without the Kinect, Forza 4 is easy to pick up and learn. Even an elder person can grab a controller and take checkered flags. It allows gamers to drive at their own pace. It can be very difficult or very forgiving. Mess up and rub a wall? Hit X on the controller or steering wheel and back up and retry it again - and again - and again until you nail it. Don't want to race Detroit muscle and those hard-to-handle rear-wheel drive beasts? Find a race in a slower class of cars. With Gran Turismo 5, you race and if you mess up, restart the race or try to recover. The learning curve is steep on GT5. Either you are a driver or not. It can be brutal and very forgiving.

2. Look ma, no hands Yes, GT5 offers headtracking. So does Forza 4. Yes, it's available in GT5 with Premium cars. However, Sony's Move device, which multiple sources have said will be compatible with GT5 is no longer listed on Sony's PlayStation Web site in their list of Move games. You can play GT5 with your controller or a steering wheel, but without their popular Move? The Kinect isn't perfect by any means, but Microsoft is smart to push Turn 10 to add a mode where people can use the Kinect with Auto Vista to get up close and personal with cars, navigate menus (with your voice as well) and even drive vehicles with it. Even if you think the Kinect controls are flawed, it's still a step in the right direction.

3. Auto Vista. Let's be real, folks. Why do we go to car shows, endure the heat, flies and funk to see cars? We love to look at these works of art - and even drive them home. Forza 4 brings that feeling to your living room/dorm room/Man Space/Man Cave. You have seen how detailed the interior of the car looks in GT5. You've heard the whine of the V-12 engine. Now, let's see the engine. Let's learn why the rear spoiler extends when the car reaches a certain speed. Forza 4 gives car lovers virtual access to several cars - some real, some fictitious - to gamers of all age.

4. Kid-friendly racing. My babies love it. Daddy loves to see his babies enjoy a game where I am not shooting someone's nards off, or performing a slick headshot. No, this game, my children can circle a virtual track, damage a multimillion dollar whip and don't have to have my insurance premiums go higher than Robert Downey Jr. on a Saturday night. And the Kinect can even distinguish a 4-year-olds balled up fist and tracks it good. Can't do that in GT5.

5. We be clubbin'. Yes, car clubs. I created one and can have my own circle of compadres to roll with. What's even cooler in Forza 4 is I can let members of my club drive my cars. All of them, just like in real-life car clubs. Can't afford the tricked-out Bugatti? Another member has it? Can I borrow it? Muchas gracias! You can race other members cars around without having to spend $$$$ to get it off Xbox LIVE Marketplace. I wonder if gamers who have the Season Pass ($30) can let fellow club members drive the Season Pass cars as well. Stay tuned.

6. Top Gear, big baby. The inclusion of Top Gear really adds some horsepower to this high-octane lineup. Jeremy Clarkson's suave voice brings a calm and serene presence to the announcer role. His vast knowledge on everything vehicles is impressive. And the seamless integration of the Auto Vista feature and the Top Gear challenges and tracks is full of win. Who isn't hyped about driving into bowling pins or nailing gigantic soccer balls on the famed Top Gear outer loop track?!

7. Cue the music. This. This. This. I loved Gran Turismo 5. I won't be able to afford half of the cars in the game. I have a blast taking the LFA, the R34 Skyline and even the McLarens and Ferrari 612 around the tracks. However, as awesome as the game is, driving can be boring. I love taking road trips, but they're only fun if I have someone along for the ride to talk to or my children yapping about Dora the Explorer or Bakugan. On long roadtrips, I have to have music. I have playlists set up on my iPod and my iPhone to play my jams, the way I want them. Video games are no exception. With Test Drive Unlimted and Test Drive Unlimited 2 on the 360 - as well as other games - players can play their own tunes and most games will mute the standard music. Forza 4 is no exception. When I drive the Katy Freeway 5 days a week, I'm either jamming Keith Sweat's Make it last forever, Ancient Astronaut's I came running or the ... don't laugh ... the Halo: MJOLNIR Mix. That's how I roll. And in Forza 4, I am at peace when my mind really thinks I am driving. Without my own music, it gets old fast.

So, what are your thoughts? Does Forza 4 own Gran Turismo 5? Please, no flaming - just keep it constructive. Fanboy posts will NOT be tolerated.

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