The modern, the extreme, and the classic

11 May 2014

One of the things I do enjoy about Forza Motorsport (some earlier ramblings on the current incarnation of said game can be found here) is the combination of the breadth of cars which it offers you the chance to pilot, coupled with its dedicated pursuit to realistic physics simulation it has.

The range means I can pretty much guarantee to find a few cars that will suit me and my driving style. If I’m honest, I’m not really that good a virtual driver, so it suits me fine to stick to the slower end of the spectrum, preferring to polish my lap times to perfection in an MX-5 rather than spend my time lapping Le Sarthe in an Le Mans Prototype car. At the same time, the realistic physics means there’s a reason and reward to spending the time to hone one’s skills in a given vehicle type, as they really do feel different to drive.

As an example of this, after having had a love/hate relationship with the None, which I admire the engineering behind, but is at the same time very hard to master, I’ve was able to completely switch pace, and take one a slightly more refined class of car, in the old Aston Martin DBR1. Within the confines of the same game, the two cars feel and behave totally different; despite both being track focussed open top sports cars, when comparing driving the KTM to the DBR1, the latter is clearly from a different era of engineering – very much less efficient, rolling like an american hire car through the corners. Forza does such a good job of communicating that, giving me a fresh set of challenges with each car I opt to spend time trying to master.

Oh how I do wish there was a way to go straight from Forza to Instagram…

There’s one other thing that the range and realism together bring – a new appreciation for how truly maddeningly fast real race cars are, even compared to modern sports cars. You see things like F1 on the telly, and you can see they’re fast, but you don’t see them up against other cars to benchmark them. A while ago someone sent me this video, which starts to give you some insight as to how far removed modern Formula 1 cars are even from modern GT3 cars (the non-street legal supped up versions of production sports cars):

But with something like Forza, you can start to get a glimpse of that yourself. Although most cars in Forza are production cars or the sports car variations thereof, for Forza Motorsport 5 they threw in a single Formula 1 race car. Drive that, after driving your Ferraris and Lamborghinis, and it becomes very apparent very quickly just how much faster it is to drive, and just how much hard work it is to use. It’s hard to articulate it without experiencing it, so I won’t even try – if you’re interested go try it out for yourself. Even if you’re not enthralled by Formula 1 as a sport, which I’m not, it’s still fascinating just how different these beasts are.

Clearly the makers of Forza didn’t really intend to make an Formula 1 simulator out of their game given they included but a single such car, but by including this it serves as a great example of those two key elements of their game, and for us players articulates the range to what is out there, putting into perspective the different extremes of automotive engineering.