Sunday, April 4, 2010

From Resentment to Respect... My Forza Motorsport Story

John Marine | 4/04/2010 01:59:00 AM | | |
(UPDATED: September 4, 2011)

Gran Turismo has been the best simulation racing games for console. It has never gotten any true opposition. That is... until a game called Forza Motorsport made its way onto the scene. Forza Motorsport is Gran Turismo's finest competition to date. Forza Motorsport greatly respects Gran Turismo, so Forza wanted to deliver the same GT-style experience while doing things a lot differently. When Forza Motorsport first debuted in in 2005, the initial reaction was that Gran Turismo would no longer rule the simulation racing realm. Gran Turismo would have a certifiable challenger with another game on another console.

When I first saw this game, I wasn't buying it. Keep in mind that this game came out even as Gran Turismo 4 was being delayed. I had played a demo of Forza Motorsport years ago and had a vicious reaction to it. I'll explain more throughout the course of this blog entry. I've grown from resenting the Forza Motorsport series to respecting it as much as I Gran Turismo. Sometimes, even respecting Forza more than Gran Turismo. This is my story of going from resentment... to respect.


SEP 4 2011 - updated an old blog post

--- The Story Begins ---
While Gran Turismo 4 was still in the works, this new challenger named Forza Motorsport made its way into stores. My first experience with Forza Motorsport was at a Walmart store. This was where I played a demo version of Forza Motorsport. Right from the outset, I noticed all the nuances that made this game different from Gran Turismo games. My biggest complaint was on the AI. The AI made me feel like it was trying to kill me rather than let me cleanly pass them. As much as I had hated when people talk about thug AI in Gran Turismo, I was even more upset at first when playing this title and seeing its AI.

I then got onto's message boards, going on a spat about not believing Forza Motorsport ever making me want to trade my PS2 for an XBOX just to enjoy Forza. I had gotten everything from compliments to "get your head out of your ass" comments. I didn't care. I wasn't impressed with this game. I wasn't impressed with this game ever being better than Gran Turismo.

Despite my rants, mainstream media was sold on it. One of my friends online hated it when I called Forza Motorsport a direct threat to Gran Turismo. Back to mainstream for a moment. There was a commercial in which some people have raved that Forza Motorsport is "better than Gran Turismo 4." Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb, co-hosts of "X-Play" gave Forza 5 out of 5, saying that Forza is the best as GT4 is being delayed. With online play promised (and dropped) for Gran Turismo 4, people were convinced- damage, customization, more cars most discriminating racing game fans care about, and that thing called XBOX Live- PLENTY of reason to be convinced to play this game. Perhaps even the fact that there's a better American influence compared to Gran Turismo's Japanese influence.

Still, I wasn't buying the hype. I couldn't bring myself to become a fan of Forza Motorsport no matter what any mainstream leech thinks.

--- What Gamers Want? ---
Gran Turismo's flaws were capitalized by Forza Motorsport. It is almost as if Forza was clearly designed to teach Polyphony Digital how to make a racing game, while still giving the best gaming experience for the XBOX besides the Project Gotham Racing series.

People have complained at length about how Gran Turismo cares more about Nissan Skylines and Mitsubishi Lancers than cars most people really care about. This game, then, was a breath of fresh air because some people wanted to race Ferraris or Porsches. These are some of the mindsets that I think people have had:

• Since Gran Turismo couldn't get Porsches and Ferraris, why not play a Gran Turismo-style game that actually has these cars?

• Since Gran Turismo doesn't let you destroy your car, why not play Forza to where you can't wall ride your way to victory?

• Since Gran Turismo 4 promised online and failed to release an online-enabled GT, why not play Forza?

I've sometimes linked peoples' frustrations with Gran Turismo to be more like the Boston Tea Party. Almost like... "I don't want the same old Gran Turismo gameplay: I'd rather play a real racing game like Forza Motorsport than play through yet another plain jane Gran Turismo." I think people just became so frustrated that they can't stand Gran Turismo being delayed and not feel like the series has ever truly evolved. Many more people were into Forza Motorsport even as Gran Turismo invited itself to the party, albeit a year after Forza's debut. I've always hated when people would take cheap shots on Gran Turismo, but don't say a damn thing about Forza Motorsport.

I would then have a chance to play this game a bit more.

--- Playing the Real Game ---
Based on my demo performance with Forza Motorsport, the next course of action was to spend more time with the game. I played Forza Motorsport at a kiosk at a Sears store at Baybrook Mall in Friendswood, Texas, USA. The XBOX kiosk at the store at the time featured the retail version of Forza Motorsport. I had a chance to play around with the game more. I absolutely hated the music. Not one decent song I liked, so that's why I turned on my MP3 player to play some music I'd rather race to than what Forza Motorsport 1 had to offer. Yeah, you could put on your own music, but it was no excuse to include such terrible songs. I even got mad as Morgan Webb said in X-Play's review of "Forza Motorsport" that one song was "a semi-decent rip-off of an Iron Maiden song," when I think it was a song from rock-influenced electronica group, Junkie XL.

I played around with many of the options and seen all of the different nuances of Forza Motorsport. I was actually quite impressed with what all you could do and how everything comes together. As much as I initially had hated all this game had to offer from the demo, I was more than impressed with what all you could do in this game. It was purely fantastic. I admitted that I was liking the driving model as well as the very believeable car sounds. Even as a Gran Turismo fan, I had to admit that these cars sound much more believeable than what Gran Turismo has ever been in the sound department. There was just no comparison. Customizing cars was pretty addicting and fun as well. How everything is executed is just fantastic.

So after having feelings for a game I've despised for so long, it was time I had...

--- A Change of Heart ---
...a change of heart. Resenting Forza Motorsport has started to become molded into mutual respect. There was now a time in which I was starting to enjoy Forza on the XBOX as I did Gran Turismo on the PlayStation consoles. It wasn't one-or-the-other. But instead, more like wanting an XBOX just to spend more time playing and studying Forza Motorsport. I would most be happy to play through this game to see what all it had to offer. This game even had cars from Risi Competizione, my favorite sportscar racing team (and Houston's own as well as Texas' own!). I might even say that I'd play Forza Motorsport just to race my beloved Ferrari 333SP.

I then got to think about my demo experience a bit more. The only complaint I had was when you chose the Acura NSX, and if you customize it, you get an extra wing on top of the NSX's original wing. I thought it was a bit unecessary. I've now grown more respectful of Forza Motorsport. With the coming of the XBOX 360, I was interested to see how Forza would continue its evolution on the new console.

--- More, Please! ---
Forza Motorsport 2 was a game I got to play on XBOX 360 kiosks. This was the game that fired the first shot in the next-generation gaming realm/ My thoughts on Forza 2 were met with experiences from Forza 1. I was wondering how this newer Forza would perform on the XBOX 360. Forza 2 looked much more beautiful than the first title. The sounds were more impressive, and the game was faster. The action even got an intense upgrade. Racing the Mugello Circuit (short course) in the demo, I was wondering how the new game would stack up. I was pretty impressed. As much as I had time to study Forza 1, I wish I had more time to study Forza 2 by playing the newer Forza.

Today, Forza Motorsport 3 is a game I still haven't played. I still want to know how this game plays and what all you can do with this game. It's tough to make a direct comparison as I haven't much Forza 2 experience. Forza Motorsport 3 is impressive-looking, no doubt about it. Most people whom have resented Gran Turismo are enjoying racing in this game while Gran Turismo 5 was (and still is) still in the works. One article on another website talked about how Forza Motorsport 3 was "leaving a delayed GT5 in the pits."

Remembering "Forza Motorsport Showdown."

By the way, I had even seen the Speed Channel mini-series called "Forza Motorsport Showdown." It was about turning Forza Motorsport into reality featuring six cars by six race car drivers. It was a four-episode series that gave the racers about six different challenges. All of these events took place at and around Road Atlanta. The winner of each day of challenges would stay in a lavish hotel while, some surprises were in store for the last place people. With each episode, a unique look at Forza Motorsport 2 was shown off in a number of differnt aspects.

It was really fun to see this series on TV. It was pretty cool.

--- Are Gran Turismo and Forza REALLY Rivals? ---
I made a video on YouTube about this topic, and I had concluded that GT and Forza are only rivals based primarily on the gaming media and various message board chatter. To me, both games are great as they are. They execute in areas better than the other game. They have different things done right and wrong than their respective opposition. So as a whole, I've appreciated Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport equally, rather than hate on them as true rivals.

Some people even tell me how Forza Motorsport is a game desperate at trying to be better than Gran Turismo without constantly having to directly compete with Gran Turismo. All I know is... if you love racing games, the Gran Turismo series and Forza Motorsport series are two of the best racing game series. You can like one over the other, but there isn't really any true comparing. It's the proverbial apples vs. oranges.

--- Monkeyshines in the Forza Motorsport vs. Gran Turismo "War" ---
This section highlights some classless moments in trying to show that Forza is better than Gran Turismo.

Some people, however, like taking cheap shots at Gran Turismo. One of the most notorious was THIS video posted by a Microsoft employee

GT5... Downward Spiral of Fail.

One guy thinks Gran Turismo 5 will be great when it's released, but because of the delays, this guy thinks Gran Turismo fails as a franchise.

Microsoft Employees Trolling on Gran Turismo 5.

It's okay to say and brag that your game is better than Gran Turismo. However, what happened in late September 2009 was truly classless. A Microsoft employee was trolling on Gran Turismo 5 on NeoGAF. The employee complained about how PC "let someone make 3 games before releasing GT5." A mod for NeoGAF noted that the troller in question logged into NeoGAF using his Microsoft corporate Email address!

"Kazunori Yamauchi Hasn't Done ANYTHING for me in Years."

Dan Greenawalt, Creative Director of Turn 10 Studios, said that while he has great respect for Gran Turismo and of Kazunori Yamauchi, Dan feels that Kazunori Yamauchi hasn't done anything in return for him in respect for Forza Motorsport. Many GT fans (including myself) like that Kazunori doesn't try to brag or be bitchy about Gran Turismo. One person in response to this article praised Kazunori for being a class act and doesn't try to brage about his franchise.

Overall, my overall respect for Forza was based on several premonitions and vicious vents. Those rants would turn to raves as I got to spend more time with Forza Motorsport. I actually respect Forza as much as I do Gran Turismo. I still prefer Gran Turismo over Forza, but Forza Motorsport is a very good game series for what it is and what it entails.

If you don't have all Forza Motorsport games released thus far, here are all Forza titles courtesy of Amazon. Consider this as my way of thanking you for reading this blog entry of mine. I would greatly appreciate your support if you buy from Amazon to help support me and my blog:

^ Forza Motorsport 1 (XBOX). This was the only Forza I've played the most.

^ Forza Motorsport 2 (XBOX 360). I've only played the demo to this game.

^ Forza Motorsport 3 (XBOX 360). The latest Forza, and the only Forza I have never played (not even a demo, if there is one).

(ADDED: Sep. 4, 2011)

^ Forza Motorsport 4 (XBOX 360). The next installment of this lovely franchise.

Thank you for reading! :)

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