I'll try to explain myself in this blog post. And remember- my Forza thoughts are impressions-only, meaning I am only basing my context based on things I've read online and how I've perceived them. These impressions are also based on what Gran Turismo 5 provides. I do not have a PS3 for this post.
Gran Turismo 1.Every race, except the Spot Races and the Endurance events, are all championships. There are both the official GT League events and the Special Events. I would say the international rivalries in GT1 (US vs. Japan, Japan vs. UK, and US vs. UK) are perhaps the races that most feel like real racing. Even with the Gran Turismo World Cup, it doesn't really feel like a serious kind of devotion to real racing. The Special Events mostly are challenges with certain drivetrains and types of cars. Challenges, but not much like real racing.
Gran Turismo 2.The sort of ladder system in Gran Turismo 2's GT League events is perhaps the best usage of official events in any GT. Six nationals and the Euro-Pacific events must be cleared to reach the Gran Turismo World League. The Special Events for GT2 are have only a few regulations and don't even feel like really sanctioned races except for the drivetrain and aspiration races. Here is a bad example- you may have races devoted to a certain kind of vehicle, but you could race a Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 in the International-C class race of the Historic Car Cup. The only truly regulated races (other than for horsepower) are the One-Make Races. Also, the event models for GT2 is extremely convoluted. You have a certain championship with races divided only by certain horsepower levels. You can do a low-level version of the Mid-Engine Challenge for two laps, then bring a more powerful car to the toughest Mid-Engine Challenge for just two laps. I would at least want to envision doing longer or tougher races at higher levels. Tougher races are noted more towards horsepower restrictions rather than tougher cars or races. The depth is absolutely off. Too much so to where actual progression just seems completely off. It's all convoluted and incoherent.
Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec.Gran Turismo 3 did away with the official race and Special Events in favor of difficulty-based leagues. This allowed you to race freely in better-regulated races. Each series has its own regulations for entry including specific cars that can be used for each race. Still, not many of the races feel like any serious kind of real racing character. It feels more like races divided up among car type with not much feeling like true racing series. On another end, the One-Make Races are now within the Go Race menu and feature both Single Races and Championships. The most unique challenges are the Polyphony Digital Cup and Formula GT.
Gran Turismo 4.A new approach was extended and even included nationality-based racing series. There are now just Beginner and Professional halls, but there is a new Extreme Hall devoted to the most intense racing events. The different nationality halls include American, European, and Japanese events. Many of these events in these halls are devoted to cars of certain nationalities. The only exception is the European Hall's "1000 Miles!" championship where any production car up to 1970 can race (including non-European cars). There's still not as much depth and character in most of the races and championships. However, there are unique events like the Tuner Grand Prix and especially the Sport Truck Race. Even "1000 Miles!" is unique in that it's an endurance racing championship restricted to production cars 1970 and older. The Driving Missions are a great touch to supplement you with cars as all you have to do is clear the task asked of you.
Gran Turismo 5 (Impression-Based).I don't have a PlayStation 3, so I will be basing my material here on impressions from other people and sources.
It seems like a lot of the classic races in past GTs show up again for GT5. Of course for GT5, you can race A-Spec and B-Spec races separately. The nationality Halls from GT4 are no more. Most of those races are now under the individual series of events.
The biggest bonus done here is with the Special Events. The Special Events here are much different from the Special Events in GT1 and GT2. These are seven different kinds of racing series that allow you to take up unique challenges. Three of them have set cars for you to race, so you don't have to worry about purchasing any of them beforehand. Those three include the Top Gear Test Track events, the AMG Driving Academy, and the Grand Tour. These events are all very unique and really add some flavor to the racing variety which was otherwise missing in past GT titles.
Having 12 cars to a track makes things a touch more interesting. I'll need to play GT5 proper to see what all has changed between GT4 and GT5.
You know one thing I've noticed about Gran Turismo races, as far as types of races are concerned? I don't think there has EVER been a series of races based on engine displacement. Think of if there were races for cars with more than 3000cc displacement, for example. Just thought about that in preparing this blog post.
So as much as the Gran Turismo series, the real racing aspect (or at least something near that). The meat of this post regards Forza's depth in race variety and classification. So let's talk about what Forza brings in this department.
Forza Motorsport.There are five types of races- point-to-point, amateur, professional, championship series, and endurances. Each features a series of events and races. The Point-to-Point races highlight your ability to race on open circuits. All of the other series are for closed circuits. The Amateur and Professional races both feature a variety of races with their own restrictions. Most races are limited by horsepower and certain nationalities of car. In addition, there may be other restrictions as far as weight, year of cars, types of cars, and things like that are concerned. The Championship events feature races based on class of cars. Other restrictions may also apply. Finally, the Endurance events mostly are based on class and a few other restrictions.
The division of races and depth of races are done very well. An interesting aspect is that certain tuning aspects, such as tinting your windows, may actually disqualify you for entering certain races. So your tuning has to be done carefully both in performance and in aesthetics. A lot of the races in Forza 1 are restricted to certain cars, offering a distinct touch. For example, the Rallisport Face Off in the Point-to-Point events and in the Amateur Events only allow Subaru Imprezas and Mitsubishi Lancers. The One-Make Races (if you will) have more interesting names than what most One-Make races in Gran Turismo games have. One example is "Club Corvette Event," which sounds much more interesting than "Corvette Meeting" in GT2 or the interestingly named "Vette! Vette! Vette!" in GT4. There are also Open events limited to cars of certain nationalities/regions and horsepower levels.
This is different from even GT2, where it seems all convoluted and incoherent. There actually seems better flow and unique character to races. Even with Forza Motorsport 1 having about three times less cars than Gran Turismo 4, there is better originality and flow in properly dividing up cars. You really sense how races can allow for one or multiple cars in general.
Forza Motorsport 2 (Impression-Based).I'm going on impressions because I have NEVER played Forza Motorsport 2 (except for the kiosk demo of FM2). I am going on what I've read from GameFAQs and seeing a few YouTube videos.
The racing action is divided up even more in Forza Motorsport 2. However, the Point-to-Point events are gone. In its place (I guess you'd say) are the Proving Grounds races. New to Forza Motorsport 2's race fixtures are Manufacturer Club Races, Rivalry Face-Offs, Regional Championships, and Factory-Spec Races. The Semi-Pro ranks join up with the Amateur and Professional events. Most of these were their own events within the Amateur and Professional ranks in Forza Motorsport 1. Now, they are their own championships and events.
* The Proving Grounds consist of a variety of fictitious race tracks limited to various classes of competition. The Proving Grounds races range from the Open events featuring certain nationalities of car all the way up to the Heavyweight Open. If you think about it, these races are almost like a grassroots motorsports environment to help you prepare for a long racing career in Forza.
* The Amateur events feature a great variety of races by engine type, nationality, year of cars, types of car, and more.
* Try the Manufacturer Club Races to challenge your racing abilities using a certain manufacturer or of a certain base car. The depth is greater as a whole, and you're not just restricted to one specific car like in Gran Turismo's One-Make Races.
* The Semi-Pro events feels much more like a real racing deal than anything of Gran Turismo's. All of the events have actual sponsors and are limited to a set maximum amount of horsepower. You go from the Goodyear 150 horsepower invitational all the way up to the K and N Filters 700HP Invitational.
* If you really want something that separates Forza from Gran Turismo in the race variety department, the Rivalry Face-Offs is just that difference-maker. These races only allow certain cars. The racing action has that sort of character that makes it unique in all aspects of the series. For example, the "Great American Face-Off" is limited only to Chevrolet Camaros and Ford Mustangs. The "Pride of Italy" events are limited to Ferraris and Lamborghinis with V12 engines.
* Regional Championships feature championship races divided up by car class and by nationality.
* If you want a real driver's championship, the Factory-Spec Races are for you. Here, NO performance modifications are allowed, and you can only race certain cars. This can be either exciting or boring depending on how you look at it.
* The Professional Series features tournament-style racing with events sorted by car class. There are no restrictions on car type of power except for that each car has to be in a certain class to compete. You'll have to go through each race in order, as opposed to picking out a certain race. This makes for a championship season-style deal that is immensely interesting and satisfying.
The fact that Forza 2 features various racing events with greater depth and variety make them more interesting than most Gran Turismo championships and series. It isn't just One-Make Races or races on certain drivetrains- it is a combination of things and a real sort of cohesion that makes everything interesting on the racing front. Combine that with interesting usage of the car class feature, and you have a very worthy model of races and great depth among these races.
Forza Motorsport 3 (Impression-Based).Unlike FM2, I haven't played ANYTHING of Forza Motorsport 3. So I will once again go on impressions.
The most intriguing aspect of Forza Motorsport 3 is that of Season Play. Season Play allows you to set up a calendar of when you want to race for a season. What happens is that you have a year of races but only register for a certain series. Events can be skipped on the calendar. Everything comes in dynamic fashion. As an alternative, you can do the Event List featuring all the individual events in FM3. There are ten classes of competition in Forza 3 (source: OXCGN’s Massive Forza 3 Career Help Guide):
- Testing - an introduction to Forza 3.
- Amateur - basic set of races with three levels.
- Manufacturer - manufacturer-based races and model family races. Five levels of racing.
- Semi-Professional - four levels of races limited by horsepower, car nationality, and year.
- Professional - multitude of high-level races and series.
- Speedway - high-speed races on ovals.
- Drag Racing Heats - heat-based drag racing across various horsepower and drivetrain limits.
- Closed Circuit Laps and Races - races done on point-to-point tracks and very long road courses.
- Full-On Endurance Races - endurance races on various tracks limited to classes.
- Top of the Ladder Championships - championship races restricted by classes.
The game is deeper both with races and in events. There are even race types for the Australian V8 Supercars in FM3 (Gran Turismo still has only that 2000 Ford Falcon XR8 Supercar since GT3). There just seems to be a better overall connection between the cars raced and the events for each that Gran Turismo kind of lacks.
Region-Based Gameplay.There is nothing wrong with having the whole world at your fingers in a racing game. However, having region-based play personalizes everything and makes individual regions more unique. Gran Turismo 4 had the right idea by allowing you to race in events unique to certain regions. This allowed for more personalized racing action.
More Races Based on Engine Type (and Displacement?).While there have been races based on aspiration and for boxer/horizontally-opposed engines, Forza Motorsport opened their proverbial playbook with an entire assortment of races sorted by engine type. These were races for engine types ranging from Inline-4 (also called "four-bangers") all the way up to V12 engines.
I mentioned earlier that there has never been racing series limited to displacement. Displacement-type races can be real gray areas. Sega GT was a game that really divided cars on displacement. When you base cars on displacement, you can create some misconceptions and mismatches. For example, a 5th Generation Honda Prelude has over 2000cc displacement. When matched up with other cars with 2000cc or more displacement, you are assuming that this car can compete against cars like Ferraris, muscle cars, true sports cars, and things like that. I remember in Enthusia that there were some generated races that allowed for cars that had over 5000cc displacement (like the Mercedes SLR). So you'd have to be careful picking out certain races based on displacement alone. The toughest one to gauge in displacement would be rotary cars. Cars like the Mazda RX-7 (FD3S model) have 654 x 3 cc displacement. Do you invite it to race against other cars with similar displacement, or create a class of drivetrain races specifically for rotary-powered cars? Or for further comparison, the Mazda 787B has 654 x 4 displacement. Just something to think about.
More Open Races and Semi-Pro Style Races.The Semi-Pro races are all limited to certain levels of horsepower. Therefore, you can bring ANY car to any race as long as it is within a certain horsepower level. Let's pretend there is an open race restricted to 400hp. This means that I could bring any car as long as it does not have more than 400 horsepower. So I could bring a Honda/Acura NSX tuned to 375 horsepower or any other car south of 400hp. No restrictions on nationality, car type (unless restricted to production cars), engine type, aspiration, or anything like that. Gran Turismo 2 had a lot of horsepower-restricted races while GT4 had the Supercar Festival, where cars had to have 493 or more horsepower.
More Manufacturer-Limited Races, Not Just One-Make Races.I actually like the idea of racing restricted to certain manufacturers. It makes for racing action that is both realistic and shows unity with the represented manufacturers. Considering the strength of Nissan in the Gran Turismo series, you can imagine a (hypothetical name) Nissan Owners' Club with races restricted to Nissans. You can probably take it a step further by allowing for races restricted to two classes- Normal and Tuner cars, and Concept and Racing cars.
Try Some Rivalries and Matchups!There is no better way to show an actual connection with cars and manufacturers than to have certain rivalry series. As a college sports fan, I know that nothing excites quite like a rivalry. The rivalries have to be realistic, though. Don't make things like compact cars vs. supercars. Take note of the rivalries featured in Forza Motorsport 2 for inspiration:
(Forza Motorsport 2 Rivalry Face-Offs - for reference)
* Young Guns Showdown: Honda Civics vs. Volkswagens (likely the Golf)
* Sport Compact Shootout: Toyota Celicas vs. Mitsubishi Eclipses
* Tuner Face-Off: Nissan Silvias vs. Toyota Altezzas/Lexus IS's
* Great American Face-Off: Ford Mustangs vs. Chevrolet Camaros
* Rallicross Face-Off: Subaru Imprezas vs. Mitsubishi Lancers
* Super Tuner Challenge: Nissan Fairlady models vs. Mazda RX-7's vs. Mazda RX-8's
* Battle for Europe: 6-cylinder Porsches vs. V8 Ferraris
* Ultimate Tuner Challenge: Nissan Skylines/GT-R's vs. Toyota Supras
* American Sports Car Showdown: Dodge Vipers vs. Chevrolet Corvettes
* Pride of Italy: V12 Ferraris vs. V12 Lamborghinis
If PD were smart, they'd try to come up with some interesting and intriguing matchups. Gran Turismo 1 did have a unique rivalry series with the three nationality races (US vs. Japan, Japan vs. UK, and US vs. UK). Having more of these kinds of races would show both unity among the represented makes as well as introduce exciting rivalries to help make racing much more fun in Gran Turismo. Gran Turismo games feature some Kei cars. Maybe some Kei rivalries would add a little spice to the variety of races featured here. Maybe nobody would care to see or race Kei car rivalries and series, but they are as much of intriguing to enhancing rivalries as any series involving much larger and much more powerful cars. The 3 Lap Battles and One-Lap Magic Driving Missions in GT4 are examples of races restricted to a certain manufacturer.
More Series Based on Circuit Types as Well as Open Circuits.Gran Turismo has had only one open circuit in history- the [abbreviated] Pikes Peak Hill Climb course. Meanwhile, Forza has had quite a few open circuits with Fujimi Kaido thankfully returning in Forza 3. Forza 1 had even Pacific Shipyards. If you want to go with other games with open circuits, Enthusia had Dragon Range. Gran Turismo has two choices- (1) make a quality open circuit (doesn't have to be any real location), or (2) make quality and challenging generated open circuits. One other alternative would be to take a very long course (like the Nürburgring Nordschleife and Nürburgring 24-Hour courses) and segment them up. Forza 3 took things a bit further by also including the Speedway and Drag Racing Heats lineup of races. These included oval races and drag races spanning a number of categories. To make this happen, however, you need to have a diverse number of races for which to contest these events on.
Gran Turismo games need some drag racing in addition to the other kinds of racing to add greater variety and depth.
Try to Make Some Season-Based Gameplay.Forza 3's draw was in the ability of making a Season for racing. While the season aspect can be fun (or disastrous if done wrong), the idea of setting aside a number of days before going racing again makes for a realistic approach to racing. Have a few days off to test out and tune your car before having to run another race. I say the cutoff point should be about three days or so. You can still purchase parts for your car and buy new cars. However, you are not allowed to sell your car or enter a car in one championship into a different championship. It is realistic that a driver and a certain car can run in various races with a few simple modifications. However, I wouldn't want this thing to be overly confusing, so you can't take one car already in one championship to run in a different championship or race.
Or maybe if you could set a calendar so that if your car is eligible to compete in certain races, you can compete in those in addition to a specific championship. But to still make things simple- you can't race in multiple different races or championships at a time with one specific car.
Fixable Elements.Instead of: Drivetrain circuit races
Try: Drivetrain races across various categories
Explanation: Opens and shootouts devoted to certain kinds of drivetrains make things unique and offer some more variety to races. The Forza series has drivetrain races for various forms of racing. Gran Turismo could include drivetrain events for circuit racing and rally racing. The only exception- rally racing disallowed for FWD cars because you can not drift in FWD cars (without trying extremely hard, though).
Instead of: Nationality Races
Try: Region-based racing. Region-based races mostly allow you to race at tracks in a certain region against a certain set number of regional cars and races. There can still be a little inter-regional racing (like when the IndyCar Series races at Motegi Superspeedway), but there is still that unity of racing in a certain region against a certain set of cars.
Explanation:There is a difference between nationality races and region-based racing. You can still race cars of a certain international region, but having specific regions makes the action more personal and unique.
Instead of: just One-Make Races
Try: manufacturer-specific races and rivalry-type manufacturer races
Explanation: Unity among manufacturers in the game adds some personality to racing certain cars. Forza seems better connected with cars, even to the point of discounts on certain cars and certain car parts. A boost in making races more interesting with one-manufacturer races and certain rivalry series will make things interesting. To make these races even more interesting, take some cues from Gran Turismo 2 and set up certain races at random venues. Even more interesting is if you want to set up certain championships for fun involving one specific manufacturer or a rivalry. Think of setting up a five-race championship with venues you select and have them only restricted to a manufacturer or two.
Instead of: just NA and Turbo races
Try: open/runoff/shootout races based on horsepower
Explanation: Rather than just races based engine aspiration, races based on horsepower would be great. Part of my problem with Gran Turismo games (especially when I've played GT4) is that I buy certain cars to tune them up. But when it comes to putting them in races, I feel I have to be restricted to the Family Cup because there are not as many races that I feel I can take my tuned creation out to go race. I would feel so restricted and not have certain races I can go take part in. It's like I have to find certain in-game championships to race in rather than have something I could freely enter to enjoy racing and put my tuned car to good use. In the sense of horsepower-restricted races, I could have a super-light car that is just below the maximum horsepower restriction, or I could have a heavy car that's barely below the horsepower minimum. The point is- do you have a car within this restriction? If PD were to enact this, I think horsepower restrictions would be in increments of 100, starting with a series restricted to 200hp. The maximum would be a race restricted to 700hp. If PD wanted to turn up the voltage, they could make an unlimited horsepower race for cars north of 700. This would bring flashbacks of the Megaspeed Cup and the Tuned Car Cup from GT1. One last recommendation- higher horsepower races would be smart to contest on very fast tracks or high-speed courses rather than twisty slow courses.
Uncertain Elements.These are curious elements I wonder in enhancing the GT formula...
Instead of: Pre-determined races and championships
Try: Season Play and Custom Championships?
Explanation: The idea of a season stems from Forza Motorsport 3. Imagine being able to have a certain number of days aside to tune and maintain your car while in a championship. It is a realistic aspect of racing for championships to be determined with a legit schedule of races. I don't think it has to be realistic. For example, a long championship could be contested in a month or two months. I am not expecting things like realistic temperatures and weather conditions to determine making certain races factors. So if there was a GT World Championship race at Grand Valley in December, I'm not expecting there to be a snowstorm for a race there.
Instead of: leaving cars mostly unsorted
Try: dividing cars into classes and dividing cars into types?
Forza Motorsport had a smart approach. With the different race car classes, you mostly assume that because they are race cars, they should have no problem contesting among the faster prototypes. That's not true. You would be saying that a New Beetle Cup Car is as capable as the Audi R10 TDI. Race cars can especially be divided into performance categories.
What about the production cars? Enthusia has done a great job dividing up cars into a variety of categories. You know what I'm talking about if you have done Free Run or Time Attack in Enthusia and have to select cars by a variety of factors. These include things like- retractable headlight cars, cars with certain levels of displacement, cars of certain ages, etc. Gran Turismo can benefit from featuring a better arrangement of cars to race with. The only GT to really capitalize on showcasing cars of various kinds was Gran Turismo 2. You know there's great diversity when you can have Kei cars, station wagons, and even luxury sedans! Imagine a racing series devoted to cars heavier than 3500 lbs (or the kilogram equivalent of 3500 lbs.)! You could have races against cars like Aston Martins and other heavyweight cars.
Make some classes and restrictions, but don't make everything TOO restrictive to where you can't have any fun in racing certain machines.
(If I come up with any other ideas, I will add them in future edits.)
What Could Gran Turismo Learn from Forza Motorsport With Races?Simply make the racing types and events more interesting and diverse. Add some greater depth towards making more believable and interesting championships. Where Forza seems to excel is at more classes and races offering better varieties in races for various cars. I would be interested in, say, championships and race series specifically for certain manufacturers, not so much races limited only to one model family of cars. I'd be willing to race an all-Toyota Championship or Series Race where I could race a MKIV Toyota Supra RZ against Chasers and GT-Fours. In addition, the rivalry-type races in Forza just adds some unique character to cars being raced in the game. The Mustang vs. Camaro deal in Forza is easily an indication that there is a game that uniquely understands and tries to make dream matchups. Doing this, however, would make things more like ToCA Race Driver games, where you have one series devoted only to only one or two certain cars rather than allow for a host of cars to compete.
So what would I suggest? Let's say that GT6 allows for better classification of cars and has some broader guidelines for what cars can race in what championships. Can I compete in the World Classic Car Series with my 1969 Camaro SS? The World Classic Car Series is for cars 1970 or older, but what if this series disallowed muscle cars?
Moreover, Forza Motorsport seems to have a better grasp and execution of races and racing than the Gran Turismo series. A big factor in all of this is that I have never played Gran Turismo 5, Forza Motorsport 2, or Forza Motorsport 3. It is also worth noting that I haven't logged in loads of hours and time playing Forza Motorsport 1. My only Forza 1 experience is from an old demo and from spending some time with a retail version of FM1 at a kiosk. But on impressions alone, I think Forza Motorsport is better on the racing front and in building races and race events than in the Gran Turismo series. That even includes that Forza Motorsport can be played either offline or online while GT5 is the first online-enabled GT. If the next GT can better focus on the motorsports aspect and provide a more complete package, I think it will make GT better in the long run and make a better overall experience on the racing front. It would provide a connect that would keep Gran Turismo as the best racing game series of the modern era. The long-term future of Gran Turismo as a franchise lies in being able to further evolve and further develop the juggernaut racing game franchise far into the future as it is today. A better overall motorsports aspect (while not making it into a ToCA Race Driver-type game) will keep the racing fresh and engaging. We'll see with Gran Turismo 6 (or at least the first prototype or beta of GT6) if PD can further enhance their franchise with a better overall aspect on racing and racing events.
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