Blog / Riding dirty

For the longest time I thought that expression was referring to something other than drug possession. Driving without a seatbelt. Driving after having crapped your pants. Driving without a license. Driving while in desperate need of a car wash. That sort of thing.

I'll take one of these, please. Deliver it to my room. Thank you.

Forza Motorsport 5 provides another definition: treating a previously pristine simulation-quality racing game as a demolition derby. I’m not sure if I should attribute this solely to the Drivatar system, but laps around Forza are more bumper cars than follow-the-leader.

I’m not sure I like it. On the one hand it’s more fun to see other drivers spinning out, going into the grass, and swerving erratically in a straightaway just like I do. Blurs the lines between single player and multiplayer without drastically affecting gameplay.

On the other hand, well, it does affect gameplay. A lot. I bought Drive to Win by Carroll Smith, an actual race car driver. That’s where I learned that the only proper way to pass another car is to brake later than them in a turn and cut them off. It’s rude, but that’s the way you get ahead. In Forza 5 that advice no longer applies given the behavior of the other drivers you encounter. They might brake too early or too late. Maybe they ignore the turn entirely and drive into the grass. Maybe they’re five abreast during the turn and you just have to wait. Forza is a different experience now.

That includes the cars themselves. They’re… *wipes tear*… so beautiful! Not a single blurry texture. No blotchy shadows. I guess the pit crew character models aren’t exactly Quantic Dream protagonists, but they look just fine for the three seconds they’re on screen. Still, completely amazing. The technology is here to demolish away your suspension of disbelief. But the career wrapping that simulation has problems.

I fail to see how laser scanning these tracks will make a difference over what we had before.

Let me tell you what everyone who plays Forza does: after winning (or losing) the first set of races with their first car, the player buys some upgrades for it then goes to the bonus races for that championship. Except they can’t. They’ve upgraded their car past the restrictions for that championship and have wasted the money on those new parts. Forza doesn’t tell you that upgrading a C car to a B car means you can’t do those races. In fact, there are no eligibility indications anywhere except the “garage/current car eligible” markers on each championship. What you have to do is look at the cars you can buy for this event and figure out the maximum car rating in that list. This missing feature is aggravating.

Some included features are also aggravating. Before you can see the races for each championship there’s a cute little video featuring the guys from Top Gear talking about the cars in this series. You can replay the videos at your leisure later, but they’re not skippable. If you’re hoping to bounce around and see what events are available then the cheery British idioms of Jeremy Clarkson and James May will start to grate.

Yet I’m having a terrific time. Building the perfect car and tuning it is immensely satisfying. There are hysterical new car colors like copper and brushed aluminium. You can even make a car out of wood! Bamboo and walnut finishes are available. Since it’s the early days there aren’t many liveries available, but this will improve with time. While the Drivavatar system means the drivers are more erratic, they’re more fun in a gaming sense to drive against. Since everyone is unpredictable I’m always on my toes.

Don’t mind the guy cutting you off before the turn.