Beautiful, Vast And With Loads Of Unfulfilled Potential
Lofty promises and lovely trailers have become Ubisoft's modus operandi of late. Gaming enthusiasts as a whole have seen it in the company's other, non-auto-related franchises, while we've observed this tendency in the lead up to Ubi's latest title, The Crew.
We've spilled a lot of virtual ink in our coverage of Grand Theft Auto V. Rockstar Games' 2013 blockbuster was arguably one of that year's very best titles, delivering a unique version of automotive mayhem, along with all the other things – guns, sex, drugs, murder, thievery and biting satire – that the series has been praised and criticized for.
One of my early triumphs while playing the sparkling new Forza Horizon 2 for Xbox One came after what I could conservatively call a "non-traditional" motorsports experience. In a point-to-point street race across a lovingly rendered, sun-dappled corner of Europe, I transitioned from a winding two-lane road to a narrow dirt , with one extended foray – at well over 120 miles per hour – through a vineyard. I did all of this in a Ferrari 360 Modena Challenge Stradale.
It's easy to look at racing video games as just a time waster or a hobby. In reality, though, they're often powerful tools for aspiring racers to learn tracks, race craft and how to set up a car in an easily accessible, risk-free environment. We aren't just talking about proper computer-based sims, like iRacing. Console-based racers like Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo provide a test bed for racers of all sorts.
I was excited for Forza Motorsport 5. The promise of the XBox One's next-generation graphics capabilities combined with cutting-edge technologies like Forza's Drivatar system and its much, much more lax attitude towards car customization (both visual and mechanical) made it an appealing title for me. Then I had to write this story.
Well gamers, it's here. Forza Motorsport 5 has finally, finally added the track we've all been waiting for – Germany's famed and feared Nürburgring. The announcement was made by Turn 10 Studios' creative director, Dan Greenawalt, during the Microsoft press conference at today's E3 expo.
Batman is getting yet another new Batmobile. We recently saw teases of director Zack Snyder's take on the iconic vehicle for the upcoming movie starring the Dark Knight and Superman. The movie isn't due to hit screens until 2016, so until then, we'll have to focus on the video game world as the Bat gets a new car to appear in Batman: Arkham Knight.
Turn 10 Studios has announced that Forza Horizon, the free-wheeling, music-loving cousin of the Forza Motorsport series will get its first sequel and move on to the Xbox One. The new title should hit not only the X1, but also its predecessor, the Xbox 360, this fall.
We're usually pretty enthused every time Turn 10 Studios unveils another of its monthly car packs for Forza Motorsport 5. It means we'll have an entirely new batch of vehicles to play with when the work day finally ends, whether that means we race, tune, style or simply crash them. This latest car pack, though, the Meguiar's Car Pack, is arguably one of the most interesting that we've seen.
Project CARS is aiming to be the next great racing sim. Offering a mix of modern and classic cars on famous tracks, developer Slightly Mad Studios is trying to inject a fresh energy into the genre, and at the moment its game looks ready to take on Forza and Gran Turismo.
We had our first taste of the upcoming Mad Max title for PS4 and Xbox One at E3 last year, and are happy to report that the dystopian driving title seems to be making good progress. To wit, the Avalanche Studios/Warner Brothers epic has just received a new trailer today, featuring the game's movie-star car: Magnum Opus.
If you haven't taken the plunge into next-generation console racing yet, we can't recommend it highly enough. We were all but totally smitten when we got our first chance to play and review Forza Motorsport 5 this past fall, and still see the title as the crown jewel of the current lineup of Xbox One games. (Though admittedly we're biased about, you know, car games.)
One of the primary knocks against Forza Motorsport 5 has been its rather weak roster of tracks. Not having the Nürburgring was bad enough, but FM5 was missing out on a lot of real-life tracks that featured in previous installments - Mugello, Infineon, Tsukuba and Suzuka, to name a few. Also missing? Road America.
A Powerful First Salvo In The Next Generation Of Racing Games
Given time to write and unlimited reader patience, I'm sure I could create a raw list of hundreds of good reasons to buy Forza Motorsport 5, the newest title in the storied Forza franchise. But, for those of you interested in cutting to the chase, let me lead off with the top two:
Oh, dear. It seems Forza Motorsport 5's publishers, Turn 10 Studios, have just kicked an own goal in the ongoing battle between the XBox One exclusive and its Sony Playstation rival, Gran Turismo 6. It's come to light that FM5 will make do with a mere 200 cars and just 14 tracks when it hits shelves on November 22. That's 300 fewer cars and nearly half as many circuits as Forza Motorsport 4, while GT6 comes out swinging with six times as many cars and 39 tracks.