To “GT” or not to “GT” is fast becoming the question among many a Forza3 driver now that GT5’s release is a certainty. Obviously you need a PS3 to begin with, and this is said to be the highest hurdle to overcome for those who have invested heavily with the Xbox360 and Xbox Live. For many the cost is just too high, even though the cost of a PS3 has dropped to a slimmer $299.00 price point. The free Sony PS3 on-line feature is great, but has never flourished like Microsoft’s $50.00 per year Xbox Live community. For these reasons and a few others, many of the Forza faithful have no plans or intentions of switching over just because of one outstanding sim-racing game.
Still, the allure is attractive. Forza3 is well past its prime as video games go, and had its problems right out of the gate to be honest. It failed to live up to its own hype just as many games do, but perhaps even more so considering the reasonable expectations of the fans. Add to this a few management mis-steps in PR, and, the general feeling of betrayal Forza followers felt when key features and elements were deleted without satisfactory explanation, and what you get is a mass exodus. The anti-“Turn 10” sentiment was shared by most, even if they didn’t stop playing the game.
Forza3 has its admirers, but most agree there is lifelessness to the game. No one can quite put their finger on it, but the word ‘sterility’ comes to mind more than any other. Were in not for Xbox Live, and the on-line friendships that have been forged, Forza3 would have been completely abandoned by now. But abandoned for what? What other console racer can compete with Turn10’s Forza franchise? None, until now.
Polyphony’s GT5 is launching at about the best possible time, and will inject some serious life into console simulation racing at a time when the genre is sagging like a flat tire. Polyphony, make no mistake, has taken some detailed notes about the competition, and what the fans wanted.
Many of the key features lost in successive iterations of Forza are returning in GT5. Coincidence? Not likely. Rather than fight the faithful, and cater to the masses, Polyphony has (it appears) listened to the fans first, and used this information to build a near mythic reputation that then attracts the masses. The idiotic delays GT5 has had, has at this point only served to magnify the mystery of the game. And everyone likes a good mystery.
So, what can a burned out hardcore Forza fan expect from GT5, if he has the money to make the switch? An entirely new and different driving experience. Physics will be entirely different, not worse, not even better perhaps, but just different. Just as it was when Gran Turismo fans sampled Forza1, it took some getting used to, and it will be the same for GT5. It will be an acquired taste, and once you grasp the new feel, it will seem very natural, and even more correct than ever before.
The graphics and audio are already known to be a big step up, helping to block out any hints of inanimate sterility. The peripherals such as steering wheels are of a higher more robust quality, and are not likely to fail after a few months like the Microsoft wheel for Forza did. There will be more cars to pick from, more types of racing, and more cars on the tracks to race against. You’ll have full control over public lobbies, and a way to organize car clubs in the game itself.
Will all this and more be enough to win over Forza fanatics? No, but will it be enough to win over simulation racing fanatics looking for a high octane experience and breath of fresh burnt rubber? You can bet your Xbox360 on that.