I picked up Forza 5 in a recent sale after being greatly impressed by Forza Horizon 2. I didn’t shell out for the newer Forza 6, because while I like racing games, I don’t like them enough to pony up a large sum of money for them. They’re a smaller scale diversion for me, especially considering the growing issue I’ve had for them since last generation, which is their attachment to annoying DLC and microtransactions. It’s rare to pick up a mainstream racing game without these creeping into the whole structure and UI of a game, so that even the ones I love end up leaving a bad taste in my mouth. I can understand it to an extent, but that’s why I can never get truly, 100% into them, as much as I enjoy them — they will always be offputting in that regard.
(This is Week 7 of my gaming diary I guess?)
Forza 5 is even more offputting than usual thanks to its heavy handed tie in with the as-of-then cast of Top Gear. It’s the only racing game I’ve played to feature unskippable Jeremy Clarkson cutscenes, which might make it one of the most horrifying games I’ve ever played. By the time I got to actually racing I was already pretty scarred by the experience. It’s opening was much less elegant than the late Forza Horizon 2, which is always a danger jumping back in a series. I’ve always appreciated the Forza series since picking up Forza 2 along with my Xbox 360 shortly after getting it, and I can say without much of a doubt the series has always given Xbox a leg up when it comes to racing exclusives in my mind. While Forza 5‘s structure carries its own appeal, I was wrong to think I could love it rather than just like it after Forza Horizon 2.
I also played more Forza Horizon 2 this week as well, mainly to calm myself down after Forza 5. It’s still a great game, and one I can happily sink time into whether it be five to ten minutes, or sitting down for a longer session. It brings back a lot of the excitement I felt with Burnout Paradise, and it has a similar though somewhat broader structure. It’s also more heavy handed with the DLC and microtransaction stuff, though times have moved on since Burnout Paradise, and even that one was a bit of an offender. Nearly every other loading screen in Forza Horizon 2 is an advertisement for the gloomy Storm Island DLC. But there seems to be more than enough content in the base game to keep me occupied for as long as Forza Horizon 2 will hold my interest, and that’s kind of great on its own.
Even quite recently I once said to someone else in the games industry that I didn’t really like racing games. Even at that time it was probably a false statement. I wouldn’t consider myself a fan, but I always enjoy them, and have for years — from the retro days of Road Rash and Mega Drive F1 games, to that one PSOne motobrike game (was that also Road Rash?), Gran Turismo, and Driver and Driver 2. Metropolis Street Racer. Star Wars: Pod Racer. Midnight Club. Speed Devils. Driver San Francisco. Forza 2. Burnout Paradise.The constant drumbeat of Kart racer like Mario Kart, or one of the Crash Bandicoot ones. And that’s just scratching the surface. Yet I told this guy I didn’t like racing games?
Maybe it’s because I’m not a devotee. The hardcore simulation games interest me but quickly put me off. Or maybe it is this culture of microtransactions and DLC that’s been kneaded into them over the last couple of console generations. After all, on some level, if I feel like I’m not plugged into all the content and unlockables through those systems, it feels like I’m not getting the whole game. And if I’m not getting the whole game, can I really say I like racing games? I should, but I feel false, in a way.
I also started play the Vita version of Atelier Rorona Plus, after only briefly dabbling in the PS3 version of the game before. I’m happy to report I’ve been getting into a lot more than I did before, and it’s a great game to boot up and toy around with — the Atelier structure is perfect on a handheld. Compared to something like Dead Rising where the time limit is stressful, I’m really appreciating the way the time system works with the overall structure in this one, though this may be something to think on more for next week, as I’d like to play it some more and I also realise I’ve written possibly a stupid amount about racing games, and not even new ones at that. Maybe I should be writing columns instead of game diaries?