If there’s one thing I love more than Nathan Drake and pretending I’m Commander Shepard, it’s cars. Automobiles are art and beauty in themselves. Luckily for us gamers who also love cars, there are racing games! They aren’t always good, though, and often times defy the laws of physics or have nonsensical mechanics.
Fortunately, at this year’s E3, I got hands-on time with numerous next-generation racing games. As such, this X-List is dedicated to the year’s most hyped PS4 and Xbox One racers (I recommend checking out those links if you want to know what type of horsepower the new consoles are a-packin’). Some of the next-gen racers were good, some of the next-gen racers were decent, and one…one I didn’t enjoy at all.
Ladies and gentlemen: Start your engines.
Forza Motorsport 5
If you read our racing roundtable from last year, you’ll remember that I stated that Forza 4 is the greatest racer of all time; here’s hoping that Forza 5 takes that title. Forza 5 is running on an all-new engine that enhances graphics, improves sounds, and introduces the really creepy “Driveatar” to enhance AI. The new installment of the series is also takes advantage of the new Xbox One controller, with force feedback in both triggers. This pleases the Car God.
The short demo I played, with its tunnels and tight corners, perfectly showcased the capabilities of the McLaren P1, the successor to the legendary McLaren F1. As you drive through tunnels, the sound emanating from the vehicle’s exhaust pipe muffles and goes up in volume. As the sun hits the car, lens flare fill the screen.. Forza 5 is the most beautiful racer to date, no doubt.
Being the Top Gear nut I am, I asked the demo representative about the infamous trio’s involvement in Forza 5. I’m pleased to inform the internet that the crew will be even more involved in this installment than the last. First and foremost, every single car is viewable in Vista mode. In Forza 4, Jeremy Clarkson did the majority of the narrating, with Richard Hammond and James May doing the occasional narration.
Aside from receiving support from our British friends at Top Gear, there’s full support from our also-British-friends at McLaren. “Microsoft and McLaren are both going to benefit from this,” said a Microsoft representative. We’re getting the marketing from McLaren, and McLaren is getting the advertising from us. We’re very fortunate to have teamed up with them.”
The “Driveatar” is actually much more advanced than I thought it would be. As you play, the Driveatar picks up all of your data and uploads it to the cloud. It analyzes your patterns and tactics (cutting corners, driving dirty, etc), stores it, and updates it when new information becomes available. When you’re playing a single-player game, it will actually feel like a multiplayer game, as Driveatars from others are placed into your racing sessions. As you change stages, or difficulties, the Driveatars cycle, giving you a fresh experience every time. If you want to see how your Driveatar did against others, you can watch footage, and receive in game currency as well.
Forza 5 will be available this November at launch with the Xbox One.
Gran Turismo 6 [Note: it was brought to our attention that GT6 is indeed a PS3-only game at the moment (Thanks, Rob!). A PS4 version is being considered. This hands-on may contain elements of what you may see in a PS4 GT6.]
Much like Gran Turismo 5, GT6 is incredibly realistic. The most realistic part, from a consumer standpoint, is the sense of speed. When you’re driving in a car, on an empty road, your sense is speed is altered. Without looking at the speedometer or objects directly next to you, you can’t really tell how fast you’re going. Gran Turismo 6 does a great job of capturing true sense of speed; I kept fish-tailing and crashing because I was taking corners at 80mph…just as I would in real life. This is where Forza lacks in terms of realistic mechanics: Gran Turismo 6 is close as you can get to driving in the real world.
Gran Turismo 6 has a few new features, too. Not only can you import Gran Turismo 5‘s entire car library, but there will be added vehicles (historic, current, race cars, you name it!) that will bring the total to 1,200 cars at launch — with the possibility of even more to come via DLC. There will be seven new tracks and nineteen new layouts, as well.
Sony is partnering with Nissan to launch the Gran Turismo Academy, a series of projects that will “blur the line between the virtual and real, will be announced in the run up to the game’s launch.” GT6’s development team partnered with Yokohama (tire manufacturer) and KW Automotive (makes of some of the best coilovers on the market). What does this mean? Gran Turismo 6 will feel even more realistic. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have a cargasm.
Gran Turismo 6 is slated for a PS3 holiday release, and (hopefully) coming to PS4 as well.
Brief DriveClub footage was shown during Sony’s PS4 E3 announcement. It wasn’t actual gameplay footage, but I did get excited, nonetheless. Anything that tickles my car fancy piques my interests. But hype is not enough. I have to touch racers, feel them.
I’m glad I got to play this one before jumping the gun.
The first thing that’s worth mentioning: DriveClub is running at 30fps on a next-gen console. With next-gen developers ultimately targeting 60fps, it’s odd that Evolution Studios chose to go with 30fps. Although not the final build, DriveClub‘s graphics were PS3-launch grade. If that.
The mechanics and physics were ass-backwards, sense and speed accountability weren’t present, tires didn’t have the appropriate grips for straight-aways or drifts, and I flipped over the car at 40mph by grazing the median. Of all the E3 racers I’d played, DriveClub felt the most unpolished.
DriveClub, however, excels in building community. When I sat down at the demo booth, a PlayStation Eye took my picture and placed my image on leaderboards and in challenges. I’d come around a tight corner, and there’d be a drift challenge; I’d have to drift around a corner and accumulate points to beat the other team. The results were instantly posted on the leaderboard upon completion. There seemed to be two factions, as well, and you were automatically put on one or the other. What the factions were, and how the point system worked was completely unknown–there wasn’t much information given at the booth; Seemed like a lot was hush-hush.
I’m willing to give it another chance. I think Evolution Studios can make a lot of improvements between now and launch, and a good Grid or Need for Speed competitor could come out of it.
DriveClub is slated for a PS4 launch release.
Need for Speed: Rivals
The last Need for Speed game I thoroughly enjoyed was the GameCube’s Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2. I definitely outgrew the series. The games, at that point in time, were too over-the-top and ridiculous, leaving the enthusiast in me with zero interest. EA’s presentation of Need for Speed: Rivals, however, had my interest.
Need for Speed: Rivals, set to appear on current- and next-generation systems, brings a new element to multiplayer racing. The game is very involved. The way I played was with another rival, and someone assisting with a tablet. As you’re driving a Ferrari, another player chases you as a police officer. You race through an open world as the person on the tablet calls in reinforcements. This person can call in helicopters, spikes, and other elements designed to stop you. This keeps the multiplayer a fresh, original experience.
Unfortunately, the mechanics were a big mess. I have driven quite fast in the rain and lost control, but the way Rivals plays it out is far-from realistic. The cars lost control easily, flipped easily, and had a far from realistic sense of acceleration and deceleration. Everything was overly shiny. Like EA was trying to say, “look how shiny we can make this! Look at all the layers and the rendering! LOOK AT THE LIGHTS!” It was more annoying than attractive.
Need for Speed: Rivals quickly lost my interest.
Need for Speed: Rivals will be available this November on PS4 and Xbox One (as well as PC, Xbox 360, PS3).