3rd January 2011 - Any of you dedicated All Age Gaming readers out there are sure to remember last years massive comparison article on the then-upcoming Forza 3 and Gran Turismo 5 racing simulators. Both are huge exclusive titles for the two major core gaming consoles on todays markets, Xbox 360 and PS3 respectively. Well back then, my writings were only speculation and guesses made from the pre-launch trailers and interviews. But now, a year on, and after a few too many Gran Turismo 5 delays, both games have seen the light of day. Both games have been subject to the harsh criticisms of the high standard gaming communities, and both have been enjoyed and played around the world.
But now, seeing as both are out in the wild, what do they actually bring to the table and deliver to each of their respective consoles? Were my previous ramblings and writings correct? Which should you spend your hard earned money on? And which is, for the ultimate question - the true driving simulator? Read on for my definitive answer…
What does Metacritic say?
The Metacritic scores based on the many ratings Metacritic gathers and weighs up to give a global average of sorts, with more respected and trusted critics being given higher reign. Their scores are widely used as the definitive ratings that many gamers trust and rely upon.
The Metascore for Forza 3 sits at an impressive 92*, one of the highest of this generation on any console. It is made up of 90 Critic reviews, all of which sit high in the ‘Positive’ spectrum of things (80-100/100) This is opposed to the Metascore of Gran Turismo 5, which only sits at a - still high - 84*, made up of 62 Critic reviews - 52 In the ‘Positive‘ spectrum, with the remainder sitting neatly under ‘Mixed‘. Compared to previous Gran Turismo titles, which go as high as 96, 95, and 93, this is a pretty significant drop for the series title that’s been in the workings for longer than any other.
What I said then - and what I say now
I used what I call the 5 ‘C’s to compare the unreleased versions of both games in my previous article. They are; Cars, Customisation, Courses, Community and Conclusion. With both games now released, I can now use the factual evidence of each release to revisit and revise not only what I predicted pre-release, but the definitive features such as gameplay and graphics which one must truly see for himself to comprehend. For the purpose of this article, I spent a great deal of time playing each game side-by-side and attempting to get a feel for every aspect of the games, from physics, damage engines (via some rather meaty collisions), to car handling and ‘Simulation’ credibility.
Then: “Although 400 cars is an amazing feat worthy of the utmost respect, Gran Turismo gives over double that amount. And although we are yet to see if GT's cars will be as detailed and realistic as Forza's, given the entire back catalogue of Gran Turismo games, we are sure they will hold the torch next to Forza. The winner here? Gran Turismo 5 for giving players unparalleled choices for what they can drive.”
Now: Well its true folks, GT 5 did more than just deliver on the expected amount of cars. Offering over a staggering 1000 vehicles to enjoy around the track, Gran Turismo 5 really does give players more choice than any other game can even dream of delivering. Even with the expansion sets, Forza is a long way off the 1k mark. But how do they look is the next question…
Looking at the games on the exact same television, set to the same HD settings and viewed with extreme precaution reveals that while GT5 obviously has the quantity, it also delivers the quality. That’s not to say Forza 3 has bad graphics. Oh no, far from it - aside from GT5, Forza still has the best looking cars ive seen in a racing game. Its just that is GT5, the detail in the little things really shines through. For example, one of the more noticeable aspects of better design is the far more realistic environmental reflections that the in-game cars display in GT5 over Forza 3 [see Pic. 1]. But aside from the little things, it’s hard to honestly say either actually look better than the other, as both are of the utmost top quality visually.
New Cars Verdict: The winner here was, and still is, Gran Turismo 5. Not only does it offer such an amazing number of driveable vehicles, but they all looks damn good. Especially the ‘premium’ range, which are quite simply jaw-dropping.
Then: “Forza 3. In this day and age, to compete with the best, you really have to step up your game and add new features. So, unless GT5 has an extreme supply of customization options being kept under its hood, which is unlikely due to the series nature, Forza 3 is the pick of the litter here. Players will be able to create an infinite number of unique cars, and with Forza's extensive online community, players can auction off their cars and decals to the highest bidder, and even upload custom videos and pictures taken with the new video replay tools. No game has ever given so much, and Forza 3 looks to keep on giving with the community too.”
Now: I love a game with good customisation. It brings me deeper into the playing field with a strong sense of individualism and uniqueness. But I never really liked the type of personalisation like seen in the Need for Speed Underground games, such as making your car look like a Japanese-designed space ship or some sort of light beacon for aeroplanes. That’s why I took such solace in Forza - the games allowed highly detailed and deep customisation to your cars without the need to make it look like a teenagers wet dream. Forza 3 perfected this, with unparalleled customisation options for both what you see, and what does its work under the hood of the cars. You can change absolutely everything, and the livery editors are more advance than anything similar.
Gran Turismo 5 though, fails to uphold this. I, along with many other hopeful gamers, were expecting Sony to really bring the smack down the competition with a surprise amount of customisation and personalisation options, as the GT series have been criticized for their lack of such features from the start. And its even more important nowadays when even shooting games are allowing you to change the appearance of your game character to great extents. While GT 5 does allow some rather impressive customisation of the cars engine mechanics, it lacks a lot - most of - the options Forza 3 offers with its customisation. There are premium cars though, which offer a great deal of customisation that practically rivals Forza 3, and the new interior design options are a great addition.
New Customisation Verdict: All up, with the amount of Gran Turismo 5 does lack, and the rather small number of cars (compared to the full amount, anyway) that allow a good deal of personalisation, Forza 3 still holds the torch higher than ever in this side of things due to the extreme nature of its decal and appearance customisations. This is taken further still and given much more meaning with the inclusion of Forza’s community features - see ‘Community,’ below.
Then: “Forza 3 is the definite winner of this section, as it will give players not only more tracks to race on, but also more unique circuits to create tracks on than Gran Turismo 5.”
Now: It seems the information we had pre-release for both GT5 and Forza 3 was slightly wrong, but still on the right track; I reported that Forza had a total of 50 Unique tracks with 100 variations, and that GT5 had 20 unique tracks with 80 variations. I can now report that that as a total at launch, Forza 3 featured 21 Unique Locations, with over 120 playable tracks, whilst GT5 features a slightly larger 27 locations, however falling short on a much lower 71 playable tracks.
My main problem here is that while the Forza 3 list not only features more playable variations of tracks, the majority of them are also redesigned areas of the tracks which include new road and racing areas. Further more, GT5 not only has quite a few less variations, but the majority of them are all just reversals and minis, rather than redesigned courses with unique roads and corners, furthering the lack of variation and complexity of Forza 3’s course design and offering. However, despite this all, I praise GT5 on its featuring of the acclaimed TopGear Test Track, which is a big thing for Forza 3 to miss out on, as most gear heads the worlds around will know and love TopGear and its titular testing track.
Likewise with the Cars section, I feel its very fair to compare not just the number of tracks available, but also the look of each. In what I think is actually quite surprising, GT5 fails at making there inferior course numbers look the part too, unlike what it accomplished with the Cars aspect. As displayed [Pics. 2 & 3] its easy to see the superior amount of detail that Forza 3 has over GT5 in the environmental and course graphical capabilities, as well as the detail that goes into dynamic skid marking and damage modelling (damage modelling not shown in pictures). In my opinion, this is a vital aspect to enjoying a racing simulation; you have to feel like you are really racing these tracks to get the full enjoyment aspect of it, and the best way to do this is to make them look realistic.
New Courses Verdict: Not only does Forza 3 feature a greater number of course variations with greatly different racing parts, but for the most part, they look a lot better than the inferior number of playable courses available in GT5 due to a great number of detail and realism put into the environments and the smaller aspects.
Then: “Forza 3. A games community is what gives worth to its price tag, and what makes it worth coming back to time and time again. It’s no surprise that Forza 3 dominates Gran Turismo 5 in this section, as Forza 2 was very well respected for its online capabilities, and everyone knew that the next instalment would take this to even greater heights, and it has done just that.”
Now: This is the most even playing field in this comparison. I’m a big supporter and demander of a good online community, and by that I don’t just mean numbers. I want something more than just a thick leg of competition; I want some features which get me involved, which have me feeling part of something bigger. In short, I want the racing-game equivalent of the Halo community. And both Forza 3 and Gran Turismo 5 offer me something that tickles my fancies in more than one way.
For starters, GT5 knows how to put on a show. This is managed by the great 16 player races you can compete in with friends or random online gamers. This is double that which Forza offers you, and with some of the longer, more endurance-based races, this is magnificent fun with a full roster of great drivers.
Driver numbers aside though, and both still offer a great slew of community features. GT5’s main offender here is the unique web-based browser options that can really change things up online. It uses a very unique system in which players can set up special A.I. Drivers to race friends online on their behalf, using a complex set of options and variations to make the drivers their own. This is a great idea, and one im sure will be utilised by other series’ in the future for sure.
Forza on the other hand, doesn’t offer any kind of online robot-drivers to race for you. But what it does offer is pure genius in a way of getting player involved. As I said, I love to feel like a part of something, and Forza 3 manages that better than ever with the highly detailed online Auction house, which allows players to buy and sell any number of replays, cars, unique designs, tune setups, and more. It’s a great feature, and Forza is the only series that has successfully pulled off any thing of the sort on consoles.
Moving on though, both games do in fact have screenshot and replay modes. This is a dividing feature which fans of both will argue is better on this console/that console, etc., etc. But truth be told, neither are particularly feature-heavy or special when compared to something like what Call of Duty: Black Ops allows for. However, without venturing into another genre, I have to say that Forza 3 wins the replay comparison due to its highly impressive auction and community features which allow for voting, purchasing, and more to every replay a ‘director’ deems worthy of the online community.
New Community Verdict: It’s a hard choice here, as both games have great features to go by. But over all, I feel I have to side with Forza 3 as the victor here. I choose this because although the My Lounge, Remote Racing web-based features and larger online driver numbers which GT5 features are honestly impressive, they simply done compare in ability to get the community involved with one another and try new things, other peoples things, and browse the many numbers of great bargains and visual aspects available via Forza 3’s Auction house, which really give further leverage to most other great aspects of the game, such as Customisation.
It’s a tough thing to do to compare two of the generations biggest exclusive titles while staying at a neutral level to avoid immature fanboy-flaming and accusations of biased opinions. But with using some untouched comparison pictures, great detail and a good deal of explanation, I feel ive accomplished just that in this revision of my year-old Gran Turismo 5 vs. Forza 3 article. So without further adieu, here is my definitive conclusion of which racer really is superior after logging a great deal of playing hours with both Forza 3 and Gran Turismo 5, for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 respectively.
FORZA MOTORSPORTS 3: Last year I named this the definitive racing simulator for the current generation of gaming console, and now that I have played both titles through and through, I can happily say my predictions and forecasts of just what both titles had to offer was correct all along. Gran Turismo 5 really is a greatly impressive game, with an unprecedented amount of, and detailed drivable vehicles. But while GT5 allows you to drive everything but the kitchen sink, Forza 3 surpasses it in every other aspect; it features a greater number of tracks with more detail and variety, has more customisation to truly make your own game cars unique, which is complemented well with the best racing community in gaming - both feature-heavy and friendly.
So there you have it, two great racing games picked apart to see who's best. Why not let us know what you think about these two great racing simulators in our comments section below.
Article By John Elliott