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Comparing FM6 to Previous Series Titles

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We said before that some wise man once said that comparisons are odious at best and that is still true today -- but another wise man also said you can't know where you are if you don't have an awareness of where you have been! True that.

Where we have been in the Forza series will be clear to the Faithful who have been here from the start - this part of the guide is not for them. This is for the folks who are use now arriving, because while the journey has great potential to reveal in its up-sights the sort of information that can permit a far keener appreciation for what we have -- that is only true if you have taken the journey.

So join us now as we walk you along the path that others have raced through, so that you arrive at FM6 with at least an equal footing with your veteran brothers - and sisters - of Forza and the Forza Faithful.

Forza Motorsport - May 2005

In the beginning the video game console world was divided: Atari, Nintendo, Sega, and a dozen smaller players -- including three small companies owned by Sony -- who would eventually be joined by NeoGeo, NEC, and finally Sony itself under its own name.

The round dozen smaller players battled with each other for a foothold among the second tier of players, but the main force in the world of console gaming all the way up to October 2001 consisted of Nintendo, Sega, and Sony -- three major players and a dozen smaller ones, with the former wielding significant control over the industry and publishers, while the latter never really amounted to much except on a regional level.

That all changed in November of 2001 with the North American launch of Microsoft's new games platform, a large slab of a game system called the Xbox.

When the Xbox arrived that November, despite the serious weight Microsoft put behind it, it was initially classed among the second tier of platforms, mostly because it lacked the full support of major game studios - but that would quickly change.

It was correctly viewed as the new kid on the block to be sure, but a lot of the players in the industry -- most notably Sony -- failed to recognize just how genuine a threat the Xbox posed, and why.

The source of the danger the Xbox brought to the industry was not that it was a new platform that would further divide the pie, or that it arrived at a very opportune time, with Sony, Sega, and Nintendo the three weakened survivors of what had been a very serious fight for market share that had only resolved the previous summer.

2013 Abarth Punto SuperSport
2013 Abarth Punto SuperSport

The true threat that the Xbox posed went completely undiscovered for months and, in fact, it was not until the platform finally arrived in Asia in late February 2002 (and in Europe the following month) that companies like Sony finally understood that they now faced a new sort of struggle -- a battle they were ill equipped to fight: they faced a games console that was itself built around a gaming experience.

Up until the launch of the Xbox console, gaming was defined by a common experience: you plugged your games platform into your TV, you plugged it into the electrical outlet, you attached the controller, and then you put a game in and turned it on.

Mark that sequence carefully mates - once the device was set up, you first put in a game and only then you turned it on. The platform would begin the boot process, self-check its circuits and components and only then access the game that was inserted -- be that a cartridge or a disc -- and begin loading the game.

For all practical purposes the identity of the platform came down to the logo and name either printed on the outside or, more likely, on a badge that was affixed to the outside -- because by itself and with no game loaded into it, consoles had about the level or personality of a brick.

The launch of Microsoft's Xbox changed all that.

It changed all that because Microsoft never intended to enter the console market strictly as a console.

The Xbox LIVE service that we know today was always intended to be part of Microsoft's reality -- the intentional creation of the combination of a gaming platform experience both as an entity and socially, with an emphasis upon identity.

The Rewards for playing the previous series titles are substantial...

By the time both Sony and Nintendo fully understood what it was they were facing, the damage was done.

Only Sony acted decisively in responding to this new threat -- creating its PlayStation Network to be deployed with their next gen console, the PlayStation 3, but by the time it arrived Sony found itself trapped into a defensive posture.

While Sony was spending the lion's share of its efforts on expanding its PlayStation Network with the serious intentions of outdoing LIVE -- and while its attention was diverted to doing this, Microsoft began to attack other strong points that Sony had enjoyed unchallenged, and for so long, that Sony simply did not see this new threat coming until it was far too late to stop.

The first foundation point Microsoft targeted was the Auto-Racing Simulation gaming genre -- not the arcade style racing game mind you, as those were a dime-a-dozen with practically every major game studio at one time or another having issued a few arcade style racers so that nobody took the genre seriously.

For nearly ten years Sony's Gran Turismo series dominated racing simulation. It was one of Sony's major success stories.

There was no competition -- if you wanted to simulate professional auto-racing on lifelike tracks laid down as faithful copies of the real-world venues, your only choice was the GT series, and Sony essentially owned the genre.

While Sony was focusing on catching up with Microsoft and its online social network, Microsoft released a new game called Forza Motorsport and proceeded to blindside Sony yet again!

Sony not only failed to see the move coming, but had no reaction -- official or otherwise -- ready.

The reaction of the gamer community and the GT fan-base appeared to suggest that, thanks to the over-the-top posturing in Microsoft's pre-release promotional activities, the GT community felt confident that there was nothing to fear.

After all Sony owned the genre. Any real competition would simply be incredibly expensive to stage, would require an outlay of development costs -- including the digitization of The Tracks and the interpretation of literally every system on a car from tyres to the engine, and ultimately the physics of racing...

Logically there should be nothing to fear because nobody -- and especially not some tiny little game development studio with a silly name like Turn 10 -- would dare bring that fight into Sony's backyard. Right?

What they did not factor was that Turn 10 had a partner called Microsoft. A partner with very deep pockets and a willingness to spend money because, from its point of view, there was far more at stake here than simply adding a new genre to its game catalog.

Microsoft's reaction to the contempt that the community showed began with a very serious series of regionally localized promotional events targeting gamers and, specifically, fans of the genre, and then switched to carefully targeted press events that were intended to woo and influence games journos falling just short of crossing the line that would violate the moral codes followed by most of the by then reformed games press.

When the game finally materialized on launch day, it turned out to be a serious take on racing simulation and, what was worse, it was a very good very accurate and realistic take on the genre that quickly won support from a segment of what were previously GT fans who were now what was to become known later as the Forza Faithful.

You cannot really blame them either - after all they were not PlayStation fans, they were racing sim fans, and from their point of view Forza Motorsport came to the table with an impressive array of 230 very well engineered and interpreted cars from 60 modern automobile manufacturers!

Add to that a mixture of real-world tracks spanning what was at the time a faithful representation of the world of the Professional Racing circuits -- racing venues that were implemented with at least the level of realism and accuracy offered by the GT series -- with some of The Tracks actually exceeding the realism and interpretation levels then offered by Gran Turismo.

2001 Acura Integra Type-R
2001 Acura Integra Type-R

What you end up with then is, in very simple terms and every respect, a racing simulation fan's wet dream.

Adding insult to injury, many of the courses were actually far better than The Tracks in the GT series, and when you stopped to consider that this game was basically Microsoft's freshman entry into the genre, you should find it rather easy to understand how the racing sim community began to build great expectations for the game that would follow Forza Motorsport as its sequel.

This new Forza game brought to the table a number of impressive and innovative new features that essentially allowed any gamer no matter what their skill level was, the means to competitively bring their game to The Tracks, using cars that the game itself helped them to tune and configure.

Thanks to the glowing suggestion line laid down on the very track surface -- a driving aid that acts as a dynamic tutor demonstrating precisely where the player needs to position their car, as well as how much gas or brake pressure to apply, how to enter, traverse, and exit from any corner on a track, offering an ingenious and effective tutor for those new to driving games as well as for experienced players!

While Sony was not beaten and there was no decisive victory to declare, the best that the former King of Consoles could manage was to fight Microsoft to a draw similar to the resolution of the Korean conflict -- with gamer living rooms divided by a DMZ called Nintendo, while Microsoft emerged from its first pitched battle having carved out roughly HALF of the market as its share, with Sony only just able to retain the other half!

What was even more shocking to Sony was the fact that, once Microsoft had obtained that market share, like a pit bull dog that has firmly latched onto a leg, Microsoft was not going to be beaten back, refusing to give up an inch of its hard-won share.

Forza Motorsport 2 -- May 2007

Following so quickly upon the heels of the game that established the series -- 2005s Forza Motorsport -- gamers and fans of the racing simulation genre had no way to know that a two-year development cycle would become normal for this new auto-racing simulation series.

Because it was an unknown quantity and, perhaps as well due to the startling success that the first game had enjoyed, there were more than a few fans of the game fearful that it would crash and burn with this sequel, that game studio Turn 10 was calling Forza Motorsport 2.

At the time of FM2's release on 24 May 2007 it was already dealing with incredible competition for gamer attention from the hot games of the previous Christmas season plus the games of the new season, including the PS exclusive title God of War 2 (March), and even as it grabbed its own share of that attention it was constantly being interrupted by new games being released.

The interruption began in earnest with BioShock (August), then Halo 3 (September), and finally the widely anticipated title The Orange Box in October, but it was the month of November that truly crushed any game looking for gamer hands and eyes.

The month of November 2007 was destined to mark a banner year for major game releases and they arrived as a series not unlike the ordered firing of a battleship exercising its great guns; one after the other, exploding onto the gaming scene in a pure and impressive rolling rate of fire called November:

Burnout, COD4: Modern Warfare, Mass Effect, Project Gotham Racing, Rock Band, and Super Mario Galaxy, so is it any wonder that the gaming community was fractured? The month of November must have been a nightmare for games PRs whose job it was to promote their charges.

Its release on the new Xbox 360 platform likely helped to attract new fans to the series, and the new Gamerscore-focused Achievement System and its incredible draw that set the gaming world afire with new enthusiasm probably contributed in no small way... But FM2 ended up finishing the year with a very sizable margin of popularity despite the stiff competition!

The technical side of the game was improved by the new performance index scheme, and the return of the different assists that helped to level the playing field that were established in the original game once again helped to make FM2 accessible to all levels of driver skill, all of which goes a long way towards explaining its popularity with gamers, and its massive award wins for the 2007 gaming year!

2014 Alfa Romeo 4C
2014 Alfa Romeo 4C

Forza Motorsport 3 -- October 2009

The most recent Gran Turismo gave Forza a run for comparison but, of course, as the two games are forever separated by their exclusive platforms, there never can be a head-to-head competition, right?

While on the one hand the comment “more of the same” is true enough, the fact that FM3 continues the tradition of making the game accessible to every range of driver skills continues to secure the position of the best auto-racing simulation game ever.

The big news for FM3 -- and what sets it apart from the previous two games -- is the efforts that were made by Turn 10 to improve the world of auto-racing simulation by working with the various support industries in order to better model and translate the physics of driving to make the game as accurate and meaningful as a simulation.

Turn 10 started with tires - sounds strange right?

The engineers at the studio went to the tire companies and, using proprietary data completely remodeled the physics of the tires that are used in the game -- tires arguably being among the most obvious “feel” effects for racing.

A large chunk of the final year of development was spent working with the car manufacturers in order to present as accurate as possible the physics and the driving experience for each car - and it shows.

This contribution to the game is far more evident when you switch between cars from race to race, and it only takes racing a variety of different cars on the same track to start to appreciate how each has its own unique feel and performance characteristics.

The engineers at Turn 10 are searching for the perfect racing experience, and based upon the very obvious improvements between FM3 and the two games that came before it, they are getting closer to achieving that perfection.

Forza Motorsport 4 -- October 2011

The initial reaction of the Forza Faithful to FM4 might understandably lean towards wondering just what direction the game went into considering that it features much the same track list as the previous game - but then once they get out onto The Tracks the differences between their substance in FM3 and in this newest title in the series becomes very obvious - considerable effort has been made to improve the interpretation of these real-world venues!

Game play in the previous title offers rewards in the newest in the form of certain cars and a bundle of credits that transfer forward into the new game, which is something to write home about...

Once the strong feelings of deja vu are exhausted however, the new features begin to poke through the fabric of the game: the basic racing structure and theme of the game has changed for the better.

In place of the rigid and organized racing structure of FM3 we now have what is described as the Forza World Tour in FM4, and it certainly makes racing more interesting if not more challenging, throwing the player into a constantly changing selection of cars.

Reward cars are presented as a choice rather than the chosen for you approach of FM3 -- but care must be taken in the making of the choice with each new Driver Level gained!

This is where a solid knowledge for the many different makes and models of cars will give the moterhead a decided advantage over the casual racer -- as it really is a head-smack to discover that you chose a 25,000 credit reward car when one of the other choices turns out to be a six-figure ride!

All in all while most of the improvements to FM4 came in the form of game play style, there was still plenty of environmental and physics changes to render judgment of FM4 as the worthy successor of FM3... Just saying.

2011 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde
2011 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde

Forza Horizon -- October 2012

To say that Horizon was an unexpected bonus is to flirt with gross understatement - but there was plenty of prior notice in terms of what we could expect in this Not-a-Sequel of a game. Horizon was just the sort of real-world take on Forza that the Faithful have hoped for.

The racing situation finds you winning a wristband for a music-themed mountain-laced road racing festival in which you take your cars off of the regulation tracks and onto the highways, the byways, and the city streets and whoa doesn't THAT get you excited?!

The story that plays out in Horizon -- and there IS a story here -- is that of the average Joe Racer who battles against the odds and a pack of what we can only describe as professional racers, both to win fortune and fame, and of course to make a name for yourself.

Along the way you pick up a collection of cars ranging from classics to modern day beauties, mostly by purchasing them with your hard won credits - but do not ignore the “Barn Finds” that you hear about on the radio and that your personal mechanic buddy will whip into shape for you - the modern day saga of forgotten steel that you can turn into a winning ride.

Horizon finally brings a story-mode campaign to the Forza series, but it also leverages everything about the series to offer players a unique experience with just the right amount of mystery to it. It is certainly a great way to occupy the year while we awaited the release of the next proper game in the main series!

Forza Motorsport 5 -- November 2013

What it turned out to be - in a nutshell - was a sequel packed with controversy (though that was clearly not the intention of Turn 10) presenting the Faithful with a smaller selection of racing environments -- including tracks refined to a polish so that they gleam.

Add to that a more intimate collection of cars -- one that offers an increased sense of realism where we honestly did not believe there was room for improvement - and the justification line is drawn invisible.

Whether the massive leap forward in the realistic presentation of the look and feel of the cars that make up the stable in FM5 is the product of its appearance on the next generation of game console or the culmination of the previously established tradition of improvements that come with each new title in the series, either way it is the Forza Faithful who benefit.

2007 Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione
2007 Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione

Released on 22 November 2013 as an Xbox One launch title, the game spoke with a voice in the auto-racing simulation genre that it shares with competitor the PlayStation's Gran Turismo, as both games are exclusive to their respective platforms.

The decision to ask Turn 10 to make the game available as a launch title is not really a surprise, especially considering the special relationship that Turn 10 enjoys with Microsoft.

When the game was first revealed on 21 May 2013 at the Xbox One Reveal Event, it was a significantly anticipated revelation and both Microsoft and Turn 10 well understood why that was so.

That it added to the impact, the game being part of the Launch Lineup, is beyond question, but the truth is that the true significance of the announcement and reveal had a lot more to do with the fact that the pair were announcing the next title in the celebrated Forza Motorsport series.

To the Forza Faithful that was a far more significant and important element and, even if it meant that they would need to purchase a brand new next generation console to play it, they were going to be there and do that.

The teaser trailer for the game featured an orange McLaren P1 racing a silver McLaren F1 -- which if you are a racer needs no explanation in terms of impact. If not, well, think of it as if a ton of catnip had been scattered across a warm and sunny meadow filled with cats. We're just saying.

Forza Motorsports has always been about the cars and The Tracks -- anything else is purely incidental.

That is not to say that the follow-on announcements about the different versions of the game that would be offered at retail were not important, or the return of the Forza VIP program, but that information was second to details like the cars that would make up the stable in the game at release, and which racing venues would be featured.

Late in the product promotion cycle news was leaked that the stable in FM5 would be considerably smaller than anticipated -- and that only a handful of tracks had been fully digitally rendered and thus would be fit for inclusion in the game by launch date.

This was stunning information that the vast majority of Forza fans doubted. That doubt was born of the simple desire for it not to be true, but to their credit when it turned out to be absolutely true, the only question that was being asked was how long would it be before “the rest of the cars and tracks” were added.

1968 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale
1968 Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale

It is interesting to note that, while many fans did not like the news that the cars and tracks would be a far more intimate list than expected, there did not appear to be any doubt that the matter would be adjusted.

Since the release of Forza Motorsport 5 in November of 2013, a fairly aggressive DLC-focused schedule of additions was added to the game. Many of the track and car expansions were free to players, while packaged car experiences were paid content.

With its new racing circuit focus, a streamlined Achievements set, and the encouraging word from Turn 10 that much more was in the works, FM5 turned out to be both a worthy successor to the previous titles in the series and proof that an old dog could indeed learn new tricks!

Forza Horizon 2 -- September 2014

Once again presenting the Forza Faithful with a mid-release release to the main series, the sequel to the game that brought road-rally racing to the Forza series appeared as a re-imagining. Specifically FH2 arrived not as a copy of the previous game, but set in an entirely new venue - Europe - and offering an entirely new game play experience.

Perhaps the most significant difference between the first game that established this new off-shoot series and the sequel was the dynamic approach taken by the wizards who created it. In place of the stand-alone game that was Forza Horizon, we now had a sequel that was created with expansion content in mind - and not just car packs mind you!

What Forza Horizon 2 brought to the table was a game that offered a full game play racing adventure to the player, while at the same time, and through the well-established concepts of content expansion and DLC, included a neat trick of its own in the form of its own off-shoot game that celebrated the Fast & Furious IP.

It is important to note that in addition to serving as an in-series game title to provide the Faithful with something new to play while they eagerly awaited the next offering in the main series, FH2 also served a dual role in expanding the franchise to rally racing as well as a fully supported and expanding story all of its own.

That it arrived in two versions - one for the newest gen console the Xbox One, and a second slightly stripped-down version for the previous gen (but still viable) Xbox 360 was to its credit. The decision to release two versions of the game certainly endeared Turn 10 to the Faithful who had yet to make the jump to the Xbox One.

A Final Analysis

We now arrive at FM6 and its contribution to the series.

The notion that many gamers who are not so enamored with the racing genre ask the question - why do you keep making new racing games in this series? - is a notion that Turn 10 and Microsoft are actually both aware of and in touch with.

It is a question that deserves an answer - and it is a question that has long remained unanswered at least in official terms, by the game. Until now.

The opening CS for FM6 not only takes the bull by its horns, but goes a lot farther than just saying “Because” - which by the way is actually a legitimate answer. Because we can. Because we want to. Those are both acceptable. But they are not the answer that the game gives.

That answer is down to human nature. It is the expression of the competitive nature that quite literally drives us as a species. In eras past that same impetus took different often more violent forms. For example in the middle ages that competitive spirit ended up fomenting a tourney system for armored knights that was every bit as complex, rule-rich, and formal as the circuit racing sport that takes its place today.

Sure, it is dangerous. That is part of the point. But it also allows a select group of men and women who are equipped with a special set of instinct and skill to show off their abilities within the bubble of that dangerous sport and THAT my friends, is the answer you are looking for.

It also happens to be the answer that the CS gives. Though not in so many words. Rather, in pictures.

The final analysis of what places FM6 in line as the next - and worthy - successor to the series is partly answered by that Introduction - and partly answered by a brief review of its new features and those that it carried forward.

We don't have to tell you to get excited for this newest Forza, because you already are. What we do have to tell you though is this: your excitement is justified. And that is all we need to say about that.

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