80 miles an hour and rising… just past the 100 mile mark… now going at 130 miles an hour on a curve that doesn’t seem to accommodate my speed… and crash! I go over the rail, but just before I hit the ground at the bottom of the cliff, time freezes for a fraction of a second and my vehicle is brought back to a point in which I can adjust the speed to avoid my collision. This, and many other reasons are why I have fallen in love with racing games again.
You Never Forget Your First Time
The first racing game I remember enjoying was Excitebike which debuted as a launch title for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). This game involved racing around in a track in a motorcycle going up and down various ramps. Getting this game late in the NES era was an eye opener and it bloomed an interest in a sport genre in me for the very first time. However, this “simulation,” quickly became boring, as driving around in laps wasn’t necessarily appealing for an extended period of time.
A Friendly Neighbor
While I was enjoying the reveries that the NES offered, my next door neighbor was relishing his SEGA Genesis in all of its 16 bit glory. He extended his benevolence to me and told me that I could go after school to enjoy his games at his house whenever I wanted. True to his word, oft times I found myself gravitating to his home after dropping off my backpack at mine. Eventually, the day came when I discovered the genre known as a vehicular combat with the a now well-known game called Road Rash. Now this was a race I was willing to bet on. We took turns racing games and bashing as many motorcyclists as we could.
Not satisfied with just riding on motorcycles, when the opportunity came, I moved on to other games that redefined the genre. Although for many that would mean Twisted Metal, I was always late to the party, with video games being a commodity for my family growing up. That means that I ended up getting a cheaper (in price) but equally fulfilling game called Vigilante 8 for the Playstation. Though arguably no longer a racing game, I still remember doing laps around the arena, collecting weapon pick-ups and destroying other cars to smithereens. It wasn’t until I upgraded to the Playstation 2 that I decided to go back to lap-racing. Packed with my PS2 (now referred to as bundled) was Gran Turismo 3. I wanted to love the game, for more realistic graphics hadn’t been seen before. To my discontent, I found out via magazine subscriptions that in order to play this game successfully, I needed to know terminology that I didn’t grow up with because I grew up with my mom, and she didn’t teach me about cars because she simply didn’t know about them either. Enter Rockstar’s Midnight Club 2, an arcady open world racer that offered simplistic, yet easy to understand mechanics. However, it seemed that with every iteration of every other racing game, the goal was to put more and more into them, making racing games a choice between a simulation or an overly complicated control scheme with numerous power-ups to memorize and button combinations to learn. My racing fervor came to its end.
A Headlight At The End Of The Tunnel
Flash-forward to 2016 and the release of Forza Horizon 3 (FH3). On my daily commute I listen to a podcast that deserves more attention than it is currently getting, XoneBros. The main host, David, is extremely enthusiastic about FH3. Listening to him and the other XoneBros talk about the many experiences with the game made me want to go out there and buy it. I didn’t buy it right away, but when I saw it at a heavily reduced price come holiday 2016, there was just no more excuse. I figured that, at minimum, I could get some easy achievements out of it and i’d consider it 24 dollars well spent. I installed the game, and let it sit on my Xbox One for a week without me opening it. Even owning it, I was reluctant to jump into this open-world hybrid simulation/arcade style of racing game. However, all it took was just one more listen to that podcast. “Drive around a few laps, they said. Join a club, they said,” I jokingly told myself while racing. The graphics stunned me immediately and the control scheme was simple enough to understand. The gripes I had on previous attempts of simulated or arcade-type racing games were either eliminated or had an alternative way of tackling such issues. For example, not knowing how to tune up a car is no longer a requirement. An auto-tune up option exists now that is functional yet customizable and I don’t spend time reading articles online on what’s the best approach each individual car. Another feature that I love is the fact that if you make a mistake during the race, you can hit a button (Y by default) and rewind to a point that you feel you can correct your course of action. This may mean several dozen seconds back. Prior to this being a feature in the genre, racing games would punish the player who wasn’t meticulous in his/her racing skills and they would have to restart a race from the beginning to try to score 1st place. Sometimes, this meant restarting a 10+ lap race all over again. I did a little bit of digging, since I’ve been away from the genre for a while, and that has not been the case since Forza Motorsport 3 back in 2009.
The Finish Line
Forza Horizon 3, is an amalgam of features that combine the addictive nature of leveling up, the arcadey feel of fast, twitchy action, and a glorious embedded reset button for when blunders are made that would otherwise ruin our fun. Having a racing game that can accommodate both, those that prefer simulators and those that would rather be more careless without punishment, is a great way to get back into a game genre that had been bogged down by too many grounded rules. Games are meant to be fun, and although the word, “fun,” is a relative term, Forza Horizon 3 doesn’t limit the fun to just the simulator enthusiast. There’s something for everyone. I’ve even created a car that looks like the real life car I own!
Noe Monsivais (Trobadour_XP)
is an English Literature teacher at an early college campus by day. He is a YouTube content creator and is currently working on getting his Masters in Educational Technology and Leadership. His favorite thing about people is when they #KeepitTRO (True, Respectful, Original). You can follow him and his crazy antics at:
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