Driving digitally

Forza Motorsport 5 - Mitsubishi Evo VI
Forza Motorsport 5 – Mitsubishi Evo VI

I’ve never been good at driving games. Even after I got my license I was never any good at it. But after playing hours of Forza Motorsport 5, I think I may have improved.

This video describes my play stlye so well – I would always go full acceleration even when turning corners. Needless to say I’d always crash into walls or spin out of control. I’d develop really bad habits such as blocking my opponents path, crashing into them in corners to help me turn. I’d lose my first place position if the finish line was after a corner. But after watching the interview with Dan Greenawalt, I opened my eyes to how racing games should be played – kind of like learning the existence of frame data in fighting games. I was intrigued in whether Turn 10’s goal of using the Xbox One’s controller to improve players through haptics can be achieved.

Forza Motorsport 5 - Top Gear track
Forza Motorsport 5 – Top Gear track

When I first booted up Forza, my bad habits hadn’t changed the slightest. But the vibrations in the triggers really gave me feedback on what I’m doing with the car. Obviously this was more evident as I switched off various assists in seek of a greater challenge. I am amazed with Turn 10’s job at recreating an ABS’ pulsing vibrations of the pedal to the left trigger. It’s so realistic it’s scary.

Moving onto faster and more powerful cars made maintaining control even more difficult. The rumble in the triggers are great for telling me that my tyres are very close to their threshold so maybe I should ease of the accelerator a bit. It’s training myself to recognise these subtle feedback that I’m able to go faster. In one particular track, I’m about 9 seconds slower than the best lap time. Not bad for someone who knew nothing about racing games to get that result. But it’s still early days, as I’ve yet to discover how to drive fast properly.

The Xbox One controller and Forza Motorsport 5 are a match made in heaven; without them I definitely wouldn’t have been able to improve in racing games. I hope that more games in the future can utilised more of the controller’s features to make to enhance the whole gaming experience.

Forza Motorsport 5
Forza Motorsport 5
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