A crack addiction is probably cheaper

Today I almost spent £200 on an Xbox 360. For someone who has always been a lifelong PlayStation owner, this is very much “a big deal” for me. The reason for the sudden brand allegiance swap? Forza Motorsport 4.

This game has been out for a couple of months now, and it caught my eye from the very beginning. I’ve always loved games of the car/motorsport genre so it was natural my interest was piqued.

However, finally getting the chance to play it this weekend, was enough to make me want to drop £200 on a new console.

Gran Turismo 5 took a lifetime to be released. The years and years of delay took its toll on my faith in the work of Polyphony, and the finished product made me question what the hell they’d been playing at for so long.

Having played Forza 4 I’ve realised virtually nothing Polyphony spent so long doing is exceptional nor unique. The cars, the content, the tracks, the music; none of this is special to GT5. Forza does all the things GT5 does, but adds one additional item. Fun.

It might sound stupid, but I felt the game wanted (if not practically encouraged) me to get in there and hammer around it’s gorgeously unobtainable cars around stunning tracks. And to enjoy myself doing so. Playing GT5 feels like a chore; an automotive RPG by comparison.

Forza 4 feels like it was made for car enthusiasts by car enthusiasts, with the kind of vehicles I would dream of driving. Yes there’s the basic starter cars, but not the numerous Nissan’s or tens of Toyota’s as in Sony’s offering.

Today I drove a Lamborghini Diablo SV, a Ferrari 250 GTO, followed by a Suzuki Liana and a 1968 Shelby Mustang. None of the above can be found in GT5.

All of them had detailed interiors, stunning HD looks and immense engine sounds. The Diablo wailed, the Shelby roared and the Liana…..hummed and squealed its tortured front tyres. Each exactly as it should. In the Ferrari 250, the controller shuddered and shimmied in my hand, much the way I imagine a old-school Ferrari would offer feedback to its driver.

Beneath all this, there’s an accurate physics engine, real tyre data obtained from Pirelli and a modification system that reflects what I’d dream of actually doing to my cars. I want to convert a VW Fox to 4WD. I want to supercharge my Audi RS4 and I want to fit bigger BBS wheels to an Pagani Zonda.

I realise this is quickly turning into sounding like an advertisement, but that is genuinely how much this game got under my skin. And it’s why I found myself, in a branch of Game at 4pm on a Sunday, desperately trying to buy an Xbox 360 with Forza 4. So when the pubescent sales assistant told me they’d sold out, I felt truly depressed and devastated.

Distraught at the thought of another 24 hours before I might get the chance to slide a Dodge Challenger around Road Atlanta, or hear the offbeat rhythm of an Audi Sport Quattro. Forza 4 has got me hooked big time.

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