An obvious one, really. Before Gran Turismo, simulation racers were only really popular (or possible) on PCs, with Microprose Formula One Grand Prix getting the race started in January, 1992.
Above: Microprose's take on the Monaco tunnel with real-life equivalent
But it was Gran Turismo that changed console racers forever, adding hundreds of licensed vehicles to your garage and favouring suspension-tweaking over turbo boosts. It's no exaggeration to say the industry is still feeling the shockwaves from its launch.
Above: Gran Turismo even shows suspension roll in external views
You could argue that this flat-shaded polygon racer marks the transition between old and modern videogames. Not least because it offered full 3D graphics that could be viewed from any angle, most spectacularly demonstrated by the post-race action replay. We may skip past it now, but back then, it was impossible to choose 'no' when it asked 'Watch Replay?'
Above: Virtua Racing's blocky 3D replays were a revelation in 1992
Forza's comprehensive decal editing feature is waaay better than R4's tiny square of pixellated customisation, but the PSone classic set the scene for everything that was to come.
Above: R4's decal editor. Crappy? Yes. But we had to start somewhere
Full Auto, the first post-launch 360 title, was the first racer to feature a rewind system, known as 'unwreck'. We'd had a user-activated rewind in Prince of Persia: Sands of Time before that and games like Blinx on Xbox 1 have featured time manipulation, but GRID did it first in a serious racing game and is undoubtedly the reason it's in Forza 3.
Above: Just go back to when the car had 4 wheels and try again
Because it's impossibly comprehensive. There are hundreds of hours' worth of gameplay to be had, all of which are glossy in quality and all of which can be tailored to your own tastes. Unlike Gran Turismo, Forza lets you customise your experience so you only do what you want to do. Couple that with superb community features and you've got yourself one of the most complete racers ever made.
On this evidence? Yes. Of course that's not the case - we'll always welcome originality. But it seems some of the best games around at the moment do little more than repackage old ideas. And there's nothing wrong with that - there just has to be a purpose and a direction. It's like they always say: It's not what you take, it's where you take it.
Games don't have to be original. Just awesome.
10 Feb, 2010
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