While up staying with Jo (currently trying to do a few things before she turns a certain age) recently I had the rare opportunity to access the full suite of last-gen consoles – the “Ex-Box”, the “Pee-Ess 3” and the “Wee”. Left to my own devices for an hour or so, I decided to give Forza Motorsport 3 on the 360 a quick go.

I had little knowledge of the game, save for a dim awareness that the series was highly regarded by console racing fans, and that in some eyes it had superseded the once-mighty Gran Turismo as their title of choice (although obviously such things may depend on your particular format affiliations).

Gran Turismo: Here I am, finishing sixth on the easiest track.

Gran Turismo: Here I am, finishing sixth on the easiest track.

Now, an hour is certainly not long enough to form a judgement, but in the time I played, I entered three different events, all of which required me to race around the same three tracks in slightly different cars. At the end of each, my victories (which came as a relief given I was using someone else’s profile and couldn’t work out how to change it) earned me what seemed like an improbable number of points and unlocked a number of vehicles. And yet, a huge number of events remained (by the game’s own calculations, my efforts added about 0.2% onto the overall progress meter).

It reminded me very much of the aforementioned Gran Turismo series, of which I am equally ill-qualified to speak, despite owning a couple of the games. Some years ago, though, as FFG’s self-appointed racing ‘expert’, I remarked that:

“1998 was most notable for the benchmark racing title, Gran Turismo. While catering for those wanting a quick 15-minute blast the real beauty of the game was the career mode, offering an almost bewildering amount of depth.”

I really should get around to re-writing those brief history articles. Although what I said was kind of true: I was bewildered by the career mode, to the extent that I never really bothered to get that far with it. Indeed, my main experience of the series was in split-screen multiplayer, with my friend and sometime-nemesis PG attempting to exploiting my mental frailties, with some success, by muttering “don’t mess this last corner up” each and every time I led on the final lap, a tactic which often left me wheelspinning in the sand amid a flurry of swear words rather than basking in the glory of victory.

Everyone fails their B License on their first go. Even your Dad did - although he'd never admit it now.

Everyone fails their B License on their first go. Even your Dad did – although he’d never admit it now.

When I wrote those words I was going along with received opinion at the time in order to show I was down with the console kids. Since then it’s become a little more acceptable to criticise the series, but I’m not going to do that either – I really haven’t played enough to do so. All I can say is that the games have never grabbed me, and there’s something very dry about the career mode that doesn’t appeal. I certainly don’t like being made to race the same tracks over and over and over again just to get somewhere either – it seems like a cheap way of drawing a game out (a criticism that could also be levelled at some of my favourite arcade racers, too).

The veteran games writer Stuart Campbell has some thoughts on this that are worth reading, I reckon. I’m not sure GT really is the equivalent of value-brand beans, but I kind of get what he’s saying here.

(P.S. Although I’m not really saying either game is boring, I just realized that “Bore-za Motorsport” scans a lot better as a title).