Gears of War 3 (Xbox360), Assasin’s Creed Revelations, Forza motorsport 4 (Xbox360), Killzone 3 (PS3), Batman Arkham City, FIFA 12, Call of Duty MW3
Winner: Forza Motorsport 4 (Xbox 360, Turn 10)
Yes, I like me my cars and my reasons for choosing Forza 4 as GOTY are the same reasons why Skyrim and Uncharted 3 didn’t make my nomination. Obviously this is a subjective decision and I understand that Forza caters to an auto-enthusiast/racing demographic. Much like Skyrim and Unchartered 3 are not my thing, (I’ve tried both), I understand that Forza is not for everyone and that this review may fall on some deaf ears, but if you’re still listening, I have based my decision on a couple of factors.
First of all, let me just state that Turn 10 has now released 3 versions of this race-sim in just one generation – that’s 2 more than Polyphony. Predicting that GT6 will not see the light of day on the PS3 is not exactly a stab in the dark. Therefore, being that GT5 and Forza 4 were released within a year of each other, one can’t help but draw comparisons between the 2. A developer taking it’s time to release a game is fine if you can back it up in the finished product, but honestly, if you run these 2 games side-by-side, you really have to question where Polyphony allocated all its time.
Forza Motorsport 4 didn’t exactly do an overhaul this time around but the final product is much more polished than it’s predecessor. With a brand new image-based-lighting-engine, cars seem to be surreally-real (if that makes sense!). The addition of the rivals-mode is a stroke of genius and will get any novice-racer logged in for hours to beat his buddy’s best time. Forza has always had a robust online engine and gameplay seems to be rock-solid at 60 fps. The customization of parts/tuning coupled with the car designs and the Forza Marketplace will make the hours fall off the clock. All this and partnering Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson doesn’t hurt one bit.
My only gripe with Forza 4, is the omission of weather elements and night racing. I’m not exactly sure what Turn 10’s reasons are for this, but with most other race-sim-games making this a standard feature, this oversight seems almost inexcusable. Now I know GT5 has these features, but please don’t get me started on the lack of collision-effects and other shortcuts Polyphony made to modelling/texture mapping.
Why harp on the GT/Forza comparison? Because I personally think the race-sim torch has been passed, which is by no means an easy task as Gran Turismo had been on top of that podium for a very long time.
Honourable Mention: Killzone 3 (PS3, Guerrilla Games)
I have to give credit to Guerrilla Games. Let’s face it, the CoD series has set the bar for FPS shooters (numbers don’t lie), and it takes balls to release an FPS nowadays but this game delivers in spades. Unlike other developers, ie. DICE, who build up the release with unsubstantiated hype, and once released leaving you scratching your head and asking, “WTF happened!”, Guerrilla modestly released their 3rd sequel in February 2011 with a decent single player campaign, and an even better online component. This game has the same rush and carnage as CoD with a melee-system that other developers should rip a page out of. My only gripe is that I wish Guerrilla had provided more support and added more maps to the online component.
Worst Game: F1 2011 (Codemasters)
You’d think Codemasters would’ve made an improvement from the previous year and iron out the kinks left over from F1 2010. No such thing! From it’s horrible A.I. stewarding/penalties to the crawling framerate drops, this game brings on more annoying glitches and issues than the previous year and left me trading this in after only 2 weeks. Maybe Codemasters should go back 6 years to F1 Championship 2006 by Studio Liverpool to see how an F1 game should be made.