The DigestVideo

Games Of October 2012: Forza Horizon

A lot of car games are built exclusively for car fetishists. This one isn’t.

By John Teti • November 13, 2012

Kotaku editor Evan Narcisse slides into the guest chair for today’s episode of The Digest, joining me to talk about Forza Horizon. I’m usually not much for car games, but after I read Drew Toal’s review of Horizon earlier this month, I gave it a try. It’s been my go-to leisure time game for the past few weeks. It evokes the best of Criterion Games’ Burnout Paradise—which Evan talks about in the video—and in some ways, I enjoyed Horizon even more.

Today’s snack will require an asterisk of sorts in the Digest record books, for reasons that will become clear when you watch. It’s the cats’ website; I just work here.

(Confidential to car nuts: I realize that’s a Ferrari in the biplane clip. My bad!)

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1,012 Responses to “Games Of October 2012: Forza Horizon

  1. WorldCivilizations says:

    Come on – just scrape off the top!

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

      I actually lol’d when he explained the disappearance of the whipped cream. My cat loves popcorn, of all things. I want to see if she’ll eat whipped cream now.

      • Girard says:

         I might have mentioned this before, but growing up ny cat went BATSHIT for Entemann’s glazed donut holes. Like, to the degree she’d get on the counter, force open the cupboard, knock the box off of the shelf into the floor, and tear through it to get at the sweetness inside. I have no idea what her deal was. Cats be weird.

      • The_Misanthrope says:

         Many of the cats I’ve owned had a weird thing for biting into the plastic bag that envelops store-bought bread.  Mind you, they wouldn’t actually make a concerted effort to actually eat the bread inside (unless they possess a sort of power similar to vampiric exsanguination, only for bread); They would just leave a few punture marks in the loaf of bread.

        • Citric says:

          One day I bought some buns. I put them on the top shelf of the cupboard. The cat did some parkour leaps to get to the top of the cupboard, opened it, dragged the buns out of it, ripped the bag open, and ate a tiny little corner of a bun. That was a lot of effort for a tiny, tiny, bit of bread.

      • Fluka says:

        Woohoo, an entire thread about cats eating weird things!  My childhood cat had three distinct culinary obsessions: hard boiled eggs, cheddar cheese, and (of all things) cantaloupe.  God only knows why.  Of my current cats, the boy cat will sit at a chair next to the dinner table, quietly staring and waiting for a moment when one of us turns away, so he can steal things.  The girl cat loves beer bottle caps.  I assumed this was because she can bat them around like a hockey puck, until I caught her licking one.  In short, this video was relevant to my interests (Wait, what’s this about a car game?).

        • George_Liquor says:

           My cat used to growl at hot things in his food dish. That’s how big a dick he was.

        • Citric says:

          My cat loves those little rings that seal orange juice containers. She then chases them under the coffee table. As a side note, I love orange juice and drink a great deal of it. So one day when I moved the coffee table to clean under it, the entire space was filled with those rings.

        • Fluka says:

          @Citric:disqus Relevant.
          Also, that sounds like the space underneath my fridge.  (I’m pretty sure I know where to look now too if I ever can’t find my watch.  I caught the cat carrying it around in her mouth by the band the other morning.)

        • HighlyFunctioningTimTebow says:

          The first cat I had as a kid would climb up the side of the fake stone-work columns in front of my parent’s two story house and chill on top of the roof. I’d be upstairs in the bathroom, look out the window and see my cat sitting on top of the column chilling out.

  2. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    Narcisse is really stepping up the sartorial brinkmanship with that ascot.  The doomsday clock down to white-tie tuxedo and spats digest has just ticked down a quarter hour.
       I also enjoy the Digest being presented with a different guest daily, even if actual filming means day two simply means Totillo is hovering somewhere off-camera, shuffling through the magazines for any Lapham-era Harper’s or rifling through the bathroom medicine cabinet for expired painkillers.  

  3. Dunwatt says:

    Great.  Another game to add to the list.  Thanks for nothing, Gameological.

    Seriously, though, this is exactly the kind of review (coupled with Drew’s non-video entry) that makes me want to play a racing game, even though I don’t particularly enjoy racing games, and am the kind of “car guy” who sometimes idly wonders if souping up the engine of your Toyota is going to make it lose its fuel-economy goodness (which is to say, not really a car guy at all).  But it really sounds like Horizon is hitting that sweet spot of simulation and “fun” that I didn’t really think could exist with a car game, ever since I tried and failed to get into Gran Turismo 2 as much as every other white t-shirt-wearing dude around me seemed to be.

    (Which brings up a side-point:  I am currently wearing a plain white t-shirt, and yet here I am, reading Gameological, waxing poetic about my lack of car knowledge, enjoying a plate of cheese and nut-and-rice crackers, and also somewhat crucially being not totally white.  Don’t let your flashy sense of style blind you to the universality of the plain white t-shirt, Digesters!).

    Final point:  Someone needs to isolate Teti saying “I’ve seen them lick each other’s anuses” and use that short, context-free clip for comedic purposes, tout de suite.

    • Enkidum says:

      White T’s are, after all, the favoured uniform of a lot of non-white gangbangers. And cited in some terrible, terrible songs.

      Agreed about the Teti quote.

    • Chum Joely says:

      Have you played Driver: San Francisco? It has a story that you’re proceeding through, so it’s not a pure racing game as Forza appears to be (this is SO not my genre), but there are some fun cars and pretty “comfortable” controls that get you feeling in control of these powerful cars rather quickly.

      Beyond the core driving experience, Driver SF has another cool feature: For reasons explained by the (kind of strange) underlying story concept, you have the ability to instantly jump from the car you’re driving to literally any other car in the city; the car you leave behind is immediately taken over by AI. They did a pretty decent job of building certain missions around that: You’re trying to outrun the cops, but hop into the driver’s seat of that oncoming semi truck for a second and jackknife it in the path of the police cars. Then hop back to your own car as the truck explodes on impact with the cops. Good stuff.

      • Jason Reich says:

        Hear hear. I had a blast with Driver: SF. It’s a driving game for people who hate driving games. The multiplayer is pretty great too.

      • large_marge_sent_me says:

        Absolutely. This game is fun as shit. It’s such a great dynamic. It took me a couple hours to get used to it, but once you do, you’re like “Wait. I don’t need to beat these guys in a race. I just need to switch to a car coming in the opposite direction and SMASH THE SHIT out of them.” Especially because there’s a rear back and BASH forward button. You get some sick crashes. So much fun.

      • Dunwatt says:

        Haven’t played it, but there seems to be a consensus that it’s just as you described it; a driving game that’s more about the fun of driving than the cars.  It’s a game I’d like to check out, but the list, it grows ever longer…

        I remember playing the original(?) Driver way back on the Playstation, and enjoying it back then, though…was it more heavy on the simulation aspect?  I really only remember the ability to record and edit replays of your driving exploits, learning the basics of getaway driving in a parking garage, and an overwhelming sense of “Man, wouldn’t it be cool if you could play Bullitt as a video game?”  Answer:  Yes, it would.

        • Sean Smith says:

          That’s one of the few games from back in the day I want to get back into. I never finished it — I got hung up on one of the “stay within 15 feet of the car you’re following” missions — but it was fun as hell.

  4. Another car nut note: Ford Mustangs from 1978 were horrible, and thankfully are not in the game. Also, it’s a bit irksome when game journalists keep using the term “fetishistic” to describe the appeal of games like Gran Turismo and the main Forza Motorsport games, although I do understand their point. Still, I wouldn’t say I liked the Scott Pilgrim movie more than my wife because I “fetishize” video games.

    As an even bigger car nut than gamer, Forza Horizon is pretty close to the perfect game for me. The only thing that could make it better is if it was made by Genki, the Japanese developer that made the Tokyo Xtreme Racer series back in the PS2/Dreamcast days. Go figure, as someone who grew up on Gran Turismo I was attracted to the car scene in Japan more than anywhere else. If the next Horizon game goes global with festivals in America, Japan, and Europe, and actually has better representation of each scene, that would be the best game ever to me.

    • Jackbert322 says:

      Yeah, as someone who got into video games through sports and racing games, this bothers me too. Like, calling liking cars a fetish is okay, but calling most video games pretty callous in their treatment of women isn’t? “CAR PORN! Hey, don’t say any video games are misogynistic, that might imply, God forbid, that we’re not as mature as we think we are. CAR PORN!” Not that most readers of this site are like that, and I don’t mean to insult who wrote the subtitle, but yeah, that hits a nerve.

      • Professor_Cuntburglar says:

         As a car nerd myself, I kinda get the sense that this is how sports nerds feel around here.

        “Oh, you are an automobile fetishist? How quaint!”

        Some people like things you aren’t interested in, no need to be a dick about it. It would be way more productive to maybe try to understand why so many people love these things.

        • Jackbert322 says:

          Oh man, I vividly remember reading a thread about one of IGN’s older Top 25 PS3 Games lists, and someone complained about their #24 MLB 09 The Show, and I quote “MLB something shouldn’t be on there, that’s for a niche sport, like basketball or baseball?” BASKETBALL AND BASEBALL AS NICHE SPORTS? No. Posting lists about your favorite video games is nice. Going into conniption fits about someone else’s list is niche. Baseball and basketball are not niche. That was the moment I thought, being on the line because I love sports, I got into video games through MLB The Show, that maybe if you guys aren’t gonna try, maybe we shouldn’t try to understand your hobby.

        • John Teti says:

          But here’s the thing. In the video, we’re honest about our tastes, and we talk at length about how Forza Horizon helped us better understand the appeal of motorsports. We do exactly what you say it would be “way more productive” to do.

          It’s the perfect opportunity for you to contribute your own thoughts—by saying, “Yes, that stuff’s really cool, and then there’s this….” After all, the conversation’s happening right in your wheelhouse! You’ve got the crowd right where you want them! If, when presented with such an opportunity, you respond by martyring yourself over the use of the phrase “car fetishist” instead of “car nerd,” then I don’t see how you get to complain that people don’t understand you. You’re basically telling an audience of open ears that nobody listens to you.

        • Jackbert322 says:

          Okay, I’m not meaning to whine, just the usage of the terms “fetish” and “porn” in relation to cars touchs a nerve. In general many gamers view sports and racing games as less than, and don’t want any sort of crossover, and then complain when people are prejudiced to gaming culture. This is just my personal experience of pretty much making all my friends through sports and video games…and therefore never having enough friends with common interests to hang out with more than two people. But you guys aren’t being like that, you guys are opening yourself to this culture, and that’s great. Sadly, I can’t speak to Forza since I don’t have an 360, but I’ll babble about PS3 exclusive MLB The Show for hours.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        Doesn’t anyone who visits here have any fetishes?  They’re awful fun.  And only counter-productive in the very extreme manifestations by which any behavior is negative.  

    • John Teti says:

      If Gran Turismo 5’s treatment of, say, a pair of shock absorbers doesn’t qualify as fetishizing, I don’t know what the word means. But there’s nothing wrong with it. I think people should embrace their fetishes! I have no beef with fetishists. Not even beef fetishists. (ESPECIALLY not beef fetishists!)

      • Why isn’t there a game about/for beef fetishists yet?

      • Heh. Well, while I certainly realize that using the word “fetishizing” doesn’t have to carry connotations like “strange,” “perverted,” or even “what the hell is wrong with you,” that’s been the most common usage I’ve encountered. But to the extent that it’s just a quibble over the meaning of a sometimes highly charged word, I don’t take any offense from the particular use here.

        That being said, I wish Gran Turismo would go deeper down the rabbit hole when it comes to shock absorbers. Simply upgrading from “street” to “semi-racing” to “fully adjustable  doesn’t do it for me anymore! Are the shock absorbers made by Tein or Ohlins? What model? Does the game actually bother to change the color of the springs and dampers on your car depending on the brand used? Let me choose from a fully modeled parts shop!

        Now THAT would be fetishizing :)

        • Girard says:

           This is just me responding subjectively, but I don’t really see the word ‘fetishist’ as having a negative connotation, especially when talking about a hobby.

          To me, it reads denotatively as meaning “One step above ‘enthusiast,’ with greater attention paid to the aesthetic qualities of the physical objects involved in the hobby.”

          Like, a gold enthusiast plays a lot of golf, whereas a golf fetishist keeps her/his equipment in pristine condition, only buys the most finely-crafted equipment, and can readily recognize minute differences between different makes and qualities of 5-iron, or whatever.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus  A gold enthusiast who likes golf?
                       Ron Paul?

        • George_Liquor says:

          How’s this for fetishizing? Both my for-realsies state and my for-realsies car are actually sort of in this game, kind of. My worlds have collided!

        • @paraclete_pizza:disqus So after reading your comment and thinking about it, I don’t think Gran Turismo fetishizes cars any more than Madden fetishizes football or whatever the latest Tiger Woods game is fetishizes golf. Going by your definition, I would much rather have a car game that fetishizes cars and parts in the way you describe a golf fetish. I’ll go ahead and say that I am 100% a car fetishist by your definition. I can “readily recognize minute differences between different makes and qualities” of wheels, tires, springs and dampers, strut bars, wings, aero parts, turbochargers, intakes,  But Gran Turismo doesn’t come close to reproducing that level of detail in the game. Instead, for each part you you get a generic “step 1/step 2/step 3” upgrade. That doesn’t really satisfy. Is step 1 of the turbocharger upgrade on my Toyota Supra replacing each of the twin turbos with a larger unit? Or is it going straight to a big single turbo? Why can’t I choose the manufacturer for each part? Google “scion fr-s SEMA” and take a look at the number of different cars all trying to do basically the same thing. Why can’t I have that level of control over what my car looks and drives like? That level of granularity is completely ignored, and that level of granularity is what propels actual car culture. What we have left is just a racing game that tries to be fairly accurate to the major variables that can affect how a car goes around a track.
          Oh, and by the way, googling “fetish” or “fetishize” brings up definitions like “one has an excessive and irrational commitment” but nothing like “someone with a deep and abiding enthusiasm.”

      • dreadguacamole says:

          Heh. Heh. Heh. Pair of shock absorbers.

      • HighlyFunctioningTimTebow says:

        What if you have an engineering background? What if you know how cars work? What if you’ve replaced your own brake pads and oil filter before? Is that fetishistic behavior? I am typing this from inside a tire shop, and throuhly enjoying the irony as a fine wine.

    • Girard says:

       If you honestly like Scott Pilgrim more than you like your wife, some kind of fetish might be involved…
      [/deliberate misread]

  5. BarbleBapkins says:

    Ninja Town seems to have not made its way back onto the shelf! Who knew that the Digest would have such dedication to continuity!

  6. Staggering Stew Bum says:

    “The cats” is what Teti calls the Gameological interns.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      I feel he should have a talk about their behavior with HR. Analingus during worktime, even if it’s unpaid, is just not acceptable behavior.

  7. ferrarimanf355 says:

    The Ferrari F40 is awesome. So is the F50, that car needs more love.

    The Enzo is so ugly even the Pontiac Aztek thinks it’s ugly.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      Dammit, but I love a good Aztek burn.

      • ferrarimanf355 says:

        It’s factually accurate, though. Hypercars from the ’80s and ’90s are the best, like the Porsche 959, Ferrari F40 and F50, and the McLaren F1. The only Hypercars that excite me today are the Koeingsegg Agera and Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid.

  8. Effigy_Power says:

    If I am taking away anything from the Digest other than the fact that they make some nice, relaxing and completely un-Mountain-Dew-&-Dority-compatible reviews than it is that John is getting more and more comfortable with the format. Resulting is an increasingly loose atmosphere that is just fun to watch. Well done, well done.
    Even if the musical chairs format is making it pretty hard to come up with a comic.

  9. GaryX says:

    It’s weird that this is one of the games that makes me bummed I only have a PS3. I miss just fun racing games.

    Oh well, back to Mario Kart 64.

  10. George_Liquor says:

    Hey John, are those Wii U games on the shelf behind your shoulder?

    Are you… from the future?

  11. Mark Chasteen says:

    I love how the hipster douche with the ironic tie and the hipster douche with the ironic ascot keep using the word “conceit”.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      Do you really love that?  Or are you saying it ironically, like some kind of hipster?

    • Effigy_Power says:

      I don’t think you love at all. I think you are so full of anger and self-loathing that love has lost all meaning to you. That’s why you stare out of the window every time she walks by. Staring, hoping, wishing… loathing her for ignoring you. How can she not see you? You are made for each other and still she… no, it’s too painful. That small shrine you have of her, adorned with crumbled and then flattened pictures that do not even do her justice, mocks you from the other side of the room. The candles have long burned out… a metaphor for the coldness holding tightly around your heart? If only you could tell her… let her know how you ache for her.

      You know, either that or you’re just a massive jackass.

      • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

         I love when I read these kind of responses to a comment that has been removed.  My mind has lots of fun filling in the blanks.

        • George_Liquor says:

           Such is the transient nature of the Gameological troll. Like some exotic, douchey particle which briefly flits into existence, he can never be directly observed; only his minute impact on the environment remains.

  12. You guys should start putting these on youtube as they seemed to buffer into infinity for me in this new web player.

  13. Chum Joely says:

    The game looks interesting, but I feel like there must have been more you could have said about it. I definitely like the overall style of the Digest, but somehow you guys ended up talking about the plain white protagonist (totally irrelevant to gameplay) for like 15-20% of the time that hadn’t already been devoted to a discussion of the cats’ eating and/or butt-licking habits and the layout of the Gawker offices.

    Maybe this edition was a little rougher around the edges than usual because Evan Narcisse is not your usual guest?  The ACIII one yesterday was pretty good.

    • John Teti says:

      Yup, there’s always more that can be said. We talk about the stuff that interests us. I find that “you didn’t talk about gameplay” is used primarily in online comments as a way to throw a penalty flag and disqualify certain lines of discussion, which is pretty much the opposite of what I like to do around here. So sure, you can say that the portrayal of the hero is “totally irrelevant to gameplay” but all that matters to me is that it wasn’t totally irrelevant to us, and that we had something heartfelt to say about it.

      • Chum Joely says:

        Fair enough. I guess to some extent, the discussion in the Digest is not always about “this game” but about “games and gaming”, with the nominal topic of discussion as more of a jumping-off point. Obviously I know that things are different at Gameological than at IGN or Kotaku, and that’s definitely a good thing overall. I’ll go read a review over there for the nuts and bolts of the game. 8^)