I don’t have a car licence. Despite my sister’s efforts to make me feel ashamed about this fact, I usually find it of no consequence. That is, unless I have to test out a racing game that simulates driving in real life. Then I’m in trouble.
Forza Motorsports 6 was unveiled at E3 Expo this year and was on display at the Xbox booth complete with an extravagant VRX motion simulator with three wraparound screens and a futuristic driver’s seat which moves according to what’s happening in the game. Despite hardly ever partaking in driving games, I decided to give it a crack.
There was a long wait at the Forza stand (just like pretty much every stand at E3) so I spent some time chatting to one of the developers at Turn 10 in a bid to get some virtual driving advice. He told me that with the hydraulic driver’s seats, it’s just like driving a real car. That would be good advice if I actually knew how to drive.
He alerted me to the fact the steering wheel is highly sensitive and advised me to use small motions. Not sure if that was a real tip or he just didn’t want me to destroy the $US70,000 VRX set up due to my inexperience behind the wheel.
Finally I got to the front of the line and was ushered to a VRX seat. Comfortable. So far so good. Here’s how it all went down:
I’m presented with a menu screen. I select my lucky colour, Canary Yellow, for my Ford GT. I’m now feeling unjustifiably confident about this race.
I ambitiously select the Rain track, one of the hardest race courses in the game. Turn 10 has spent an enormous amount of time making water feel real on the road and the last time I checked, wet roads usually equals car accidents.
But fuck it, if I’m going to have a crash, it’s probably better if I do it in a game rather than in real life.
The race begins and I slam down on the throttle… because, that’s what racing car drivers do, right? Actually, I’m not sure about that.
It’s only the first 30 seconds and I’ve managed to crash into another car. Must continue to remind myself this is not a bumper car ride.
The rain is slapping onto my make-believe windscreen but it feels quite real. It helps that I’ve got three screens for this game. (Side note: Forza is not available in three-screen mode for us mere mortals. Microsoft hacked a trio of Xbox Ones to support this set up.)
I take the first corner and exit it flawlessly. Wow. Pats on the back for me.
Except the only reason it was so flawless is because my survival instincts kicked in and I slowed down to the speed of a two-legged wombat. About 10 cars have overtaken me now. Slightly embarrassed, I hit the throttle hard once more to catch up with my peers.
The result is a predictable one; I ended up skidding about as I rushed through puddles of muddy water, eventually slamming into a wall. I still managed to finish the race, albeit taking last place.
I don't think I'm gonna get my licence any time soon.