Do you recall that TopGear episode where Clarkson was racing around Laguna Seca in a Honda NSX, desperately trying to beat laptime he previously set on a PlayStation?
How about taking this to next level - more cars, better computer game and less fearful driver? Seems like a good idea?
As it is often with good ideas, someone on the Internet has already done it!
A racing sim enthusiast from Spain has a blog - racing-marotosports.com dedicated to virtual car testing. In latest post he compares 12 very different cars from Forza Motorsport 4 against real life laptimes in Hockenheim short track from fastestlaps.com listing.
The post is very detailed - illustrated with countless screenshots and a video capture of each car's laptime in Forza 4.
The article itself is in Spanish, but author kindly translated his conclusions in English:
* FWD: as you can see the results are quite different. The Mini is very easy to drive and anyone can drive it very fast. It's totally opposite to the little Abarth 500 - this car has an unpredictable behavior in the rear axle when you push the brakes hard. Once you pass lap by lap, you start to enjoying the "Italian Mini".
* RWD with front engine: These are the only cases where I've been slower than the real time. The physics model of Forza in "Simulation Mode" is very accurate in general, but when you lose the grip the drift is bigger than it must be to feel real. So in this kind of layout and for cars with big torque engines, it's very easy to drift an lose time. It's curious that I ve lost 1 second in both times.
* RWD with rear or mid-mounted engine: Apart from the Lotus (I'll explain later), the times with Porsche and Ferrari were very close to the real times. Here the drift is more difficult to get, so the driving is quite comfortable. I love both cars because the sound and behavior make the experience very addictive.
* AWD: The situation is very similar, but here, I think, the cars have a little more grip than they do in real life. In any case, the difference is not dramatic.
* Lotus 2-Eleven: In this case there was quite a difference in time. At first, I couldn't understand why. After checking the first photo, I concluded that, maybe, the problem was that 2-Eleven version in game is the "track version" and the real one was the "road version".
So finally, the average result is that Forza 4 is 1.4% faster than real times. I think is a very good result for the Forza Motorsport, even more so when you take into account that the physics model has to be calculated by a console (XBox 360) rather than much more powerful modern gaming PC.
I am a big racing sim fan myself, I have spent countless hours playing titles like rFactor, GTR or RBR.
I must admit, after seeing this comparison I am wanting, more the ever, to get my hands on Forza 4.
Physics model seems realistic enough for my taste, selection of street cars is so wide it's only comparable to Gran Turismo (another great game only available on consoles), and the sound effects are, frankly, amazing.
For some reason I find it essential for a racing game to have realistic engine sounds, and Forza has the most authentic engine sounds across all racing games on all platforms.