Growing up I was never very big on racing. I’d occassionally watch Nascar with my father and I’d go with him to the local race track that had all kinds of different races throughout the day. Yet it never really clicked with me. I’d get bored and wander off. I was just never really into watching other people race for hours on end. That didn’t mean I wouldn’t play the games though. I was a big fan of Nascar Rumble on the original PlayStation and Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. Eventually I picked up Project Gotham Racing for the original Xbox and loved it. After that I never really touched any other racing games because I had a bigger interest in other genres.
Back in 2014 however, I discovered the greatness that is Initial D. A friend had recommended it to me before, but it wasn’t until I got bored and said “screw it” that I actually sat down to watch it. And I binged all six seasons. It just hooked me from the start and I fell in love with drift racing. Of course, I’d never drift race in real life, too dangerous for my tastes, but a game would be great. And of course, as you’d expect, Initial D games do exist(Though no other dedicated drift racing games.). The problem with those however is that they became more arcadey the further into the PS3's lifecyle they got. I mean, to an extent that makes sense because they are console ports of arcade games, but at least one previous iteration had more realistic handling, but it was outdated compared to the newer ones so why bother getting it.
And so that led me to search for other racing games that had drift racing in them. However, no matter where I look I see the same problem: It’s all about the points rather than the position. In the Initial D anime(And I’m sure in real life as well.), drift races often feature two racers in a cat and mouse style battle on the downhill and uphill slopes of mountain passes. Whoever reaches the finish line first wins, and that’s standard racing 101 right there. You want to be in first place because you win if you’re in first place. It isn’t about how perfectly you drifted through the corners, it’s about winning. And yet in all of these games, Forza Motorsport 6 included, drift racing is treated as a competition of style. You can still come in first place, but the winner is actually decided based on points awarded by virtual judges. If your drifts were flawless, you scored more points and so even if you come in second place you can still win. That’s BS in my book.
My request is a simple one: I want actual drift racing in this years Forza title. I don’t care if it comes as DLC like Forza 6's Nascar expansion, I just want it(Note: There is a difference between wanting something, and demanding it. I’m wanting, not demanding.) because nothing else offers that pure experience and quite frankly there is no better racing sim out there. Gran Turismo is coming, but slowly and probably not with what I’m looking for, and Project Cars I haven’t really tried, but I’ve heard mixed things about it. So if we aren’t going to get a dedicated drifting game that isn’t about points, then the only real option is Forza, specifically the Forza Motorsport entries because drift racing works best on tight circuit tracks, regardless of whether it’s a looping track or a downhill/uphill mountain pass. It doesn’t work as good in the open fields that Forza Horizon is known for where it’s a lot looser. It’s no longer cat and mouse, at that point you just need to speed up and cut the other person off, even if you have to take a shortcut through that farm over there.
And it isn’t even like this form of drift racing is a foreign concept to the developers at Turn 10. Forza 6 references the illegal downhill drift racing that inspired a generation, referencing the kind of drift racing featured in Initial D which is set during that time period(The late 90's.), and they even included the Toyota Sprinter Trueno, also known as the AE86, which was the main protagonists car in Initial D. It’s a pop culture icon. Of course that’s why drift racing is in these games at all, but the way it’s implemented is not what I’m looking for at all.
Including the actual racing part of drift racing would also allow them to add more tracks. I’m staring at Forza 6's track list right now and none of them are Japanese mountain passes, something else that is referenced in the game itself, but not actually in the game. It doesn’t even have to be limited to mountain passes, Japan has legitimate circuit tracks. Get a little Asian representation outside of the cars in these games.
To summarize, I want actual drift racing rather than drifting competitions(Though that doesn’t mean there can’t be drift competitions. It’s still a legitimate thing, just far too prevalent over its racing counterpart.) and tracks to go along with it. Now, this year Sony is supposedly going to release Gran Turismo Sport(I’m bracing for a delay.), and it does feature Japanese tracks, but no word on drift racing and I’m not getting my hopes up. Only time will tell if either of these games actually has what I’m looking for. I guess I should really be banking on Gran Turismo for this, but I’m much more invested in Forza due to how long its been since I last played a Gran Turismo game.
(P.S. If anyone happens to know of a recent drift racing game that looks and sounds good, and isn’t that funky 80's looking one, I’m all ears.)