Have you ever wondered what it would be like to race on Laguna Seca in a transit van, or perhaps what it would be like to drive a car without a steering column? If the answer to these two questions is “yes”, then the latest downloadable content for Forza Motorsport 4 is for you! Join me as I embrace my inner Clarkson and explain why the “May Top Gear Car Pack” is perhaps the worst DLC … in the world.
When I think of downloadable content, I think of add-ons that enhance and extend the player’s experience. In a racing title, I expect that to come in the form of new tracks and cars – ones that are exhilarating to learn and master. Unfortunately, the content in the “May Top Gear Car Pack” is neither. Turn10 describe this bundle by saying, “with the May Top Gear Car Pack, you can go anywhere, at any speed” which is right, if by “any speed” they mean, between 0 and 100KM/H.
Let’s start with the worst half of the pack, first up being the 2011 Ford Transit SuperSportVan. It’s everything you’d expect from van – slow, boring and handles poorly – ‘Super’ is quite frankly, misleading. Following is the 1977 AMC Pacer X, which is about as modern as it is fast. Admittedly there was some fun to be had when you slide the rear out in corners but it’s far from a drifter. The next car in the pack is the 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, which is perhaps the worst vehicle I’ve ever had the displeasure of driving in a racing game. With its sheer inability to take corners, I can honestly say I had more fun driving the Ford SuperSportVan, but that’s like saying I had more fun being kicked in the shin than being punched in the genitals.
The 2012 Smart Fortwo was next-up and I can admit that it genuinely surprised me on two levels. The first was how Turn10 could honestly believe fans would want to drive something as dull and boring as a Smart car and the second was how easy this car seemed to drift – although the fact it understeers horribly means this joy is always as long lived as the length of the car itself. Lastly, the 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8, which is an American car in every sense of the word. While it might have some decent acceleration off the line, everything goes to hell as soon as you approach the first corner. With brakes that seem to be made of paper and handling that sees the car slide out each time you turn the wheel, you’d think the 300 SRT8 is allergic to corners!
Moving on, let’s look at some of the “better” cars on offer. Despite having no real power, the 1966 Lotus Cortina was quite fun to drive being both nimble and planted to the road – a typical Lotus. Onto the 1965 Austin-Healey 3000 MkIII, I was quite impressed with how fun the car was fun to drive. Despite the lacklustre engine, it was great to throw into corners and slide around – the chicane at the end of Catalunya was particularly fun lap after lap. Now to the 1992 Mitsubishi Galant VR-4. The first thing which came to mind when I drove it was “YES, FINALLY SOME POWER” and shortly after, “I think I hear Darth Vader under the hood”!
The noise from the turbo each time you shift gears never got old. The 1990 Subaru Legacy RS is much the same as the Mitsubishi except you notice the all-wheel drive prowess in the handling. Last, but certainly not least, the Hennessy Venom GT – or as I now call it, ‘Lotus on Steroids’. I’ve read in magazines just how powerful this vehicle is, but it’s not until you drive it for the first time down a straight and see the odometer move from 0 to 100 to 200 to 300 and then reaching over 400KM/H that you realise just how insanely quick this beast is. Unfortunately though, it seems all this power goes to waste as the car is practically un-drivable. Any real racing enthusiast will tell you that a fast engine will need to be matched with the suspension, brakes and other components to handle the speed, but it seems the latter all took a backseat with the Venom. I found myself always fighting to keep the car straight because the torque steer was so bad or braking far too early and constantly to keep myself from flying into the grass or barriers at every turn. On the Nurburgring Nordschleife the Venom GT is brilliant but on everything else, it’s as useless.
I’ve been struggling to understand why this DLC was called the “Top Gear Car Pack”. I’ve been a fan of Top Gear for some time but apart from the Austin-Healey (which was the name of a car included in one episode for a challenge), all these vehicles seem completely random and have nothing to do with the show – unless ‘May’ isn’t a reference to the month but actually James May aka ‘Captain Slow’ because most of these cars are just that – slow. What they should have called this pack is the ‘Cars That Hate Corners Car Pack’ or ‘The Most Un-drivable Cars In The World Car Pack’, which is much more suitable. I’ve always felt that Turn10 tarnished the Top Gear brand by including it with FM4, and this utterly horrid collection of cars is no different. If you’re interested in wasting $9 on a bunch of vehicles that you’ll only drive once then consider this pack – but I believe you’d get much more satisfaction and enjoyment out of buying a Happy Meal and playing with the toy you get instead.
PS: In typical Top Gear fashion I took each of these cars for a hot lap around the Top Gear Test Track. The following lists the times for each car from fastest to slowest:
Hennessy Venom GT: 1.16.749
Chrysler 300 SRT8: 1.30.526
Mitsubishi Galant VR4: 1.33.502
Subaru Legacy RS: 1.34.587
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon: 1.39.247
Lotus Cortina: 1.42.404
Austin-Healey 3000 MkIII: 1.43.131
Ford Transit SuperSportVan: 1.46.917
Smart Fortwo: 1.47.609
AMC Pacer X: 1.49.041