Published on December 2nd, 2013 | by Alex Porter2
Review: Forza Motorsport 5
We’ll come back to that in just a minute because it’s now time to put a recently released game in our games console! Some say the development team behind this game spent the entirety of the development period drinking nothing but petroleum… and that the game disc was forged in the fires of Mount Doom… all we know is, it’s called Forza Motorsport 5!
With Sony having Gran Turismo exclusively for its Playstation consoles, Microsoft needed to create a similar racing simulator game to compete with it. In 2005, Microsoft and developer Turn 10 released a game that many believed to be their answer to Sony’s Gran Turismo. That game was Forza Motorsport.
The game has come a long way since Forza 1 & 2 which both felt almost like arcade racers at the time. When moving on to Forza 3 however, things changed; the game was given a much more professional feel with a serious graphical upgrade, sleek and beautiful menus, and more serious racing gameplay. This was continued through into Forza 4 which only received a few major changes with the addition of 16 player races and new modes such as Rivals. A spin-off, Forza Horizon, was also released and it aimed to mix together the beautiful graphics and gameplay of Forza with a more arcade style of racing, something that would appeal to a wider audience. So what about Forza Motorsport 5? Well, we managed to get our hands on a copy… and I took it for a spin!
The first thing you will notice about the game is the graphics. With this being the first Forza available on a next gen console, the graphics have only improved. With Forza 3 & 4, the beauty that Turn 10 captured for each car within those games was stunning and if I had to guess, Turn 10 was pushing the Xbox 360 to its very limit. Of course with Forza 5, the cars have seen another graphical upgrade but surprisingly the most noticeable changes are not with the cars themselves, but instead with the tracks. The real world environments that have been recreated once again for Forza are more beautiful than ever; the increase in detail is stunning and helps to blend the already beautiful cars and the world around them together. Even smaller details such as the lighting effects blinding you as you race in the direction of the sun, or the reflection of the car’s dashboard on the windscreen help to make the whole experience even more realistic and beautiful.
As for the game’s audio, there are both ups and downs. Once again Turn 10 has done a fantastic job with the engine noise of each car, and with the dramatic tire screeching and bumper crunching of more aggressive racing. The audio within the races only helps to draw you in to the Forza experience even more but for me the game is slightly let down by its soundtrack. Previous Forza games would have a set of music tracks which, for the most part, were quite enjoyable to listen to as you raced around the track. Now it seems that they have incorporated a more cinematic soundtrack which is nice to listen to and helps to create a more dramatic atmosphere while racing, but it doesn’t feel quite the same; you can always pop your own music on anyway if it doesn’t tickle your fancy. There have also been a few moments where the engine noise would glitch and get stuck as if you weren’t changing speed despite braking hard for a corner. These problems have been few and far between so they aren’t enough to take anything away from the game.
Forza 5 continues what the previous games in the series have set out to do; recreate many of the world’s finest cars in both appearance and handling. Once again Turn 10 has delivered with Forza 5 and the cars can be both a joy to drive and a nightmare… but in a good way! This shouldn’t put gamers who are new to the series, or even the genre, off. In fact despite being a racing simulator, something that Turn 10 has taken pride in with recent Forza games is the fact that the game is very accessible. What this means is that a veteran of the series can come in and race with assists such as traction control turned off while just as easily someone who has never played Forza, or a similar game, can join them with help from options such as suggested lines and braking assists. This is Forza’s racing gameplay at its finest and it feels good to hit the track again.
Once again gamers will find Forza’s usual array of modes including the career, multiplayer, and rivals events. The career has been almost simplified and made more open to players who can pick and choose which event they want to do at will. Within the career events, there is an assortment of different race types to help keep the gameplay fresh by avoiding the idea that every race should be a simple circuit race. Events such as Signature races, Top Gears challenges, and even racing against The Stig’s digital cousin help to make the career more enjoyable by providing more variety than just standard races. The career can be tackled at one’s own pace and the events make use of the wide variety of cars available in the game.
Multiplayer on the other hand seems to have taken a step back. While the standard circuit race mode returns along with the ability to use custom rules, some game modes from the previous games have vanished. Modes such as Drag racing seem to have been removed and modes such as Tag were just there for pure fun and could provide a much needed break between serious races. Maybe these modes will return in a future update but that remains to be seen. Despite these missing modes however, the multiplayer is great and is even more enjoyable with a serious improvement in latency issues; I actually feel safe when racing human opponents unlike in previous Forza games, the lag doesn’t suddenly throw the other person’s car at you as you try to pass them. Forza’s multiplayer is once again an enjoyable experience which only gets better when played with friends.
Many of the usual Forza features have returned including a large selection of cars to choose from, upgrading and tuning options, and livery designing. Some of these features are better than ever but they are let down by several other features that Turn 10 seem to have removed or downplayed. In previous Forza games, players could try out any car in Free Play but Forza 5 only allows for cars that are in your garage or a car from a very limited list to be used. This is a little disappointing as it means that players have to earn in game money, or pay real money, in order to use many of the game’s cars. Also features such as gifting and the Store Front seem to have disappeared. Competitive racing teams can no longer gift each other tuning set ups and designs for players competing in their races to use. What’s more is that there doesn’t seem to be any kind of online economy. Sure you can still earn credits for your designs and tuning set ups but it doesn’t feel like a major part of the game anymore.
The biggest disappointments in the game’s features however have to be the tracks and cars, or rather the lack thereof. Forza has almost always had a huge selection of cars and tracks to choose from. The tracks ranged from many real world tracks such as the infamous Laguna Seca with its famous corkscrew turn, right down to the game’s many fantasy tracks such as Mugello. Turn 10 have actually removed all of the game’s previous fantasy tracks and has whittled down the real world tracks to only a small number. This is similar to the situation with the number of cars in the game which now only totals around 200, less than half of what Forza 4 had. This has been a huge let down for me as I personally loved collecting cars in the previous games but Turn 10 have said that they wanted to bring ‘quality over quantity’, and in all honesty… I think they have done just that.
Despite the disappointment of fewer cars and tracks, there is one big new feature that Turn 10 has implemented in Forza 5… and that is Drivatar! While it may sound like a James Cameron movie about blue people driving fast cars, it is actually a very clever system for creating virtual opponents within both the game’s career and multiplayer modes. The idea is that to a degree, your driving style is recreated virtually. This virtual version of you will then appear in the races of other players and your friends and your Drivatar can even earn you credits. This means that every race that you do against non-human opponents feels much more real than with standard AI. Your opponents want to win, they are aggressive and they can react differently to different situations. This has to be one of Forza 5’s crowning achievements; single player racing feels much less monotonous and you can even find yourself giving off to a friend’s Drivatar when they nudge past you on the final corner.
The game makes use of several of the Xbox One’s newest features including the Kinect and Impulse Triggers. The Kinect can be used for headtracking allowing you to look around while you’re in the car. The headtracking can easily be turned off in the options at any time and is not a mandatory thing. The Impulse Triggers though are, and they are fantastic. As you accelerate and when you brake, especially if you brake hard, you will feel the triggers rumbling accordingly which adds to the driving experience.
Once again Turn 10 has teamed up with Top Gear and has incorporated them into the game in many ways. Not only can you try out the Top Gear test track once again, there are different challenges available including the return of bowling and the addition of battling it out against The Stig’s digital cousin. The Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May all provide introductions to each of the game’s many career events. This is a nice touch to the game and is very enjoyable to listen to just moments before putting your foot down.
Overall Forza Motorsport 5 is a beautifully crafted game with pristine cars and sublime tracks. Turn 10 has aimed to bring us ‘quality over quantity’ and they have done just that but a few extra cars and tracks wouldn’t go amiss. Along with a touch of Top Gear and the addition of the new Drivatar system, the game is another welcome addition to the Forza Motorsport series and I already can’t wait for Forza Motorsport 6!
And on that bombshell we have to end this review. We’ll be back next time with more game news and reviews! Until then… goodnight!
Summary: Forza Motorsport 5 is a great addition to the series and the game looks and feels better than ever! Definitely a game for any Forza fan out there but it could use a few more tracks and cars to help beef up its reduced line up. All in all, another fantastic game from Turn 10!