Since its inception in 2005, the Forza Motorsport franchise has taken pole position of racing simulators on Microsoft’s platform, now moving into its third generation, how does the latest offering compare to the legacy that has been created by the stellar titles before it?
The Forza series is known for realistic handling and fantastically beautiful virtual recreations of real life car models. Forza 5 is no different. The licensed car models look excellent both inside and out, and could only be improved by reducing some of the aliasing which takes a bit of sheen away from the high level of production.
The level of detail in the car models is quite astounding, with the cockpit view being a particular high for me. The dynamic lighting, shading and shadowing is mesmerising and you will find yourself watching replays just to prove that your eyes aren’t deceiving you. This is all achieved whilst also maintaining an impressive 60 fps, no mean feat. To enjoy the best all round racing experience the cockpit and bumper camera options should be used exclusively, combined with the amazingly accurate engine notes and tyre squealing, the legitimate thrill of speed that is felt cannot be replicated when using any of the external camera angles.
The handling mechanic gives an excellent representation of what it feels like to drive the expensive supercars and less exotic vehicles alike. Intelligent usage of the rumble triggers provides an extra level of immersion, informing you when you attempt to put the power down too early after cornering or if you are braking too hard causing the wheels to lock up. For the uninitiated, the barrier of entry is not restrictive, with the player able to tailor the driving settings to a level of difficulty they feel comfortable at. However, the lowest assist settings will make you feel very much like a passenger in your own car. I did find that the braking assist lines become somewhat obsolete once you start driving cars above a ‘B’ class because the lines only adapt to the speed you are currently travelling at and do not factor in the braking distance of the particular car you are driving, despite the game actually holding this information on each and every vehicle listed.
A new feature to the series is the addition of the ‘drivatars’. These are AI-controlled drivers that are supposedly based upon the driving ability and style of fellow racers from your xbox live friends list. In reality, however, it appears that the only statistics that are tracked are how aggressive they are towards other drivers they are and how many crashes they are involved in. Often leading to a very frustrating racing experience. Despite the Turn10’s attempts to promote good driving within the game with the on-screen prompts for perfect cornering and by awarding a gold medal for finishing in the top three of a race; I still felt compelled to bump, ram and shunt my way to the front of the pack to avoid getting caught up with the destruction derby-esque driving style of the ‘drivatars’. It would be nice to have the option to turn the ‘drivatars’ off so you can attempt to set fastest laps uninterrupted when racing throughout the career mode.
There are 13 initial tracks that you can race on, although this figure has slightly increased with free dlc. There is a distinct lack of depth which is only made worse for those without an xbox live gold account; those without only have access to the career mode and the creator studio. Some of the more interesting modes that offer a change of pace from the standard racing fare like the drift competitions are restricted to multiplayer only.
This is not the only restriction. There are many cars that are hidden behind a rather substantial paywall and giving that the car count is pretty low when compared to previous editions, is a bit of a kick in the teeth in all honesty. Not to mention that if you do shell out for the additional DLC, you need to have the in-game currency in order to pay to access the content you’ve just paid extra for. There are also multiplayer challenges that you are only able to access with certain vehicles, a number of which require you to purchase the dlc before-hand.
Despite the bitter aftertaste of a dlc system more befitting of a free-to-play title, if you prepare yourself for feeling like you may have overpaid for a full retail game; there is a great looking racing simulator that offers unparalleled realism to be enjoyed here. Fully accessible to all levels of ability, this is a game that will be appreciated by both the young child who is excited by big shiny cars and loud noises and the world’s biggest petrol head.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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