Forza Motorsport 7 Review
I’ve been playing the games in the Forza Series since the start, back in 2002 on the original Xbox. I’ve seen Forza Motorsport, helped by it’s sister games Forza Horizon, go from a good game among many in a crowded genre, to be held as the premiere racing game around. Its no surprise that Microsoft have heavily featured Turn 10’s creations in promoting its new consoles as they pushed the envelope with what could be done with the processing power and graphical capabilities. Now its 2017 and the latest release Forza Motorsport 7 is one of the marquee games showcasing the upcoming Xbox One X with its 4K graphics. But does the game live up to the hype, and how does it actually play?
The millions of existing Forza fans will certainly not be disappointed, in fact fan or not, I defy you not to be impressed with whats on offer here. The hype has been all about how good the game looks in 4K, but even on my average flat screen and Xbox One, the game looks blimmin’ amazing.
As is usual with a Forza game, the developer recognise the fact that you want to get straight into the action, so as soon as you start the game, youre thrust into a race, that also acts as the tutorial. As the cover star of the game is the new Porsche 911 GT (thanks to the ending of Porsche’s exclusivity deal with EA), its natural that this is the first car you get to drive. And naturally you find yourself driving on a new track for the series, that of the Dubai circuit. The visuals are the first thing that gives you the Wow factor, but yours also impressed by how smooth and intuitive the driving is. The game puts in loads of nuances that come together perfectly to add to the realism, one of the first you’ll notice is the camera tilt. When playing on the third person ‘chase view’, you notice that when you hit a fast bend, the camera view tilts slightly to mimic how your head would go if you were there in person, the same being that you get a little camera judder when you hot a bump or a curve. It might not sound much but when you experience it, you feel yourself drawn even more into the action. There a load of different ways to change the difficulty to suit your ability, and you may find the initial levels quite easy as most of the assists are turned on, but I see that as a good way to show off the game to the new player.
Once you’ve completed the first race, you’re given something new to race in a Forza game, and that’s the trucks. I normally play in the chase view, looking at the vehicle you’re driving from a few feet behind, but with these beasts this isn’t practical because the sheer size of them blocks the view of whats in front of you. I was forced to use the view I always avoided in the past, the cockpit view, but playing in the first person was a bit of a revelation. Aided by the stunning realism of the graphics, it was great fun to play this way, and the truck racing game me a fun rough and tumble race. Because of the bulk of the monster rigs, parts of the track are less than two trucks wide, so a lot of bumping and paint swapping is required to overtake or squeeze through the gaps in order to get to the front of the pack. The sound of the air brakes and the engines revving was spot on, adding another level to the realism.
The third part of the opening race series cum tutorial puts you into Nissan GT-R at Suzuka, in the rain, showcase the amazing water effects in Forza. In this rear wheel drive car, you go sliding round bends sending up spray, hoping you don’t catch the wrong puddle, sending you aquaplaning off the track, or just putting you into a spin bracing yourself for the impact of the oncoming traffic. Luckily for me the setting were set to cosmetic damage only, as in simulation mode my car wouldn’t have kept going with that much damage! Driving in the rain is one of the most impressive sights in the game, as you may start the race in fair weather, and you see the sky get darker, the odd fork of lightening and the rain hitting the windscreen, the water moving in different directions depending on the forces at work on the car. The physics at play on the drops of water are incredible, forcing me to repeat that word, realistic. Don’t forget this is all in the standard graphical format, leaving to ponder how amazed you’ll be to experience it in all its 4K glory.
The offline game has been well thought out to give as much variety as possible as you work towards the Forza Drivers Cup. There are 6 levels of competition, get enough points in one level to unlock the next, all standard stuff but fun to work your way through. Its not just the standard race series, based on classes of car, but there are the Showcase events. There are things like drift races or ones where you chase down slower cars that get a head start on you, but my favourite was Limo Bowling. It sounds bizarre but it was a good laugh taking a stretch limo around the top gear track, trying to knock down as many strategically placed bowling pins as you can. If you can get a car that long to slide round a bend, you can take down a hell of a lot of pins! The Showcase events also give you the bonus of gifting you the participating car if you’re successful, which goes towards unlocking the next stage of your Car Collector series. This is a new feature, that instead of letting you buy any car, you start with a decent range of fairly standard cars to pick from, each one having a points value. When you reach a certain number of points, the next level unlocks, and a slightly more exiting raft of vehicles is yours to purchase if you have the coin. The credits are earned from doing well in races of course, and the less assists you have on the more you earn. With the game structured like this, you may have to buy cars you wouldn;t necessarily want in order to progress, but I see this as a plus point as it adds more variety to the experience you would normally expect, plus it also means levelling up is slower than before giving a greater sense of achievement to the progression.
Some familiar features from Forza 6 return, like the mod cards, of which you can add 3 to each offline race, either making the race harder or giving you a boost, the earn extra credits and XP. The superb livery editor remains virtually unchanged, allowing you to either come up with designs of your own for your cars paintwork, or pick from the best the Forza community has to offer, and believe me, there are some incredibly talented people out there willing to share their designs. Another outlet for the artistic player is the photography feature, letting you freeze frame the action at any point during the race or replay, and pick any camera angle, mess with the exposure and shutter speed, and add filters to come up with some amazing pics to share with the community.
On to a couple of new features now, the first being a customisable driver. It’s a nice touch that lets you put your own stamp on things, with different driver outfits to unlock and purchase, and there’s plenty of choice. Dress like the Stig or something more akin to Evel Knievel, its all down to personal taste, or lack of it! Another new feature is a change to the rewards for levelling up your driver. Before as you got to the next level, you got a spin of the wheel of fortune to see what you won, but now there’s a choice. You can simply take the credits on offer, take the option of a new drivers outfit, or take the offer of a new car at a discount. I liked this as it lets you pick something more useful to you at each stage of the game. A controversial new feature with players, which takes the last games mod pack feature a stage further, is the loot crates, as while at the moment you buy a crate of unknown goodies with in game credits, the more cynical of us know its only a matter of time before Turn 10 will be tempting us to spend our real world money on these.
The online game is again a triumph and works well, this time in a streamlined form. There is less emphasis on the different car classes, therefore diminishing the importance of tuning, which only the real petrol-heads seemed to understand anyway. The online lobby’s are now split into types of car, with restrictions on performance, meaning the races will still be close if you pick the right car. This may have been forced on the developers once they added the big trucks to the roster, as having a truck race a mini just because they both fall into C class would be ridiculous and impractical, especially if you play with the damage settings on simulation!
Forza Motorsport 7 takes console racing to higher levels than other game that has come before it, with astounding graphics and sound, incredibly smooth gameplay, a solid online experience and a nicely balanced career mode that will keep you interested for months to come. Turn 10 have been holding back on some features which are to come later, such their Forzathon weekends which were popular in Horizon 3. There’s been a push to turn Forza into a fully fledged e-sport, which can only be a good thing, and as well as the competition for the elite players, the developers are making sure the casual player will be well catered for too. The Forza series continues to rule roost over all other driving games, will undoubtedly pick up a whole raft of awards, and shows no signs of giving up that number one position.
Developer: Turn 10 Studios
Price: £49.99 – £79.99
Many Thanks to XCN for the review copy.