Forza Motorsport review: the Xbox exclusive takes pole position
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Featured Image Credit: Xbox Game Studios
It’s been a patient wait for fans of Turn 10 Studios’ Forza Motorsport series with its last release arriving in 2017 for the Xbox One. Since then, we’ve had two entries in the open-world spin-off series, Forza Horizon. So has the build-up been worth the wait, or has the highly anticipated racer stalled at the starting grid?
Forza Motorsport is a reboot of the series which began all the way back in 2005 on the original Xbox. It’s Microsoft’s answer to the legendary Gran Turismo series and throughout the years, it’s been a swinging pendulum to which of the most recent entries claims top spot on the podium. However, with the rebooted Forza Motorsport skipping last-gen consoles, there are high hopes for the PC and new-gen exclusive.
Check out the Forza Motorsport trailer below!
What main modes does Forza Motorsport have to offer? For starters, we have the typical offerings such as Career, which requires you to race in competitive AI tournaments ranging from classic to super - with some old banger cars each offering various challenges and levels of fun.
At launch in the Career mode, we have Modern Tour which does what it says on the tin, requiring the player to race in a variety of modern cars. Then you have the Enthusiast Tour which has a range of Classic, Street, and Sports cars. Power Tour is all about the muscle such as the iconic Mustang and Chevrolet. Next up, we have Legacy Tour featuring everything from Exotic to Vintage Hatch, Tuners and more. Finally, Featured Track Tours offer different cars, challenges and tournaments on rotation. If you want to race truly luxury cars, this is the tour for you.
To compete with other online players, Featured Multiplayer is the place to go. Here, you will have multiple options not too dissimilar to the Career mode, with events being time-limited before a new one arrives. My experience with multiplayer has been a mixed bag of tricks and its enjoyment depends on the types of players that you are paired with.
If you’re lucky, you will be matched with players who like to race fairly, though you can expect the odd accidental bump or two. Unfortunately, if you’re paired with players who think they’re in a Demolition Derby, then your experience may be a little more frustrating. Thankfully, there is the option of private racers should you find a few friends to gather or sporting acquaintances you may have met online.
Outside of the Career and multiplayer modes, a favourite of mine is the returning Rivals mode. Rivals is kind of like a Time Trial, only here you’re racing against other players' ghosts on track. This offers more than just a simple time to beat, knowing that you’re competing against another player's time, especially if you’re put up against a friend which adds an extra competitive layer that will keep you pushing the pursuit of bragging rights.
If I were to have one complaint about the various Tours in career mode, it would be the requirement to participate in practice sessions. Usually, it’s optional whether you choose to participate in practice sessions, but from what I can tell, it’s a requirement in Forza Motorsport, at least during launch. Don’t get me wrong, taking part in practices has its benefits such as earning additional driver and car XP to level up and unlock new car parts and accessories. Yet, most of the time, I just want to jump into a Career race with the practice requirement feeling a lot like padding. Unless I’ve missed something, I’m hoping that a post-launch update will enable it as an option.
Aside from the modes on offer in Forza Motorsport, variation and customisation is a lot of what this series has been about. I’ll openly admit that I am no petrolhead or talented livery editor. If you are, then your mechanical and creative juices will be flowing in Forza Motorsport with the incredible depth of community expression that this game brings to the table. For the rest of us, we can take advantage of not only downloading awesome liveries but also car tune-ups that the community has put together, the latter of which may give you an advantage during a competitive race.
In terms of what cars are included in Forza Motorsport, the developers at Turn 10 Studios have promised that 500+ cars will arrive in the months ahead. It is also said that around 100 of those cars are new to the series. Oh, and the purr of the engine and the screech of a tyre has never sounded better, especially if you’re using a decent soundbar or headset. You can tell that the developers have put as much time into making this game look pretty as they have making it sound good. Furthermore, each car feels different to handle from the last, requiring you to not only perfect the handling of your latest car but memorise each turn and straight on the wonderfully crafted race circuits.
As for how good Forza Motorsport looks and performs, this entry is next-level and takes advantage of skipping last-gen consoles. I get that it’s a shame when a previous gen is missed out, but it’s got to happen at some point for new-gen games to advance and Forza Motorsport falls into that category.
Everything from the exterior and interior of each car to on-track damage looks and feels great. Even the particle effects look amazing whether it be smoke from a tyre, dust off the track, or rain splashing onto your windscreen. Forza Motorsport is one of the best-looking games that you’ll play on modern consoles. What’s more, the dynamic weather effects and time of the day during a race not only look pretty, but it can change the course of a race on the fly, in particular when the heavens pour and night falls forcing you to switch your strategy.
What’s more, Turn 10 Studios has implemented three fantastic modes for those that favour performance, graphics or a little bit of both. For example, Performance will target 60fps on track at a 4K resolution. Graphics will enable a native 4K resolution with ray-tracing on track at 30fps. Performance RT enables on-track ray-tracing at 60fps with a variable resolution,and it’s this latter mode that really caught my attention. Think about it, a smooth 60fps with ray tracing in a high-octane racing sim that looks as visually stunning as Forza Motorsport. Turn 10 Studios really are wizards. While I’ve not been able to test the Series S version, reports from Digital Foundry state that it has a Performance Mode at 1080p/60fps, and Graphics mode at 1440p/30fps, with ray tracing only being implemented in the garage.
Despite the requirement of having to participate in practice sessions, Forza Motorsport is a near-perfect racer that’s worth its weight in gold. It takes advantage of the capabilities of the Xbox Series X and then some, pushing the boundaries of what’s expected of the modern console racing sim. If you’re a PC gamer or owner of an Xbox Series X/S and a racing fan, Forza Motorsport is a must-own for fans of the genre.
Pros: Visually stunning, fantastic choice of performance and graphics modes, loads of customisation, gameplay feels so good
Cons: Practice requirement before a race in Career mode feels like unnecessary padding
For fans of: Gran Turismo, Forza Horizon
Forza Motorsport releases for PC and Xbox Series X/S on 5 October 2023. Review code was provided by the publisher, Microsoft. Read a guide to our review scores here.