It certainly seems like racing games have run dry when it comes to original ideas. Every odd year, another title releases with a crazy amount of cars while the publisher and developer tout “authentic” and “close to real” physics and car performance. In this decade of gaming it is not about the way the cars handle any longer, but rather about content… and boy, does Forza Motorsport 7 deliver on that front. Big time.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but no one will dispute Forza Motorsport 7’s sexiness
Forza Motorsport 7, the newest entry in Microsoft’s first-party racing franchise, released to much fanfare. Before that, however, it seemed that news stagnated a bit on the racing title. It was like the world was over racing games before most 2017 titles even released! Then the seventh title in the Motorsport franchise released, and it was like the silence before was just the calm before the storm.
Forza Motorsport 7 is the third title in the franchise that sees a release on Xbox One, and it shows. Developers Turn 10 have learned a lot from earlier titles. The game is not only one of the most beautiful entries in the franchise, but it is also the catalyst for 4K gaming. The game is clearly a showcase title for the imminent release of the Xbox One X and its 4K capabilities; and let me tell you that it is an age that we have all waited for. I know Hans has been getting ready for the 4K revolution for some time now.
It goes without saying that the game is beautiful. While at home, I played the game at only 1080p, and it was still one of the most beautiful titles I have ever played. In fact, the most alluring part of Forza Motorsport 7 is its ridiculous beauty. The moment you press play, however, the game opens up with a large amount of options, menus, and content.
Content… pretty much all about the cars
A Drivatar is the multiplayer equivalent of those “best time ghosts” of yore. Regardless of the car you are driving, you always feel like the digital Drivatars you are racing against are actual, real-life people. The system is very good.
The thing is, when it comes to innovation, you will not find a lot here. Forza introduced Drivatars in Motorsport 5. Similarly, smaller innovations came along with every release in the franchise, until nothing could be added any longer. Microsoft and Turn 10 knew this. As such, they prepared for this by focusing not on new and exciting features, but rather on making an already great game, so much greater. Sure, the Artificial Intelligence has had a huge bump from previous titles, but even then that is only a byproduct of today’s day and age. I must admit that it was hard to catch up to race leaders, especially if I did not drive as well as my racing lines instructed me. This is made even more difficult by the game’s new dynamic weather system.
My very first race was one steeped in a heavy downpour. This upped the admittedly small learning curve by tenfold! On the other hand, this conditioned me for future races, and boy am I glad that it did. For me, I already had a very hard time keeping up by only the second trophy in the single player Forza Cup series.
Content in Forza Motorsport 7 ultimately boils down to the sheer amount of cars you can collect. The absolute dedication that went into making each car feel unique, is a testament to all simulation games; and it is the kind of detail that should never be cut. Forza Motorsport 7 features a whopping 700 vehicles! Now, I may not have been able to drive them all (because who really could), but let me assure you that every single one I tried and purchased felt unique
From the game’s incredible selection of cars, you will likely try all types at least once. This is thanks to the game’s single-player campaign that throws you into structured races with rotating cars and race rules. As you make your way past the first few matches, you will be given one free car and start on your merry way to basically “catch ‘em all” for lack of a better term.
Standard gameplay enhanced
As I mentioned above, there are a whopping 700 vehicles in the base game alone. Before you get to them all, however, the game first requires you to do a few tutorial races. After that, you can choose from one free car, and which one you pick is determined solely by you, and your collector’s level (that is how many cars you have already collected). By using that car in the first batch of races, you will level up and gain credits. Credits can then be used to buy more cars so you can compete in more races.
I mentioned above that the collector’s level is determined by how many cars you collect. This score is also augmented by the rarity of your vehicles. This means that if you frequent the special dealer in the menu, and purchase a lot of the “collector’s vehicles” available there, your score will skyrocket. This also incentives you to go out of your way to buy more vehicles. You will notice that the game will have you buy a vehicle from a set tier if you do not do it yourself. This is a sure way to get stuck really fast, especially if you do not level enough to gain credit, or win enough matches.
Essentially, the game does not force “linear” progression on you. This is not a game where you start with a crappy low-budget car, win enough credits, and move on to better cars. Instead, Forza Motorsport 7 encourages experimentation with various types of vehicles. I remember doing my first truck race, and it was crazy how much I liked it. With that said, the game also imposes some restrictions on its races and cars. In previous titles, you could race any tier against its counterparts. That means a car with a score of 570, could go up against a host of cars with scores ranging from 500-599. Now, however, Forza Motorsport 7 has made it so that there is a very limited amount of modification you can do to a car before it oversteps the boundaries of the race. This is just another way the game incentivises trying out new cars.
Another fantastic feature I quite liked is the fact that Turn 10 used their Drivatar system to turn celebrities into digital avatars. In the game, you compete against various real-world racing celebrities and professional drivers, and there is no discrimination! Turn 10 sourced professionals from all industries to make their digital world as believable as possible. Now, couple that with already-impressive car physics, and you get one phenomenal system.
The same sentiment extends into multiplayer. From couch co-op, which was a huge surprise to see, to huge online races, you can bet good money that you will have a smooth experience all around. With that said, I must say that the online auction feature had not gone live yet at the time of this review, so I have zero experience in that regard to tell you about.
On the topic of multiplayer, I can also safely assure you that Forza Motorsport 7 is no stranger to it in that regard. As I mentioned above, the game features a split screen mode, which is highly surprising and frankly very welcome. It also has a huge mode where you and up to 23 other players can go head-to-head in a bid to be crowned the best. I noticed that sometimes these racers acted pretty predictably, so I did some digging. Apparently, the 23-racer count can include, but is not limited, to other human players. This means that the racers can be a combination of drivatars, and players.
Take a look at these loot crates while you wait for your track to load
Performance in Forza Motorsport 7 is hit and miss. While the game itself plays at a rock solid 60-frames per second, it does have serious loading times.
One thing you will notice pretty much from the moment you press play, are loading screens. These come in all forms throughout the game. From generic loading screens after cutscenes, to cleverly placed loading after races as you transition tracks.
Perhaps the biggest issue about al of it, is the fact that it does not feel consistent. You can navigate through most menus without a problem and without a single hitch. Then you are pitted against an obscenely long loading screen while you wait for the track to load every single time you finish a race or start a new one. To ensure that it was not just me, I played the game from both my external hard drive and my internal drive. There was no change.
These loading times made what should have been short twenty-minute races, take upwards of 30 minutes. It really takes long to load into a track, and Microsoft and Turn 10 should definitely try and get to the bottom of that.
With that said, however, I should emphasise that as long as the loading times are, it still blows all of its competition out of the water in terms of visuals. The game is a beautifully rendered without compromising on gameplay. The loading simply breaks the experience from a well oiled machine, to one that constantly needs to stop for gas.
There are loading screens… and then there are microtransactions. The bane of today’s triple-A titles shows its ugly face in Forza Motorsport 7; but it really is not as bad as you might think. Yes, mod cards make a return from the previous game, and they do add neat little challenges to your races. These challenges add quirks and goals to your races, and buying a Prize Crate with only mods will cost you around 300 000 in-game credit. In-game credit. Let that sink in. No real-world money ever needs to be used within the game.
When I first got the game, I read that progression is tied to buying loot crates that contain parts and mod cards. That is not true at all. Never with my time in the game, did I feel like I even needed to look at the crates page! In fact, apart from the very first time that the game attempts to familiarise you with buying crates, I never opened that page again. Now, if the case were that Turn 10 forced players into buying loot crates with real money in order to progress, then I would have a huge issue with this. However, you can be rest assured that every single purchase you make in-game, save for downloadable car packs, do not require you to spend any additional real world money. Only in-game credit, and nothing else.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Fortunately for racing simulation fans out there, however, Forza Motorsport 7’s single-player campaign alone takes around 20 hours to finish. From the first hour and buying your first car, through to hour twenty and your 200th car, Forza Motorsport 7 never fails to amaze.
The ridiculously long loading times aside, the game offers a lot. It has a huge 700-vehicle count that stretches from semi-trucks, Formula 1 cars, and SUVs, through to luxury sports vehicles, and exotic tuners. I primarily played the single player portions, but multiplayer has something for everyone too. I keep going on about how the game has local couch co-op, but that is pretty decent for a title in 2017.
Microtransactions are not n issue at all, and I really do not get how some people got upset about it being in the game when it launched last week.
All in all, Turn 10 delivers an impressively good-looking game that plays outstandingly well. The game offers a heck of a lot without asking a dime more than you already paid for the base game, and I can attest to the fact that it is worth every penny.
|Time played||20 Hours|
|Difficulty||Custom: normal, with simulated steering and only braking lines|
|Acquisition||Copy courtesy of Xbox South Africa|
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