Video game franchises Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport are household names. So when one of these iconic franchises ends up taking a six-year hiatus in-between releases, one has to wonder if the wait will be worth it? Fortunately, the revamped and rebuilt Forza Motorsport acts as an all new launching point for Microsoft’s popular vehicular franchise, one that may please fans and newcomers alike.
Six years is a long time in the video game world. In this time, Forza fans have enjoyed the release of two simulation title giants, and two major releases of the Microsoft-owned franchise. Moreover, video gamers have become spoiled by brand-new additions to the genre. However, as Project Cars and Assetto Corsa slowly succumb to age and Gran Turismo 7 obnoxiously pushes players to their limits, Forza Motorsport is left with the remnants of a world hungry for more.
While rebuilt, revamped, and rebooted up the wazoo, Forza Motorsport shares a familiarity with the franchise’s legacy. Motorsport, unlike its more casual and free-borne sibling, is clean and calculating, almost cold in its shininess. It is a hardcore simulation title, and it will not make you forget it, regardless of its renewed focus on accessibility for all, newbies and casual players included (more on this below).
As with most simulation titles, the “narrative” takes a back seat. Instead, players can expect one league on top of the other as they slowly work their way through every world cup, tournament, and race inserted into the title by Turn10 (there is a lot of content on offer here). Booting the title up for the first time automatically loads players into the new Builders Cup, an event series designed to introduce players to one of three of the most iconic modern tuners currently in circulation. The idea with the Builders Cup is to race in an event, get some points and some cash, and then to literally “build” the chosen vehicle up into a beast of a racer by the end. New parts are unlocked by gaining experience with any given car. Players can choose from these parts and upgrade their vehicles after every event. As always, picking and choosing parts serves as but a single segment of upgrading; since the game actively encourages tuning all of these parts to perfection as well.
Simulation video games tend to hammer in on the fact that engines need to be tuned… and so, too, do tyres, drivetrains, gearboxes, and more. While there are “preset” tuning options players are given when entering events, these may not always be conducive to the best driving. For instance, it would do players a lot more good to soften up their tyres when entering events where the tarmac may be wet. Similarly, loosening those roll bars may aid in getting around longer and softer corners. This is where the beauty of the Forza Motorsport franchise shines, and it is no different in the latest iteration.
With that in mind, it must be noted how the game very much caters for newbies and casual players as well. While previous Motorsport titles allow for easy tuning and softer handling for amateur gamers, Forza Motorsport doubles down on accessibility and ease of use. While it is possible (and preferred by some) to go all-in and get all nitty gritty with the details, the game features a shiny new Quick Upgrade button, which instantly optimises a vehicle’s engine by using all available parts. Similarly, it lets users export their tuning data, or to import tuning data from the internet or friends. In the same vein, players can choose exactly how challenging the artificial intelligence should be for rival drivers; how much damage actually counts during events, and even how fast tyres tend to degrade. Upping the challenge on any of these adds a score multiplier based on the level of challenge added, giving players an additional incentive to “get good”.
The majority of additional events include tournaments and campaigns based around specific types of cars, although there are some dedicated to single vehicles, or others that are completely open for anyone to join (within reason). There are also rotational events, which refresh on what seems like a weekly roster! Needless to say, players will not be left wanting in terms of events. This is, of course, a clever way to encourage gamers to actually use the massive garage full of cars they will inevitably own, instead of buying them, building them up from scratch, and letting them gather virtual dust – and virtual dust is most definitely the key word.
Forza Motorsport is the turn of an era for the franchise. While Forza Horizon has enjoyed a steady stream of releases in recent years, Turn10 has slowly been building away at an all-new version of the ForzaTech engine. Built to take full advantage of the technologies inside the Xbox Series X, ForzaTech further allows video games to extend to hardware with even stronger capabilities and to implement some of the most true-to-life graphical simulation ever featured in racing video games.
With that said, it is only natural to assume Forza Motorsport features some beautiful visuals… and those assumptions would be spot on! The game features 20 tracks based on real-world circuits based all around the globe, all of which feature multiple layouts, as well as five never-before-seen tracks designed specifically for the game. Moreover, Forza Motorsport also includes a fully dynamic time of day and weather system. This means players may start a race day with sunny weather, and end it completely drenched. Thanks to ForzaTech there is also an unprecedented level of volumetric fog effects and even temperature changes and effects on both a perceived-, and actual physical, level.
Tracks are truly beautiful as well. Thanks to laser scanning technologies and new advanced in photogrammetry, environments can be rendered using real-time ray tracing. Along with advances in global illumination and physical-based lighting, gamers will find themselves lost in the vistas long before they start the race. Tracks and environments are but one facet of the game, however. Forza Motorsport is a racing simulator and a huge part of that entails sitting in, or being around a vast number of cars. As such, it would be remiss not to mention how the game features more than 500 cars, all of which have an additional 800 parts to collect… and everything is absolutely gorgeous.
While Gran Turismo has long owned the title of being one of the ‘most accurate’ depictions of racing and vehicles in a virtual environment, the fact is Gran Turismo 7 falters in comparison to what Forza Motorsport has to offer. On enthusiastic graphical presets, vehicles mirror real-life cars in almost every single way! While graphical presets for the Xbox Series X/S feature dynamic resolutions and softer shadows, vehicles remain as crisp as ever. It is quite an uncanny experience to control a vehicle in a game while the rain is clattering against the windshield of the car and tyres are squealing all around; to see how the fog cuts through headlamps on big open circuits early in the morning. In short: ForzaTech is something to behold.
Say what you will about how a game looks. Ultimately, however, a racing simulator should excel at one particular point: gameplay. With Forza Motorsport it feels like this singular notion will finally deliver the game into the same leagues its biggest competitor has enjoyed for decades. Professional gamers and actual racers alike use simulators to train and hone their skills when not on the tarmac. Thanks to the unprecedented detail featured in Forza Motorsport, as well as the overhauled and rebuilt physics engine, this title may just be on the cusp of seeing a whole new era of sim-training!
It is no small feat for a game to impress as much as Forza Motorsport does. There are few titles actively attempting to keep the bar as high as humanly possible for future titles to draw from, and Forza Motorsport is undoubtedly one of those. It is gorgeous in all the right ways; feels amazing to play; and truly immerses players into the entire gameplay loop. Exceptional is hardly an appropriate classification for the game, as it is damn-near one of the best simulators of the generation.
|Unprecedented visual fidelity||Simulation naturally deters casual players.|
|Masterclass simulation gameplay||Perhaps too many vehicles?|
|So. Many. Vehicles.|
Title reviewed on Windows PC (via Steam) with code supplied by Microsoft Game Studios.
Junior Editor at Vamers. From Superman to Ironman; Bill Rizer to Sam Fisher and everything in-between, Edward loves it all. He is a Bachelor of Arts student and English Major specialising in Language and Literature. He is an avid writer and casual social networker with a flare for all things tech related.