The Forza Motorsport series has long been the premier name when it comes to hardcore racing simulations on Xbox and PC. First debuting in 2005, the Motorsport branch carved out a niche for gearheads seeking authentic track racing compared to the more arcade-like Forza Horizon titles. However, after Forza Motorsport 7 released in 2017, the series went quiet for nearly 6 years.
Now, the aptly named Forza Motorsport has arrived as a reboot for the franchise, bringing a host of improvements and changes. At its core, the game doubles down on precision physics and competitive online racing. The handling model has been overhauled for more realism, with car weight and grip feeling far more dynamic. Multiplayer introduces critical features like driver ratings and penalties to cultivate cleaner competition. Visually, the cars and environments are more striking than ever thanks to the new ForzaTech graphics engine. And dynamic time of day and weather深en the simulation.
However, some changes like the new RPG-style progression system seem more questionable. In this review, we’ll assess how well Forza Motorsport straddles the line between welcoming newcomers and rewarding veterans. Does it push the genre forward and reclaim the racing sim crown? Or does it stall out on the starting grid? Read on as we take this reboot for a spin.
Seeing is Believing
It’s plain to see that Forza Motorsport represents a massive graphical leap over its predecessors thanks to the new ForzaTech engine. Both the vehicles and environments display an astonishing level of fidelity that brings players closer than ever to the authentic motorsports experience.
The cars themselves are simply gorgeous, flaunting precise details right down to accurate badging, lighting fixtures, and interior materials. Each model showcases its designer’s intent with care, from the sinewy curves of a Ferrari to the aggression of a Mustang. Liveries and paint jobs retain clarity even when vehicles are moving at full tilt. Attach a racing helmet and the driver models also look convincingly real. While cockpit hands and interiors aren’t quite photorealistic, they avoid plunging into uncanny valley territory.
But vehicles are only one cog in this visual package. ForzaTech renders weather effects like sunlight glare and rainfall with nuance that affects driving dynamics. Nighttime lighting bathes tracks in rich, atmospheric illumination. The environments surrounding circuits also pop with life through 3D crowds and ancillary objects. While Forza likely doesn’t trump Gran Turismo 7 overall on visuals due to the limitations of console hardware, it still delivers an exemplary level of craftsmanship.
Those seeking to push Forza’s graphics further can tap into several performance modes. On Xbox Series X, Performance mode runs at 4K resolution with ray tracing disabled during races to lock 60 FPS. For more visual richness, Performance RT lowers the rendering target but enables ray-traced reflections on cars. Finally, Quality brings back full 4K while limiting the framerate to a remarkably stable 30 FPS with all effects active. Ultimately, Forza Motorsport is a stunner regardless of the mode chosen.
On PC, the prospects for visual fidelity get elevated even higher through beefier hardware. Unfortunately, early impressions indicate Forza Motorsport doesn’t fully deliver on that promise yet. Performance is erratic even on rigs exceeding the recommended specs unless settings are turned down. Clearly some optimization patches are needed to bring the PC version up to snuff. Once dialed in, advanced ray tracing and 8K potential should make Forza Motorsport a showcase title for the platform.
For those seeking both beauty and velocity, Forza Motorsport succeeds tremendously in realizing its automotive landscapes. Some rough edges remain, but the visuals consistently impress and immerse. When it comes to aesthetics, Turn 10 is cruising confidently despite a few sputtering cylinders.
The Need for Speed
One of the most crucial pillars of any racing sim is delivering responsive, authentic vehicle handling. This determines how connected players feel to their speeding projectiles of steel and horsepower. Forza Motorsport puts a premium on upping its physics modeling game with this reboot.
The most noticeable enhancements come in terms of weight transfer and grip. Cars no longer guide like slot cars on rails; instead momentum and chassis dynamics influence how they steer and rotate. Suspensions compress, tires deform, and bodies roll realistically during cornering. Grip now scales progressively as it exceeds adhesion limits instead of simply vanishing, leading to more natural slip angles and oversteer.
This completely transforms the subtle dance at the limit of traction. Expert drivers can gracefully catch slides by listening to the chassis and modulating the throttle. Beginners also benefit from the increased intuitiveness and leeway compared to the binary grip model of past Forza titles. Overall, the vehicles simply feel more grounded and reactive to driver inputs.
The handling communicates wonderfully through wheels and gamepads alike. Controller assists provide necessary abstraction to avoid overly punishing inputs on small analogue sticks. But wheels can disable these aids to receive focused tire force feedback and precise steering response. While the wheel physics aren’t quite as hardcore as dedicated sims like iRacing, the experience is now far more convincing for wheel users.
Veteran players may need time to adapt to the new model after getting used to previous Forzas. But this reworked physics engine objectively provides a more cohesive, authentic challenge. There are still some minor nitpicks like excessive curb damping effects, but overall Forza finds an excellent balance between accessible fun and unforgiving simulation.
Between the tire grip, chassis motion, and environmental effects like weather, Forza Motorsport sets a new bar for conveying speed. The satisfying handling incentivizes players to push themselves to get those perfect shifts, braking points, and apex clips. While not on the cutting edge with die-hard gearheads, this package delivers a thrilling dynamic experience for all types of racing game fans.
Forza Motorsport’s career mode aims to provide a comprehensive single-player experience across a variety of racing disciplines. It’s structured into tours focused on particular car classes, with each tour containing multiple championship series. These play out through standard practice, qualification, and main event formats. There’s no shortage of lengthy events to plow through for those seeking solo thrills.
In practice, you’re given free rein to learn the circuit and ideally set a fast reference lap time. Doing so earns extra XP that speeds up rewarding progression. Qualifying then takes your best practice lap or timed trial to determine grid position. Finally, races themselves tend to be 3+ laps depending on track length. You’re free to choose your starting spot to amp up the challenge if desired.
It’s a predictable template, but executed smoothly. Practicing the same track across events does get repetitive, though being able to jump straight to timed laps helps. The ability to customize grid position makes races more dynamic rather than forcing you to qualify each time. While traditional qualifying is absent, the career structure remains varied and compelling enough.
However, Forza Motorsport’s new RPG-infused progression system proves more divisive. Previously, credits purchased upgrades instantly between events. Now, each car must be leveled up by earning XP during races to unlock upgrades and the points required to fit them. It hopes to create more attachment to your vehicles, but feels overly grindy.
In theory, the system pushes you to better learn each car before slapping on upgrades thoughtlessly. Spending time with the stock configurations can build skill. In practice, drip feeding minor upgrades like weight reduction at a glacial pace feels artificial. And until you reach higher levels, you’re left unable to experiment with more meaningful changes like drivetrain swaps that greatly impact performance.
Particularly egregious is gating visual customizations like body kits and rims behind the higher levels. These have no effect on vehicle behavior, so hiding them away for dozens of hours feels punitive. The preset upgrade packages for impatient players also optimize performance very poorly. Overall, while Forza Motorsport intends to make you “earn” your builds, the execution leads to unnecessary tedium and frustration.
That’s not to say grinding experience itself is inherently bad. Rewarding time spent driving with performance improvements can create positive reinforcement loops. However, the rate of progression and unimaginative unlock structure could seriously test players’ patience. It artificially lengthens engagement at the cost of fun.
Forza Motorsport clearly aimed to solve issues with excessive car collection and cookie cutter builds from previous entries. But rather than empower players with more creative options, the revised system just constrains them. The career mode still delivers entertaining racing at its core. But the vehicle progression underpinning it stalls out.
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Rubbing is Racing
While the single-player career supplies plenty of solo content, Forza Motorsport’s most dramatic strides come with its online multiplayer overhaul. After lagging behind rivals in recent entries, the new systems create a much-needed framework for cleaner competition.
The biggest change is adopting driver ratings, safety scores, and penalties akin to cutting-edge sims like iRacing. Recklessly careening into other cars damages your rating, dropping you into lower ranked lobbies. This incentivizes more caution and respect. Penalties applying post-race time deductions also discipline dirty driving. It’s a night and day difference from the lawless lobbies of the past.
For structured events, the “hopper” format popularized by Gran Turismo now makes its Forza debut. Players can register for upcoming races during predetermined times slots. Lobbies then open for practice and qualifying sessions to set the grid order based on pace. This platforms features both spec racing, where cars are identically tuned, and open events for your own personalized builds.
The fixed schedule creates anticipation and high player counts for races. Post-qualifying drama as the pack funnels down to the starting grid perfectly captures the atmosphere of real competitive motorsport events. And the variety between spec and open categories provides welcome flexibility.
For more casual competition, customs lobbies allow tweaking settings like track and vehicle restrictions. Rivals mode delivers leaderboard time trial challenges. And newer tools like replay ghost comparison and lap time delta displays assist in analyzing and improving driving. However, local splitscreen was disappointingly axed, removing a beloved legacy feature for co-op and competitive couch play.
Some finer details like post-race spectating could be polished, but the foundations feel very promising. Forza Motorsport brings the series up to speed with proper matchmaking, safety rating systems, and competitive frameworks. The great racing at its core finally has an online platform to support it. Turn 10 stuck the pit stop and got back in the race.
Pimp My Ride
Getting hands-on with fine-tuning your vehicles has always been a trademark of Forza titles. Forza Motorsport continues that tradition by providing deep cosmetic and performance customization options for gearheads to obsess over. Between visual mods and mechanical upgrades, you have plenty of ways to make cars your own.
Visually, the livery editor gives creative control over paint colors, finishes, decals, and branding. Exacting players can spend hours painstakingly recreating real-world race car liveries, or crafting original designs. The ability to manipulate decals into unique shapes remains best-in-class. While car-specific parts like body kits and aerodynamics are now locked behind progression walls, you otherwise have free aesthetic reign.
Mechanically, almost every aspect of tuning is adjustable, from gear ratios to damper settings. Novices can follow preset upgrade paths for straightforward performance gains, while experts can meticulously balance components to shave precious tenths of a second off lap times. You’re given the knowledge needed to make meaningful changes, not just blindly toggle ambiguous sliders.
Upgrades themselves must be unlocked by playing and leveling up each car. This system hopes to create more personal attachment to your garage. But it also limits the ability to radically experiment with configurations right away. Significant options like drivetrain swaps take many hours to obtain. The joy of breaking a car to make it better is undermined.
Still, finishing a build by maxing out customization via this mastery journey provides satisfaction. The inputs may be abstracted for accessibility, but outcomes feel impactful. Bolting on that final wing mirrors earning it through dedication. Forza Motorsport mostly succeeds in making personalization rewarding.
Between aesthetic and functional changes ranging from gearing tweaks to widebody kits, the tools exist to impart your personality into these speed machines. Some strange gaps around upgrade accessibility remain, but the freedom to tinker under the hood and give your car its own look still delivers miles of customization fun. Just be prepared for the journey there to take the scenic route.
Sounds of the Track
Engines snarling, tires squealing, crowds cheering – the auditory experience proves just as important as the visuals for selling the motorsports fantasy. Forza Motorsport ensures players hear every mechanical and environmental detail with exceptional clarity and range. The soundtrack itself remains more of a mixed bag, however.
Each vehicle’s engine note roars with authority, avoiding the buzzy toy-like tones of some past games. You can even pick out subtle differences between models – the throatier rumble of an American V8 versus the high-winding wail of an Italian twin-turbo. Crunching gearshifts, blistering tire scrub, and Doppler effects as cars pass all mix convincingly too.
Trackside sound flourishes like cheering crowds on straights or screeching birds circling overhead provide immersive ambience. Weather imparts its acoustic personality as well, with rain pinging on bodywork and rumbling thunder. It’s an intricately woven soundscape that bolsters the simulation.
But while the racing audio enthralls, Forza Motorsport’s presentational style is less compelling. The polished menu voiceover and bombastic introduction cinematics feel almost too refined. They come off as trying too hard to manufacture emotion instead of channeling genuine passion. More candid narration embracing motorsport culture could better hype events.
Likewise, the soundtrack has flashes of energy but lacks cohesion. The mix of rock and electronic tracks feels disjointed, with odd transitions as songs change abruptly mid-race. While the acts themselves deliver strong tunes, the eclectic playlist never settles into a rhythmic groove to feed off of. It’s less crucial than engineering audio, but still underwhelming.
However, faults in presentation hardly diminish the acoustic achievement where it truly counts. Every mechanical nuance, environment effect, and physics reaction comes through with immaculate definition. Forza Motorsport assuredly passes the ear test even if it stumbles slightly as a hype man. When engines start roaring, the sound design rocks.
Forza Motorsport aimed to reinvigorate the franchise after a long hiatus by doubling down on series strengths while expanding in key areas. In many regards, it succeeds – the physics, multiplayer, and visual presentation set new benchmarks for the series. But misguided changes like the progression system drag down the experience, and lack of variety leaves it feeling confined.
The vastly improved handling model far exceeds anything from previous Motorsport entries in terms of responsiveness and authenticity. Expert tuning and assists allow both casual and hardcore gearheads to extract nuanced joy from pushing these machines around circuits. Even with a controller, the sense of speed and connection to the tarmac feels superb.
Likewise, the graphics showcase Turn 10’s technical prowess through meticulous car models and atmospheric effects like weather and lighting. While it doesn’t definitively beat visual benchmarks like Gran Turismo 7, Forza Motorsport represents a massive generational leap in fidelity. And options like ray tracing push the envelope further.
Evolution also shines through in online multiplayer, which adopts successful frameworks like safety ratings from leading sim racers. The structured events and seasonal model provide much-needed variety and scheduling. Racing against others now feels both competitive and fair. These upgrades bring Forza Motorsport up to speed in a critical area left neglected since earlier titles.
However, some changes seem to subtract rather than add. The new progression system with per-car XP gain and unlocks drags down the experience by severely limiting options early on. What Forza needed was more imaginative events and modes, not arbitrary gates hampering customization. It holds back the addictive toolset the series is known for.
Likewise, the single-player career expose how limited Forza’s scope remains compared to genre leaders. Structure and formats remain nearly identical to past decades with practice-qualify-race almost exclusively. Rivals leaderboards are the only other gameplay variety on offer. Especially coming from Horizon’s open worlds, Motorsport feels severely narrowed.
As a result, Forza Motorsport sits in an awkward spot – perhaps spread too thin. It modernizes some aspects to better court dedicated gearheads invested in competitive online racing and realistic handling. But it neglects more arcade-friendly features and diversity that gave past entries wider appeal. This entry carries a heavier emphasis on simulation over recreation.
That makes it tough to issue a blanket recommendation. Those seeking a robust online racing platform with authentic physics will find much to love. But casual players hungry for track variety may lose steam grinding repetitive career events. Significant strides made in key areas like visuals, sound, and handling can’t fully offset odd missteps elsewhere.
As a reboot, Forza Motorsport shows admirable progress in some regards, but also regression in others. It hasn’t fully honed a cohesive vision yet – too focused in scope for mainstream appetites but not quite laser-targeted at simulation purists either. However, with a solid enough foundation now in place, hopefully Turn 10 can shift gears into higher territory with future outings.
Forza Motorsport aimed to reassert the series’ presence after years away by refining its simulation pedigree. In many regards, that goal is accomplished – the handling, multiplayer, and presentation exhibit impressive steps forward. Turn 10 clearly invested in the motorsports experience they envisioned rather than chasing trends.
However, some of those strides seem almost paradoxical. Lavish visuals and a meticulous physics engine cater to gearhead perfectionists. But incredibly slow, grindy progression directly contradicts enabling nuanced tuning. It’s a package seemingly at odds with itself.
As a result, judging Forza Motorsport holistically is difficult. When focused squarely on authentic track racing, it delivers strides towards racing simulation zen. But surrounding components like single-player career expose how limited the overall package feels compared to genre leaders. It makes you wonder about Turn 10’s long-term vision.
Still, judged on its strongest elements, Forza Motorsport marks a successful reboot. Refinements to physics and online racing provide foundations the series can build upon, and graphical spectacle sets a new bar. Hopefully future updates can sand away rougher edges regarding progression and variety.
For now, think of Forza Motorsport as an excellent driver’s car rather than a well-rounded everyday ride. Some peculiar choices hold back broader appeal, but gearheads have plenty to obsess over between the handling, tuning, and competitive online racing. It gets back up to speed in many key areas. For patient players willing to look past odd wrinkles, a rewarding road lies ahead.
Forza Motorsport emerges as a testament to the evolution of racing simulations, proudly showcasing its lineage with a massive graphical leap and refined physics. The new ForzaTech graphics engine breathes life into every car and track, immersing players in an authentic motorsports experience that's unparalleled. While the game's dedication to precision and competitive online racing is commendable, the introduction of the RPG-style progression system could be a double-edged sword, inviting intrigue from some and skepticism from others. Nonetheless, this reboot, with its blend of nostalgia and innovation, largely succeeds, though it treads a fine line in its endeavor to welcome rookies while still honoring its seasoned racers.
- Enhanced precision physics for a more realistic racing experience.
- Competitive online racing with features like driver ratings and penalties.
- Significant graphical improvements with the new ForzaTech graphics engine.
- Detailed and realistic depiction of cars and environments.
- Dynamic elements like changing time of day and weather conditions.
- The introduction of an RPG-style progression system might not be universally appreciated.
- Potential steep learning curve for newcomers due to the game's emphasis on realism.
- Long hiatus since the last game may have set very high expectations.