Forza Motorsport 5 Review
As Gran Turismo 6 is about to come out in just a couple weeks, Microsoft Studios wasn't going to let the Xbox One pull up to the starting line without a console-exclusive racing title.
Developed by Turn 10 Studios, the team responsible for the previous entries of the series, Forza Motorsport 5 is one of the first attempts at trying to redline the Xbox One's hardware in order to provide one of the most beautiful racers we have ever seen. Opening up with a monologue by Jeremy Clarkson, Forza 5's opening tone shows that there is a sense of freedom that can only be experienced while moving in a car at intangible speeds.
Featuring over 200 cars from over 50 different manufacturers, Forza Motorsport 5 isn't just a great looking racing game boasting an impressive roster of cars, it's an homage to the sport of racing (of all car types and circuits), acting as both a tribute and love song to the evolution of automobiles.
Having the cast of Top Gear do the narrations of Forza Motorsport 5 should be a telltale sign that the crew at Turn 10 Studios are absolute car fanatics and wish to cater to all the other fanatics in the world. The various circuits you can play in Forza 5 take you through a wild trip of all types of racing cars, from imports, Formula-1, GT, to American muscle. If there is a certain area of car racing you're a particular fan of (except go-karts), Forza 5 has entire circuits, vehicle rosters, car designs and challenges just for you and the area you're interested in. While we have seen our fair share of racing titles throughout the years, Forza 5 has some interesting concepts which attempt to reconstruct what it means to be an excellent racing game.
Within the third race on the first circuit we tried, Forza 5 had us navigating a tightly-knit track that was filled with empty trashcans and various types of cardboard cutouts of famous landmarks. Hitting these hundreds of cans, having the other cars mow into them and watching chaos ensue was just a visible spectacle that was a sure sign that the next generation of gaming was here and that it is quite impressive. Sure, that level may have just been an attempt to flex the Xbox One's muscles, but we were very surprised at how flawless everything looked while still incorporating a sense of speed and physics at the same time.
The physics systems of Forza 5 are some of the best we have ever seen from the racing genre. Combined with the unique vibration mechanisms inside the Left and Right Triggers of the Xbox One controller, we truly felt the experience of having a roadster's tires to the ground, the shifting of weight as you turned (at both low and high speeds), the screeching of brakes and the pull of driving fast and heavy. The vibration mechanisms signify the stressing of the left or right tires, depending on your circumstances. The physics truly matter, whether in a cherry, old Mustang, or in a Ferrari F12. Forza 5's car roster was tremendously trimmed down compared to the previous installment, but Turn 10 has refined the existing cars so that each one truly feels different, even if they are of the same type or class.
Forza 5 is meant to be heard on a blaring surround sound system. If you see a helicopter looking in the distance, you will hear its rotor blades spin as you blaze through the track underneath it. The engine noises sound like they have been recorded straight from their real life counterparts, and no two cars, regardless of their similarities, will sound alike. From tapping the brakes, blurring past other racers, or pushing your tires to the limit, the audio of Forza 5 is excellent.
Though a few aesthetic details are lackluster, such as going to a pit stop and the car's smoke effect, the cars of Forza 5 look amazing. The type of metal making the shell of the car matter and determine how lights and surrounding visuals reflect off of your vehicle. In FortaVista mode, you are able to see all of the small details that have gone into crafting each car. Witnessing each door open, the lifelike details of the interior, and the small decals that go on the internal machinery inside the engine were signs of technological advancement in the gaming industry. Forza 5 shows a clear evolution of the graphical capabilities of the racing genre and has set the standard high for the likes of Need for Speed and Gran Turismo to follow.
Cars can be altered and tuned in detail. You may paint your car with various designs and slap on decals if you would like. Forza 5 also lets you check online for about two dozen of the most popular designs for each vehicle. So even if you got that Honda changed over to a tuner underneath the hood, you can make it official with player-made designs, carbon-fiber hood and all. It's both hilarious and awesome to see one of the most popular skins for a 1970's Dodge Charger was the General Lee/'The Dukes of Hazzard' design. If you want all of your cars to keep their stock look, you may easily do so in Forza 5's options.
The online aspect of Forza 5 is intriguing. Every player with the game will have a "Drivatar" based on how you handle your races. Whenever you play a circuit, the other racers are sophisticated A.I.s comprised of other players' Drivatars. If you like to ram cars or tend to stray to the side, your Drivatar will do so online. This brings about a certain sense of unpredictability while going through the numerous circuits of Forza 5, such as the SUV/Truck circuit where most Drivatars tend to smash into each other. You can also test yourself against ghost racers of other players' best track times.
Forza Motorsport 5 offers something for everyone. You don't have to be a racing fan to appreciate how thoroughly detailed Turn 10 was in their development. Within just a few hours, we raced SUVs, Asian imports, luxury cars and even Formula-1 racers. Toss in a ton of customizations for each vehicle, and no race ever felt the same. The Drivatar concept brings about a sense of unpredictability. Even better is that your Drivatar will race for you while you aren't playing Forza 5 in order to keep a steady cash flow for you to keep upgrading cars or to buy new ones. Forza 5 is an excellent fan service to all aspects of racing and shows that the Xbox One has started the next gen console race at full speed.
The article is based on a digital version of Forza Motorsport 5 that was purchased for review.