Forza Motorsport 5 (Xbox One)

By Chip Tamplin

Published on Sunday, November 24, 2013

I’ve considered myself a very die hard gamer for the vast majority of my life and there’s only ever been two styles of games I’ve never really been good at – racing games and fighting games. I always enjoyed playing games like Mortal Kombat and Gran Turismo growing up but I’ve always been terrible at both. So, naturally I’ve kept away from them over the years, only really breaking that way of thinking for games like Burnout and The Simpsons: Road Rage, which can hardly be described as true *racing* games. Still, after seeing so much coverage of it in the months leading to the Xbox One’s release, I felt compelled to step out of my own comfort zone to try out Forza Motorsport 5.

From the moment Forza 5 had finished installing on my console, it was apparent that this game was going to be as gorgeous as it appeared leading up to its release. “Cars are some of the most intoxicating, most beautiful things ever forged by mankind,” Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson states over a short video montage that intros the game. Soon your thrust into one of the best aspects of the game: Forzavista.

Forzavista is an interactive showroom floor that allows you to look over every nook and cranny of your car, similar to Autovista in Forza 4. After your first time in Forzavista you’ll be able to see just how much of a labor of love this was for Turn 10, where even the tiniest detail of the car wasn’t overlooked. Every inch of the car is viewable in this mode. Heck, you can even see the manufactures sticker on the inside of the door. It’s incredibly impressive.

Once you’re out on the track, you can really see where Forza 5’s graphics impress. Each track has incredible detail, from how the sun reflects off your windshield, to the crowd and the environment outside of the track. When you finish each race, you can see any damage done to your car. If you play the game like me, you’ll definitely have some paint transfer from the other cars on the track because you undoubtedly hit each one at least once. So, naturally, my car was massively dented on either side with a plethora of colors from other drivers’ cars.

Forza 5 features two hundred cars out of the gate from fifty manufacturers, drastically reduced from the five hundred that were featured in Forza 4, but what it lacks in scope, it makes up for in quality. While it’s not the quantity of 4, rest-assured that the two hundred cars that did make the cut certainly deserve to be there. From classic American muscle cars to iconic classics and Italian phenoms, Forza 5 definitely goes for quality over quantity.

At launch, Forza 5 has fourteen circuits including Spa, Bathurst, Yas Marina, and Circuit de la Sarthe. There’s a great variety of track layouts as well as environmental locales. Unfortunately, this brings me to one of my only gripes with the game – lack of environmental impact. While driving through snow covered mountain ranges it would just be even better to have snow falling as you’re driving. Obviously you wouldn’t be having some major race with snow falling, but it would still be a great effect to turn on, if possible, as well as racing at night.

Two of of the newest delights of Forza 5 are how it interacts with Xbox One’s controller and Drivatar AI. Microsoft has been touting the subtle changes they made to their already near-perfect controller, but until playing Forza 5, I hadn’t noticed too much of a difference in how the triggers operated. The added rumble technology implemented in the triggers allows an incredibly cool level of detail to the game. For example, as I’m racing around a tight corner and I don’t slow down enough and my tires start to lose a bit of traction, the rumble system in the triggers starts to vibrate as if you were holding on to the steering wheel. While it’s not a complete game changer, it’s hard to deny that this added level authenticity doesn’t make for an even more immersive experience.

Equally as impressive is the new Drivatar AI. Rather than just racing against generic AI, you’re constantly racing against opponents which race according to the real-life driving behaviors of players in the Forza universe. This allows for much more unpredictable racing. For example, as I booted up my second race, I noticed that while my cousin was watching something on Netflix, his Drivatar had joined my race and was kicking my ass because my cousin is substantially better at racing games than I am.

As I’ve said, I’m terrible at racing games. Thankfully, the developers at Turn 10 Studios have made the game so idiot proof that even a terrible player like myself has a chance to succeed in the game. With enhanced drive assist, Forza  5 will be easily accessible to those who have played the series from its inception to the technically challenged like myself. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a n00b to racing games, you’d be missing out on a fantastic game if you don’t add Forza Motorsport 5 to your launch line up for the Xbox One.

The Good

+ Stunning graphics.

+ Unbelievable attention to detail.

+ Forzavista.

+ Drivatar AI.

+ Accessibility for newer players.

The Bad

- Lack of tracks/cars at launch.

- Lack of environmental effects.


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