Forza 5 follows on from Forza 4, and does a good, but not quite excellent job of it.
There are a few key features I want to focus on in this review; the graphics, the new Drivatar system and the variety of cars, tracks and DLC.
Starting with the graphics, there is no doubt that Forza 5 is stunning. The cars look incredible on and off the track. The new lighting system means that reflections and shadows look almost life like, even whilst moving at 200+mph. It would be nice though, if they could achieve this level of lighting perfection, without forcing you to drive towards the sun on almost every track. Quite often you will lose sight of a racer just metres in front of you due to the blinding glare caused by the sun. It's only once you enter Forzavista however, that you see just how incredible the graphics are. The attention to detail is crazy, being able to see the stitching in the steering wheel, the weaves of carbon fibre in the body work and the intricacies of the engine bay. It’s quite easy to get lost for 10-15 minutes just wandering around and exploring the cars in Forzavista.
One of the first things I noticed about the graphics and design of tracks specifically was the additional “things” that are happening on the side of tracks. Whether it’s a helicopter flying overhead, or balloons being released from the paddock. These are all nice little touches that help to show off what the game is capable of.
For those unaware, Forza 5 has replaced traditional AI racers with what it calls “Drivatars”. This is essentially cloud data saved from every single racer that is then used to generate and AI racer. It’s kind of a cross between AI and a ghost. It’s a very cool feature and makes races a bit more random and un-scripted. It does however come with issues. The racers are incredibly unpredictable. The first corner of every race is always chaos; racers driving straight onto the grass, some racers drifting around the corner, some slamming into the back of, it’s normally easier to just hang back for the first section of the race. This does mean that until you get into 6th position or so, you are relying on your quick reflexes to dodge randomly braking rivals, or racers spinning off and back on to the track, thus your actual driving skill is not noticed until you reach the top few positions.
Finally, one of the most complained about features (or lack of) is the car and track roster. I think Forza 4 had around 500 cars, whilst Forza 5 is closer to 300. This would be ok, if the cars we were getting as paid DLC weren’t just the same cars as FM4 with a couple of new additions. The introduction of tokens and micro transactions definitely makes this game feel like more of a rip-off than previous editions. The same applies for tracks. Tracks previously available in FM3 and 4 are no longer available in 5, and whilst we received a free track as DLC, it again was one we expected to have at launch.
All in all, Forza 5 is a beautiful game, with plenty of achievements to unlock, cars to buy and badges to collect. Whilst it may be lacking in cars and tracks, it is an impressive showcase of what the Xbox One can achieve. Ultimately, if you’re a fan of Forza, you’ll buy this. If you’re a fan of racing games, you’ll buy this. If you’re neither of the above, it’s probably not for you.