There's something familiar now about heading back to a Forza
game. It's a huge franchise, a flagship product, a title that is used to launch consoles and to demonstrate their prowess. There are expectations: stunning cars, amazing environments, a well polished and honed product and a racing experience that is accessible and playable by all. Forza Motorsport 7
, the 11th that's carried that moniker, easily meets all of these expectations and even exceeds some with the introduction of dynamic weather. However, as great as its racing pedigree is, at times it feels like it is beginning to drift a little from the true racing line.
After choosing an avatar to represent you, either male or female, and kitting them out in racing leathers, the game opens with three racing moments in history. It's a sampler of what lies ahead. The first introduces you to the cover car, the Porsche 911 GT2 RS, driving through a new fictional track in Dubai. Sand swirls around and above the track as the wind gets hold of it. The newest member of the Porsche family is a scary beast to drive and tame. It's a complete contrast from the next race behind the wheel of a Mercedes truck. For many, it will be the first encounter with Truck Racing and it's incredibly thrilling.
Finally, you get to race a new Nissan at Suzuka in the rain. The new weather system is a big step up from the simple 3D puddles introduced in Forza Motorsport 6
. The tracks change with the amount of surface water as races progress. Watching the raindrops on the windscreen shift left and right as you take the corners is incredibly realistic. The level of detail is simply mindblowing and it leaves you wondering how this is going to look in the enhanced version on the new Xbox One X.
The commentary mentions the driver journey that awaits you, a journey that has over 700 cars to be raced in 60 different locations and over 200 different circuit layouts. It's a mouthwatering prospect for any motoring fan. Most of that journey will be in the form of the new Forza Driver's Cup, effectively the new career mode covering six different and increasingly challenging championships. To progress, drivers have to amass a specific number of points from the different series and showcases in each championship. It's all a question of getting enough points and how you do it is up to you.Forza
titles have always been a joy to race. Whilst the franchise has never aimed to be a deep racing simulation, it strikes a balance making the racing both achievable and believable. The new dynamic weather and tracks add to this with races now having up to three different weather types over the course of the event. It looks spectacular and the graphics are jaw-droppingly good, but it's a shame that this option is not available on all of the current locations. Frame rates never drop regardless of the on-screen action. Even with the added complexity of thunderstorms and rain-sodden tracks, everything zooms past at a constant 60 fps. It's hard to fault the presentation at any level; the cars, the environments, the liveries and even the menus look sleeker. For the record, the cars sound just as good as they look, with exhausts popping, engines growling and tyres squealing. Forza
has long been known for its accessibility and playability. FM7 has numerous settings to ease players into racing, allowing them to tailor their experience to their own level. There's even a new setting, 'Friction Assist', that is used to equalise the traction on all surfaces including wet tracks and grass (effectively meaning that the grip is uniform everywhere). Whilst times will not be submitted to leaderboards, it's a nice feature for beginners and novice drivers. It also shows the lengths that Turn 10 Studios is prepared to go to ensure that the title is playable by all drivers. With the game's roots being with consoles, it's no surprise that playing with a standard controller works exceptionally well, but out of the box, all major wheels are officially supported. Unlike other titles, there's very little tweaking needed to start racing.
Competition for offline races is provided by the Drivatars. The AI can be adjusted between different levels from new racer through to unbeatable, with any setting higher than average rewarding a percentage of extra credits — the only way to earn extra credits as switching assists doesn't contribute any longer. Whilst the AI is improved enough to avoid turn one pile-ups, they seem hell-bent on regaining their racing line regardless of the level. The number of times that you get side-swiped or have the AI cut across you from an outside line is far too frequent. There is a setting to limit the aggressiveness but it seems to have little effect. This leads to some nail-biting moments in longer races when trying to anticipate what the AI is going to do, but in the open it also makes for some great wheel-to-wheel racing.
Online isn't much better right now with only the public multiplayer lobbies available. As ever, you're at the mercy of your fellow racers, which tends to mean ridiculous pile-ups at turn one, followed by endless bumper car mayhem. On the plus side, it was lag-free bumper car mayhem and frame rates remained stable. Fortunately, leagues will be coming that should help smooth the online racing experience, but they're just not available yet. Similarly, the auction house and Forzathon features are not yet online. For those wishing to play a little head-to-head couch co-op, though, split-screen racing is still included — a rare thing for racing titles these days.
Whilst everything remains good during the racing, it's away from the circuits that the title seems to veer away from the ideal racing line with some of the new features. Cars are now sorted into different Collection Tiers with each ascending tier containing rarer and more expensive cars. Each car within each tier is worth a value of collector points and purchasing them will add that value to your overall collector score. Reaching a particular value then opens up the next tier, allowing access to more cars, but it's here that you see something diverging from earlier titles.
Whereas previously, drivers could simply buy any car they wanted as long as they had the funds, this is no longer possible. I have over a million credits in my account, enough to buy the Ferrari F40 or the more humble and slightly cheaper Mini '65 FE, or even both. Sadly, neither are available as they are both locked away in collection tier 5, 'Legendary'. This feels like going to a showroom to buy a new Ferrari only to have the salesman tell you that you need to buy 25 other Fiats or Fords first.
Driver Gear is collectible too. There are currently over 360 driving outfits, although some are just different colour clones and there are slightly less original designs. The racing leathers and helmets range from the sublime, related to circuits and car manufacturers, through to the ridiculous — a medieval knight, a clown, or what looks like a giraffe-patterned onesie. Whilst they do bring a sense of fun, they also raise a few eyebrows and questions. Nearly all of them are locked and can only be earned through rewards or prize crates, the most basic of which will cost 70,000 in-game credits. If you're hoping to kit yourself in Porsche refinery, you have to hope that it appears as a reward for completing one of the driving tiers or that you get lucky with one of the prize crates.
Those prize crates — loot crates familiar to most gamers these days — are possibly the most contentious area of the new title. The crates contain a mix of driving gear, mods, badges and even cars in some cases. At this moment, all of them cost in-game credits, with the most basic crate of four mod cards costing 20,000 credits. An elite crate containing super-rare items will cost 150,000 credits and some limited availability crates costing 300,000 credits. Those funds could easily buy you a new hyper-car to add to your garage. With the introduction of loot crates, the collecting of driving gear and the lack of rewards for those playing on higher difficulty levels, it all begins to feel a little Horizon
Whilst there is no question that FM7 is another step forward for the franchise, there's a nagging little feeling that the step forward is also a little step off-center, a little out of kilter with the previous titles in the franchise. It also feels a little analogous with a certain tech company that produces really high quality products with high production values, with great marketing so that fans will queue around street blocks ahead of release to buy them, whilst at the same time, those products no longer have the cutting edge, the same creativity or level of innovation. F1
has had dynamic weather for a number of releases. Project CARS
does it better, along with better day to night transitions and better dynamic track surfaces. With all of the other big players in the racing genre upping their game this year, it feels like Forza Motorsport
is playing catch-up with those other titles.
Turn 10 Studios has always been committed to the community and other social aspects of the franchise have not been neglected. Whilst the auction house may not yet be available, the livery editor is ever present for the creative souls in the community, as well as the tuning section too. As ever, there are achievements linked to trading so many tuning setups and selling so many designs. Those, however, make up a small part of the 62 achievements in the title. As to be expected, there are a number of achievements for career progression and a number for racing under particular scenarios, including the different weather settings. Strangely, though, nearly half of the achievements are related to collecting items and working your way through the different collection tiers. Why a racing title should reward a player for owning 100 different driving suits is a little confusing.
Turn 10 Studios has created a title with extremely high production values, a highly polished, extremely playable and as much fun as all of the previous titles in its illustrious history. Fans will love the racing experience, which is as good as ever. The new dynamic weather brings an extra challenge to those willing to brave it, and the new driving gear brings an extra level of personalisation allowing fans to express themselves even more than before. Fans will also be happy to see the return of particular circuits, including Mugello, Suzuka and the newly embellished Maple Valley, and with a potential garage of 700+ cars, there will be something for everyone, including those who want to race trucks — where else will you get that opportunity? For now, Forza Motorsport 7
remains the benchmark for console racing and it will be seventh heaven for all Forza
- Massively playable and accessible for all driver levels
- Stunning looking visuals for cars, tracks and weather
- Dynamic weather and tracks
- Extraordinarily large car list
- Multiple classes available for racing
- Car collection tier mechanism locks cars away
- Introduction of loot crates seems out of place for the title
- Racing without assists is no longer rewarded
The reviewer spent around 10 hours racing with some exotic and not so exotic cars, generally trying to progress through the different tiers and competitions in the title. 12 out of 62 achievements were unlocked during the course of this automotive adventure. The Xbox One download code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of review.