Forza Motorsport 6

Xbox One

EDGE - - GAMES - Pub­lisher Mi­crosoft Stu­dios Devel­oper Turn 10 For­mat Xbox One Re­lease Out now

Our car lurches vi­o­lently to the right and, for once, it’s not down to the dam­age caused by rear-end­ing an op­po­nent dur­ing an op­ti­mistic out-brak­ing ma­noeu­vre. This time, it’s be­cause we bar­relled into a large pud­dle on the apex. Turn 10 promised much for Forza 6’ s three-di­men­sional pools, and they don’t dis­ap­point. The loss of trac­tion from hit­ting one at speed is in­stantly tele­graphed, and you can feel the steer­ing lighten as you aqua­plane, hop­ing your tread finds pur­chase again in time to avoid that fast-ap­proach­ing wall. Equally, hit them with less pace and the thud of ad­di­tional drag is pal­pa­ble. Pud­dles, it turns out, are no damp squib.

In fact, if Turn 10 hadn’t re­vealed that it had based its pud­dle place­ment on real-world cir­cuits’ pool­ing zones, it’d be no stretch to con­tend that they’d been lo­cated purely for game­play rea­sons. Their in­tro­duc­tion dur­ing wet races forces you to re­con­sider fa­mil­iar rac­ing lines – stay­ing clear of the apex in a cor­ner, or wind­ing your way down what is usu­ally a high-speed straight – weigh­ing risk and ben­e­fit as you look for over­tak­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties that won’t send you into the gravel. Don’t mis­take this for dy­namic weather: sur­face wa­ter is of the same vol­ume and in the same place ev­ery time, but it en­sures that wet races pro­vide more than just ex­tended brak­ing zones and re­duced vis­i­bil­ity.

Turn 10 has also sim­u­lated the prop­er­ties of the 140 driv­ing sur­faces that make up Forza’s tracks, mean­ing that the char­ac­ter of, say, rum­ble strips or patches of repar­a­tive sealant change dras­ti­cally depend­ing on the con­di­tions. Warmed rub­ber might stick to curbs in the dry, but you’ll re­gret putting a wheel on one dur­ing a down­pour. With so many ma­te­rial types, rac­ing in the dry is just as de­tailed, Forza’s tracks con­structed of a var­ie­gated patch­work of ma­te­ri­als and cam­bers that see cars fid­get and roll over ev­ery sur­face.

It be­comes even more chal­leng­ing when night de­scends. Forza 6 spec­tac­u­larly cap­tures the fear­some un­der­tak­ing of hurtling to­wards an as-yet-un­seen cor­ner with only head­lights to pick out the turn when you get there. It’s here that the devel­oper does some of its best vis­ual work, too, con­trast­ing im­pen­e­tra­ble blacks with the well-lit blus­ter of the home straight and fierce glow of spo­rad­i­cally placed me­tal halide lamps. But the rest of the game rarely daz­zles to the same ex­tent as its track­side il­lu­mi­na­tion, its oth­er­wise rather flat light­ing pro­duc­ing an over­all look that falls short of Drive­Club’s in­ter­mit­tently pho­to­real vi­su­als.

Forza trades such gloss for speed, pulling off an un­wa­ver­ing 60fps at 1080p, de­spite the pres­ence of con­sid­er­ably more de­tail in its tracks than Forza 5’ s of­fered. And that fram­er­ate con­trib­utes to a han­dling model that feels minutely re­spon­sive, lay­ered and ut­terly cred­i­ble. Forza 6’ s driv­ing sys­tem is a re­turn to the warm, fun-fo­cused and ro­bustly flex­i­ble physics of the first four games, one that aban­dons Forza 5’ s bizarre in­dif­fer­ence to trac­tion and that can be quickly and easily tuned to suit ca­sual su­per­car fa­nat­ics or hard­core sim­u­la­tion en­thu­si­asts.

Al­lied to this han­dling is the se­ries’ best AI – and, in­deed, most suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion of Dri­vatars – yet. We had to dial them up to ex­pert (two tiers from the high­est avail­able) be­fore they pre­sented any kind of chal­lenge, but there’s gen­uine per­son­al­ity in the field even on lower skill lev­els, some cars at­tempt­ing to thread through the pack, oth­ers jostling over a po­si­tion, and still more putting pres­sure on you. They’re prone to ac­ci­dents, too, which don’t feel staged. Dis­as­trously wide corners and big tyre-wall-de­mol­ish­ing im­pacts are as likely to be­fall a con­fi­dent leader as driv­ers fur­ther down the peck­ing or­der.

There are smaller de­tails in op­po­nents, too, such as a sud­den jab on a steer­ing wheel to avoid a col­li­sion with a boxed-in, am­bi­tious driver, or a touch on the brakes to cor­rect build­ing over­steer. Bar some oc­ca­sional acts of be­wil­der­ing id­iocy, it all makes for thor­oughly con­vinc­ing track time, and un­pre­dictable races. There’s no de­tectable rub­ber­band­ing, but Turn 10 has en­gi­neered op­po­nents that are ex­cep­tion­ally good at not barg­ing into you, which makes a re­fresh­ing change. It’s a shame, then, that all this progress is draped over a thor­oughly out­dated ca­reer mode, which in­sists on min­i­mum third-place fin­ishes in or­der to un­lock the next event as you chip away at its five-vol­ume pro­ces­sion of race se­ries. In the con­text of Pro­ject Cars’ ea­ger­ness to give you ev­ery­thing up front, Drive­Club’s chal­lenge-based struc­ture or Gran Tur­ismo 6’ s stars sys­tem, Forza 6’ s struc­ture feels dis­ap­point­ingly rigid.

Turn 10 in­jects va­ri­ety with a se­ries of themed show­case events, such as blast­ing past as many Mi­nis as pos­si­ble in a Vey­ron, and the po­ten­tially di­vi­sive Mods sys­tem (see ‘Car tricks’). Both of­fer a change of pace from bouts of the­mat­i­cally samey rac­ing, since you’re oth­er­wise locked to a sin­gle car for each four-to-sixrace se­ries. There’s al­ways the broad suite of mul­ti­player modes to turn to if you start to feel fa­tigued, of course, and while there was lit­tle com­mu­nity to speak of when we at­tempted to take our beau­ti­fully liv­er­ied Pa­gani Huayra online, the new rat­ings-based league sys­tem prom­ises much, and the re­turn­ing – and bet­ter pop­u­lated – Ri­vals mode proves just as ad­dic­tive.

In ev­ery re­spect Forza 6 is an im­prove­ment over Forza 5, and yet the game feels oddly torn be­tween two eras, its stodgy in­sis­tence on piece­meal pro­gres­sion un­der­cut­ting a hand­ful of fresh ideas. The se­ries may not have found a clear route back to its Maple Val­ley Race­way glory days, but Forza 6 is a shift in the right di­rec­tion as it re­dis­cov­ers the play­ful soul and per­son­al­ity it first in­tro­duced to the sim racer.

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