Forza Motorsport 7
PC, Xbox One
Developer Turn 10 Studios Publisher Microsoft Studios Format PC, Xbox One (both tested) Release Out now
Driving is theatre in Forza Motorsport 7, an orchestrated spectacle designed to be savoured from the best seat in the house: the driver’s. Few racing games achieve the sweeping breadth and fine tuned presentation of Turn 10’s latest. The globe-trot of historic circuits; the litany of incredible cars; and the conditions, too, from scorching sun, to monsoon rains, to floodlit nights. The combined package is a pristine, pacey and accessible racing game that perhaps delivers a more exhilarating drive than its more steadfast contemporaries, but isn’t without its problems.
The number tells you everything – this is a familiar, gently iterative entry in a series that has learned from most of its prior mistakes, as well as taken lessons in personality from its livelier offshoot, Forza Horizon. Forza Motorsport has always offered scale, but FM7 takes that to new levels – Gran Turismo Sport’s 150-odd vehicles now looks paltry by comparison to the 700-strong garage. The same goes for its track roster, which still delights with iconic real-life circuits and a peppering of fictional ones amidst some of the world’s most picturesque backdrops: the dramatic peaks of the Bernese Alps, the gothic sprawl of Prague, the higglepiggle high rises of a vibrant Rio de Janeiro.
The new star track jets you off to Dubai and the Circuit Of The Emirates, which meanders its way through the rolling dunes and up into the tight, winding crawl of a rocky pass. It’s here, in the oil-laden deserts of the UAE, that Turn 10 first showcases its immaculate new stage production – a one-lapper in the raucous new Porsche GT RS2. This is a technical masterwork on console, running at a flawless 60fps that lends silky satisfaction to every perfected apex.
That’s quickly followed by a truck race around the joyous chicanes at Mugello and a monsoon trial at Japan’s Suzuka circuit in a Nissan GT. It’s in this threeact snapshot that Forza Motorsport 7 sets out its three core tenets – speed, versatility and adaptability – and introduces you to the structure of its new Driver’s Cup. This is a career that’s more focused, while also being broader in the types of motorsport it features, and splits up its five major tiers into mini championships. You’re free to choose which events you enter, and will likely find enjoyment where you least expect it. From souped up Hyundai hatchbacks, to classic old Chevy muscle; from a top-spec hyper car prototype, to a Ford Transit with player-applied go-faster stripes.
Instead of punishing you until you’ve practised like other, more purist sims, this is faster and more energetic than real life, but it does so in a way that never feels unrealistic. Every car feels like you imagine it would on a real track, albeit exaggerated – the turning circle of a classic muscle car is very different than the nimble controls of Formula E, for example. Assists, meanwhile, can now be changed mid-race. It’s a game that prioritises on-circuit enjoyment over under-thehood accuracy but without forgetting the latter, and that is a wonderful thing when balanced this expertly.
The huge career – which offers everything from three-lap races, to longer Endurances, to ten-pin bowling with cars around the Top Gear test track – excels in rolling out something for you to enjoy at any given point. But it’s marred by the addition of ‘prize crates’ (you can probably guess what they are) and the proliferation of mods. The latter were introduced in Forza Motorsport 6, but they’re far more ubiquitous here. This all combines into a progression system that’s needlessly complex. You earn points by completing races, which gets you closer to unlocking the next tier of the Driver’s Cup. Completing these races also moves you closer to your own driver’s ranking, which in turn gives you another tangible reward – your choice of a stack of cash credits, perhaps, or a discount on a car – which nets you more progress in another meter: your collector’s ranking. Or it can be a cosmetic item such as overalls for your helmeted avatar. It’s a bizarre setup for a number of reasons, not to mention the cynical implications of its paid-for elements. The cosmetic items are mostly, if not wholly useless, while the prize crates and mod cards just don’t slot into the mix elegantly enough. Mods themselves vary in style and effect, but they’re all designed to meet the same goal: getting you more stuff much quicker while nerfing the cash rewards you get if you play without activating them. We often forget they exist at all, for the most part, and that’s despite the amount of time we spend in the menus. Thank some pretty arduous load times for that.
That leads us to the PC port, which in its current condition can’t be ignored. While Forza 7 is visually stunning across the board on whichever platform you happen to be playing, it’s technically inconsistent on Windows. It suffers from stutters both on track and off, making the already slow and clunky menus even more unpleasant to navigate through, and some races unplayable. There are crashes to desktop, and when the thing does finally run, load times can be intolerable. We can’t blame Turn 10 for a system-level problem that persists across many of Microsoft’s UWP games, but a PC version should be the technical standard bearer, not languishing at the back of the pack.
That’s a huge shame because, providing you can overlook the progression system quirks, Forza Motorsport 7 is a fabulous racer. It’s gargantuan and not even fully feature complete, with Turn 10 yet to switch on its Leagues and Forzathon modes. There’s an incredible amount to do within the confines of a traditional racing game. Flawed, then, but pushing for the top of the podium all the same.
The combined package is a pristine, pacey and accessible flagship racing game that delivers an exhilirating drive