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

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