Forza Motorsport 7
Xbox One has a racing classic on its hands
“vehicle collection tiers mean you need to play the game a lot to get some of the best stuff”
If you told someone that this was Xbox One X doing its thing, they’d be impressed. But it isn’t. Microsoft’s new wonder machine wasn’t quite yet available for this review, so what you’re looking at here is a standard Xbox One game. To say it’s impressive is an understatement. With dynamic weather, screen-filling effects, and 60fps update intact, this is the most technically-proficient racer yet. The thought of it looking even better on the new machine is making us drool on our desks. But such technical prowess is only half of the story: Forza 7 is also massively fun to play. Let’s get one thing clear straight away, though: this is not an all-out simulation of reality like Assetto Corsa, as it’s clearly simplified and streamlined in key areas in order to make playing it more fun. Nothing too severe, just some clever tweaking to aid playability. Turn 10 has managed to make a racing game that allows ultra-precise, realistic control while enabling you to make last-moment saves if you’re good enough at countersteering. You can push the car’s back end out without instinctively reaching for the ‘restart’ option. After so many punishing, hardcore sims recently, it’s refreshing to play a serious racing game that gives you the benefit of the doubt when you brake while turning, or ride a kerb a little awkwardly. And the haptic feedback under the throttle lets you know exactly where the limits of adhesion are. It’s just wonderful.
But while one car on one track alone would offer days and days of fun with this racing engine, somehow the game is massive too. Not just ‘quite big’ – this is an objectively humungous video game, with a wild variety of racing disciplines, the world’s best tracks (as well as superb original ones like the new Dubai circuit and the returning Maple Valley), and some scandalously sexy motorcars. It’s even got Alain Prost’s 1990 Formula One Ferrari in it, which goes like a rocket, scorching down straights under a moving, panoramic skybox. It’s beautiful.
The career structure is easy to understand, with tiers of events locked off until you accrue a set number of Series Points, but that’s not the only barrier to progression. Some events are locked behind ‘vehicle collection tiers’, which are levelled up by owning enough cars. Rare cars are worth more collection points. This means you need to play the game a lot to get to some of the best stuff, though there are plenty of showcase events along the way letting you drive – and win – some mega-cool cars earlier on.
Laps of luxury
You won’t really mind the grind, as playing the game is a reward in its own right. On default settings, the races are about four laps long, so you’re looking at five- to 10-minute bursts of gameplay in most events. Longer options are available, which will please fans who
want time to haul in the leader, but most players will enjoy the slightly arcade feeling of racing through the pack over the course of a few laps. If you start to win too frequently, the game offers to increase the difficulty of the ‘Drivatar’ opponents, though even on expert they do tend to be a bit too cautious with corner entry speed, leaving you plenty of opportunity to squeeze by.
It’s still a marked improvement over Forza 6, where one car would often zoom off into the distance, never to be seen again. It’s also great to see AI drivers making realistic mistakes that never feel like glitchy pathfinding issues. Still, they do tend to stay in grid formation for too long over the first lap, making some races feel far too congested in early stages.
Collisions, therefore, are inevitable, but feel much better than in the last game. Minor dings and scrapes look and sound much more realistic, and while big crashes don’t disintegrate your car as they really should, the actual feeling of ramming into tyre walls is spot-on. And with damage enabled, such accidents can seriously cripple your car. It’s been tweaked over the last game too. You can get away with more before the exclamation marks start appearing to tell you which parts of your motor you’ve knackered. It’s about as good a damage system as you can expect from such a serious, licensed racing game.
The level of authenticity is amazing, in everything from the wet-weather handling, real-world tracks, and car decals to loading screen voiceovers from real-world drivers and technicians. The feeling of pretentiousness that plagued the two most recent Forza titles is gone. The music is no longer drama-saturated, orchestral cacophony, but guitar-based rock – and it’s absent from races altogether. The change means Forza 7 has a swagger and a wink, which is much more likeable.
Boot full of loot
The slight ‘bad boy’ feeling extends to the way the game encourages you to gamble your winnings. Sure, you’ve got 200,000 credits that took you a series or two to save… but what’s inside that Prize Crate? Take the risk and you can win ‘legendary’ vehicles, new customisation gear for your driver, and more ‘Mod Cards’, which return from Forza 6. The way these allow you to set yourself challenges for each race with the promise of extra credits if you succeed adds a welcome meta-game to your driving. It’s up to you how tricky you make the game, and that means everyone can enjoy it.
And that really is what makes Forza 7 so great – it’s inclusive and brilliant at all levels. Serious petrolheads will love the attention to detail and authenticity in the list of over 700 cars at their disposal. Fans of racing games will love the handling, mod card system, and improved AI. And casuals will be absolutely thrilled that even a standard, launch-model Xbox One can chuck such realistic visuals around the screen at 60fps. All parties will lament the slightly long load times, but there are things to do while you wait, like set up your three mod cards for the next race, or buy another Prize Crate. It’s impossibly slick everywhere you look.
A lot of the above points could be said of Forza 6, but that game’s few issues did impact on its gameplay. Forza 7 addresses all the concerns in some way, which means the series has at last fully realised its immense potential. Suffice to say, this is one of the best racing games ever made, and you’ll be constantly thrilled by what it has to offer. Buy it, play it, love it. Racing games like this don’t come around very often.
Every track looks absolutely superb, and there are so many of them. 30 environments, and over 200 variants.
Photo Mode is still amazing, with everything from shutter speed to whether you see water on the lens.
Maple Valley returns! This fictitious track was in the very first Forza Motorsport, back in 2005.