Forza Mo­tor­sport 7

Xbox One has a rac­ing clas­sic on its hands

Games Master - - Review -

“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.

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