Forza is a line of games typically known as an award-winning hit and a stellar offering from the Xbox library. While Forza Horizon 5 may have gotten the first chance to shine on the new generation of Microsoft’s console, a more strictly racing sim experience has still been heavily in demand. But part of the challenge of integrating this type of game into the growing subscription was to appeal to a broad spectrum of players: the beginners versus the seasoned players. Thanks to a review copy for the Xbox Series X|S, I dive into whether the rebooted Forza Motorsport captures that magic.
An Approachable, Realistic, and Gorgeous Racing Sim
I’ll be the first to say I’m not primarily a racing gamer. Too often, they don’t feature many of the same mechanics designed to coax you into the gameplay loop and improve your play without serious practice. Other times, they are oversimplified kart racers, which can be fun, but sadly you can’t stop your rivals on the Silverstone Circuit with an errant green Koopa shell, or at least, for now, I assume.
Forza Motorsport has a career mode with an Introduction designed to ease you into the basics while getting comfortable with tricky maneuvers that other, more experienced players take for granted. You are given the freedom to select as much or as little difficulty as you need, along with tweaking the rules to enable or disable functions like the Rewind, which can be a great asset for learning and training. These aren’t new features in Forza, but what is new is the fantastic use of the Xbox console’s power.
I love playing around on Photo Mode, finding it to be a wonderfully satisfying feature in most modern AAA games, and in Forza, it enables you to enjoy and enhance what you’re seeing in-game. The track textures are detailed, the vegetation looks convincing adding a sense of reality to the game’s numerous locations, and when you have ray tracing on (with the option to retain Performance mode as a middle-ground!) the reflections on your car’s paint job pop.
There’s even a strangely satisfying feeling when you crash into a barrier, sending the stacked tires flying in different directions. Cosmetic damage makes sense, even if you don’t want to see it happen to your newly acquired Aston Martin, as all eyes are glued to your car in an approachable, realistic, and gorgeous racing sim.
A Live Service Model to Keep the Speed Demons Coming Back for More
While I don’t mind a quick game with friends, I’ve always enjoyed a good solo mode. In the Career Mode, you get access to Builders Cup and a potentially endlessly replenishing array of Tours, sets of tracks designed to help you hone your skills and get new cars. It’s a live service model to keep the speed demons coming back for more, and it might just work.
Due to its featured presence on the Game Pass subscription for players in the Xbox ecosystem, there’s a low-cost-related barrier to entry, and it’s already pretty addicting. It can be a bit concerning seeing this term pop up for some players, but at least for the moment, it’s nice to see none of the cars are “sold out.” Hopefully, this game can sidestep that outrage.
Deep Customization and Modification Options Help You Chase Your Personal Best Lap Times
Part of the game’s live service aspect is having a quasi-RPG aspect in how, as you race on various tracks with a new car and perform well, you gain car levels. As this happens, you’ll gain more options to enhance or optimize your car’s performance.
This includes things from braking, cooling, exhaust, tire width, your drivetrain, and all other sorts of car jargon. If it makes your car go fast, there’s a way you can customize it to go faster, handle better, and brake efficiently when you need to. Forza Motorsport’s deep customization and modification options help you chase your personal best lap times, down to how much gas you put in your tank before a big race.
Beauty With Some Compromises
I’ll admit, my eyes are pretty firmly glued to the action, especially in a foggy or nighttime fracas of cars colliding after the start of a race. The game makes beautiful use of weather and environmental effects, whether in a third-person view of your car along with realistic-looking rain drops obscuring visibility, or you just veered off the main road into some gravel and accrued a ton of penalties getting back not the track. Like an amateur (or like me.)
But that’s not to say Forza Motorsport is perfect; rather, it achieves beauty with some compromises. For instance, when you’re playing, turn on photo mode, and zoom in on your cheering, adoring crowd. Part of me didn’t know what I was expecting, as fully-detailed character models don’t even really appear for most racers, instead wearing an auto racing suit and opaque helmet. But the reality is that upon a close look, you’re going to see some basic-looking character models, an army of vaguely Caucasian-toned GTAIII characters waving nondescript signs and probably cadences resembling the sound of your name.
But I digress, this is nothing truly noteworthy beyond a funny example of priorities being strictly the racers and scenery, and nobody will care about this detail outside of possibly some memes. However, I’m ready for people to fixate on it just for the sake of finding a problem with the game.
Forza Motorsport is an addictive, shockingly fun, extremely impressive visual showcase for the franchise. I was amazed by how often I wanted to play more, get more slick cars, and keep striving to perform better. This will certainly be another alluring new title for the Xbox Game Pass catalog for newcomers and passionate racing enthusiasts alike.
Instead of frustration when I wasn’t doing well, I’d have a big laugh when I spun out off the track, or a car came crashing in to t-bone me after I tried to overtake them. It’s a racing sim that pushes you to strive for even higher accomplishments, to raise the stakes, and to put yourself further back in the starting lineup to let loose for bigger rewards.
For those cautious about the prospect of a greater live service aspect to this game, keep in mind the amount of content readily available at launch, which will occupy you for a great many hours, almost half a dozen tours, and around 20 series. This goes before even discussing Free Play and Multiplayer. Beyond that, there appear to be Track Tours which are added on weekly intervals, each featuring some snazzy new rides with your name on them. It allows the beginners to develop their skills while aspiring to join the competitors who vie for dominance on the track.
This review of Forza Motorsport was made using a copy provided by Turn 10 Studios and Xbox. Forza Motorsport is scheduled for wide release on October 10, 2023.
- This article was updated on October 4th, 2023