As I race around the Silverstone Racing Circuit in my 2002 Pontic Firebird Trans Am Ram Air in Forza Motorsport, I can’t help but think of how far racing games have come during my 30 years playing them. From pixelated graphics with the most basic of sounds to games where every car sounds different and feels like real-life counterparts. It’s incredible to see how far they’ve come, but also wonder about where they can go from here.
Forza Motorsport has been around for 18 years and has made great strides with every release. While some have been better than others, it has remained near the forefront of simulation racing games.
Turn 10’s latest in the series claims to be a new era for not only the Forza franchise but racing games in general. In a lot of areas, it backs those claims up. But it falls short in a few too many spots that keep it from being an all-time great racing game.
Forza Motorsport Review
First, let’s talk about accessibility. Forza Motorsport has some of the deepest accessibility options I’ve seen in a racing game. Whether you are a long-time racer, completely new, or need help for a variety of reasons, you can tailor the game to what you need. It’s basically Turn 10’s way of ensuring all are welcome to play.
There are over 500 vehicles to choose from at launch, which is quite a bit less than the 700 past games offered. Still, the offerings are strong with a nice mix of modern and classic cars of all different classes. For the most part, each car feels unique with some offering tighter turning while others just zip through courses with no remorse. Getting comfortable behind each car you choose is, arguably, the best gameplay aspect Forza Motorsport has to offer.
All 20 courses in the game at launch are beautifully recreated. Every inch of the track looks spot on to what you’d see in real life, if not better. Even the sound design is a second-to-none experience that helps immerse you into each race.
The game features a day/night cycle that is incredible when running longer racers. Do you want to know how realistic it becomes during the transition from day to night? I suffer from astigmatism. One of the symptoms, aside from general blurry vision, causes bright lights to display differently to my eyes in the dark. When racing at night, the lights cause some of the same vision issues I would suffer driving at night in real life without my glasses or with the wrong pair. Personally, that’s one aspect I absolutely love.
But, with everything Forza Motorsport does right, there’s quite a bit it does wrong.
Race settings are limited to one of three rulesets (club, sport, and expert). Rather than be able to do races where you have full damage and rewinds on, you have to choose one or the other. It’s an unnecessary limitation, especially if I’m playing free-play races by myself.
Speaking of damage, that’s one area where the game really disappoints. Even with full damage enabled, you can drive full speed into a wall or another car, and your vehicle will only show various scratches on the surface. Sure, there will be damage done within the car like your suspension and whatnot, but that takes away a bit from the realism Turn 10 was likely aiming for. Your car looks the same whether it’s cosmetic only or full damage after taking a major hit. For a game with as much attention to detail in areas like rain, track surface, and dirt, the damage omissions are a real headscratcher.
Then there are other little things that bother me like not being able to cycle through the cars when looking to buy them. By that, I mean that once you get to the end of the list, instead of just going back to the beginning, you have to manually go backward through everything. Another one is searching through liveries for your cars. It often takes a while for them to load up which leads me to just backing out and doing something else in the game. Again, they’re small things, but it’s enough to annoy me when playing.
Career Mode is where you’ll spend most of your time outside of the game’s multiplayer. And, to be completely honest, it’s a pretty big letdown. It follows a basic formula of practice: race, upgrade your car(s) if you can, and repeat. There’s no real feeling of investment in the mode aside from trying to earn in-game currency to buy and upgrade more cars. It would be nice if there was more of an atmosphere surrounding the events in your career.
You can upgrade your cars as you progress, which gives the game a somewhat RPG-like feel to it. But it still doesn’t get you invested fully in what you’re doing the way other racers have been able to do.
Multiplayer allows you to race with friends in private lobbies or online with others around the world. There are featured races to take part in after you complete qualifier races as well as other events like Rivals, which are essentially time trials.
Forza Motorsport Review Verdict
Overall, Forza Motorsport is a fun racing game. Each car feels enjoyable once you learn its nuances and the tracks, albeit too similar a feeling once you get racing more, all look incredible. It’s just a disappointment it comes with a run-of-the-mill career mode that doesn’t keep you wanting to play for enjoyment but more a feeling of requirement.
With content updates during its life cycle, Forza Motorsport can become a great game in its own right. For now, however, it remains just a solid game with a little too much empty space off the track.
Forza Motorsport is a beautiful game that will feel familiar to returning fans. However, the game is just a pretty face with no real interesting additions to make it interesting. Overall, it’s a solid racing game.