Car racing games are almost as old as videogames themselves. The genre has evolve immensely since the days of Pole Position, with each new game bringing players closer and closer to the real life action so many of us do daily. But in games we don’t perform the simple act of driving a car, we race cars we could never dream of owning in locales we can only hope to one day visit. The Forza franchise is on its fifth iteration now, perfecting the art of the car simulation. But is it perfect yet?
Lets start off with some technical details. The game ships with over 200 cars available out of the box and a few dozen more available via DLC. It’s definitely not the biggest number of cars available, but you have all the staple manufacturers like Ford, Audi, Aston Martin, BMW, Ferrari, and Lamborghini. In terms of tracks there are 10 or so available including the Mazda Speedway and the Top Gear Test track. All the tracks and cars are “laser scanned” into the game allowing an incredible amount of fidelity. The game itself runs at 1080p with 60FPS without so much of a hiccup.
Graphically Forza 5 is impressive and while it’s a step up from the previous gen, it’s still not “photo real” by any means. A big part of that I think has to do with the textures and lighting needing some tweaking. If you’d put Forza side by side with GT6, GT6 looks a bit more real, until you see it in motion. And it’s here where Forza has always outshined its competitors creating a racing simulation that feels good.
I think there’s two big changes this year that truly set Forza 5 apart from its predecessors. And there’s also one change that takes things back a step.
On the good side of the coin we’ve got the Xbox One controller. The new rumble motors truly shine in Forza 5 allowing you feel the gas and brakes as you control the car. Coming around a curve the gentle feedback tells you the wheels are slipping giving you an indication to brake and try to prevent yourself from skidding out. The cobblestones on Prague are can be felt with every bump of the tire over it. You can feel the clutch slip if you try to shift at the wrong time. It truly adds to the immersive experience.
The other thing Forza 5 adds are driveatars. In simplest terms, Turn 10 has done away with trying to script AI. Instead they are using the collective community to create racing personas based on your own driving ability. This yields much more realistic races with AI opponents that act much more human. Plus the game uses your real life friends list to help name these racers, making you just a little bit more invested. Your own driveatar will earn you credits too whlie you are offline. Bonus.
So now the flip side of that coin. The game has an overabundance of microtransactions. Or rather - the game is constantly telling you you can purchase an XP boost to increase your level or virtual currency to unlock the next car. There’s some debate as to whether the car pricing itself is too aggressive, almost forcing people to buy into these microtransactions (which lets face it - $10 is not “micro” at any level).
Forza 5 does enough to further the series and bring it onto next gen. There’s nothing mind blowing here, but there are steady improvements all around. There’s also a good level of accessibility with options for newcomers and experts alike. Forza 5 impresses on many levels with its features, its graphics, and its multiplayer capabilities while still keeping a few nagging issues holding it back from perfection.