Before I go any further, I would like to be up front with you; I am not a car person. As far as my automobile expertise goes, I currently own an automatic 2000 Toyota Camry – It’s hardly reliable, and I find it increasingly hard to believe it still gets me from A and B. However, when it comes to video game racers, I’ve always appreciated the driving simulators at the local arcades. Classic racers such as Sega Rally, San Francisco Rush and Daytona USA; I’ve always prized jumping into one of those games and racing against a mate, naturally followed by one of us bragging about their victory once the finish line has been crossed. These games made me realise that racing games could be fun whether you’re a car enthusiast or not, and seeing I couldn’t afford $7K for a twin driving cabinet, let alone the room for one in my house, I thought that a copy of Forza might be the next best thing!
By the time I reached the intro video, I was already awe-struck by the realism within the first few seconds. Flashes of fast cars roaring around corners, spectacular tracks and environments combined with the voiceover work of Jeremy Clarkson pronouncing the thrill of driving – it all looked sublime, and I knew I was in for a visual spectacle.
The career mode is well rounded with a variety of challenges, it gives you eight leagues sectioned into championship series, ranging from Sport Compact, Grand Touring, Vintage and many others – each with their own specialised cars and class. Before beginning a series, you are presented with vignettes voiced by the Top Gear crew revealing interesting facts and trivia about the vehicle you are about to race in. This works well as it gives the cars a back-story and character, which influenced me to care more about the car I was about to drive.
Honestly, this mode is quite gratifying because as you progress through the ranks, you will accumulate XP to level up your drivers ranking as well as credits to spend towards new cars and upgrades. The selection of infamous car manufacturers and upgrades are plentiful, and supply you with a wealth of tips and information to help better your ride. Admittedly, the car novice inside of me didn’t really know where to start or end when upgrading my chosen vehicle, so thankfully the quick upgrade option made for a speedy and balanced improvement for my car.
Forza 5 is unquestionably a showcase of Xbox One’s graphical prowess, spouting 1080P @ 60FPS, and what the “Microsoft Cloud” is capable of. The cars look incredible both inside and out, from the textures of hand-stitched leather, to the realism of the sun reflecting off the car body. it is truly surreal how awesome the game looks.
The extraordinary design also followed suit throughout the tracks and environments. Sadly, only 14 tracks were on offer, but I was still awestruck with what was available. My favourite of all the 14 locations was the track in Prague, Czech Republic as it brought out the tourist in me. The European cobblestone roads and the magnificent architecture beside the track made me want to turn off the engine and step out to admire the scenery.
In my opinion, the handling and brakes of each vehicle were almost true to life, and unlike the arcade racers I’m used to where the controls are usually very accommodating. Several times I found myself oversteering, propelling my car out control planting into the barricade. However, after a few races I decided to pay more attention to the corners, the cars around me and my acceleration which resulted in more strategic and rewarding drive. The rewind option is helpful if you want to make a quick recovery, but I never felt the desire to use the feature as I wanted to simulate an authentic racing experience. Another interesting feature which is worth talking about is the “impulse triggers” which are a new feature of the Xbox One controller. It certainly felt different as you can now feel the car accelerating/breaking which comes in handy. I’m interested to see how it can be implemented elsewhere!
There is also a good array of multiplayer options to suit everyone in Forza 5, and to level the playing field for online players, Turn 10 have added the “Smart Match” feature. What this does is pair all online drivers with similar skills and experiences, and puts them together in the one race, creating a fair and competitive contest.
Using the Xbox’s new Cloud drive, Turn 10 have also fashioned an interesting concept called ‘Drivatar’ that I personally believe players will value. The way it works is, the Xbox One console builds a dynamic AI from your driving style and skills, then uploads it to the Cloud creating your own ‘Drivatar’. It then performs in races for you against other players online while you are not on the system. Instead of challenging against computer AI’s, it’s makes for a much more humanised race and creates a more gamer to gamer community like experience.
Admittedly, a lot of the focus will likely be taken by the graphics, but the presentation really is quite flawless and it deserves to be commended for hitting that benchmark. Additionally, blending the Forza brand with the license of Top Gear definitively adds to the prestige and passion of motorsports. Forzavista is also a fantastic feature off the track where you can get up and close to your desired vehicle and be in awe of the fine attention to detail put into each automobile, it enables the casual fan and petrol heads alike to poke around every inch of the car.
Graphically speaking, Forza Motorsport 5 is without a doubt the finest looking “Next-Gen” launch title available on shelves right now. Turn 10 have really put in a commendable effort to fully utilise the new Xbox hardware, taking into account the incredible designs of more than 200 cars and realistic environment that just look superb. Honestly, racing such incredible cars through some of the world’s most renowned tracks has never looked better, and it is simply a joy to drive. Whether you’re a total “revhead” or new to the genre, you will not be disappointed!