With the Xbox One launch came the exclusive release of Forza Motorsport 5. Developed by Turn 10 studios with added input from the hosts of Top Gear, Forza Motorsport 5 is the next game a series which has evolved over the years to get better and better at appealing to gamers and racing fans alike.
From the start line, Forza Motorsport 5 launches with a miss shift and is a few hundred cars shy of Forza 4’s 600 car line up featuring just over 200 cars. The range of cars is not the only thing that has diminished since the last game. There are tracks and game modes that have mysteriously disappeared since the previous game, making a lot of people wonder how much of this game is going to be paid DLC in the future. The only game mode available here is Circuit race and while the “Career Mode” tries to mix it up every now and again, the rest of the game is limited to this one mode.
Career mode is split into many different leagues, each having an intro narrated by the Top Gear hosts talking about the best cars in the specific league. Starting out with low end cars you make your money by completing races, earning enough prizes and experience to purchase the next tier of car. I really enjoy the fact that in Forza you don’t have to win every single race. There are awards for places that you can achieve by coming at least 3rd, 6th or 10th which means you don’t have to be the best of the best to get by.
When buying a new car, you have the option to either use a previously designed car by the online community or create your own beast of a race machine. This includes a ridiculous level of detail right down to the the way the cars rims affect the weight and performance. This allows you to completely customise your car the way you want to race or allow the “Quick Upgrade” system to do it for you and bring your car up to it’s optimal performance indicator. In turn, it effectively allows your car to be on par with other cars in the same class. The latter option is quicker but if you want to change even the spoiler of the car, it may end up putting you in the next tier of car class, making the car unusable and the game warns you about this. I’m loving the sheer range of customisation options at my fingertips. I can easily make my car excel at speed and shift speed, making me need to work harder in the corners to pull off a decent turn and you really feel it with the Xbox One’s rumble triggers feature.
In my Forza Motorsport 5 Preview, I indulged in the fact that the game looked amazing compared to other racing games and my opinion hasn’t changed. Both while racing inside the car and using the Forzavista mode, the game looks and sounds awesome. Being able to inspect every angle of every car (even under the bonnet) is something that racing enthusiasts will be astounded at. While racing the car itself, the sun will make it’s point to be apart of the game and will try it’s hardest to get in your way. This makes it harder to drive or predict what’s coming and is a nice addition to the simulation. Cosmetic damage doesn’t really handle massive accidents like the simulation, but scrapes and nudges are well-translated to your car’s panels which you will see at the end of each race. The visual prowess of the actual racing speaks for itself, but the most promising change – and the one that will first grab the attention of players – is the new and improved Drivatar System.
With the addition of the Drivatar system, you have the ability to race against your friends without them actually being there. While you and your friends race in Career mode your Drivatar will sync and learn how you drive. Once it has collected enough data, it will be released to the world as the digital representation of your driving abilities. Apparently my Drivatar isn’t doing too badly, while others try to completely run you off the road end up on the far side of a gravel patch. Between gaming sessions your Drivatar will race and reward you when you return, like a cat bringing you a dead bird when you get the morning paper. Between races you can also gain extra rewards by turning off certain assists and increasing the Drivatar difficulty if your friends aren’t satisfying your level of driving needs.
If single player is not where you want to be, then the online multiplayer is also there to try out. There are a few different sessions to try out, but it all comes down to racing the same circuit mode with a different selection of cars and added lag from your competitors. When the game isn’t kicking you out of sessions, it’s lagging people across the track and allowing people to ram your car at full speed while attempting a hairpin turn. While there is an “invisibility” mode that kicks in if you have spun around or going the wrong way, players have found ways around these restrictions turning a simple circuit race into destruction Forza Motorsport 5. I would have liked a ping restricted mode that would only allow people with a good connection to you be able to race.
While in a multiplayer lobby microphones are automatically switched on via the Kinect. This meant that if you were also watching tv or just talking to someone in the room it would go through the entire lobby. To get around this, I had to plug the headset into the controller and mute the microphone manually as there was no option to mute yourself while in the lobby. While most conversations I had with players were friendly and fun, there comes a point where you would rather just become The Stig and race as a silent road warrior.
I expect that a lot of features missing from Forza Motorsport 5 will been seen in the coming months. Things that are missing from Forza 4 included a soccer mode where you were able to use your car on a soccer pitch which lead to some hilarious voice chats online. With the online marketplace (Which hasn’t been opened yet) and season pass opportunities on the homepage, it has left us wondering how much we will have to outlay just to play their favourite online modes or drive cars that were available in the previous games after already paying $99 for a game that is essentially a prettier, cutdown version of Forza 4.
I feel like this was more of a push by Microsoft to make sure that this title was released with the launch of Xbox One. This meant cutting down on features that Turn 10 probably wanted to implement on launch but never got the time to fully flesh out and ultimately had to drop. It’s a shame if this is the case because given an extra few months I’m sure that a bunch of new features could have been added to an enjoyable game that seems to be lacking in the content department.
Make no mistake, as far as the Xbox One’s launch titles go, Forza Motorsport 5 really excels at showcasing exactly what the future of this generation of gaming holds, not to mention showcasing what the Xbox One can be capable of. The game looks amazing and and plays like a dream. The number of customisation options that Turn 10 has made available really means that both racing fans and newcomers can enjoy Forza 5.