OXCGN's Forza 5 Review
Can graphical and audible gold fill the shoes of lost content and game play features?
by Ben Cadwallader
(ED: Here it is folks, we've got our first next gen review for Turn 10's latest installment in the Forza franchise that is rated one of the best in its genre. What did Ben, our racing aficionado think of the latest outing?)
Turn 10's Forza Motorsport 5 is a car salesman's wet dream; get ready for the showroom experience. It is without a doubt, the closest thing to 'real' you will visually see in any automotive video game, period.
It is a surreal experience to see when the camera slowly pans across your car and your eyes discover that your vehicle's paintwork features that classic 'orange peel' texture. You suddenly realise that this is truly what the next-generation is all about; the finer details.
Each vehicle has had a complete makeover and besides a few jagged edges (if only they turned up the anti-aliasing a little more) and some slightly hexagonal rotors, these cars look perfect in both their exteriors and interiors. It is amazing.
This is particularly pleasant with your vintage vehicles such as your Camaros, Mustangs and the original GTR. You get the same feeling when you see a completely restored vehicle out at your local car show; you’re just left in awe of the quality of workmanship and detail that these classic non-plastic dashboards had. Forza 5 brings a new way to appreciate and inspect these amazing details thanks to the power of the Xbox One console.
A further extension of this is Forzavista – what was a gimmicky-but-cool feature of its predecessor is now a fully fledged (and amazing) feature in the game. With every single vehicle purchased you may completely explore it in car-showroom style. To begin with players can view a brief video detailing the history of the vehicle (narrated by a lovely female voice), after which players can then view their car from angle angle, inside or out. If you want to have a close up view of the air conditioning button on the dashboard – you probably can.
Forzavista is a beautiful feature that makes you appreciate cars in a way that has never been achieved in a game before. I guarantee with every car you acquire in game the first thing you do will be to check it out in this mode and learn a bit of history (because history is fun right?). The only slight disappointment is the Top Gear team who feature throughout the game do not feature in Forzavista mode; which would have been the icing on the cake.
Before you even start the game, turn the in-game music off, volume as high as possible on your sound system. Then while the game loads prepare to treat your ears to the most beautiful automotive vehicle notes ever experienced in interactive games.
But wait, it gets better. Modifications made to the vehicle make a much larger difference to the sound this time around. Fit your V8 with a massive race cam package and that smile will be on your face for days. Same goes with fitting large turbochargers or superchargers. It’s these little details that make progression through the game much more satisfying.
Now, unfortunately these insanely-detailed cars have come at a cost for Forza 5. Only roughly 200 cars are available in Forza 5 compared to its predecessor’s 600 or so. However most your favorites are there, such as the Silvia, WRX, EVO, Skyline, Mustang, Camaro, Datsun, Ford, Holden (One HSV the VE GTS and sadly only one Supercar this time for us Australians) and all the usual exotics, etc.
So from my experience with the game so far, I’ve never felt upset that a particular car is missing. It seems Turn 10 has made the smart decision to include most of the popular cars in so the majority are satisfied, if you’re a Forza 4 player and loved your niche-market vehicle, then you may want to check the vehicle list prior to purchasing.
Forza 5 has already begun releasing DLC car packs available for purchase so if you’re one of those players who loves DLC then expect many cars to be released soon. You can buy a season pass to access future vehicle DLC for $65 AUD.
Forza 5′s gameplay takes a bit of a radical shift from the traditional route and essentially allow you to choose your own adventure in career mode (if you can afford the cars). Therefore gone are the days of starting with a Toyota Corolla and working your way up the chain. I only spent roughly 30 minutes with my starter car (Subaru BRZ) before I could afford a much nicer car. Your next vehicle choice will decide what your next league in your career will be.
In Forza Motorsport 5, you really don’t get to spend much time with the same vehicle as the majority of leagues are specific to their type of vehicle such as rally, vintage, FWD, RWD, muscle and yes there’s even a V8 Super Car league. In addition to this most of these leagues have a limit to modifications you can install so don’t spend your entire bank account of getting your 1969 Camaro to S class, because to go into the race you’ll have to remove most of your mods.
If you’re chasing that traditional racing career progression, then Forza 5 has left one portion of its career that is simply for Class ranked cars. Therefore if you love to start with a slow car and end up building your car to S or R class over the course of many racing leagues this is for you.
With that exception you will find with most other racing leagues you will be required to invest in new cars to be eligible for that race. As such, Forza 5 forces players to experiment with other cars and quickly build a collection of vehicles for access to the the many different leagues available.
As you begin each league players are treated to a brief video featuring the voices of the Top Gear Team: James May, Jeremy Clarkson or Richard Hammond. And while brief, these quick videos capture the humorous and true nature of these lovable TV hosts. I’m not sure if they read from a script provided, if they wrote it themselves or if they simply improvised but they stay very true to their character which makes it fantastic.
For example, it was particularly funny when Jeremy Clarkson has trouble pronouncing the Pagani Huayra; just as he did on TV.
From the Top Gear logo on the box cover art, to the humorous second race on Top Gear’s Test Track it is very clear that Turn 10 have formed a very strong relationship with the Top Gear enterprise. It really is a great way to extend both forms of media that encourage non-gamers or non-top gear viewers to have a crack at the experiencing what all the fuss is about.
“Turn 10 are serious about the track as well, with it featuring in your third race of the entire game. Its a good feeling to see that Australia in the lime light.”
Unfortunately just as Forza 5 made dramatic cuts to its car line up, it has heavily cut down on its tracks. There are a few surprising tracks that are absent such as the Nurburgring - which I feel may be a deal breaker for many die hard racers. Apparently many of these previous Forza tracks need to be rebuilt using laser mapping technologies which is the most accurate way to digitalise a race track. This technology is able to capture details such as imperfections on the tracks and build them into the game to create the most realistic experience that next-generation games should be.
There is one new track to get every Australian excited about, the inclusion of Mt Panorama’s Bathurst 1000 circuit (FINALLY). And honestly, with no bias it’s in my opinion the best track of all of them. It is so much fun to drive, and is one of the only tracks with a noticeable incline and decline in the track. Turn 10 are serious about the track as well, with it featuring in your third race of the entire game. Its a good feeling to see that Australia in the lime light.
With the the limited 14 tracks available in Forza, unfortunately every racing league you play through (each lasts roughly 60-90 minutes) will see you race through the same tracks in a similar order. This does make it seem quite uniform with the exception of the varied cars you’re racing against.
To keep the racing more spirited, Forza 5 collectors data from your driving behavior to form your ‘drivatar’, this is your virtual online identify that will race your friends and random members of the online community while your not playing. And as such, when you are racing through career mode, you will be racing against other peoples virtual drivatars instead of generic computer players.
I’m not sure if this is a good or a bad thing yet. As I’ve progressed throughout my game since playing on launch day. I’ve noticed that as I’ve progressed (and more players have started playing) I seem to be racing against more racers that prefer to ram into me instead of hitting the brake. In a few particular tracks, I’ve had racers hit me, and keep pushing until I’m sliding off the road. In these moments I’d like to thank the rewind button which is, once again is a handy tool for the frustrated virtual racer. Don’t expect the polite racers from Forza Motorsport 4.
In addition, like Forza Motorsport 4, players can challenge players in Rivals mode to climb your way up the ranking ladders and challenge players of increasing difficulty. You simply chase their ghosts but it is a quick and easy way to earn credits and satisfy your need to be better than the rest.
Forza is not just about the race anymore. It’s about showcasing technical and mechanical marvels. It’s about the community and the spirit of the entire car culture. If you’re lucky enough to purchase a vehicle in-game that you own yourself in real life (I own a Subaru WRX myself), I found it a privilege to listen to its history in Forzavista mode, and my jaw-dropped at how life-like the vehicle was to my own. This is only day one of next-gen, imagine what will be accomplished in the coming years with the inevitable Forza 6 and more.
Forza Motorsport 5 is an astonishing accomplishment that sacrifices some game play features to showcase new features that boost the automotive community to greater heights.
+ Graphics that will blow your mind.
+ Audio that will blow your mind.
+ Forzavista mode that will blow your mind.
+ Forzavista educates players with a small history lesson.
+ Top Gear commentary that directly links to jokes within recent seasons of the show
+ Forza is not just about the race, but about the culture of the automotive community.
- All this goodness comes with a sacrifice in quantity of included content.
- The feeling that Turn 10 is going to cash in on tremendous amounts of DLC content.
(This review was conducted with a retail copy of Forza Motorsport 5 purchased by our writer)