Forza Motorsport 5

This title has a lot of expectation resting on its shoulders. Not only is it the next release in one of the best driving game series EVER. It’s also the first of such on the ‘next generation’ of consoles, the Xbox One.

I’ve always been a fan of Forza, it’s always managed to thread the line between ‘boring’ sim and ‘just for fun’ arcade racer with refined grace and a good hard thump on the joy button in the process. How then does this double-new version stack up?

The main screen delivers the usual choice of Career, Online and Quick races and also shows the Gallery and online bits and pieces too. Dead easy to get to and navigate through. When you drop into the race modes, the car you’re driving is shown in sparkling form in a showroom and “Forzavista” allows you to free roam around and into the vehicles, starting the engines, pushing buttons and having Jeremy Clarkson telling you how good everything is. This is especially nice when the vehicle in question is liveried and kitted to your personal design.

In terms of gameplay itself there’s more of what we’d expect from a Forza title, great tracks – albeit lacking a few this time around, great cars, an easy to use interface which allows you to just start driving and some really, really good voice-over bits for each of the championships from the BBC Top Gear boys. So far it’s a win!

There is also the paint-shop section which gives you the facility to make your car unique, but it lets you do other things too like share your design with the community, I believe Tony has had one of his designs used already! But it’s actually even cooler than that to be racing in your own colours and here’s why.

Forza is ALL about the racing community. Every race sees you racing, not against some random named AI no-bodys but against your friends and other Forza 5 gamers. This is accomplished using a facility called the “Drivatar” which takes your driving style and maps it onto the AI drivers in the game. There’s an initial learning process but the refinement takes place as you continue to drive onwards. I believe my Drivatar is about 20% synced which I guess means that it drives about 20% like I do. Not sure whether that’s a good or bad thing! The Drivatar also uses your car and livery, so that’s why it’s really good to make some kind of mark on the cars.

I’d like to think that my Drivatar is pretty decent on the track as I tend to be and I’ve already seen some consistent characteristics of some of the drivers I’ve raced a few times so it looks like it could be something which works.

Now then, I could spend the next 200 or so words gushing about how fabulous the detail is on the new console/game combination, but frankly it’s what we’ve been hyped up to expect so there’s actually nothing really new to tell you there – it is very nice though! Instead, I’ll pick a few holes.

There are some next-geniness bits that are a little jarring and some game features which I got lost in. In game I wanted to turn off the music while I was racing, but I couldn’t find the control for doing that. There’s a good reason for that, there isn’t one when you’re in race mode, you have to go out to the main menu and set it there. Now, OK, this is perhaps a 1-time thing but not having that ‘options’ menu at the touch of a button knocked me sideways. The second thing is to do with that fantastic graphics engine; just because you CAN use volumetric lighting, doesn’t mean that you HAVE to use it so much. It feels like a lot of the races are set in the late afternoon just so the developers can show off the new lighting dynamics and frankly it got a little bit boring.

These thing do very little however to detract from the fact that Forza Motorsport 5 is a brilliant driving game. From initial load to where I am today, I’ve not had a bad gameplay experience, nothing I saw or felt when I was driving was less than excellent: this is another winner.







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