Friday, October 28, 2011

Forza Motorsport 4 Review

Ever since a previously unknown racing game was launched on the original Xbox in 2005, Forza Motorsport has been the king of simulation racing games on the console and arguably any platform. On the Xbox 360 there have been 3 installments with Forza Motorsport 2, 3 and now 4 with each making major advancements in terms of technology and gameplay despite using the same hardware. Forza Motorsport 4 has boldly claimed to look better, play better and last longer than any other racing game by providing the ultimate racing experience both online and offline.

While the previous title in the series held up to the cross platform rival Gran Turismo 5, Turn 10 Studios has used a short development time to turn Forza 4 into a superb package that absolutely blows any previous racing game out of the water. This simply put if the complete racing game that offers so much more than any other game on the market and some insane graphical progression has allowed this game to improve immensely on Forza 3, which was impressive in its own right. This is the ode to all racing fans out there, Forza Motorsport 4 is the game you have been looking to own.


Forza 3 was a graphical beast back in the day and still holds its own next to other racing games in 2011. Forza 4 takes it up a gear and brings the tracks to life in ways never before seen. Exquisite detail and next gen lighting effects take Forza 4 into a league of its own as the attention to detail in every aspect of the game is second to none. Who cares if Gran Turismo 5 has more cars and tracks if the majority are generic models which look hideous. Everything right down to the interior of a 1973 Ford Falcon GT has been lovingly crafted to provide as much detail as possible. This is a game that car enthusiasts will be genuinely happy with.

The new image based lighting model delivers real world effects as cars race through the various locations in the game. Bright sunlight will shimmer off a cars bonnet just like it would in real life, where as shadows accurately roll over the car and even reflect the outside environment from inside the car. The old one dimensional thought of car goes under bridge, shadow of bridge rolls over car is gone. The car feeds off the environment and the reflections and colours bouncing off all areas accurately reflects your surroundings.

While an extensive amount of time has been taken to apply as much detail as possible to the 500 odd cars in the game, the tracks have been beefed up from their older counterparts. With a limited number of new tracks in this years version, it was important for Turn 10 to add the subtle changes to the tracks hardened veterans know and love. Almost all of your favourite tracks return (minus the New York Circuit) with crisper graphics featuring more detailed backgrounds and a crisper racing surface. Everything down to skid marks and asphalt variation on the ground has been improved and comparisions between the same track on Forza 3 and 4 look generations apart.

Calling Forza 4 a graphical beast must mean that it has a meaty engine running underneath. Whether or not this is the case, the sounds produced in this game definitely match the most beautiful sounding cars in our world today. Cars have never sounded better in a video game and the unique roar of each car has been added to this game. It is great to hop into an old Jaguar and hear the roar compared to the putrid splutter you may find in Top Gears Reasonably Priced Car. Forza Motorsport 4 for me is the complete package in terms of presentation and racing games entering the fray should hope to replicate this game as I find it hard to think of topping it in this generation anyway.


No matter how good the cars looked and sounded, if they handled like a piece of junk with minimal sensitivity or the races weren't fun, all the effort would be wasted. Luckily Forza 4 is a pleasure to play and they have finally streamlined the content to keep you playing for longer while continuing to enjoy the experience. Along with the lengthy career mode which has been altered for a more thrilling ride full of choices and the bolstered multiplayer mode, an array of new modes make their way into the game. Kinect adds a nice experimental mode to the game and also assists with the potential of Autovista which showcases some of the premier cars in the game. Rivals mode takes multiplayer offline in a sense, allowing you to race against other players ghosts in a kind of challenge mode. All of this adds up to hundreds of hours of fun reaching the new level cap of 150.

The cars handle splendidly, realistically reacting to braking and turning just like their real life counterpart. Of course everything in the game can be modified and adding or altering parts in your car may alter the braking power or acceleration of your car. The game also lets you change the game to suit your difficulty level. Everything from assisted braking to traction control can be turned on or off depending on how well you feel like you can handle your vehicle. Extending the simple easy/medium/hard settings of other games has always kept Forza in a position to suit a larger range of gamers. What doesn't change throughout the game is the sense of speed. Rocketing down a straight at 200 miles per hour will feel super fast and will continue to be exhilirating no matter how many times you take on one of the many straights presented on the Le Mans track.

One big problem I found with Forza 3 was that by the 4th and 5th year of the career I wasn't finding any motivation to complete the main races of the game. Every 3rd or 4th race was an endurance event taking 30 minutes or more of my time with no way of saving in between. It really took the fun out of racing, as much of a simulation experience that it was the races still needed to be shortened at least on a more regular basis. Turn 10 agrees and have streamlined the races, with shorter races and more of them over a 10 year career. I love this change and it definitely makes it easier for me to enjoy the game. Events are now chosen depending on what cars are in your garage and you have a choice on what grade of race you play each time, the location and length are always set in place however which is no big deal. Levelling up is now faster and provides more rewards often. Choice is implemented into this also with a choice of cars available at every level bracket.

Multiplayer is back and better than ever before. Public and private races make a return and will keep you entertained and challenged long past finishing all the hundreds of events in career mode. The best new feature in my opinion is Rivals Mode. Rivals mode is basically a combination of events that allow you to play against your friends or other Forza players online, even when they're offline. Your rival will be represented by a ghost car of their lap at any given challenge and you are given a chance to beat their time. By beating your rival, you'll get bonus credits based on that rival's position on the leaderboard, with large bonuses saved for the top percentile of the leaderboard. These different modes aren't just normal racing and includes things such as Track Days, Time Attacks, Spec Hot Laps, Autocross, Drifting and Top Gear's heralded Star in a Reasonably Priced Car challenge. These are so much fun that you could dedicate hours alone to setting fast times yourself and beating your friends in the process.

Speaking of friends, The Car Club is a new social aspect of Forza 4 which lets you join groups of either your friends or fellow car enthusiasts. Here you can share cars and parts with others in the group as well as checking out the progress of everyone else in the group. With many other games going social, its great to see Forza following stride and creating their own unique package. Another feature unique to Forza 4 is Autovista, an interactive way to look at and learn about the most beautiful cars in the game. Using either a controller or Kinect, you can zoom in and examine every part of many cars both internally and externally while receiving wonderful stats and stories from Jeremy Clarkson. This is a great thing to show off to friends and a cool way to take a detailed look at cars you will never drive. This mode also shows off the graphical power and detail put into Forza 4.

Forza Motorsport 4 for the first time isn't all about simulation racing, they have mixed it up by adding some fun elements that will certainly appeal to the more casual racer amongst gamers. A lot has been said about Top Gears involvement in the Forza series and unlike Gran Turismo their debut has been met with great success. Apart from Jeremy Clarkson's Autovista input and the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car challenge, other fan favourites such as car bowling have been featured in normal events as well as career events which is super cool! Kinect play, while a minimal feature which will keep those who were worried about a casual approach when it was first announced safe, is still a lot of fun. Being able to control a car with just your arms and head to look around is a fair bit of fun, but is definitely only worthy of a tiny part in this package. If you really want to drive using your hands, go out and buy the official steering wheel from Microsoft.


Quite honestly, this is as good as it will get for any racing game in this generation of consoles. Gran Turismo fans may complain about lack of night racing and the fact that they have so many more (mostly generic) cars to race. Forza 4's overall package trumps any racing game ever made before it and crushes them to dust. This is the ultimate racing game, covering every possible angle of the sport and the beauty of cars. There is so much content packed into Forza that it will take you hundreds upon hundreds of hours to finish. The game is beautiful, the cars sound extraordinary and the game handles like an absolute angel. Seriously, enough said, this is the best racing game ever.

Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 10/10
Gameplay - 10/10
Overall - 10/10