Forza Motorsport 5 Review (Xbox One)
With each new Microsoft console, a racing game is always there at launch. It was Project Gotham Racing by Bizarre Creations for the original Xbox and PGR 3 for the Xbox 360. This time, on the Xbox One, we have Forza Motorsport 5; the racing franchise from Turn 10 Studios. With new hardware comes new features like Drivatars and challenges.
Forza 5 keeps the same gameplay intact but some of the tracks and many vehicles featured in previous games are noticeably absent and the career mode doesn't really break any new ground.
Coming off of Forza Horizon, one of the best racing games on the Xbox 360, playing Forza 5 was definitely a change. The gameplay is similar but the overall atmosphere surrounding the two games could not be more farther apart. Horizon tried for a more silly, fun approach, while Forza 5 is trying to be serious. Whether someone wants a serious racing game is a matter of personal opinion, but that type of game just doesn’t seem to fit well.
The series has always walked a fine line between simulation and arcade. Cars that drift more than they should are still present, making for some weird turns when you’re first starting out. The lower tiered cars are also not fun to drive and make the game seem more tedious.
One of the first things you’ll notice during your first race are Drivatars. A.I. drivers are a thing of the past and in their place come data from your friend’s time with the game. Instead of going up against opponents made by the developers, now you will go up against friends or random players if you know no one that has played Forza 5. The Drivatars sync to the cloud and take everything that you do during races into account. So if you’re someone who hits the brake at the last possible second, that will be reflected when your Drivatar races in someone else’s event. When they do compete in other events, even if you’re Xbox is off, you earn credits that can be collected the next time you sign on.
Drivatars do make things a little tougher, so because of that you don’t have to actually win the race to get a gold medal and earn max credits. Instead, finishing in the top three will let you achieve that. If winning is your thing, the No. 1 spot will be up for grabs, but you won’t earn any extra credits for finishing in first place.
The new impulse triggers in the Xbox One controller make for an interesting racing experience. When first starting the game you will immediately notice the left and right trigger vibrate when going into and out of corners.
It’s not a racing game without being able to change the assists and difficulty. From turning off ABS, to making the sure the racing line is gone, everything you could previously do with assists is still there for you tinker with. When it comes to difficulty, even though you have Drivatars now instead of A.I. opponents, you can still set how difficult they will be. And of course, the more assists, hard difficulty you make each event, the more credits you will earn.
The gameplay in Forza 5 stays pretty identical to its predecessors, which is enough for fans. However, for the casual audience, it’s not a game that many will enjoy due to erratic Drivatars and the lower class cars are still a chore to drive.
The career mode featured in Forza 5 is not something that is all that different from past games. Turn 10 didn’t try to do anything new with the Xbox One. Instead, you can go between any of the eight leagues at will, as long as you have an eligible car.
The Top Gear track is still present from Forza 4, and not only that, but the challenges try to mix things up. While I appreciate this, the challenges aren't particularly fun to compete in. The races already get pretty monotonous, but the challenges are by far the worst since you're not competing against anyone.
When selecting a new event or series, you are forced to listen to the Top Gear hosts talk about said series or a set of cars. This is fine the first time you hear it, but after the tenth time it made me not even care about the race as all I wanted was for the talking to come to an end.
One of the disappointing things is the amount of tracks included. There are only 14 total tracks, ranging from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, to Bernese Alps, to Prague. Trying to model each track with an insane amount of detail is certainly no easy task, but 14 tracks is just not enough. You end up playing on the same tracks over and over again in the career without any decent variety, which only adds to the not-so-fun factor. To make it even worse, the load times are excruciatingly long, even though the game is installed (which every Xbox One game must be installed before playing them).
Microtransactions have been discussed a lot since the release. For those curious, there are a few car passes that give you access to DLC cars. Some cars are locked behind those passes, while others are available for purchase à la carte.. Paying over $5 (sometimes more) for a specific vehicle is a little outrageous, but it’s not required to complete any event or the main career. There are also ways to earn double XP if you feel the climb to the max level takes too long. On November 27, Turn 10 stated that beginning in December they will increase credit payouts to everyone; meaning that it will be easier to unlock some of the vehicles.
For the first time in the series history, you can now race with up to 16 players online in a race. With the introduction of cloud-based servers, these matches run extremely smooth. I had no issues getting into matches or issues with connections.
Multiplayer Hoppers, which is explained to you when you first enter multiplayer, has you selecting leagues, class races, or special events. This is made to get you into races faster and they achieve that.
You can play with friends in private matches if you so desire and that is probably the decision most people should make. During my time in online play people were constantly wrecking each other before we even got into the first turn. That type of experience will differ from player to player, but it would be nice if collisions were turned off to prevent that from happening.
The downside to playing with friends is the party system on Xbox Live is a complete mess at the moment. Trying to invite someone is a chore simply because I can’t be in another game while my friend is in another and then we both just switch over. I had to manually leave the party, start a new one and then invite them before we could race together.
The setup in online play is different but once you get past the new menu it’s just multiplayer Forza. It’s more fun than the single player since you have people to talk to, but you’re still competing on the same 14 tracks over and over again. The upside is that at least you can rent some of the upper tier cars to see just how fun the game can be going over 200MPH. One last thing, we can’t comment on the marketplace just yet as it is simply “Coming Soon.”
Lifeless is the best word to describe everything surrounding Forza 5. The gameplay is stays the same, but it lacks the overall personality of previous iterations, especially Forza Horizon; and it gets rather tedious after hours of playing. It’s also missing a good amount of tracks, too. Drivatars are both good and bad, depending on who you end up racing against. There are times when you’ll have no trouble winning a race, and other times when it seems nearly impossible. Add everything up and you just get a good racing game; one that doesn’t change the formula up too much -- which is completely fine for most fans -- but for me it just makes me want Forza Horizon 2 that much more.
If you’re into the Forza franchise at all, it’s worth playing. But for anyone wanting to make the fifth installment their first, should wait until the next time around when there are more tracks and it has a little bit more soul.
Learning Curve: For anyone familiar with the franchise, the learning curve is small as it is familiar. For newcomers that are used to the Xbox 360 controller, the new impulse triggers and smaller analog sticks will take some getting used to. After completing the introduction, and with assists being available, it’s not a difficult game to get into at all.
Visuals: With next generation hardware, comes next generation visuals. Forza looks absolutely stunning in native-1080p and 60FPS. The amount of detail in each car and track is simply phenomenal to look at. The upgrade to all the UI (user interface) is also easy on the eyes.
Audio: Each car sounds better than ever but the soundtrack, which features classical music, seems out of place and does hinder the experience a little.
Value: For full retail price you are getting a lot of cars but compared to past games you are also missing out on tracks, cars, and features. It’s a fine start for Turn 10 and Microsoft, but for $60, we expected a little more.
Score: 7.0 (Good)
Scoring Note: While Forza still sports great gameplay, the disappointing lack of tracks and cars -- plus the overall step back with the career mode make Forza a good and solid racer but nothing groundbreaking or screaming must-own within the genre. It's pretty, it plays well, but Forza sorely needs more options to keep you going. The lack of additional track and car options as well as the career mode which does nothing to advance the genre holds Forza back a full point or more.