Forza Motorsport 5 (Game) Review

Forza Motorsport 5

Released: 13th January 2014
RRP: £44.99
Publisher: Microsoft
Available on: XBOX One
Rating: PEGI 7

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Forza Motorsport 5 is the latest entry in the world famous racing series from Turn 10 Studios and is one of the flagship titles for Microsoft's new Xbox One. With a whole host of competitors including Need for Speed Rivals and Gran Turismo 6 on the market does Forza take best in show or has it been knocked off the podium?

Lets start with the graphics, as it's the first thing that you'll see after loading up the disc and navigating the game's sleek menu system. They are absolutely stunning. This level of detail is unprecedented and totally shows off what the next gen system can do. I have never seen such detailed car models before in a game and it is apparent that Turn 10 must have spent an age meticulously recreating every single car and track in the game. Whether you're blasting a McLaren P1 around Silverstone or a Mercedes SLR through the streets of Prague, the frame rate never drops and the level of realism is unerring. The Swiss Alps track sticks out in my mind for its sheer beauty alone and racing through a Swiss village with the snowy mountain peaks in the background is nothing short of jaw dropping. The team at Turn 10 have also painstakingly recreated every car inside too, so if like me you prefer to race with a view from behind the wheel you can. The level of detail inside the cabin has gone up another level from Forza 4 and little touches like your gloves reflecting in the windscreen when the sun shines is an amazing touch that further adds to the realism.

AutoVista also makes a comeback in Forza 5, although this time all 200+ cars available in the game now have the feature, whereas Forza 4 only had the function on a select few models. This feature is purely for the car enthusiast and acts as a kind of virtual showroom where you can look around the car and get up close and personal, learn statistics and get inside the car and have a good old nosey. I've done this on a few cars now and the graphics are near photo-realistic. The detailing in the paint alone is mind blowing and you can see the different textures and the weave of the carbon fibre on the more expensive cars. Unfortunately, of the few cars I've tried you can't pop the bonnet and look at the engine bay, which is a shame for all the anoraks out there.

So how does Forza handle? The answer is absolutely beautifully. Each car feels totally different. I took a Ford Fiesta ST for a quick spin and was greeted with heavy steering but tons of grip, just like my Fiesta in real life. I then jumped into a Ferrari 430 and had much lighter steering and a lot more freedom to throw the back end out on corners. The sense of speed is also here in spades and if you go over 120mph the controller starts to vibrate slightly and a slight blur comes on the screen to let you know that you're not messing about. Another new feature to the Xbox One is the inclusion of new hauptic feedback motors built into the triggers of the controller. This feature offers another level of realism and now you can actually feel the ABS kicking in under heavy breaking or the rumble strip under the wheels when you cut a corner. It's a truly amazing new feature. The rewind feature of previous Forza games is also back, meaning that a crippling crash can be rewound and avoided rather than having to restart the race. The racing purists needn't worry though, as the feature is completely optional and can be ignored if you so wish.

The sound of the game is also absolutely bang on. Each engine note sounds perfect, whether its the meaty growl of the iconic Ferrari 250 GTO's V12 or the Spitfire-esque thunder of the Mercedes C63 AMG, the game consistently nails it. Played through a surround sound, it really is phenomenal.

The AI in the game is also a big improvement over Forza 4. The game now boasts a new feature called Driveatar which remembers certain aspects of your driving, whether that's your aggression towards other racers or breaking in a particular corner and adds all the data into a virtual version of you. This virtual twin then races in other people's games and earns you credits. Also, other racer's Driveatars also populate your race, making the racing experience feel much more organic. Now the opponents feel unpredictable and do make mistakes, giving the whole race a more realistic feel.

The game also has a big input from the Top Gear guys, with Jeremy, Richard and James introducing each new event and giving motoring anecdotes just like they would in the show. The Top Gear test track is also back and there are lots of Top Gear themed races, my favourite of which sees you pitted against the Stig's digital cousin.

So Forza Motorsport 5 is pretty perfect, right? Well, no not quite. There are a few drawbacks and niggles that do hold the game back ever so slightly. First and foremost being the weather system, or lack of. Every time you race on a track it's at the same time of day, which is fine but after a while it does get a little tiresome. I'd love to do a little night racing or have the added difficulty of driving in the wet. Project Gotham Racing 4 had dynamic weather and that was released in 2007, so I'm not entirely sure why it's absent in Forza. Also, because the track list is trimmed down to 14 tracks and each event typically has about 8 races and then 4-6 bonus races you end up driving on the same course (albeit it a different variation if it) over and over. It's not a deal breaker by any means but I did get to a point where I was thinking 'oh no not again!'. Also, I don't know if it's just me but my windscreen seems to crack every single race. If someone gives you the slightest of nudges your whole screen cracks, rendering the cockpit view totally useless. Maybe this says more for my driving style, but sometimes even the faintest brush with an opponents back end has Autoglass rubbing their hands together.

In summary, Forza 5 is hands down the best driving game I've ever played. The level of realism is unprecedented, the graphics are gorgeous, the feel of the cars is bang on and new features like the hauptic force feedback and Driveatar make an already strong racing series even stronger. The game gets the mix of simulation vs enjoyment factor just right and never feels too sterile or stilted, a trait sometimes apparent in Gran Turismo. While there are some drawbacks with the game as listed above, it doesn't stop this from being the benchmark racing game available right now and a true example of what next gen gaming has in store for us.

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