A reader offers his view on Microsoft’s new driving sim, and explains why he thinks it’s the most accessible entry yet.
A couple of disclaimers to get out of the way before I dig in to my review. Firstly, I am reviewing my own copy of the game bought myself and secondly, at the time of writing a couple of features are still not live yet. Forzathon, which is timed events and challenges, the auction house where people can buy and sell their cars to other people online, and online leagues are not live yet over two weeks after launch. If that changes afterwards I may update this review.
Forza Motorsport 7 is the latest entry in the 12-year-old Forza Motorsport franchise from veteran racing developers Turn 10 Studios and is exclusive on Xbox One family of devices and Windows 10 PCs. It builds on the last entry Forza Motorsport 6, which featured 400+ cars at launch and 30 locations, with multiple track variations as well as adding rain and night racing to the series for the first time.
Forza Motorsport 7 builds on those foundations by increasing the car list to 700 cars and adds in a few new tracks, with two being returning fan favourites from past Forza titles in Mugello Raceway, which is an official real world track, and Maple Valley, which is fictional made by Turn 10. The other new addition is a new fictional track based in Dubai. Otherwise the tracks are the same as in Forza Motorsport 6, although many of them now have more dynamic weather and time of day options – more on this later.
The 700 strong car list isn’t numbers for numbers’ sake either with each and every car deserving a place in the game. And every single one is of Forzavista standard in terms of design and painstaking detail at how closely they resemble their real world equivalents, as all 700 are real world cars officially licensed. Many cars are brought over from last year’s Forza Horizon 3, as well as several new cars from production to real series of multiple different motorsports.
Further to that, and this is something I’ve wished for a while now, cars are divided up into their own respective divisions. So F1 cars will only race against other F1s in single and multiplayer, GT3s only, hatchbacks race against other hatchbacks, etc. This is a very welcome change, as with previous games certain cars often dominated online and were sometimes banned completely from online lobbies because they were so overpowered. Notably the 1970s F1 cars in R Class, where no other class of car came close to their speed.
But that’s gone now, with every car having its own correct division to race in. Also, there are restrictions in place to ensure you can’t upgrade cars past a certain amount of horsepower, tyre width, and power level and there is an option that will automatically tune and upgrade your car to the appropriate level called homologation. Which ensures fair and balanced races. There is multi-class races available online, as well but these still are governed by homologation rules to ensure they are fair.
So, on to the actual game and first up is the graphics. These are absolutely incredible, with the same lighting improvements and skies that we saw last year in Forza Horizon 3 looking particularly striking if you have a 4K TV with HDR. Mine is a Samsung KS9000 and it looks absolutely fantastic, and I really can’t wait to see it in its full glory on the Xbox One X. It’s really a big step up visually than Forza Motorsport 6, although I can’t speak for what it’s like on a standard 1080p screen the improvements in skies, weather effects, and time of day will still look very nice I’d imagine.
But on a 4K TV these effects really come alive with heavy rain, thunderstorms and puddles. A huge feature in the last title, puddles now dynamically form as the rain falls, changing track conditions during the race and sometimes, if the rain has stopped and the sun comes back out, you can see them starting to evaporate, which is simply stunning. Night racing is equally thrilling. Racing in pitch black with only the lights around the track and yours and other cars’ lights to guide you is a tense and exciting experience.
Weather and the time of day is random, so you might be racing on a sunny afternoon with crystal clear skies or start later in the day and as the race finishes see the sun start to set on the horizon. Rain races can start off dry or pouring down and everything in between or with thunder and change during the race. Coupled to all these stunning visuals is excellent audio work, you can hear the crackle of thunder and then the rumble afterward with impressive clarity. Also, all of the cars sound fantastic too, with very accurate engine sounds, tyres screeching, and spraying jets of water from the track back at you in the wet. Visually and audibly Forza Motorsport 7 is utterly sublime.
Gameplay-wise I can feel a definite improvement in the cars’ handling and physics. More of a refinement on the last game, but it is noticeably better and there’s a big improvement in the cars’ stock tuning that makes them perfectly usable. Although of course you can still tune them yourself or download other people’s as always. Forza’s comprehensive livery editor also returns with a few additions in that wide body kits are now available. And the aforementioned homologation, where you can instantly upgrade cars to the peak of their performance within the restrictions set by their respective division.
Also, the driving assists are a lot better and makes it much more accessible to new comers. With all the assists on my wife and kids have been enjoying it with the game braking for them, so all they have to do is hold down the accelerator and steer. But the artificial intelligence provides a decent challenge for their skill level, making it fun and engaging for them.
At the same time I race with most of the assists off, manual gears and drivatars set to the hardest difficulty and can have the challenging realistic racing experience I’m after. So Forza is definitely the racing game for everyone, and for me it stands head and shoulders above any other sim-like racing game for that reason. Aside from perhaps Gran Turismo Sport, which takes a similar approach to being adjustable for a multitude of different skill sets.
The Forza Driver’s Cup career mode is similar to previous Forza games, there are several different cups to unlock by playing through a series of events in the previous one. The notable difference is each event is for a specific division of motorsport. As I’ve said before whether it’s F1, GT3, or racing trucks you’ll race against other cars in that category and for me, as a fan of multiple different motorsports, I like to replay some of my favourite series time and again. The dynamic weather and time of day system make it different each time and is great for replayability, as I’m never quite sure what to expect. Although the tracks order remains the same the varying conditions keeps it interesting.
All of the different motorsports are exceptionally well represented and for me many play better than the official games of those series. F1 cars are a lot better than Codemasters’ official F1 games. And for me, Forza has the best representation of NASCAR available. The cars feel fantastic and the drafting other vehicles is very good, with a great range of tracks available in these real world disciplines. Sure there might be some omissions compared to the official games but Forza for me plays and looks better by a considerable margin.
There are a few notable omissions in the car roster, with some manufacturers missing from previous titles such as Toyota production cars and Lexus is missing entirely, which is a shame because I love the Lexus LFA. But this is due to decisions made by said manufacturers not wanting to represent them in the game any more, so I can’t really blame Turn 10 for their omission. Usually the reason is they don’t like people see their cars damaged in games, so I can only assume that’s the case here.
Finally, I can’t do this review without mentioning loot boxes. Or ‘prize crates’ as they’re called here. In them you’ll get mods, which offer boosts to credits and XP from completing different challenges, like turning off assists or racing in the rain. Now, in the previous game they were permanently unlocked but are now one time use or sometimes a few uses. And in previous games you could earn boosts by simply turning off assists, but now you need the right mod card to get it. You still get boosts from increasing drivatar difficulty though.
Also in prize crates you can get cars, racing suits, and badges for your profile picture. Whilst I’m not a fan of them, their inclusion has not hindered my progress. After about 70 hours with the game I’ve amassed over 300 cars in my collection and have never been short of in-game cash. Also, driver gear can be obtained as a reward for levelling. As you go up a level you get to choose a reward: either 50,000 credits, a car for free or at a significant discount, or a new racing suit.
I’ve been buying the prize crates mainly just to get the mod cards and have not had issue with having enough in-game money and have always lots of different mod cards available to me. At the time of writing they have yet to start charging real money for them, and as long as they don’t alter the progression if/when they do it won’t really get in the way of enjoying the game without buying them. Although I’ve got problems with how the mod cards work I’ve not had any issue playing this entry the same as any before it.
Forza Motorsport 7 is the biggest, most complete Forza Motorsport game yet, with lots of refinements and new features making it a worthy upgrade over the last title in the series with truly outstanding visuals, audio work, and car-handling and physics. Whether you are a brand new player and have never touched a racing sim before or a seasoned veteran looking for a stiff and as realistic challenge as possible Forza Motorsport 7 has you covered.
If you’re a Xbox One owner or have a good enough PC and are a sim racing fan it’s an absolute must. Marred only by the industry’s current obsession with loot boxes and microtransactions in full price games which already have additional paid content. Forza Motorsport 7 is the best entry in the 12-year-old series and a truly outstanding entry in the racing sim genre as a whole.
By reader Big Angry Dad82 (gamertag)
The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
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