Even though the Forza brand has only launched three games in the past, they have managed to cement themselves as the premier driving simulator game. Rival Gran Turismo released their fifth edition late last year, which was met with some grumbles from the gaming community – which paved the way for Forza to take the lead.
Forza Motorsport 4 releases today, and gamers are in for a real treat. Not only did Turn10 add a whole bunch of new cars, the graphics are absolutely stunning. Gone are the days of pixelated details and shoddy designs, this edition can boast of smooth graphics and highly-detailed cockpits.
At the start of the game, players are required to drive in a mandatory race around a track in Switzerland. Not only does it make players familiar with the easy controls, but it’s also an early showcase of what the game is capable of.
After the race, gamers are guided through the menu system and career formats through the help of an announcer, which sounds oddly soothing for such a fast-paced game. Naturally, gamers start at the bottom of the racing fraternity and they work their way up – but it’s a very long climb.
After every race, players will be awarded either Driver XP, in-game money or Affinity. Driver XP is used to rank up and this is done fairly quickly. For each level achieved players will be given a choice of a new car. The cars won (or bought) are highly-customisable, but we’ll get to that in a short while.
In-game money is kind of self-explanatory, but it’s used to buy vehicle upgrades, new cars and decals. Things aren’t terribly expensive and drivers will be able to do a lot if they save their money until a bit later.
Racing in a particular brand of car will gain drivers Affinity – for example, if a driver races in a Mazda, they gain Mazda Affinity. These also come in various levels, but on Level 4 players will be rewarded with the upgrades and parts for free. It’s obviously more difficult to reach level 4 as the game goes on, but it’s a great reward to aim for.
Starting in the Amateur class, players will have to race through Clubman and then onto Professional. The races in the beginning of the title are fairly easy and drivers should be able to get a podium finish with most assists turned off.
The controls are very simple and incredibly easy to learn – but the real trick comes in with different cars. See, that is the beauty of Forza 4 – all the cars handle, react and sound like their real-life counter-parts. It’s absolutely amazing how well the handling and detail were developed and it’s just one more thing that makes Forza the racing king.
Speaking of the cars, there are over 250 well-known vehicles to choose from – from every day cars such as the VW Fox, Citroen DS3 and Mazda Miata, to the more exotic models like the Bugati Veron, Bentley Continental Supersport, Gumpert, and a whole host of Ferraris and Lamborghinis.
Adding further to the already jam-packed experience of hurling down a country road at 250km/h, the game also includes content from the very-successful Top Gear television show. Drivers will be able to take part in races on the famous Top Gear test track and host Jeremy Clarkson will be on hand to comment on cars and their statistics in the Autovista feature.
For users who have Microsoft’s Kinect peripheral, the game integrates head-tracking, which allows drivers to look into a corner or at cars nearby by simply turning their heads in that direction. Players will also be able to navigate the Autovista virtual showroom using the Kinect.
As far as racing games go, Forza Motorsport 4 is definitely one of the best games we have ever seen. Sure, there are a couple of niggles that needed to be sorted out with a day-one patch, but no game is perfect.
The graphics are fantastic, the controls are very simple and the gameplay is as exciting as ever. With the wide range of cars up for racing, gamers will find something close to their hearts and mechanics will keep them coming back for more. It’s definitely a must-buy for any racing fan, and if gamers don’t have Xbox, this is a very good reason to buy one.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor