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Review: Forza Motorsport still handles like a dream

Though they haven't reinvented the wheel, this racing game is still a fun drive.


Image: Paul Semel / Turn 10 Studios / Xbox Game Studios
Image: Paul Semel / Turn 10 Studios / Xbox Game Studios

Forza Motorsport

Developer: Turn 10

Publisher: Xbox Game Studios

Release Date: 10/10/202

Review Score: 8

Quick Verdict:

Like previous installments, Forza Motorsport is an engaging racing game with the kind of depth and detail to satisfy both serious and casual drivers.

Pros:

  • The competition is actually competitive

  • Career mode is nicely varied

  • Fluid controls

Cons:

  • Being forced to practice in the career mode

  • Being forced to wait in multiplayer

  • Some of the important text is tin

Reviewer played on Xbox Series X. A code was provided by the publisher.

Forza Motorsport is available October 10th on PC and Xbox Series X/S

If you're like me, you might be getting a bit tired of everything getting rebooted whether it needs it or not (I'm looking at you, Magnum P.I.). And if so, I have some good news: The supposed "reboot" of the Forza Motorsport series? Yeah, not a reboot.

With all respect to Turn 10 Studios and Xbox Game Studios, Forza Motorsport (Xbox Series X/S, PC) is not a do-over, a reinvention, or a new beginning for this racing game; it's just an evolution of what they did in Forza Motorsport 7. But considering how great that game was…


Image: Paul Semel / Turn 10 Studios / Xbox Game Studios
Image: Paul Semel / Turn 10 Studios / Xbox Game Studios

For those who've never had the pleasure, the Forza Motorsport series has you driving real racing cars, muscle cars, high-end sports cars, and the kind of cars you'd drive to the supermarket in multi-lap races on professional race tracks.

It also has an immense amount of depth and customization when it comes to the races and the cars. For instance, in a car's "Tuning" section, you can adjust the tire pressure, tire alignment, and suspension geometry, among other performance aspects.


What sets this series apart…is that you can employ assists for the braking, acceleration, steering, traction, and stability.

Though you can, if you prefer, skip a lot of the minutiae. In a car's "Performance" section, you can figure out what new part to install and not to install, or you can hit a button and let the game be your mechanic and make these decisions for you.


Image: Paul Semel / Turn 10 Studios / Xbox Game Studios
Image: Paul Semel / Turn 10 Studios / Xbox Game Studios

What sets this series apart — or at least, what did until every racing series started copying it — is that you can employ assists for the braking, acceleration, steering, traction, and stability. By doing so, you can decide whether you'd prefer Forza Motorsport to be a realistic simulation or more like an arcade-style racing game, or something in-between (though, admittedly, this never gets as arcadey as, say, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe).

Visually speaking, the Forza Motorsport games have always been gorgeous, nearly photo-realistic, and the same is true of their sound effects and design. Even the music in Forza Motorsport isn't half bad, which is actually something new for this series.

As for what else is new, well, aside from how multiplayer is structured, and the competency of your competition (both of which we'll get to in a moment), the other improvements in Forza Motorsport are small details you might not notice.

For example, instead of one point of contact, tires now have eight. Also, the temperature of a track can impact how much a tire grips it. Neither of which you'll probably notice unless you're a gearhead with all of the assists turned off.

Forza Motorsport à la Mode


Image: Paul Semel / Turn 10 Studios / Xbox Game Studios
Image: Paul Semel / Turn 10 Studios / Xbox Game Studios

Not surprisingly, Forza Motorsport's mechanics work the same regardless of whether you play on your own or against other people.

In the game's career mode, "Builder's Cup," you partake in a series of class-based, multi-race events. It is here that the game truly shines, as these events — of which there are 25 with five races each — really show off the game's depth by having you race numerous types of cars on equally varied (and nicely curved) tracks from around the world, and under a good mix of conditions that include weather, time of day, and number of laps.


What makes Forza Motorsport's career mode so compelling is how your competition is, well, competitive.

But what makes Forza Motorsport's career mode so compelling is how your competition is, well, competitive, thanks to a change in the AI to one based on machine learning. Unless you play at a difficulty well above or well below your skill level, you'll always feel challenged, and never like you're driving a 1974 Toyota Corolla SR5 while the rest of the field are in 2021 Lamborghini Essenza SCV12s. Or vice versa.

Solo players can also take on challenging races in "Rivals," in which you race against the ghost of another driver.


Image: Paul Semel / Turn 10 Studios / Xbox Game Studios
Image: Paul Semel / Turn 10 Studios / Xbox Game Studios

As for those who play well with others, multiplayer in Forza Motorsport has been revamped. Rather than have you just race against random people online, you instead engage in multi-race events that have been set up at specific times, and with specific conditions, including the kind of cars involved, the weather, etc. To enter, you just show up at the right time.

Or, if you prefer, you can set up your own "Private Multiplayer" races, in which you choose the car class, track, conditions, and competitors.


Harsh Road Conditions Ahead


Image: Paul Semel / Turn 10 Studios / Xbox Game Studios
Image: Paul Semel / Turn 10 Studios / Xbox Game Studios

As much fun as Forza Motorsport is to dive, though, it's not without its issues.

In career mode, for instance, you can run practice laps on the track before you drive the actual race. The problem is that you can't set the game to automatically skip them; you have to start the practice run, pause, and then skip it. And you tediously have to do this before Every. Single. Race.


Because events in multiplayer are scheduled, you have to wait for them to start, sometimes as long as 15 minutes.

Similarly, multiplayer events require you to drive three qualifying laps, though these don't actually determine if you qualify, just where you'll be placed in the starting grid. More egregiously, because events in multiplayer are scheduled, you have to wait for them to start, sometimes as long as 15 minutes, with another 10 between each of the races.


Both of which drive home (pun intended) how much this really needs a regular online multiplayer mode.


Image: Paul Semel / Turn 10 Studios / Xbox Game Studios
Image: Paul Semel / Turn 10 Studios / Xbox Game Studios

Then there's the aforementioned "Rivals," which is initially engaging, but fast becomes rather samey.

It also doesn't help that, in every mode, some of the text is too small, which makes it hard to see what lap you're on or where you are in the standings when you're in the middle of a race. The white type is also hard to read on foggy days or when it's raining.


Image: Paul Semel / Turn 10 Studios / Xbox Game Studios
Image: Paul Semel / Turn 10 Studios / Xbox Game Studios

Despite these issues, though, Forza Motorsport is still an exceptional racing game. The tracks are nicely curved, the controls are smooth and intuitive, and the competition — be it online or against the machine — makes this challenging but not frustrating (or frustratingly easy). All of which puts this on par with such other excellent racing games as, well, Forza Motorsport 7, Forza Motorsport 6...


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