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Forza 5 Motorsport Review

For the last 8 years, only one game has come close to battling Polyphony Digital's Gran Turismo series for the number one spot on the Best Racing Simulation Series podium. Now in it's fifth iteration, has Forza finally shifted up a gear and managed to overtake it’s main competition with it’s next generation advantage?

With the release of Microsoft’s venture into the next generation of gaming, Forza Motorsport 5 looks to continue to the successful pattern laid down before by the highly rated and popular titles on the Xbox 360 and the original Xbox before it. Upon starting for the first time, Turn 10 Studios throw you straight into a lavish introduction race that is designed to showcase your Forza journey - A picturesque race around the city streets of Prague in the incredible, unrelenting beast that is the McLaren P1, it serves as a simple tutorial allowing you to get a feel for the new handling while demonstrating the new system's powerful graphical capabilities and showing you that it means business from the outset.

Firstly, with it being a first party title, Forza Motorsport 5 is, as you’d expect, graphically impressive. Running at 1080p in silky smooth 60 FPS, the visual experience when racing round Prague or Laguna Seca is eye waveringly nice at times. Tracks and surrounding environments are extremely detailed, well everything bar the crowds, which appear to be filled with unenthusiastic Turn 10 employees. Cars are equally detailed with every last inch faithfully created in Forza’s next generation engine and with the new Kinect, you can turn on head tracking allowing you pan around your car’s cockpit view. Gimmicky, but neat. There does seem to be a few visual staples missing such as night races or any weather conditions, but don’t let that put you off as in actual fact, I barely noticed until around 30 races in to my career.

The biggest new feature that Forza Motorsport 5 brings to the party is the inclusion of the Drivatar system, pronounced Dry-va-tar, another gaming buzzword up there with the likes of Battlefield’s Levolution. The idea is that instead of other drivers in the game being driven by artificial intelligence, data is collected from every player connected as they complete races. The way players corner, the way players drive, be that passive or aggressively, the way players brake into corners and more all come together into your own online driver. When you’re not racing, they are, collecting credits for you to spend on upgrades and new vehicles on your return. It’s a nice feature but it’s execution is a little flawed. 

Those many gaming years spent picking up bad habits, such as shouldering yourself off an opponent as you take a tight corner that little bit too quickly, or unsportingly nudging a fellow racer, all shine through here. Meaning that most of my early races against other Drivatars quickly turned into the racing equivalent of a bloodbath by the time you’ve reached the first corner. I’ve already had a few messages my way from online friends telling my Drivatar wiped them out heading into a hairpin or shunted them off the start line, when in reality my driving is no where near as erratic as it seems. But it’s not all bad. Other Drivatars, there I’ve said it again, generally race with a new sense of human nature about them, by making the odd mistake like running off the circuit or making a disappointing launch, and seeing your Xbox friends battling against you can give a little rush.

Continuing with the new features, Forza adds to it’s overall driving experience with the inclusion of the new Xbox One controller’s trigger vibration. While it’s quite hard to relate how much of a difference this truly makes to the driving sensation without experiencing it yourself, but it’s certainly one thing not to miss out on. Going round a sharp turn and you’ve hit the brakes a little too late? You’ll feel it; it really does give off varying degrees of vibration depending on the circumstance.

Forza Motorsport 5 adds to the series’ partnership with BBC’s long running Top Gear motoring programme with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May featuring heavily with in the game. Before launching into one of the game’s career championships, which are split into categories of cars, one of the hosts gives a short and often comedic overview of the cars you’ll be racing against. It’s a nice touch, especially when you hear them making sly little digs at each other, just as in the show, while taking in depth chats about the cars. The Top Gear Test track also returns from Forza 4, allowing you to pit yourself against The Stig’s digital cousin or celebrities in the Kia Cee apostrophe D in an attempt to top that oh so famous leaderboard.

The experience may not be as in-depth or diverse as previous titles, but the game’s incredible attention to detail and excellent, high standards for delivering the content that Turn 10 have managed to push into the final release, should not be overlooked. While many fans may not appreciate the more streamlined release, first time players will be welcomed into a racing game that is quite forgiving and very enjoyable.

Forza Motorsport 5 from Microsoft Studios and Turn 10 studios should be considered an excellent launch title for Microsoft’s new console. Sure, it has it’s problems with considerably fewer cars and tracks that previous games in the series, but if you’re looking for a simulation racer for the launch of any next generation console, you’re stuck with Forza and that’s certainly a good thing. Graphically impressive, slick menus and the relatively engaging Drivatar system show extreme promise for the Xbox One, where it the series can go from here will be an exciting journey.

Words by Colin Gallacher.

(Version Tested: Xbox One)


+ Those next generation graphics
+ Trigger Vibrations
+ Drivatar system when it works


- Missing a few features
- Erratic drivatars
- No weather conditions

Edited On 27 Nov, 2013

( 4 )
Im Going Space's avatar
Im Going Space 3 years ago
i will say that i expect the driveatar thing will improve as people play more, as on my profile it says 5% synced. yet ive done around 30 races. i think its a little rocky as a start. but its great to race against AI that doesnt just follow a line.
JoeToots's avatar
JoeToots 3 years ago
After playing this takin ration the hype surrounding felt it was a mediocre game I had more fun on forza 4 and much prefer forza 4.
Bliss IRL's avatar
Bliss IRL 3 years ago
Love Love Love this game period. Glossy , fast only 1080p res out for the Bone so far and very happy with it indeed. Prague is just Bloody awesome at high speed.
PrometheusFan's avatar
PrometheusFan 3 years ago
Ignoring microtransactions again? There's been a huge stink building about those the past week in Forza 5 from what I've been seeing regarding how Turn 10 have built the game around the "credits" system and how features from past Forza games have been removed in addition. Also, read a technical teardown of the game and was shocked by how heavily this game was downgraded technically from it's first E3 showing. In particular the environments (Crowds especially) have been massively scaled back from the unveiling and the game apparently has no anti-aliasing at all? Sounds like another Xbox One disaster to me.

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