Welcome to Forza Motorsport 7, where it’s that time in the Forza lifecycle where players swap from open world street racing to precision track racing. Fundamentally it’s a big change, but the basics of speed, racing and cars remain. The selection of cars is monstrous, and is more or less unrivalled when it comes to choice; it’s essentially Pornhub for cars. Add in the ability to create incredibly detailed custom paint jobs (a feature which in itself has a highly skilled userbase) and an avid community taking advantage of solid social features and you start to understand why the Forza fan base exists.
Rain never looked so good
Forza Motorsport 7 is packed full of content, and it is content which is not only fun but looks incredibly detailed and smooth. When you load into a race, players are presented with clean crisp dynamic environments which not only provide a backdrop for each and every car on the race track, but also provide you with the tarmac, rumble strips and tyre walls, add to that FM7’s new day/night cycle and you get a dynamic racing experience where you will be creating your own story of motorsport failures and success.
When you first start up the game, FM7 present you with a short history of three drivers, who compete in vastly different motorsport disciplines. It showcases them with a sensational voice over and then surrenders control over to you. This is done in a way to provide the underlying narrative of forging your own motorsport story, a story which is said to create fond memories of on-track success but also include vital lessons learned from mistakes and missed opportunities as you race your way to glory in the Forza Drivers Cup.
The Forza Drivers Cup is spread over six distinct championship series, which all include a variety of racing categories and three or so one-off special events. These one off events include oddities like car bowling, autocross or tense one-on-one showdowns against some of the industry’s biggest and most talented drivers. To advance in each season you will need to accumulate enough SP points, which are earned after each race, how many you are awarded depends on your final position in each race, so naturally placing first rewards you with more. You don’t need to focus on finishing in the top three though, as these points accumulate over the race series and are tallied after the final chequered flag flies, with the driver toting the most points stealing the final glory and nabbing even more credits and rare car unlocks
The game also provides driver experience (similar to how XP works in other games) which advances each race too, with levelling up providing you with the choice of three rewards, which are either credits for buying upgrades and new cars, a discount on a random car, which sometimes means it is now free or unlock a new racing suit skin for your driver. Progression in game is significantly blocked though by the car collector score. This score can only be levelled up by collecting rarer and rarer cars, which adds to the collector level, which locks you into buying cars only from the levels you have unlocked or by unlocking them through the game’s various reward systems or from the dreaded prize crates.
While the Forza Drivers Cup provides a great platform to experience a huge amount of racing styles, it does suffer from some pretty long load times and the barrier of so many different levelling systems makes the whole Drivers cup become grindy at times. There are also inconsistencies with the points awarded too. For instance, while completing a six-track event can net 4000SP points, a comparable one-hour endurance race will only score 300SP points.
So many cars to drive
Settle it on the oval
Remember to slow down in the wet
The racing on track is a highly customisable experience, where you can turn assists on or off at your leisure to find a difficulty you are comfortable with but unlike previous titles, choosing to race in full simulation mode doesn’t add a multiplier to your final credit count, instead a new card system called mods is used, these are unlocked at random through the games prize crate system and have a limited number of uses, so when applied before a race it will modify the race difficulty or weather conditions for example, successfully completing the race with mods applied will now add a small credit multiplayer at the rewards screen. A special mention should be made of the truly excellent controls on console though, which really excel due to the Xbox controller’s haptic feedback in the shoulder buttons. Through the feedback from the controller you can physically feel the current situation on track including surface type plus the grip and flex of the wheels. The various engines themselves also have their own distinctive hum which is translated through the controller vibrations too. It makes for an absolutely outstanding and enjoyable race experience, as you physically sense the car and track while navigating the car through tight turns or braking hard for an upcoming hairpin
The AI leaves a bit to be desired though, and in my experience the Drivatar’s (essentially AI representations of real-world players that copy their driving style) are extremely inconsistent and suffer from arcade-like speed at times. You will find some races where the opponents are so easy (even on the more challenging settings) that you feel like you’re flying in another dimension, but then the track changes and find yourself struggling to keep pace and eating a veritable feast of AI dust. it’s extremely inconsistent and annoying at times, plus because you start in the middle of the pack each race, some race starts become a mission of gaining positions at any cost, which ultimately becomes a bit of a drag.
The visuals though are next level, and even though FM7 is the flagship title for the upcoming Xbox One X, it looks incredible on the Xbox One S; visual fidelity is amazing, car textures and shaders are vibrant and shadows pop realistically. Each car is meticulously detailed down to the thread counts stitched into the leather seats. A solid 60FPS and 4K resolution certainly does the game some favours too, making it one of the best look racing game in a generation.
Forza Motorsport 7 is packed full of content, and it is content which is not only fun but looks incredibly detailed and smooth
Online multiplayer is a smooth experience and is slowly growing as more and more players log on. Each race runs well, with only some latency. Cars can pop in and out and teleport ahead (perhaps Elon Musk may have designed some of the cars), but this is infrequent enough as to be fairly minor. When battling online there’s still the comically frequent pile-up at turn one as cars behind use you as an arrestor to brake in time. It’s a pretty common and expected thing in online public racing, so you’ve been warned.
Forza Motorsport 7 is a stunning racing game to behold, and is totally unrivalled when it comes to graphics and spectacle. The huge amount of cars is astonishing, and add to that the ability to customise and design liveries for every car with incredibly high quality, and you’ve got a car lover’s dream. While the game errs on the side of arcade rather than simulation, it is highly addictive and polished, with engaging gameplay further complemented by the incredible drivability using the controller (the importance of the haptic feedback really can’t be understated). Choice is king, but arbitrary barriers to advancement like the car collector score can make the single player experience feel like a bit of a grind, and the long load times between races further compounds this feeling. If you’re looking for a fun accessible racing experience that doesn’t take itself too seriously and don’t mind the odd prize crate here or there, FORZA Motorsport 7 is a definite must play, but if you crave highly realistic physics and a more hardcore racing experience FM7 might annoy you in certain areas. Microsoft and Turn 10 have created a new benchmark for games in this genre though, and its minor shortcomings are easily overlooked when you sit back and enjoy the fast paced arcade type racing Forza Motorsport 7 provides.
Reviewed on Xbox One