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Forza Motorsport 5: runs like a sports car, small like a compact

Tuesday, 26th November 2013 08:06 GMT By Dave Cook

Forza Motorsport 5 is a technical marvel on Xbox One. While it makes the console sing, VG247′s Dave Cook feels that the on-disc content feels worryingly threadbare. The Drivatar mechanic also has some convincing to do.

There’s no denying that Forza Motorsport 5 is an impressive game to look at. It’s Xbox One’s poster child, make no mistake. It’s the kind of game that comfortably fits all the hallmarks of a solid launch title. There’s less dynamic clutter threatening the frame-rate, realistic car models never fail to impress, and there’s enough technical wizardry going on to generate press hype in the run up to launch. Turn10 has ticked all those boxes, but in the rush to turn in its next-gen term paper, has left a few of them unchecked.

Your first taste of gameplay sees you tearing ‘that’ orange McLaren P1 around the cobbled streets of Prague. As you scream off the starting grid your eyes will waltz over the screen, adjusting to absorb the highly-defined architecture as it bleeds into your peripheral vision, while trembling sunbeams vie for your attention as they stream across the horizon. Glints of light cascades across your vehicle’s intricate body-work, threatening to distract you from the accurate, laser-scanned curves, contours and angles of the tarmac. This is not porn. It is a car fanatic’s fantasy.

Every nick and impurity embedded within the road’s surface is tangibly felt through the Xbox One controller’s many rumble motors. The device will judder and growl in your hands responsively, while the accelerator trigger kicks back with each change of the gears. As you vehicle reaches top speed the feedback will grow in severity as the screen lurches forward, throwing your brain into a state of tension as you and your closest rival hurtle towards the finish line.

If you want to talk tech, then Turn10 has only cemented its mastery of all things racing in Forza 5. The handling is simply wonderful, and changes noticeably between cars. Rear wheel drives are as unruly as ever when in less-versed hands, while rally cars benefit from increased tolerance when braking round turns. You’ll feel it in the visuals, you’ll feel it in your hands, and you’ll feel it in your gut. It’s an engrossing experience that I’m sure car fans will really appreciate, but if you look beyond the sheen and hardware you’ll start so see a few chips in the paintwork.

The entire career mode is unlocked from the start, which means your only limiter is the currency needed to buy qualified cars for each class. There are eight leagues covering such disciplines as vintage cars, exotic builds and specialised models. Within each of these there are sub-categories that house tournaments and individual events. You’ll need to buy specific classes of cars to be eligible for these events, and this is where Forza 5′s first real issue comes into play. There are only 14 tracks on offer, so given how expensive many of the higher-tier cars can be, you should expect to become overly-familiar with those circuits really fast.

You’ll grind them often, and while different rule types such as standard racing, overtake challenges and others go some what to diversify the experience, your mind really will start to run laps as you stare down another eight-race tourney spread over those same locales. You have to do this in order to progress, unless of course you want to just buy event-worthy cars with real currency. In Forza 5, you can buy cars with CR credits won in-game, or by using TK tokens that are bought via microtransactions.

You’re gifted 100 of these tokens to start with, but many cars cost around 90 TK alone. This option is branded as a convenience booster, but really, I can see people ‘buying-in’ to a new car class just to avoid repeating the same tracks over and over. There’s also an option to buy XP boosters to speed up your levelling for 30 minutes for 75 TK, 60 minutes for 120 TK or two hours for 200 TK. I just get an uneasy feeling that monetisation was firmly in Turn10′s mind when it devised its progression mechanic. Sure, no-one’s forcing you to buy these things with real cash, but again, I just hope you like repetition.

This issue recedes slightly when you get out onto the track, and what few environments there are really do make for some tense racing experiences. Belgium track Spa is the highlight with its brutal hairpin turns, while the long straights of Australian circuit Bathurst make for some stressful jostling between motors. They look and feel impeccable, and thanks to the new Drivatar system you can be sure that no two events will play out exactly the same. I like the concept of this cloud-based opponent system, but I’m not entirely convinced by it just yet.

It’s abundantly clear that your opponents aren’t following an AI-led racing line. Instead, they’re digital representations of other real racers out there in the world. They get their behavioural traits from their owners, which are stored on the cloud. It means that when your console is off, your Drivatar is still out there in the world, running races and taking on other real players. It’s an ingenious concept that sees your rivals making ‘human’ errors, fighting aggressively in packs and nipping at your heels menacingly. However, it seems that the system is prone to picking up a few bad habits as well.

All too often I’ve been cut-off going round turns, shunted, rammed mercilessly when bunched up, and I’ve seen several examples of racers cutting corners. I play racing games offline to avoid people making dick moves, but now they’re in the solo career, always threatening to sully your experience. I have to make clear that this doesn’t happen in every single event, but I’ve had to use the game’s rewind feature to re-do some turns where I was hammered by other cars without warning. It’s a system that adapts, learns and grows, so I’m sure that over time it will right itself. For now though, just be wary of who you’re racing with.

I can see this game getting a ton of DLC from this point. There’s already a season pass model in play, so I look forward to the track roster being expanded significantly to reduce that sense of grind, but even then you’ll have to pay for the new content as it comes. I feel that if you’re playing Forza 5 online with other humans the sparseness of tracks won’t matter too much, given the dynamism of online play, but as I prefer racing campaigns, there’s a real danger I’ll never see the end of it due to boredom.

If you’re serious about racing and you’re thinking about picking up an Xbox One then yes, this game is a must-have. There are visual techniques and displays of ability in Forza 5 that will make you proud to show your new console off to friends. Microsoft has its golden carrot for all of those who crave their gaming experiences in 1080p at 60 frames. The question is, are you willing to bite?

Disclosure: To assist in writing this piece, Microsoft sent Dave an Xbox One console with a copy of Forza Motorsport 5.

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47 Comments

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  1. Xbone

    “small like a compact”
    You mean:
    -Less than half of the cars.
    -Half of the tracks.
    -Less feature.
    … compared to Forza4.

    #1 8 months ago
  2. Ge0force

    Another great game ruined by Microsofts monetizing madness :(

    #2 8 months ago
  3. Dave Cook

    @2 Well, not ruined, just stunted.

    @1 Erm, yes, that’s exactly what I was getting at. Did you read the article?

    #3 8 months ago
  4. mistermogul

    @2 – Yeah. I can’t believe these companies have the nerve to charge £50 for a game only to fill it with micro-transactions to get the content! It’s like buying a DVD then realising you have to pay for the ending! I heard some cars cost about $30 EACH!

    Also, Forza 5 isn’t looking quite as good as it was in summer, lol – http://i.imgur.com/FHLgmd2.jpg

    @Dave – “unless of course you want to just buy event-worthy cars with real currency”

    Why is the press in general ignoring the insane cash-milking this game is pushing?

    #4 8 months ago
  5. Xbone

    @3 Before commenting? No. After commenting? Yes, I read it.
    Its very very saaaaaaaaaad. Money grabbing bastards.

    #5 8 months ago
  6. Dave Cook

    @5 “Before commenting? No. After commenting? Yes”

    Well there you go, that was error #1 wasn’t it? ;)

    #6 8 months ago
  7. Dave Cook

    @4 No idea dude. It’s madness.

    #7 8 months ago
  8. mistermogul

    @7 – Yeah man, very strange. I just hope Sony don’t do the same with DriveClub…

    #8 8 months ago
  9. Hcw87

    @4
    Before you start posting bullshit, play the game yourself first, or watch a video where someone actually set up their console correctly.

    The default XB1 settings makes everything look grey-ish, washed out. It looks NOTHING like the images on the right on my TV. Nothing at all.

    If you got an XB1 do this: Change output from HDMI(Auto) to HDMI, then change the resolution back up to 1080p after it defaults to ~480p. If you’re using RBG Limited, change the color setting to 36bit (the highest). This makes the blacks more black (makes sense if you see it for yourself). You can also try setting it to FullRBG with 24bit colors, but you may get crushed blacks if your TV don’t support it.

    Just because some random ass streamer haven’t set up their picture settings correctly does not mean the game will look like this if you know what you’re doing. Also, it’s a stream.

    #9 8 months ago
  10. Dave Cook

    @4 & 9

    Yeah sorry, I have to say that it does look brilliant. Really impressive. It’s the second-best-looking next-gen title I’ve played so far, after Killzone: Shadow Fall.

    #10 8 months ago
  11. Hcw87

    I was pretty amazed by both BF4 and Ryse aswell, but then again i’m not used to having a big rig to play games on (mine’s from 2009, and this console outclass it by far). It was like a new world to me.

    I’m eager to play Killzone aswell, to see how it stacks up. I’m sure i won’t be disappointed graphically.

    #11 8 months ago
  12. Xbone

    @10 Yea but tbh not too many thing is happening on the screen at the same time, so I think its “easy” for a racing game to look good and run smooth.

    #12 8 months ago
  13. Hcw87

    @12
    I’m guessing you know nothing about the physics/simulation systems that are implemented in the game. There’s alot ”under the hood” that the average person will never know about, but without it, it wouldn’t feel/handle as good.

    #13 8 months ago
  14. Dave Cook

    @12 Agreed. I also said this in my article.

    #14 8 months ago
  15. Dave Cook

    @11 I might host a Twitch livestream of the campaign here on Thursday. Would that be of interest?

    #15 8 months ago
  16. Hcw87

    @15
    Twitch isn’t really the best place for Ryse (you’ll get PS4 trolls bombing your stream instantly), but it’s a nice technical showcase for the console for sure. Try the display settings i posted above and see if you notice a difference in the graphics. The HDTV Calibration tool is also very convenient.

    #16 8 months ago
  17. tenthousandgothsonacid

    It would have been nice if the crowd were more than 2d sprites a la v rally on the ps1.

    #17 8 months ago
  18. DrDamn

    @8
    I would very much guess not given the DC game director retweeted a link to this article …

    http://www.teamvvv.com/en/news/comments/Forza-5s-monetisation-is-a-monumental-rip-off

    #18 8 months ago
  19. TheBlackHole

    “Why is the press in general ignoring the insane cash-milking this game is pushing?”

    Because it’s optional? Because it’s the same thing plenty of other games are doing now?

    If the press are going to discuss MTX in detail for every next gen game then reviews are going to get very repetitive.

    #19 8 months ago
  20. TheBlackHole

    @18

    How very sportsmanlike of him.

    #20 8 months ago
  21. mistermogul

    @9 – If you’d stop being so rude and patronising, you’ll find I have not posted bullshit but simply a graphic showing discrepancies of in-game footage.

    Whether the game looks good or not does not take away from the fact that there are differences between the retail version and what was shown at E3 (running on PC’s?).

    My main gripe with the game is not even graphics-related and is to do with horrendous in game pricing for content that you really have already paid for. This is not a free to play game so why do some cars cost $30 plus each?

    #21 8 months ago
  22. mistermogul

    @18 – I’m glad to hear it!

    @19 – What other games charge $30 for a single car?

    #22 8 months ago
  23. DrDamn

    @20
    Try reading the linked article maybe, it’s got some very good points.

    #23 8 months ago
  24. Hcw87

    @21
    Well that picture isn’t representative of the game at all.

    I agree on the pricing part, though i’ll never buy any of those cars with real money anyway. It’s far too early to say how hard it is to make money ingame, as when you level up and increase affinity on your cars, you earn more money per race.

    #24 8 months ago
  25. truth

    $50 for 50 cars! Madness you can’t want to charge the price of the came for a 1/5 of the content! Might as well by a new game!

    #25 8 months ago
  26. xxJPRACERxx

    I’m glad I cancelled my pre-order. After trying the game my impression was that it’s a big disappointment, especially the physics. The lighting and shaders are big improvement from F4, but everything else like poor textures, poor texture filtering, sounds and jaggies are still there.

    “If you’re serious about racing”… then get Assetto Corsa or wait for GT6 if you want console sim-racing.

    #26 8 months ago
  27. Hcw87

    @26
    Poor sound? Are you deaf? No other console racer has better sounds.

    Not going to disagree with your other points though, but it’s the best looking console racer atm.

    #27 8 months ago
  28. DrDamn

    @27
    My biggest bugbear with the GT series is the bleedin’ tyre squeal. Absolutely hate it. Forza has much better sound, and for me better handling/physics too.

    #28 8 months ago
  29. gsxrlove

    “No-nags” has never shone so brightly before.

    #29 8 months ago
  30. Opalauge

    @4:

    Sorry, but to claim “Forza 5 isn’t looking quite as good as it was in summer, lol” is simply wrong.
    They changed the lightning and contrast and some of the models sourrounding the track. It looks a little different.
    The facades of the buildings are in fact more detailed and simple window-textures have been replaced and reflections have been added.
    The angle of the lighning source is completly different, textures were replaced and the farsightedness is even better than before.
    Adjust the contrast, Gamma and brightness and the result is looking better than before.

    That aside, the MT’s are a complete letdown.

    #30 8 months ago
  31. TheBlackHole

    @23

    I’ve read it, but that doesn’t excuse people tweeting about rival products with the means to elevate their own, especially when they themselves have not been wholly transparent with their monetisation model.

    #31 8 months ago
  32. Ekona

    I love FM5, however with the caveat that I’m not that far into it yet (and won’t touch it any more until I can get a steering wheel).

    I’ve yet to really notice the lack of tracks, however from my time with FM2 and FM3 (skipped FM4 as I hadn’t finished FM3!) you pretty much ended up racing on the same 4-5 circuits anyway later in the game, with just the amount of laps changing. I can see why people are unhappy, but I can also see myself not being too fussed.

    Lack of cars isn’t an issue at all, there’s more than enough for most people and I’ve never followed why you’d need 27 different kinds of GTR anyway ;)

    I like the idea of the drivatars, but I must agree with Dave in that they’re very frustrating right now. It’s the random braking mid-corner that gets me, as it means my awesome drafting usually ends up with me ploughing into the back of them. That said, once I changed my brain from ‘playing AI’ to ‘playing real people’, I found it much more enjoyable. I also got a kick when I found out that a random stranger on another forum had been racing against my drivatar, although I’ve yet to find out if that drivatar was any good…

    #32 8 months ago
  33. SlayerGT

    Pretty much my gut feeling.

    #33 8 months ago
  34. DrDamn

    @31
    I dunno it gives you a decent indication of where their model sits and maybe, just maybe it’s an indication of personal disappointment of theirs too. Heaven forbid they actually have an opinion on it.

    #34 8 months ago
  35. Roxor

    So is the big complaint, you have to actually play the game numerous times to unlock stuff or you could just buy it? When I buy a game I buy it as it right then, I don’t think about DLC etc. (I have never bought any DLC for any games, console or PC) and this game without the DLC and without the MT is still a top notch racing game.

    I love the game play, and there are plenty enough cars for me, to keep me motivated to make the longevity of the game easily worth the money. There is a reason why almost every major review gave this game high marks, and it’s not just graphics (look at Ryse reviews).

    I understand people don’t like MTs, I hate them, but judge the game without the MT and let those who want to shortcut the game use the MTs.

    #35 8 months ago
  36. Ireland Michael

    @35 There’s a difference between climbing a mountain with adequate tools and trying to climb a mountain with your legs being broken by the scenic tour guide before you even begin.

    Monotony can only go so far. The costs have been inflated, the means to get there hampered, and the alternative obscenely expensive. It’s a system I expect to see in a free to play game, not a full price title.

    #36 8 months ago
  37. bradk825

    I’ve been having a blast playing it. I can see that hardcore racing sim fans would probably be bothered by less content than the past Forzas, but for me I’ll never go through all the cars, and 14 tracks does the tick, because I am going to spend more time overall on other titles. I also did not buy the $400 racing wheel, lol. Awesome though it may be.

    For me the most important part is for the gameplay to be fun and the cars to look awesome, check and check. I love the handling, it’s so important for you do be careful or you’re perma-fucked for the rest of the race. It’s not look the old Need for Speed games I’ve played where the AI will wait for you if you spin out. If you lose eight seconds in a big wreck, you’ll have to race them back, and it’s easier said than done.

    #37 8 months ago
  38. DrDamn

    @bradk825
    “If you lose eight seconds in a big wreck, you’ll have to race them back”

    Or press the rewind button :)

    #38 8 months ago
  39. fihar

    @35
    The problem isn’t just limited to MTs and lack of cars and tracks.
    Forza 4 was a mechanically sound game. Design-wise, it is quite possibly one of the best racer I’ve ever played. There’s a comprehensive career mode that gives you several different events to play at any stage or alternatively you could pick any event you want from the Event List.
    The customization options were as comprehensive as ever, not to mention the variety of modes available such as drag and drift and the plethora of online features were a blast.

    Forza 5 sacrificed most of that for a higher technical fidelity and a more dynamic AI.
    Keep in mind this is first and foremost a video game, and I’d argue that game design is more important than technical fidelity. Sacrifice the former and you end up with a half-assed Sim that is miles behind from true Sims that are widely available for the PC.

    #39 8 months ago
  40. bradk825

    @38 shhhh.

    LOL, I try to be honest and not use it… I try.

    #40 8 months ago
  41. Doppleganger

    such complainers. You people haven’t even used 15% of the cars that were in Forza 4 anyway. It was cool going through the collection but no one actually drives them. Personally I rather have seen more tracks but can care less about driving a dodge neon.

    #41 8 months ago
  42. manamana

    From VVV:”Of course, Microsoft will argue that micro-transactions are entirely optional. But in the case of Forza 5, it’s abundantly obvious that the fundamental game design has been detrimentally altered to endorse in-game purchases.”

    And:
    “Case in point: the Lotus E21 formula one car, one of Forza 5’s new star attractions keenly publicised by Microsoft as this is the first game in the series to feature open wheel racecars. What they failed to mention was the astronomical price of admission. In-game, it costs a whopping 6 million credits. Alternatively, at the time of writing you can buy it for 10,000 tokens – in real world cash, this equates to over £60.00. £60.00 for one digital racecar? That’s more expensive than the actual game.”

    Exactly what I mentioned in the other thread and what drives me away from such games. And it isn’t even F2P!? Don’t care what other gamers prefer, I choose other games then.

    #42 8 months ago
  43. Hcw87

    @42
    Playing the game for a little over an hour and i’m allready over 140k. That and the fact the payouts keep increasing as you gain levels/affinity, it doesn’t really make me believe it’ll take forever to gain 6mil. Maybe 5-8 hours of gameplay.

    Or do you want everything just handed to you?

    If it took 100 ingame hours to earn 6 million credits i would have seen the problem, but it doesn’t take that long.

    #43 8 months ago
  44. fearmonkey

    What I have found interesting about Forza is the changes that has happened since it was shown on the jimmy Fallon show.

    The Crowds, the buildings, etc are very different, they dumbed it down, but why? The new crowds look bad compared to the old, and the old build’s buildings look much better. My guess is that to make it 60fps they dumbed it down, and thats a shame, it looked prettier and much better at E3.

    http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=90611423&postcount=203
    http://forums.forzamotorsport.net/forums/thread/6270484.aspx
    http://www.cinemablend.com/games/Forza-5-Xbox-One-Graphics-Downgraded-From-E3-Build-60711.html
    http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=721259&highlight=forza+5

    Or Maybe..It was never running on Dev kits at that time, but running with those GTX780′s on PC. The game looks totally different in some hots, almost like the level was completely redesigned.

    #44 8 months ago
  45. manamana

    @43 I can only answer with VVV again:”The average player, then, won’t ever be able to experience the pleasure of driving this car unless they’re prepared to grind through around 60 hours-worth of laborious racing. And that’s before you take into account sifting through menus, tuning the car and practicing to stay competitive. In practice, you could be spending over 100 hours just to drive one car. Yes, there still needs to be a sense of progression and car rarity, but this is unfeasible.”

    I must also admit that I obviously haven’t played this game but have absolute faith and trust VVV opinion, as they are my no.1 racinggame site. So therre is that.

    #45 8 months ago
  46. Hcw87

    @44
    Read my previous post above. Some streamer haven’t configured his console correctly, so he gets washed out blacks/colors. Ofcourse it’ll look worse then.

    @45
    So have they played the game for 60 hours to find out this, or have they just guessed?

    #46 8 months ago
  47. manamana

    @46 rose tinted glasses are rose. Each their own, I guess.

    #47 8 months ago