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Forza Motorsport 7

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One
Genre: Racing
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Turn 10 Studios
Release Date: Oct. 3, 2017


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Xbox One Review - 'Forza Motorsport 7'

by Adam Pavlacka on Jan. 25, 2018 @ 1:45 a.m. PST

Experience the danger and beauty of competitive racing at its limits with the most comprehensive automotive game ever made.

Buy Forza Motorsport 7

Forza has been a mainstay on Xbox consoles since the franchise's inception. Both the sim-inspired Forza Motorsport and the more arcade-styled, open-world Forza Horizon series have established themselves as enjoyable games and impressive tech demos. Forza Motorsport 7 continues that tradition, having launched on the PC (via the Windows 10 store), the Xbox One and the Xbox One X. We initially looked at the PC version of the game, and it had some rough edges at launch. Since then, the Xbox One X launched, and the game itself has received updates, and patches, enabling features that weren't available on day one.

Looking at Forza Motorsport 7 purely as a console game is an interesting challenge, simply because the game in its current state is clearly designed to show off its visual goodies on the Xbox One X. Yes, it runs on the original Xbox One, but the difference between the two isn't merely resolution. The world is rendered with higher poly models when running on the Xbox One X, marking a clear difference between the two systems. No, it's not a point of focus when you're flying around the track at 100+ mph, but it is enough to stand out, especially if you hop back and forth between the two systems.

Thankfully, the visual differences were the only real noticeable differences between the two when playing. Car choice, control options, and most importantly, how the cars feel, don't change when you move between the consoles. Going to the Xbox One with Forza Motorsport 7 after playing on the Xbox One X feels a lot like optimizing for frame rate over effects on a PC game. The underlying game hasn't changed; it's just a little less pretty.

Compared to previous entries in the series, Forza Motorsport 7 has taken strides to appeal to beginning players and new users. When you start playing, all of the assists are turned up, and all of the opposing AI is turned down. You won't even get a prompt to increase the skill level of your AI opponents until you've taken home a few virtual trophies. It's a smart way to ensure that everyone gets a chance to taste the thrill of victory before the true challenge of mastering each track comes into play.

What's interesting about the assists in Forza Motorsport 7 is that they don't give you bonus payouts at the end of a race. This time around, the assists are there to help with the difficulty, and the payout bonuses are all confined to mods.

Mods are done via cards, which are distributed via loot boxes known as "prize crates." The crates are purchased with in-game credits (same as the cars), so you're not spending virtual money on them. Personally, I never felt the need to purchase a prize crate, and that's after spending more than 30 hours with the game. The mods can be fun ways to add a bit of extra challenge, such as restricting the camera view, but they aren't going to replace mastery of the tracks.

Mastery of the track is the lynchpin of all of the Forza Motorsport games, and that remains true here. Yes, you need to know how to draft smartly and pass cleanly, but if you don't know the track you're racing on inside and out, your driving skills won't land you on the podium. With that said, how you earn those cars is a little different in this outing.

In Forza Motorsport 7, the car collection is divided into tiers. Collecting cars in a given tier earns experience, which eventually unlocks the next tier, and so on. While it might sound like artificial gating, I never felt like I was being held back unfairly. Progression between the tiers moves quickly as long as you are racing regularly. Players who purchase the car pass will move through the tiers even faster, as the cars in each monthly pack are spread across the tiers. Higher-tier cars usually have more experience, so collecting the "free" cars from the monthly packs in-game gives you a boost up the tier ladder.

Single-player is where you're likely to spend a good deal of time earning those cars as you race through the Forza Driver's Cup, which is the campaign mode. It has you racing various types of cars through a series of races across six championships. The Forza Driver's Cup takes a decent amount of time to complete, but by the time you're done, you'll have a garage full of cars and a decent idea of your racing ability.

One nice touch on the console version of Forza Motorsport 7 is the ability to race a friend in split-screen. No, it's not the same as going online for a full set of opponents, but going couch co-op (or in this case, couch versus) is always fun.

Although there is plenty of content in the single-player modes, chances are good that if you're buying Forza Motorsport 7, you're doing it because you want to race against other players. While the league mode wasn't enabled at launch, it went live last month, and it was worth the wait. Competing against human players is more chaotic than racing against AI-powered drivatars, and that chaos forces you to up your game. Nothing in the single-player mode will fully prepare you for a full 24-car race.

Each series in the league mode is split across two to three different events. These events cycle every few hours, which helps keep players focused into a single hopper. All players start out at the grassroots skill level and move up as they keep winning. Forza Motorsport 7 generally matches players within the same band, though the occasional higher-ranked player did pop up from time to time. This was likely done to keep wait times down.

Despite being the main draw in Forza Motorsport 7, league mode still has its share of issues. The biggest one is the simple fact that there is no real penalty for driving dirty. As a result, you'll still see players ping-ponging off others as a shortcut around turns, or cutting corners to try to get an edge on a course. It's usually the amateur players at lower levels doing this, but it would be nice if such behavior could be discouraged in-game.

There is also the fact that you can't really jump into league mode without spending some time in single-player. No, it's not a skill thing, but rather a car thing. The more cars you have in your collection, the better prepared you'll be when facing off against others. Sure, you can always rent a car if needed, but it's not going to have an optimized tune, which puts you at a disadvantage against the rest of the field. The more cars you have in your collection, the more likely you'll have the perfect choice for any given race.

On the upside, league mode doesn't seem to be reserving prizes just for the winners. Earning cars and driver suits is done simply by participating. This means the prizes aren't really elite, but at the same time, it means that pretty much everyone has a shot at winning. You don't have to worry about missing out on a cool item because you had bad luck during matchmaking and faced off against someone better.

Finally, there is the auction house. You're not doing any racing in this mode, but you can find some nifty cars here. Each car up for grabs lists the gamertag of the person who tuned it and the person that painted it. Some designs are straightforward, but there really isn't a practical limit. If someone can imagine it, they can design it here. If you come up with a great tune or an awesome design, you can sell it in the auction house for in-game credits, which you can then use toward a new car, prize crates, etc.

After spending 30+ hours with the game, the nitpick I have is loading times. Forza Motorsport 7 has loading times around one minute, both for the initial load and when loading up tracks. These are generally longer than those found in Forza Motorsport 6, which is a bit frustrating. If you have an external drive hooked up to your Xbox One X, you'll want to use it for Forza Motorsport 7, as any time shaved off the loading screen is more time spent playing.

As a package, Forza Motorsport 7 is a solid game for racing fans and a technical showcase for the Xbox One X. While it doesn't look quite as good on the Xbox One, the game still holds its own on the older console and puts in a respectable performance. Just don't spend too much time looking closely at the scenery if you're not playing on an X.

Score: 8.5/10

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