Forza Motorsport

Platform(s): PC, Xbox Series X
Genre: Racing
Publisher: Xbox Games Studios
Developer: Turn 10 Studios
Release Date: Oct. 10, 2023

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


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PC Review - 'Forza Motorsport'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on Oct. 5, 2023 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

The new Forza Motorsport is a reimagining of the series, immersing you in the spectacle of racing like you’ve never seen before.

It has been a long time since the last Forza Motorsport game was released. For the first seven entries in the series, the releases were merely two years apart, and after a six-year hiatus, the series is back. Curiously, this new, eighth entry in the series is simply titled Forza Motorsport, as it is intended to be a sort of reboot for the Motorsport series of Forza games. It's an odd choice for sure, and while the new game is certainly an improvement, it also feels effectively the same as past games in the series.

One flaw that the previous couple of Forza Motorsport games have had is that, for all their other merits, they felt overly clinical. The new game does well to inject some passion to the cars and the tracks. Start a new series in the game's career mode, and the narrator talks about the theme surrounding that series of cars as the camera angles lovingly showcase them. Load a race, and the view lingers on some iconic corners of Spa or on the bricks over at Indy.

The career mode is a bit of a letdown if you were hoping for any sort of sprawling, " life of a race car driver" experience. For all the talk about how the player will compete in a "Builder's Cup" in their single-player career, it boils down to a series of individual events that are spread across different, larger themes. Nothing ties them together other than requiring that you complete some of them to unlock additional ones, so it is less of a "career" mode and more of a "these are a set of fully stand-alone, five-race series based on different types of cars."

Throw any expectation of a connected experience aside, and the series within the Career mode are quite fun. There's usually a healthy number of eligible cars for each series, and you can use any eligible car that you already own. There is usually a limit on what the car's performance index can be, which has long been Forza's way of quantifying the overall performance of a car and its level of modifications. This only matters if you already have the car and have heavily modified it. At that point, you're probably happy to build it to a specific limit and keep driving it.

Turn 10 has taken a new approach to car modifications. Previously, you'd earn a pile of credits from racing that you would then use to buy and modify cars. In the new game, you still earn those credits, but you only use them to purchase the cars. For every car you own, you have a separate level for them, and as you use the car, you effectively gain experience with it. Every overtake you make, segment you expertly drive through, etc., all contribute to leveling up your car, which unlocks new upgrade categories.

The higher your car's level, the more total upgrade points you can spend on modifications, which you are always free to swap around. If a stock part takes zero points and you later install a 400-point "Race" version of the part, you can choose to revert to stock to get those points back so you can spend them on something else. This freedom is quite nice; in previous games, you had to spend credits to unlock a particular modification, and unlocking everything for a car meant spending a relative pile of credits. In this new system, it basically rewards driving the same car a lot, with the ability to increasingly modify it in the direction you want.

As with previous titles, you can have the game determine which upgrades to install. However, since you start with limited options and points with every new car you buy, it also gives you a chance to see how they handle in their stock form. I found it more beneficial to drive the car first, and then I would manually select the upgrades that I thought the car needed based on how it felt. I found this system to be more enjoyable than taking a pile of money and taking a car straight from stock to extensively modified, but to each their own.

With a few tweaks here and there, the ability to tune your car is almost the same as it has been in previous offerings. Get into a time trial race, and you can tune your vehicle in the middle of the session, which lets you really get a feel for what your changes are doing. Missing, however, is any graph of the car's powerband, so it can be tougher to get a feel for a vehicle's shift points. As with past games, you can also download someone else's published modification and tune setup, which won't let you see the setup values, but it does allow people who don't care to go through the process themselves to potentially end up with a relatively fine-tuned machine.

The difficulty settings are interesting, as you choose an overall difficulty setting that affects the AI's skill and your time targets, and it also impacts your level of realism and strictness of penalties. Very few options are truly new for the series, but it's nice to have it all presented in one easy-to-use screen. However, I do wish that firing up a series of quick races didn't always reset everything to their lowest values.

I'm not sure that the difference between the options for penalties and realism is that vast, though. Even on the highest setting, I've gotten into collisions that would destroy the suspension of a real car, and I barely suffered cosmetic damage. Likewise, on that same setting, I've slid wide and absolutely collected a competitor's car, and rarely does it result in a time penalty. Granted, I like feeling as if I got away with something, but even on the harshest setting, the game lets you get away with far too much.

I don't completely dislike that leeway because while the AI feels improved compared to previous games, it still has some issues. Take an inside line around an apex with a competitor on the outside, and there's no guarantee they won't turn in on you anyway. Get right up on their bumper on a high-speed section, and they might get on the brakes for seemingly no reason, resulting in you trading some paint. All the same, the AI behaves a lot more like actual race car drivers than it has in past games. In packs of close racing, each car will try to take its own lines in a way that feels dynamic yet believable.

As is often the case, the best racing happens online, and prior to the game's official release, I was able to get into a few races alongside other reviewers and some developers from Turn 10. Even the most dynamic of AI is still more predictable than a human opponent can be, and every success made while racing against other people is all the sweeter. Enter a scheduled online race, and it will always start with 10 minutes of time to allow for everyone to get in some practice before putting down a maximum of three qualifying lap attempts. The results dictate the starting position of the race, which starts at the scheduled time and plays out across the stated number of laps. The whole thing has a very "race weekend" feel, but they can be approachable and distilled down into a half-hour or less of gameplay time.

The pre-release version of the game had a few bugs early on, but a recent patch addressed a fair number of them. I still have plenty of stutters related to loading cars and other assets right after coming out of load screens or when the game switches to complex new scenes, and this is also running the game from an M.2 drive. During the actual gameplay, though, I found that I could run the game on the High preset, cap the FPS at 60 to provide the smoothest overall experience, and it would remain smooth until the checkered flag. I can't help but feel like the overall performance of the game could use some optimization, and enabling any ray tracing option basically makes the game a choppy mess.

It's a great looking game, and not enough can be said about the strength of the overall visuals and audio. The car models are detailed, and things are very shiny, but that's all to be expected. What I didn't expect was the blissful serenity of taking a WRX through Watkins Glen as it progressively rained harder and harder. Bands of rain realistically hampered visibility moment to moment as the sounds of the rainfall pounding the bodywork echoed through the cabin. Any car game can be pretty, but it's in the more subtle details that Forza Motorsport seems to take a lot of effort to shine.

Everything I've said to this point would be worthless if the game didn't have good car handling physics. It is difficult to quantify such physics to compare one game to another, but with this new game, the handling of each car feels more nuanced than previous titles in the series. Even on a mere Xbox One controller, you can develop a good feel for each car's handling characteristics. Oddly enough, the steering controls using the controller's joystick can sometimes feel so overly twitchy that it would almost imply that the game was developed with a steering wheel in mind. Granted, you can tweak settings to calm the inputs, but it is an interesting thought for a series that continues to make strides to be considered a true sim.

Obviously, there are a couple of rougher edges in this "reboot" of the Forza Motorsport series, but there is quite a solid game to be found. The PC version seems like it could use a patch or two to bolster the performance, and the AI doesn't seem to respect that you also exist on the track. However, this is a game that absolutely delivers if you are the kind of person who finds their peace while taking a vehicle on track and trying to find its absolute limit.

Score: 8.7/10

Reviewed on: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X, 32 GB RAM, NVidia RTX 4070 Ti, Xbox One Controller

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