Forza Motorsport 5 Xbox One Review

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Coin doublers. I first bought one of those in Jetpack Joyride. I played it for a few hours, then decided I wanted access to more coins to buy more things more quickly. It was hardly excruciating giving over the price of a Mars Bar to get double my coin income, and seeing as I got the game for free to begin with, that small purchase felt like a thank you to the developers for a job well done. I in no way felt bad forking over the cash

In a similar, but vastly more annoying vein, Forza 5 constantly asks players for their Mars Bars (and more), even though they’ve just forked out for a full course dinner to begin with. Only seconds after greeting you, it’s quickly asking for more. Every screen visited is built to be yet another chance to extort money from your pocket. You dont have to buy what it asks, but it is always there, right in your face, without shame.

It does not feel like the side option it should be – built for players with more money than time – instead, it’s a core facet of the game, and an annoying one at that. The whole game is corrupt with this style of microtransaction begging, Screen after screen filled with various shades of free-to-play-esque nonsense. It all feels very corporate – like you accidently fell into a budget expense meeting, whilst just trying to enjoy your hobby. There is a XP Doubler there too. I guess that means you can double your doubler. Christ!

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Getting that out of my system helped. Forza 5 is not all bad, but it undoubtedly makes a horrible first impression. The core driving, rubber meets the road, experience is still solid. Care has been taken with each and every car Turn 10 have created and put in the game. When you are on the road, pushing your machines to the limit, Forza 5 is still fun – just like its predecessors were. There are a lot of cars to drive, and the whole package looks quite fetching too – thanks to the power of the Xbox One. Like all Forza branded games, looking singularly at the game’s career mode make it clear there is shedloads to get lost in. Its just everything that now surrounds it feels choreish.

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One of the most highly marketed parts of the game is the much lauded ‘Drivatar’ technology. In simple terms, it’s a type of AI that learns from what real players do. So, in the case of Forza 5, the AI sees how aggressive or polite the game’s community races, and builds and individual “Drivatar” based on their driving style – which is then used to make the bots in the game’s single player modes feel more lifelike.

Anyone that’s experienced the online portion of most racing games (that are not called iRacing), will already know this is a suspect idea, as a rather large percentage of people instantly turn into maddening pillocks when behind the virtual wheel of a virtual car whilst on the internet. The only difference with Drivatars is you won’t get called a “bitch,” “cuntpunter” or “fagfilled douche” come the end of a race, as Turn 10 have not modeled that lovely facet of the Xbox Live experience yet. Maybe they will add that in for Forza 6 to complete the illusion.

Due to the lawlessness of the Drivatars, Forza 5 can sometimes feel longer like the simulation racer it should be. There’s so much chaos on track I, in turn, had to play more aggressively to combat it, so the game almost veers into feeling like an arcade racer at times. They should have just gone and got Eat ‘Em Up!!! on the soundtrack and fully embrace the madness. Of course, the leisurely “out for a sunday drive” sedate AI seen in other racers is not the correct answer, but neither is this. It is two opposite ends of an extreme spectrum, and neither is the correct answer.

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There are a fair few smaller annoyances on show too. The menus are nice to look at, but are unintuitive and hard to navigate. Atop of this, some options cannot be accessed from certain menus. I might be wrong here, but I could not find a way to change my HUD details during a race. Access to it was only available on a sub-menu from the main screen. . Even the act of changing cars means a five step menu-dance to get out of one and into another. And something as simple as exiting to the main menu after a race can lead to problems too.

Then there’s the Top Gear guys. They appear (in voice-only) acting as an infodump of sorts for some of the cars in the game. They talk in a passionate and at times humorous way about their hobby, and the results are satisfactory, although not spectacular. It is kinda like the part of their TV show where they simply talk about cars – minus the bits where they light stuff on fire, blow other stuff up, and insult Mexico.

Alongside this, the overall “car porn” nature of the game seems more exaggerated this time round. The Gran Turismo series fell down this same over congratulatory hole in recent efforts. Going to great odds to tell you how great a car is, and taking great effort to explain why you should think it is great too – but forgetting this all could be better conveyed if they let you just drive it. It’s not horrible, and it is certainly not one of the core problems the game has, but it is a prime example that Turn 10 may be forgetting what made the series so palatable in the first place.

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To me, Forza 3 was where Turn 10 finally achieved what they originally set out to accomplish with the franchise. Forza 4 was, in some ways, less spectacular, but it offered enough refinements from its sublime predecessor to make it worthwhile. Even though this fifth effort tries to progress the series in some areas, it crucially takes large steps back in others. It would have been very easy to put a new coat of paint on Forza 4, and ship that, but Turn 10 have made great effort to bring new ideas to the series. Sadly, few of them work.

Forza 5 should be great. It has the power of the Xbox One behind a celebrated franchise that was consistently improving with every iteration released. Simply reveling in the verisimilitude the Xbox One brings to the driving spectacle should be enough to prove appealing. Turn 10 tried for more, but ultimately failed. The end result is, that not through lack of effort, Forza 5 turns out to be the first true regression the series has seen since its inception.

6/10

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Version tested: Xbox One

Developer: Turn 10

Publisher: Microsoft

Genre: Driving Sim