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The success of Microsoft and Turn 10’s Forza Motorsport franchise for the past few years definitely changed the landscape of simulation racers, which was once dominated by Sony and Polyphony Digital’s Gran Turismo series. The Forza games were like a breathe of fresh air compared to Gran Turismo doing many things in the genre first before the GT games had to implement them to catch up. From the racing line for beginner level players to follow, assists to make car handling more simple, a deep and popular car customization scheme, and many more, Forza did what the sim racer genre needed back then, which was more accessibility. Microsoft had include one of their bigger franchises for the Xbox One launch and they picked Forza for it’s fifth iteration. While the driving feels fine, Forza Motorsport 5 unfortunately suffers from launch game syndrome in terms of limited content, long load times, and lingering flaws I personally have with the genre.
Forza 5 had the modes you expect from the series and genre from the long career mode, the time-attack based rivals mode, an arcade-like free play mode, and online multiplayer with many lobbies depending on types of cars. Forza Vista also returns as you look into a car’s exterior and interior. Turn 10 to no surprise nailed the details of all the cars on both aspects even though there are less of them in this sequel than past games, but the cars you expect to see in a sim racer are there. Car customization is also back and pretty much the same as it has been for a while minus the auction house from earlier games. All of the racing modes do have one unified experience and credits system, so Turn 10 luckily did not split the single player and online currencies.
The career mode is also hampered by the lack of tracks in the game. Previous games had more and sure there are various versions of the tracks, but the amount in Forza 5 pales in comparison to Gran Turismo 6’s amount. Seriously, how does this game not have the infamous Nurburgring course. This is the first sim racer I played in a long time that does not have it. The lack of courses also factor into how grindy and repetitive the races get even if you’re racing them with different cars. In addition, winning races don’t give much credits to spend on as they should, but luckily that will be fixed in a title update later this month. I personally reached a stopping point in the career mode where I don’t have enough money to buy the expensive car I want for a later series of races, but Turn 10 will be making cars cheaper in that same patch coming soon. There is lots of replay value to no surprise in Forza 5, but don’t expect to be enjoying it the whole time.
What has been the topic of controversy for weeks now is Forza 5’s handling of microtransactions. The paid options are everywhere in the menus such as spending money or tokens for double XP for a certain amount of time. If you’re a VIP member for this game, you get double XP anyway along with more cars, but that costs $20. Then there’s the other amount of cars you can buy as DLC. They can be bought separately for $3, but the car packs themselves have various prices. If you’re a diehard Forza fan, there’s the $50 dollar car pass, which costs the same as six car packs. Turn 10 went a little crazy with the amount of DLC available and the shady microtransaction options out of the gate, but good thing all of this is optional. If you’re happy with the base game’s content, always vote with the wallet if you’re willing to spend more on all of this.
The online multiplayer in Forza Motorsport 5 is filled with multiple lobbies catering to certain classes of cars. While there are mostly standard races for all car classes, drift events are also there if you’re willing to try something different. Drag racing was recently announced by Turn 10, which will be in the title update later this month. A max of sixteen players just like single player races can be in an online lobby and I haven’t ran into much issues in terms of latency. However, waiting for races can take longer than they should, but for those impatient players that just want to get things started in just seconds, better have a good sense of patience. My only presentational issue with the online play is that after you finish a race while waiting for others, the framerate cuts in half, which is weird and I wonder why Turn 10 kept that through certification.
Graphically, Forza 5 looks great and it is one of the better looking games on both next-gen consoles. Everything besides the crowds look very detailed from the environments, the cars, cockpit views, etc. Car damage is also in full effect in this game as you have the choice for it to affect gameplay or not, but cosmetic damage alone is good for the most part. The framerate during gameplay runs amazingly at 60 frames per second other than online games that I just mentioned. The UI, however, is filled with too many confusing menus evoking a similar style to the Windows 8 and the Xbox One’s home Metro-based UI. Along with unskippable intro cutscenes by the Top Gear UK guys when seen for the first time during career mode and the announcer lady also being unskippable in some of the menus are also nagging flaws with the game’s presentation.