Forza Motorsport 5 Review

In a yearly franchise, it's important to maintain an illusion of progression from one entry to the next. This year's game needs to feel bigger and more complete than last year's; otherwise, why bother buying it? That's the question that Forza Motorsport 5 struggles to answer, as some of the features and vehicles that made Forza 4 great are absent with nothing to replace them. There are actually less vehicles in Forza 5 than there were in the fourth game, and the licensed soundtrack that added pep to the otherwise clinical racing has bee replaced by an epic score that feels laughably out of place as you follow a racing line around corners.

So if the vehicles and soundtrack of Forza 4 are absent, what's been added to take their place? Microtransactions, for one thing. As is seemingly Microsoft's policy going into the next generation, this game is rife with XP doublers and day-one DLC. You'll be asked to buy back a sizable garage when Forza 4 and last year's excellent Forza Horizon already sold you more or less the same vehicles. And while you don't have to buy an XP boost to have fun in Forza 5, the fact that they bug you twice on every race screen to "accelerate" your Forza experience is a little much. 

The biggest addition this year is what developer Turn 10 Studios has dubbed "Drivatar." This learning, cloud-based AI will shape the way that your AI opponents react to you in mots of the game's modes. They will learn from the way that real-world players drive in Forza, and they'll apply those same methods on you during races.

At least the cars are still pretty

In theory, it's a neat sounding gimmick. In practice, it's a total joke. In case you haven't been online in a Forza game recently, I'll give you a refresher. There are usually one of two people slowing at corners and tactfully trying to work their way up to first place. These people will spend the whole race yelling at the other players, who slam into each other and try to force one another offroad in a dirty melee to the finish. Because the AI learns from such players, many single-player races begin to resemble a demolition derby as soon as you reach the first corner. It can be really funny, albeit in an unintentional way, but it's not at all conducive to the sort of practiced, precise racing that hardcore Forza fans want. 

So as far as racing simualation goes, Forza 5 is a pronounced step back from its predecessors. But when it comes to the modeling and presentation of vehicle, the series still has it where it counts. Car fetishists will delight to learn that this is the most graphically detailed entry in the series yet, and every bell and whistle of the cars on display is accurate to real life. Just for kicks, I compared a few real-world vehicles - both interiors and exteriors - to those depicted in the game, and even down to the placement of safety stickers, the in-game models were accurate. That's not to say that every car will be a 1:1 representation of its real world counterpart, but from my anecdotal experience you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference in most cases.

And while Forza 5 kind of flubs it on the AI and features front, it's still got it where it counts in terms of handling. Playing on a controller feels great (I unfortunately did not have the opportunity to use a wheel), and the game keeps up a smooth 60fps at all times to ensure an optimal racing experience. Cars feel realistic and weighty, but the game's numerous settings are malleable enough to allow even beginners a shot at the title. The dynamic racing line remains the same as it's been for a while now - red when you need to drastically slow down, yellow when you need to start braking, and green when you're good to go. I would've liked to have seen an update to the classic standard line, especially since this year's F1 title from Codemasters introduced a raised racing line that provided more detailed and more easily visible feedback on your speed. Still, the array of customization options is impressive.

Underneath the hood of Forza 5 lies the same weighty and satisfying gameplay that's driven the last four games in the series. But it's in the peripheries where the fatigue has begun to settle over this yearly franchise. Microtransactions are never welcome in a 60 dollar game, especially one that boasts fewer cars than its predecessors, and the learning "Drivatar" AI is a total wreck. Couple the aggressive AI driving with the bizarre new orchestral score, and you've got unintentional hilarity waiting to emerge. It's not without its merits, but this year's Forza is the weakest yet. Perhaps it's time this yearly franchise received a tuneup.


Score: 6.5/10

Comments (0)

New comments are currently disabled.

Subscribe to me on YouTubeFollow us on Twitter!
Join our Steam group!