Tit for tat, Forza 5 is one of the most beautiful games on the market, for any platform. Every single car is meticulously crafted, the menus and UI are generally gorgeous, and the tracks are virtually photo-realistic. The first and third-person camera options are equally stunning, fully including the “hands-on interior wheel” view that is racing enthusiastic know and love. While Ryse does a decent job of showing off your shiny new console, Forza couples these advanced visuals with a fun gaming experience, and the devil truly is in the details.
Simply put, the Xbox One controller is perfect for racing games, and I don’t think I can go back to any other pad. The haptic (read: rumble) feedback of the triggers is one of the most significant advancements in the genre, as you can feel every instance of acceleration, pushback, and braking motion. It is important to note that your actual wheel peripheral options are extremely limited, with two highly expensive $399.99 devices currently on the market. It’s a good thing then that the Xbox One controller is so well made.
There aren’t as many cars like many other racing games on the market (at roughly 200 without DLC), but that isn’t a major problem for me, given the high level of detail of the ones that are included. In Forza 5‘s garage mode, you can walk around each car, take in every single detail, and even sit inside to view the entire interior. Pretty much every vague extra is included and well crafted, to the point where car buffs will spend hours just ogling.
The same goes for the game’s tracks, which are highly detailed even though there aren’t many available (14 in total). It’s not like it’s a small amount in any sense, but it feels like the next-gen sheen was placed above content this time around compared to the car count. Since racing games tend to be played for hours and hours on end, however, it won’t take too long to become just a little tired of seeing the same ones over and over — so if you bore easily, keep that in mind.
The game’s career mode and online options are open-ended, to the point where you can jump to whatever you want to do. Whether that’s racing slower cars or over-clocked exotics, you can jump to your favorite driving experience, and then some. The fact that the popular TV program Top Gear is injected (tastefully) into the proceedings is the icing on the cake. The new “Driveatar” AI system is incredible and works as advertised, recording your friends’ tendencies and “morphing” them into rival drivers. This is a useful function for making races more fun, but it’s also a unique social advancement in games that will have you calling up your friends and yelling at them over their angry AI.
The only real downfall of Forza 5 is its microtransaction system. Built around giving you “boosts” and allowing you to buy credits for early access to new cars, it feels a bit too pushy, even going so far as to ask you to purchase things during load screens. It doesn’t ruin the game entirely as I got by without spending a dime, but it’s an unwelcome “feature,” especially in light of the lack of tracks.
With a few fixes to its economy and more free tracks in a future update, Forza 5 will grow into one of the best racing games ever made. It’s beautiful, it shows off the designs of vehicles in a way that’s never been done before, and the Top Gear license is used to enhance the experience. If you’re a casual racing fan who finds themselves overwhelmed easily, Forza 5 is your huckleberry.
This review is based on a physical copy of Forza 5 for the Xbox One.