It’s easy to spot a car person. They’re the ones who are quite often mentioning informative tidbits related to their favourite automobiles, spending time working on improvements to their own vehicle or reading up on the latest vehicular innovations. Additionally, they’re also the types who spend hours playing video game racing simulations like Forza Motorsport 4, the latest in Turn 10‘s incredibly popular racing series. It’s a game which caters to those who love and follow cars, as well as gamers who are looking for something realistic, entertaining and fast-paced. No emissions escape from digital space, so it’s also a good way to test drive vehicles without having to worry about any unwanted environmental effects.
Simply put, Forza Motorsport 4 is a car fanatic’s dream. It brings realistic physics, an exemplary amount of detail and a ton of vehicles to the Xbox 360. There’s so much here that fans of the series will be kept busy for a long time to come, which is a good thing. When you purchase a game for sixty dollars, extended value is a great asset and selling point. There’s no need to worry about length and longevity here. In fact, you may never finish everything because there’s an almost overwhelming amount of content.
Several different preset difficulty modes are available on offer, allowing players to tune the experience for their abilities. Sliders and options can be altered in order to make it fit you perfectly, though the preset options are quite good. Those who aren’t great at the series’ offerings can choose beginner, which makes damage result in only visual alterations. It also adds in a lot of driving assists. Though, gamers who prefer a very realistic and challenging experience can choose an expert difficulty option which makes things incredibly realistic and features full damage effects. Due to this customization, those interested in Forza Motorsport 4 should never feel intimidated about purchasing the game because of its difficulty.
Each vehicle controls differently, like in real-life, meaning that it’s important to account for each one’s unique weight, size and performance aspects. Most gamers who delve into this experience will want do so primarily using a controller, though Kinect options are available for the free play mode and its few different options. Using your hands as a steering wheel is pretty interesting, but I found that it came with some issues. My Kinect sensor would occasionally lose track of my hands, though the assists were helpful enough to prevent most crashes from occurring. It’s an interesting touch, but I’m glad that the button-based control scheme was maintained as the game’s primary one, as it’s much more responsive and works very well.
Let’s delve into the game’s content by first discussing its career mode. This single player component acts as the core facet of the game, giving solo racers a challenging assortment of races which mimic real-life events. Races take place around the globe in places like Germany, Italy, Japan, England and the United States of America. Their utilized tracks are varied and robust, with many on offer, including variations where new routes are opened up to allow for a different experience. The included track variety is very impressive, with some very visceral real-life locations shown in great detail.
The main part of this mode is the ten year-long season mode, which gets progressively longer as you keep playing. It starts off with a short season, which is comprised of six or seven different events. Though, that number keeps going up as the years go on, eventually getting to twelve and so on. Each of those aforementioned races has different variations allowing for player choice. One may allow for class D cars, while the others allow E cars. You can base your opinion on the vehicles found in your garage or the listed bonus, which is usually a credits (currency) bonus, an extra bit of experience for your driver level or a manufacturer affinity bonus. The latter improves your relationship with your utilized car’s manufacturing company, providing benefits such as reduced part upgrade prices.
Fans will find hours of content in this mode alone, though it’s just one of three facets of the career mode found in Forza Motorsport 4. There’s also a rivals mode with a select amount of events, allowing players to challenge other gamers’ best ghosts, for friends list supremacy and bragging rights. It’s a fun challenge which can fuel some pretty heated leaderboard competition – something which many score-driven gamers and car fans will get a lot of use out of. You’re only as good as your best time, which means that a lot of time and dedication is put in by the series’ fans, who push themselves towards the top of each leaderboard.
Where the greatest amount of career content can be found is in the mode’s event list. It’s essentially a large assortment of one-off events and challenges, all of which have different scenarios, vehicular requirements and components. There are hundreds of these, combining to add a ton of gameplay time into your Forza Motorsport 4 endeavours. That statement is especially true for my fellow achievement addicts, as one of the game’s largest awarded denominations relates to completing every single one of these races and challenges.
The entire game is narrated by Jeremy Clarkson, the host of the popular United Kingdom television show, Top Gear. It’s a show which mixes car addiction, detailed information and some delightful humour. With his involvement (and great infusion of humour into the game), comes the ability to test drive vehicles on the Top Gear test track. It’s a nice addition, which features its own entertaining car bowling challenges, found in season mode and the additional events list. You’re tasked with finding the best path through quite a few groups of heightened bowling pins, which award points when hit. White ones are worth less than the limited amount of gold pins found in each cluster, so it’s smart to aim for those. Your cumulative score is eventually compared to a par amount, as can be expected.
What’s great is that everything you do in the game is rewarded, so there’s the constant feeling that what you’re doing is meaningful, even if it’s just a quick race against the artificial intelligence. Whether it’s a driver level upgrade, more affinity (which goes up to around level 50), or extra credits, you’re always earning something. This becomes an addicting feeling, leading to thoughts of “Just one more race” and things along those lines. There’s a great sense of accomplishment when you get to a new plateau, especially within the driver level system, as you’re given new cars as gifts.
Although stats play a heavy hand in the vehicles you use, upgrade and purchase, driver level gifts are presented in types. For example, you’ll get to pick from an assortment of late sixties and early seventies model muscle cars, from different manufacturers like Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. I like how stats don’t play a big part of these decisions, considering the vehicles are so similar, with only mild variations to be found in their performance power. Reason being that players can pick their favourite out of the bunch without being forced to decide on something else because it has an additional rating unit in the acceleration department.
In essence, Forza Motorsport 4 is a car-related learning tool in video game form. Playing through it teaches you a lot of different things about the automotive industry and the options available to owners of certain vehicles. That’s a given, but is not the only way this game acts as a teacher. Included within is an autovista mode, which takes certain cars into a hangar for in-depth perusal. Within this mode, gamers can circle around the vehicle, inspecting its exterior parts. Then, they can jump inside each of the front seats, to inspect the interior and front console.
As you check things out either on the interior or exterior, you’ll learn different things about the manufacturer and the vehicle model itself. Certain areas of each car will pop up with an information tab, which instigates a narrated Top Gear track when the A button is pressed. These are complemented by neat-looking and informative statistical panels, which list important features of the parts used. What is great about this is that it gives you an inside look at cars which aren’t exactly affordable for the average person, including high end Ford and Ferrari cars. Every single part, whether it’s under the hood or on the front console, is modelled with expert precision and a great amount of life-like detail. In fact, the cars themselves look almost photo-realistic.
Autovista vehicles each come with their own challenges. For example, one may be to pass 10 cars within a lap. Things along those lines, which can be completed quickly in order to fully unlock the vehicle for perusal. When you go into the driver’s side, these race quests can be instigated by turning the key to start the ignition. It’s a nice touch which adds some extra content in a unique way.
When it comes to a car fanatic’s dream racing game, a community aspect is a must. That’s why the team at Turn 10 made sure to craft some quality social features into Forza Motorsport 4. Included in your social options are car club creation tools, an inbox system, an auction house and full online play across many modes. The car club is huge for the hardcore fans who like to play as a community, allowing for a shared garage for your grouping. It chronicles members’ successes, with leaderboard support and search options.
The auction house is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Players can create their own car set-ups, tuning options and liveries, which can be put up for sale alongside any car you might want to part with. It’s a neat way to be able to share your in-depth creations with the community at large, considering many people put a lot of work into their customized digital cars, stickers and visual items. The creation tools inside of Forza Motorsport 4 are advanced, robust and accessible, though they allow for creators to take the complex route if they’d like. It’ll be interesting to see how many creative concoctions appear on the auction block in the future.
Jumping online for competitive action, you can look forward to a bevy of different game modes, spread across every one of the game’s allotted vehicle classes. Choose to play with limited vehicular options or enter into modes where any vehicle is allowed. Additionally, there are options for drift challenges, drag races, point-to-point races and mini-games (like cat and mouse, soccer and more). Needless to say, there are a ton of options to be found for cooperative and competitive racing action – most of which happen to also factor into the career mode, via race types or one-off events.
Some of the game’s content is located on a second disc. It’s essentially just an install disc, with its content saving to your hard-drive for future use with disc one. There are extra car packs to be unlocked, as well as some other related content. Until you install this extra disc, its content will be locked on the main game disc. For the optimal Forza Motorsport 4 experience, it’s recommended that you make good use of your hard-drive as an install hub for extra car-related content.
The folks at Turn 10 need to be commended for crafting a very well-playing racing game which has an almost staggering amount of single player content, combined with some neat online features. It’s almost devoid of issues other than some Kinect finesse problems. Of course, Kinect is only a limited facet of the full game, available only in free play mode.
However, there are two recommendations I would make for future series entries. The first being that I’d like to see more weather effects incorporated into the game, such as rain, storms and perhaps even snow. It would end up meaning that in-game driving conditions could be altered more noticeably. The game does a good job of providing in-depth information about track conditions, but I wish it was a bit more substantial in its effects. Also, it’d be nice if the community aspect was a bit more fleshed out, with some unique team-based gameplay options. Otherwise, I don’t really have any complaints or recommendations to levy.
Aesthetically speaking, Forza Motorsport 4 is a masterful accomplishment, which is as stylish as it is detailed. The team at Turn 10 went to a lot of effort to model each vehicle realistically, which is very evident. All of its included vehicles resemble their real-life counterparts on the inside and outside, looking almost photo-realistic. The great amount of provided tracks also look amazing, featuring great details, crowds and some nice touches. Each one feels unique, with its own environmental design representing its location on the globe, which adds imagery variety.
There’s a lot to like about the way this game looks, as the series keeps becoming more realistic with every entry. In fact, the autovista mode features so much engine detail, light cover attention and the like, that it made my jaw want to drop downward. The attention to detail is staggering, especially on interior parts and engine components. Plus, the visual overlays fit perfectly, done with an interesting use of graphic design ideology. At this point, it’s almost like the development team is showing off, but they have good reason to do so.
Turn 10‘s meticulously-crafted in-game audio is also quite impressive, with exemplary engine, collision and driving sound effects. Its accompanying techno soundtrack is decent, but relatively repetitive and basic. The audio really shines with Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson‘s narration, which is very well-recorded with great fidelity and quality. His educated comments strike a nice balance between humour and information, lending personality to a very realistic game.
Overall, Forza Motorsport 4 is a tour de force with only a couple of scrapes on its bumper. Fans of the series will be impressed once again, as they peel back its layers of content. Those who are new to the series and perhaps don’t know much about it, will be blown away once they get their wheels out on the track. This is a quality racing game, which is incredibly realistic and finely tuned. It’s also just as stylish as it is polished, which is nice to see on the presentation side of things. Buy it, racing game fans. You won’t regret it.
Forza Motorsport 4 was released on October 11, 2011. This review is based on a copy of the game which we received for review purposes.