TopSpeed Game Review: Forza Motorsports 5

Forza Motorsports 5 represents a big leap for Microsoft, Turn 10 studios and sim racing games in general. With the release of Forza 5 on the Xbox One, racing games have now entered “the next generation.”

That term and what it means can be argued for hours, but essentially the increased power offered by Xbox One means the newest Forza looks better and features better physics than most any other racing game.

We were able to snag a new Xbox One and a copy of Forza 5 to see if the updated visuals and enhanced features really did make a difference. We have given it several weeks of play to make sure we had a chance to sample Multiplayer, look for major bugs and even try out some of the DLC .

Is Forza Motorsports 5 worth the cost of a new Xbox One? Do the new features warrant an upgrade over Forza 4 or the newly released Gran Turismo 6?

Click past the jump to find out just what we learned.

Drivatars are a Revolutionary Change

Apart from the huge jump in graphical quality, the biggest change touted by Turn 10 Studios is the Drivatar system. Essentially, every time you race the game learns how you drive. It uploads this information into a huge server and stores it. Later while someone else is playing, it will load your Drivatar into somebody else’s game as a competitor.

This Drivatar system removes the need for clunky in-game AI, and replaces it with real human actions. Instead of racing nameless drones that follow the perfect line at a prescribed speed, you chase down cars that feel like a real person is controlling them. This one change has such a large impact that going back to play ANY other racing game feels sterile and fake.

The best part is that will include people from your friends list in every race. It is really enjoyable that I get to race my best friends even when they aren’t online. As a bonus, your Drivatar can actually collect money from races it competes in. Log in every day, and you are rewarded with a chunk of cash for your Drivatar’s effort.

Racing copies of real people isn’t always sunshine and rainbows though.

Everyone Drives Like a Douche

Not every gamer drives like a professional race car driver. As such, they tend to swerve, crash, cut you off and they are definitely not afraid to trade paint. It makes every race exciting and challenging, but occasionally being rammed for no reason just seconds from victory can be frustrating.

You can decrease these incidents by increasing the difficulty level of the Drivatars you face in the options menu. Turns out the better players crash less often. Who would have guessed?

200 Cars is More Than Enough

When it was announced that Forza 5 would only feature 200 cars there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Even I found myself disappointed to see the car count fall from the 500 found in Forza 4. With the announcement that Gran Turismo 6 would feature almost 1,200 cars, Forza 5’s car count looked even more minuscule.

The truth of the matter though, is that it doesn’t bother me or affect the game. The cars available are all well thought out and the game has a great mix of modern and classic machines that span all types of performance and design levels. I have spent hours in this game, and I never really found myself wishing for more cars. If you do find yourself wanting for metal to add to your garage, Turn 10 is releasing at least 60 more cars as downloadable extras.

14 Tracks is Not Enough

200 cars may be plenty, but with only 14 tracks, things have started to get stale quickly. Thankfully many of the tracks have alternate configurations and can be raced in reverse bringing total configurations to 42. Still, seeing the same scenery race after race after race starts to feel old. Turn 10 stated that more tracks will be coming in the future; I just hope it’s soon.

Multiplayer Feels Unoriginal

Multiplayer may have been the most disappointing part of Forza 5 for me. The racing modes are old hat for any fan of the series, and the racing feels nearly identical to the single player game. In many ways I actually prefer racing the Drivatars than actual people, as I didn’t have to listen to inane voice chatter of the other players.

The Drivatars are such a good facsimile of racing against real people, that unless you have friends online, or you want to play one of the game modes like, Tag Virus, there is no reason to hit the multiplayer menu.

Conclusion

Forza Motorsports 5 in many ways is just a slightly better version of a game that I already loved. The cars drive a little better, look a little better and sound a little better. Deeper than that though, Forza 5 looks to change the way AI works in games forever with the Drivatar system. This one feature created such a strong impact that I have an entirely new perception and expectation when it comes to in-game AI.

Do I think that the $500 entry cost of a new Xbox One just to play Forza 5? No. The price barrier to play a single a game is just not feasible for any real reason. Forza 4 is still tons of fun to play, and Gran Turismo 6 just came out for the older PS3 making it a great alternative choice.

That said, if you already plan on buying an Xbox One for its many features and upcoming games, Forza 5 should be seen as a “must own.” Forza Motorsports 5 is the best entry in the series, and it is easily the best racing game currently available on any console.

Forza Motorsports 5 was reviewed using a retail copy of the game provided by Microsoft. Xbox One console was purchased by reviewer


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