Review: Forza Motorsport 5
Forza 5 was the game that got me excited about Xbox One. The series had already established an incredible level of simulation, and the possibilities enabled by a new, more powerful console looked very promising. The end result is technically spectacular, yet whilst Forza succeeds as a masterpiece in certain areas, it lacks the depth and content that defined previous entries in the series.
If you’re buying an Xbox One then Forza 5 is likely to be a game you’ve also considering purchasing. It was the first game I played on the console, and it’s initial impression is very strong. Before you begin the career mode you are set loose on the streets of Prague in a McLaren P1, and this first race is an incredible introduction to Microsoft’s new system. It’s graphically stunning, with an incredible level of detail, and there’s something unbelievably natural about the way the shoulder buttons vibrate under your fingers.
But the game has a few nasty quirks, and these start to get in the way once you attempt to recapture this initial experience. Prague has quite possibly got the best views in the entire game, and is only one of a handful of new additions to the roster. Before long you’ll start racing around the same tracks from Forza 3 and Forza 4, and the game starts to feel a little more familiar. And that nice looking McLaren P1 is put just out of reach, and can be unlocked either through a copious amount of grinding, or roughly £14 worth of Tokens.
Forza 5 might not be the first game in the series to use microtransactions, but it is the first one to really suffer from it. There’s no more free cars for leveling up, and earning credits takes longer than ever. These subtle changes to the progression system feel as though they have been implements for one specific purpose; to make you spend more of your real money. I purchased the Limited Edition version of the game, which includes the VIP privilege of double rewards, and even then the game felt like a grind at times. Unlocking cars simply takes too long, and you can never make your purchases lightly. If you buy a car, you’ll be using it, a lot. Not only that, but you’ll be racing on the same tracks, over and over again.
In fact nothing the game does can really escape this. The interface is aesthetically nice, but the game still feels a little aimless. There’s a tonne of races to compete in, but pretty much each championship is the same, there’s simply not enough tracks to allow for anything else. And it’s frustrating to think that all of this content was readily available in Forza 4. Tracks like Nuremberg, Mt Fuji and Camino Viejo de Montserrat really should have been included, and excuses involving Turn 10 having to go around scanning things with a laser simply isn’t good enough.
I know a game should focus on quality over quantity, but with Forza the quality is usually thanks to the quantity. This is something Forza 5 lacks. It’s still a competent racer however, and implements some new good ideas. The Drivatar feature is intriguing and well done, and allowing you to race against your friends whilst playing offline is really cool. Some of the new concept cars are incredible too, and the Ariel Atom should be on the top of any player’s purchase list. These elements help redeem a game that otherwise feels as though it was rushed for launch.
I’ve found Forza 5 to be a difficult game to score, as how I feel about it can’t really be summed up in a number. As a game, it’s got some pretty nasty flaws, but as a launch title/next gen experience it is likely to impress. Between them, the Xbox One and PS4 only have a handful of exclusives, and this is one that’s well worth playing. If you’re looking to be wowed by your new console, Forza 5 will undoubtably satisfy. It’s only once you get under the surface that you’ll realise the microtransactions and lack content are serious issues that let this game down.
(Update: since launch three additional tracks including Nuremberg have been made available as free DLC. The game’s economy has also be addressed, and cars now cost roughly half their original credit price.)