There are quite a few racing games out in the market, but hardly any of them cater towards new fans of the genre. For every short tutorial there’s an advanced mechanic that involves some slight tweak to each car that allows it to go faster then ever before.
It’s a lot for the general public to take in, which is why I’ve always commended the Forza series for taking strides to make things easier. Forza 5 is no exception, and barring a few missteps, it’s one of the most accessible racing games ever made.
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 essentially photo-realistic. The first and third person camera options are equally stunning, which fully includes the “interior hands on wheel” view that 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 greatest 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 as 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 at them.
The same goes for the game’s tracks, which are highly detailed despite the fact that there aren’t many of them available (14 in total). It’s not like it’s a small amount in any sense, but it really feels like the next-gen sheen was placed above content this time around in comparison 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.
Having said that, the game’s career mode and online options are really 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 basically 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. Not only is 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.