The racing genre has arguably been one of the defining genres of gaming for many generations, wether it’s arcade-based titled or simulations, there has always been an audience for the genre that isn’t only driven to play, but driven to excel. Simulation titles have always had quite the following, with some players even making the transition from gameplay to professional drivers. Despite ranging over different types of the genre, the Forza franchise has always been Microsoft’s flagship racing simulation, and despite being introduced onto current generation platforms with Forza Motorsport 5, this year is the year that fans and casual players alike will truly be introduced into what this franchise is capable of.The influence of Forza 6’s visuals is pretty much apparent from the opening race and onwards. Brilliantly Turn 10 chose to open up the game with one of the most visually-attractive tracks in the game which sets itself on the streets of Rio de Janeiro. The first word that would come to mind here would be the world color, as the vibrance of the picture you’re seeing is simply staggering, with beautiful vistas extending beyond the track as you make your way through the city and into parts of the mountainous range that extends beyond it. This extends to other tracks as well, even though arguably a lot of the tracks are a lot less visually appealing they are still presented in solid detail with an excellent sense of color and depth. Now of course there’s also a difference of perspective whilst going through these tracks, as cockpit view and third person view can make the game look completely different in comparison, though both look great in their own regard. A small note would be the fact that certain textures such as grass, dirt and such don’t always look as crisp, though this is only a small nitpick in a painting that is much larger than this minor section in question. Crowds are also much more dense and detailed, which is a nice addition, especially for those more enclosed city sections.Lighting has been significantly overhauled and is showcased in a much more natural manner than its predecessor. Both the cars and environments are covered in light and shadow in a realistic manner, which makes moving through the environments that much more visually appealing due to the fact that the lighting system flows through it in a realistic way, rather than showcasing an artificial sense of light that seems out of place. This extends to nighttime racing, which really does give a sense of distress and focus. Whilst sections of the tracks are sometimes covered in floodlights, you’ll find plenty of spots where the only source of lights is either your own headlights, or the tail lights of your competitors should you have been left behind. It isn’t just a visually appealing enhancement, but a challenge that makes players think twice about their actions and creates a whole other style of racing by doing so. Another visual extension would be the addition of rain. This changes the gameplay significantly (which we’ll get back to later), but visually it’s not the most impressive implementation I’ve seen as of far, though this impact is softened by the fact that the game runs beautifully no matter what it’s showcasing. The game is presented in 1080p at 60 frames per second, which is as fluid as you’d come to expect from the franchise. The only exception is the intro’s to every race, which are presented at 30fps, which is most likely due to the use of more advanced shaders, though this isn’t something we can confirm. This isn’t really that big of a deal considering. The game runs exceptionally well overall, which together with the exceptional visuals creates an experience worthy of the franchise. The only issues holding it back would be the occasional juddered edges and certain textures, which refrain the experience from being perfect, but it’s not a world changer that keeps the rest of the game from being as impressive as it is. The basis of every racing game is fairly simple, but it’s the details around this concept that make it truly effective as a full-fledged title. This comes down to content, career structure, physics, graphical fidelity and everything even remotely connected to these terms. The Forza franchise has always been one of the best racing franchises out there when it came to hitting all these marks, though there comes a time in the lifespan of every franchise where you need to re-invent the wheel sort to speak, and work on adapting to new technology, features and such. Forza Motorsport 5 was a good example of this, where the AI system was overhauled and several new features were introduced that brought the franchise into a new era as technology progressed. The issue however was the fact that it took a step back when it came to content, limiting itself in variety. This is one of the first aspects where Forza Motorsport 6 takes a drastic turn to the wheel. With 450 cars on disc and 26 destinations with several track variations. Forza Motorsport 6 in essence retains the same main structure, with the career forming the basis of your gameplay experience. Your career is divided into five main volumes; Super Street, Sport Icons, Grand Touring, Professional Racing and Ultimate Sport, which each have their own vehicles classes and event types, which give you a natural sense of progression as you move from your simple street ride to your F1-class monster of a machine. Each volume is split into series where you’ll have to finish 4 to 6 races per series in order to work towards the next volume. Even though you’ll move forward to the next volume as you meet the required amount of finished races, you’ll still be able to go back and go through the events you didn’t pick, which there is definitely a great amount of. Of course the basis of all these events is fairly simple, but the sheer variety of choices of event/class types is pretty staggering, allowing you to move throughout your career without having a sense of repetition leading to fatigue. Now of course every once in a while you will be burned out a bit, but there’s an answer to that. A big aspect of Forza 6 is the focus on ‘Showcases’, 80 specialized events that give you something different to do in between or after your career. As you progress through your career you’ll unlock these showcase events, which range from class-specific races to specific challenges and of cours my own favorite: car bowling. These aren’t necessarily for prolonged gameplay sessions, but they are ideal for switching up gameplay throughout your career, which also gives you the chance to improve your skills as these events do provide a strong basis for practicing specific skills such as cornering, drifting and general handling. A notable addition to the online aspect of the game is the addition of ‘Leagues’, a new system that allows players to be put in ranked, competitive races that are set in enforced divisions based on skill and temperament, which allows players to go through a more focused form of matchmaking, which is a real big plus for players who feel that they may be too often be matched with players of a lesser level. This also ups the challenge as your skills are tested even more. A not necessarily giant but notable addition is the inclusion of the ‘Mod’ system, which gives players the chance to complete specific challenges for bigger rewards or use additional aids that help you throughout the race. This is done in the form of a card system, which has the player buying five-card packs that include a random selection of cards that are brought to their disposal (for reference, these packs are bought with in-game currency, not micro-transactions, which are not included in the game as of this time.) Players will definitely be divided on the inclusion of this system, as it adds a more arcade-like dimension to the game, but due to its optional nature it never gets in the way of a more focused style of gameplay should you prefer it. Now let’s talk the biggest addition to the arsenal of Forza Motorsport 6, which is the inclusion of weather-based conditions and nighttime racing. Driving in the rain provides an entire new dimension when it comes to grip and handling, where the handling is heavily affected to the point where you’ll have to adjust your entire strategy in certain situations. Driving through puddles for example isn’t exactly the best thing to do, as it could have more influence on your driving that you initially anticipated. Puddle patterns do seem to be preset, where the location and formation of each puddle is preset in the game design, rather than being of a dynamic nature. Nighttime driving is another big factor, which aside from the visual impairment also influences your grip on the track to a degree you wouldn’t initially expect. Track temperatures at day and night have a big influence over your performance, which is another dimension to the game that allows you to systematically learn and adapt to different situations. The Forza franchise is a prime example of a franchise that not only builds upon its strengths, but also learns and adapts from it weaknesses. Whilst Motorsport 5 served as a stepping stone onto current generation hardware, Forza Motorsport 6 excels and takes what the franchise has learned to form a racing game that is not only full of content, but also challenging and incredibly addicting. Building upon the foundations laid before it and applying a fresh new layer of features and visual effects, Forza Motorsport 6 might be a serious contender for 2015’s racing game of the year, if not the prime contender.
Great amount of content
Addicting gameplay with plenty of variety
Excellent weather features
Rain and night-time racing limited to certain tracks