It’s that time of year again for the Forza franchise. As we get ready to rev our engines, Forza Motorsport returns to the forefront as Turn 10 prepares to take us on another ride. With all of this, only one question matters: Is Forza Motorsport 7 the sequel we’ve been waiting for?Reviewing a racing game is a process that is often a lot more challenging than one would think, especially when we’re talking about the latest installment in an established franchise. Innovating and improving an established formula is a hard thing to do, with franchise fatigue and dozens of variables playing a huge role in the process. Does Motorsport 7 suffer from this aspect? No to the former and a maybe to the latter, but we’ll start at the beginning.
The Forza franchise has always excelled in providing an excellent first impression to both newcoming and returning players. The game sets itself up to give players both an introduction and a refresher of the core gameplay as it eases players into the game with a short series of events. Luckily, all of this doesn’t feel like a tutorial at all, as the game’s initial settings make it easy for players of any level to enter the game and have fun right off the bat, though assist options are immediately available for those who want to get back to their trusted settings and give themselves a bit more challenge. But as with love at first sight, how does this relationship fare beyond its opening moments? Reinventing the career mode from the ground up, Forza 7 is a much more properly structured beast in comparison to its predecessor, but more importantly, it’s a series of events that isn’t afraid to offer something for everyone, in both content and skill level.
Forza 7’s career consists of 6 championships, the sixth being Forza’s own Driver’s Cup. Each championship is built out of up to 16 events, ranging from tournaments to showcases, time trials and mini games (because god knows we’d miss car bowling if it was gone.) What makes the experience special, however, is in the little things. Each championship the decision is up to the player to figure out what events take priority, and the challenge is set by player preference, focusing on both the difficulty level of the AI and even the race length, giving players the ability to shorten races or turn their entire career into a series of endurance events.
Whilst the point-a-to-b structure is pretty familiar, the campaign manages to remain interesting throughout, thanks to its flexibility and more importantly, its variety. Driving the fastest Porsche there is or tearing it up in a Maclaren is a fun and thrilling experience in itself, but changing up the pace with a sedan, racing track or even a buggy keeps the game fresh as you get a taste of a full range of Motorsport, rather than the high-performance league, which is nowadays the sole focus for many games in the genre. It’s a change of pace that really does make you appreciate each experience by itself, even finding a lot of enjoyment in adapting to the handling of each car and vehicle type, which is often an art by itself. On top of all of this is the game’s new way of handling pre-race menus and loading times, which have been combined in order to remove unnecessary loading screens and speed up the process of getting into the next event, though I myself got distracted by going into Forzavista in the pits a lot of the time, which is a welcome addition that in my case actually cost me a lot more time (in a good way).
The game marks the introduction of a feature that’s been requested by fans many times, which is the introduction of a dynamic weather system. Throughout the course of a race handling and traction will be heavily affected and changed, which adds a layer of challenge as the game challenges you to adjust your strategy and driveline throughout. Unfortunately, this feature is limited to 12 out of the 32 tracks included in the game, but none the less it’s a welcome addition that set the scene for some of the game’s most intense moments.
Forza 7 also redefines the way we progress and adds a sense of value to the collection of cars we amass. The game actively encourages us to buy cars as it grants greater rewards for a greater collection, though on the topic of rewards, there’s good news and bad news…
Credit awards at the end of each event are defined by a few variables; AI difficulty, race length and the new yet familiar addition: mods. Now, mods aren’t exactly new to Forza, but the system has been significantly changed in order to have a different effect on player progress. Rather than providing credit multipliers for assist settings, a new range of mods has been introduced, each with either a challenge or a set bonus multiplier in order to increase the player’s winnings.
Here comes the bad news, which is something that’s already been criticized by many, which is the introduction of lootboxes into the Forza landscape. On paper, these don’t sound that problematic, but the loss of assist-related multipliers and the need to amass a lot of cars create a dynamic that doesn’t exactly add up some of the time. It’s a design decision that doesn’t exactly scream user-friendly as the rest of the game makes some questionable compromises in order to support the system, which is a shame.
But beyond what’s under the hood of this monster of a game, what is there to say about the audiovisual presentation and performance? In short, Forza Motorsport 7 is one of the most gorgeous presentations I’ve encountered in the genre so far. Greatly detailed and textures environments create an immersive experience that is strengthened by the incredibly accurate car models. It’s something that I’ve noted multiple times throughout my preview at Gamescom earlier this year, but the game’s presentation and weather effects never failed to astound me, even several hours into gameplay.
For my session I decided to test out the Windows 10 version of the game, running on an i5 6600k processor with the Nvidia GTX1080 doing the heavy lifting. The funny result here was that despite its amazing visual fidelity, Forza Motorsport 7 isn’t one of the heaviest games to run out there. Running at a resolution of 3840×1600 (on an ultrawide screen, for reference), I found myself getting a locked framerate of 60 frames per second with the game’s heaviest settings. I performed a second test with a GTX970 to compare and even there at 1440p with the same settings, performance seemed to be flawless, even providing headroom. Even if you’re not running the latest hardware, this beast of a game is still set to deliver a gorgeous presentation.
I did encounter a series of hard crashes throughout my review. It wasn’t a consistent issue, but it appeared frequently enough that I do hope that it’s already caught the attention at the office of Turn 10 and that they’re currently looking into fixing the issue at hand.