Forza Motorsport Xbox
Published by Microsoft Game Studios
Developed by Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date: Out Now
Forza Motorsport, an introduction.
For me, one of the biggest surprises with the Xbox is how many great driving games there have been on the console. Project Gotham Racing 2, RalliSport Challenge 2 and TOCA Race Driver 2 have all been amazing on the Xbox and fans of driving games have certainly been happy, or at least you would have thought so. If there's been one complaint from Xbox gamers it's been that there isn't a game quite like Gran Turismo on the console. Project Gotham Racing 2 is an exceptional game but it's a different kind of game and you can't tinker with car setups and such like. Forza Motorsport was created to please those who wanted a more Gran Turismo like game.
What's the game about?
As the introduction points out this is very much a Gran Turismo like game for the Xbox. Forza Motorsport doesn't have the outrageous number of cars that GT4 has but it has depth and offers more customisation options than GT4. Game modes include Arcade Mode, Career Mode, Multiplayer (Xbox Live, Split Screen and System Link modes are all available), Time Trials and Free Run. Arcade Mode allows you to compete in wheel-to-wheel races and unlock cars that can then be used in Arcade, Multiplayer and Free Run modes. The main modes in Forza Motorsport are the Career and Multiplayer modes and thanks to there being an online career the two modes are not completely separate.
What's good about the game?
There's much to like about Forza Motorsport. There are over 200 cars in the game and all the big manufacturers have been included. The Career Mode is excellent and not only allows you to progress through a series of championships but also buy cars, upgrade them and customise them in numerous ways. You can tune your cars, buy improved parts, customise the paint job and apply the decals of your choice. The customisation options available are more than enough to satisfy those who want a GT like game for the Xbox.
On beginning a career you'll also notice another improvement over the GT series. One of the major problems with the GT mode in the Gran Turismo series is that it's all a bit tedious to begin with. You end up racing the same races over again to save up for upgrades to allow you to compete in higher paid races. In Forza you can re-race the races if you wish but it's not a necessity and you seem to be on an even footing with your AI opponent right from the off. In fact it's possible to upgrade your car sufficiently to run away with the first few events because no restrictions are placed on the performance of your car. Cars are classified by letters and numbers (the traditional ratings for acceleration and handling etc. are still present). The main classes range from D to R (D, C, B, A, S, R). Cars ranging from D to S are also further divided by numbers 1 to 4 with D4 being the lowest performance cars and S1 being superb. The upgrades you make to your car will impact on its rating. After the initial races you'll find that restrictions will be imposed on you so if you improve your car too much you won't be able to compete with it in a race. By this time though you'll have a collection of cars and at no time do you feel like you have to re-race previous races, to earn more money, in order to progress which is pleasing to see.
The AI of your opponents in Forza is also worthy of a mention. If there's one aspect of the Gran Turismo games that annoys the heck out of me it's the way the AI cars sticks rigidly to the racing line, even if it means smacking your car out of the way in order to do so. Whilst the Forza AI cars will still make contact with you from time to time they drive a lot more realistically. Don't get me wrong I'm not saying the AI is perfect but it's a lot more believable (regarding overtaking) than it's ever been in the GT series. On the subject of AI you can even train a virtual self with Drivatar. Drivatar is essentially an AI driver that drives in your style. It's trained by you when you complete a series of lessons. The idea is that you can place this Drivatar AI in races in place of you. It's a good idea but not one many will use, mainly because you can always do a better job yourself and it's difficult for an AI to improvise as you would.
There are many other areas of the game that stand out too. You can use a variety of driving aids to help you. These aids consist of a handful of driving assists and a dynamic racing line indicator that changes colour to show you whether you are going too fast or not. Those interested in playing online will enjoy the online career where you race against human opponents (for a lot of gamers this will be a major plus). In fact you can even form car clubs online, which is another great addition. We've said it before and we'll say it again that it's a shame that you can't text communicate on Xbox Live because not being able to do so really takes the shine off the online experience for deaf gamers.
What's not so good about the game?
I only have two real niggles with Forza Motorsport. Firstly, there are not enough tracks in the game. Whilst the tracks/circuits that are available in the game are, for the most part, very good there could have been more to add extra variety to the races. Secondly I wish there was a steering wheel for the Xbox on a par with the Logitech Driving Force Pro that was created for GT4. Yes the Controller S offers better control than the PlayStation 2's Dualshock 2 but it's not as satisfying as using a great steering wheel. This second complaint isn't really a niggle with the game but I do feel that a good steering wheel adds to the experience and the Xbox, with games such as TOCA 2, PGR 2 and RalliSport Challenge 2, sorely needs a quality steering wheel.
How does it look?
Forza Motorsport looks impressive. The car models aren't greatly improved on ones you've seen in games such as Project Gotham Racing 2 or GT4 but with the addition of damage modelling this isn't much of a surprise. The real impressive qualities of the game are the backgrounds. Instead of having a 2D pre-rendered background, Forza has full 3D backgrounds that look much better. In your first few hours with the game this will be a little distracting as you take in the great looking environments that the game has to offer.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
With the exception of there being only voice communications in the Xbox Live mode, Forza Motorsport is fine for deaf gamers. All information is given either through icons or text so you'll have no problems in fully appreciating the game. The game manual has been kept brief but nevertheless it contains all the basic information you'll need to enjoy the game. It gives basic descriptions of the various modes and explains all the iconic information that appears on the HUD during a race.
Forza Motorsport succeeds in filling that Gran Turismo gap in the Xbox collection of driving games. In some areas it may be a little bit weaker than GT4 but in other areas it more than makes up for it. As you might expect the Xbox Live elements of the game are first rate and are only tarnished for deaf gamers because Xbox Live doesn't support text communications (something I sincerely hope that changes with the arrival of the Xbox 360). The single player game is also impressive and the Career mode is very satisfying although it probably won't last as long as the one found in GT4 but with damage modelling and extensive customisation options (not to mention the online career option) there's enough here to keep everyone happy. All we need now is a top quality steering wheel for the Xbox and the promise of a sequel for the Xbox 360.
Overall Game Rating: 9.2/10
Deaf Gamers Classification
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Forza Motorsport finally gives Xbox gamers that Gran Turismo like experience they've been waiting for. It's a shame more tracks haven't been included but that doesn't take anything away from what is another great driving game for the Xbox.