STAFF REVIEW of Forza Motorsport 5 (Xbox One)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013.
by Brent Roberts

Forza Motorsport 5 Box art Throughout the history of mankind there have only been a few select moments that have altered its future and the birth of automotive transportation is one such moment. Freedom was just a turn of the key away, and only our imaginations became our limitations. The sensation of the road beneath your tires with a ribbon of black asphalt stretched out before your eyes is a feeling unlike any other, and in Forza 5 we find the greatest tribute to one of the great liberators in the history of mankind, the car. Turn 10 has been producing Forza Motorsport games since the years of the original Xbox, and with every release their goal is to pay homage by delivering the best driving experience you can find anywhere in the digital age; and they have succeeded in a way that is so significant that to accurately measure it would require you to almost compare it to other great monumental achievements in mankind. If ever there was a bar to rise, Turn 10 strapped it to the back of a Bugatti Veyron and sent it 250 miles an hour, straight into orbit while on fire. Chill the blood in your veins and start your engines because it's time to launch into the best driving game ever available on any console, Forza 5.

Starting out Forza 5 will treat you to an opening sequence by Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, and after that the game takes you straight into racing behind the wheel of a McLaren P1. This is Forza's way of introducing you to the world of motorsport and the physics that coincide with its existence. You will then be able to choose a car for the upcoming league event you will be participating in. After that you are off on your way through your first series of events that will help familiarize yourself with the courses, the physics of driving itself, and such features like replay and more. Before the races begin you have the option to select different driver assists and decide if you want them on or off, also you have the ability to choose your difficulty of competition. The other racers you will find in Forza are not computer AI controlled vehicles, but actual human drivers via their Drivatar.

Think of your Drivatar as a "virtual you" that learns how you play Forza 5. Techniques such as how you take the apex of a turn, breaking and vehicle control, passing, and more are all recorded as part of what could be considered a virtual training simulation. Upon completion of your initial events you will notice your Drivatar will sync with the information from the recently completed race. Once this process is complete your Drivatar is born, but will have a lot more to learn. This is done by driving and a lot of it. Through racing you will gain the ability to fine tune and develop your Drivatar so that its performance will be better in the digital world, so just like life, the more you train, the more you will improve. This is one of Forza 5's biggest innovations and now will set a standard for other developers to follow.

Once done with the initial league events you can move into the career menu. Through this menu you can hit the B button to go back to the main menu, or you can select from: Continue Career, League Select, Car, and Forzavista. As the name implies, Continue Career allows you to pick up right where you left off, so you don't have to go searching through individual races to find where you last tore up the pavement. League Select allows you jump between different events for different classes of cars such as the hyper car Bugatti Veyron, Grand Touring, Exotics, Open Wheel and more. Each league is comprised of multiple races so when you take into account the amount of content in actual racing, it's simply mind-blowing.

The car menu selection allows you view, buy, upgrade, and paint your cars. While the first two are pretty self-explanatory, the submenu Forzavista allows you to view your cars by digitally interacting with them. You can open the doors, climb inside the seats, start the car, view a video on your car, and more. While this feature is a novel approach to examining your cars, when you take into account the diminished number of cars available, you may save this feature for only a select few rides. While viewing the cars is fantastic, the upgrade option is another innovation that really sets Forza 5 apart from the competition. There is a quick upgrade option that will maximize your car's performance based on the class you select. While this is quick and efficient, when you dive into the actual amount of upgrade components available, you can really get a feel for the sheer mass of a game this size.

If that wasn't enough you even have the ability to apply a conversion to your car that can affect either the engine via an engine swap or you can swap out the drivetrain, or both. This also changes the upgrades available for your car and can chance the performance instantly. On top of upgrading components of your car, you also have the ability to tune your vehicle in multiple areas such as: tire pressure, suspension, gear ratios, and more. This feature has been welcomed with open arms by the gaming community to the point where gamers have become known for their setups of cars and it's through here that you get to experience Forza 5 like never before.

Just as tuning has its own devoted following of gearheads, so does Forza's artistic painting. In the past Forza games have given artists a chance to showcase some amazing and often beautiful pieces of artwork. Other artists, including myself would spend hours upon hours creating stunning imagery with only 1000 layers to work with, but not anymore. Back at E3 2013, XboxAddict reported that the number of layers would increase with the release of Forza 5, and now our painting prayers have been answered. The sides and top have now had their available layer increased from 1000 to 3000 layers, and now the bumpers and wing have had their limit increased to 1000. If going blind trying to line up individual layers isn't exciting for you, there is an option where you can search the marketplace for different designs based off of what keyword(s) you type in. Once you find the design you can pay the credit value (if there is one) and the design is yours! What this means is that the quality of the artwork is going to exponentially increase, making Forza 5 the uncontested king of turning cars in masterpieces of art.

This is thanks to the jaw dropping beauty of Forza 5's graphics. Cars from all over the planet have come to life in a surreal manner that is without a doubt, breathtaking. Every curve, every edge, every bolt, every inch. Attention to detail is one thing, but almost life like duplication is a whole other matter. Not only will you drool over the quality of the cars, but the race tracks themselves will send you right over the edge. Tracks from all over the world combine with iconic legends like Laguna Seca and La Mans to give you a backdrop that every motoring enthusiast would sell their very soul for. Given that most of us are not multi billionaires that could fly around the world, renting these tracks, and transporting our cars all over the globe, Forza 5 gives an almost flawless life like replication of what experiencing this would be like. While you are cascading down the straights, or drifting around a tight hairpin curve, your ears are blanketed by a symphony of harmonies and choirs. This almost holy themed soundtrack is one that you would expect from a different style game, but the minimalistic feeling sets the tone perfectly. Hearing a choir with a string section as I'm power sliding around a corner with my tires screeching, engine revving, and my turbo spinning is an amazing marriage of sound between car and music. This is one harmony that I never saw coming, but am so thankful that it's here.

With the grand amount of content packed into the career mode of Forza 5, you would think that it would be all said and done, but not this time. Outside of the career mode is the main menu where you will find various tiles where you can quick select from tuning/upgrading, paint, Forza profile, Forza TV, message center, and coming soon, the Forza marketplace. Other options are available too from the main menu and consist of Rivals which ultimately is a leaderboard hunt where you can try and outrun your friends. The other selections are Free Play, which is where you can do split screen racing and configure the race in a multitude of options. Then we have Forza 5's famous multiplayer system. Here you can compete in multiple challenges where you can see what requirements are needed and how many racers will be competing. Some of the events require a certain car, such as racing the McLaren P1 V.S. La Ferrari. Yes you will lose yourself in Forza 5's career mode, but you cannot rule out the amount of content and quick access in the main menu. Forza 5 delivers on a lot of fronts but one innovation is a step in the right direction, and that is the head tracking via Kinect. When activated you must sit in front of your sensor and Kinect will recognize your head and then when you turn your head in the game, your view will follow suit. While this feature is fun and is quite interesting to the players that actually lean while playing driving games, it's execution leaves little to be desired and thus not a deal breaking feature.

Forza 5 is the accumulation of decades of desire and centuries of passion. Since its conception, mankind has always wanted cars that went faster, that were more powerful, and that made you turn your head and gawk. Turn 10 has done a spectacular job in delivering the best racing experience you can find on the Xbox One. We can only hope that in the future there will be support available for Microsoft's SmartGlass, but as of right now, it doesn't exist. This could be an innovative new way to do tuning, or artwork, but only time will tell if Turn 10 decides to implement it. If you are a fan of cars, a fan of racing, or a fan of art, there is no reason why you wouldn't want to own the undisputed king of racing, Forza 5.

Please look into using SmartGlass for this game. Tuning your car via SmartGlass and/or designing artwork would make this the standout game for SmartGlass use. Would also like to see an increase in environments to race in. Forza 4 provided 27 different areas while we only find 14 on Forza 5 on the Xbox One.

Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.9 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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