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Forza Motorsport 4 is Turn 10’s latest effort into the world of simulated driving experiences and just like one of my favorite driving tunes that says “The king of the road says you move too slow”, Forza Motorsport 4 comes charging in, ready to steal the hearts and minds of all car enthusiasts and wants nothing to get in its way.
Does Forza Motorsport 4 take the lead as the best driving franchise available? Find out in our full review.
Forza Motorsport 4 has the monumental task of having to surpass its predecessor, which while not perfect, was still one heck of a game. Add to that some very stiff competition from a very popular console genre and any developer has their work cut out for them.
This simulation racer wants to be more than just that and has been punting itself off as a game that has something for everyone and something that car enthusiasts will be able to experience as a celebration of automobile racing, style and more. The intent is evident when you start seeing features like the Autovista mode and the Top Gear partnership at work.
What do people do for fun around here?
Forza Motorsport 4 combines a wonderful weave of variety in its core experience, ranging from the career mode and community features like multiplayer, auctions, car clubs (like clans that can share cars, car tunes, designs etc) and the impressive creations found in the storefronts all the way to the new Autovista feature that lets you ogle and drool over some gorgeous icons of sportscar history in real time.
As I mentioned, Top Gear is also in on the fun but for now their input is limited to Jeremy Clarkson giving his two cents about cars in Autovista mode, as well as some Top Gear challenges on their famous track.I do expect more to come from the partnership in future but I was hoping for a little more from them the first time around without having to possibly fork out for DLC later.
The all new Autovista mode really is a sight to behold and a really nice touch for a game that is trying to appeal to the car enthusiasts of the world. What it is, is a collection of around 25 cars that have been given special treatment so that you can move around them (with the Kinect or a controller) and look at them just as if you were ogling them in a showroom. Thanks to the lack of a ponse for a salesman telling you to not touch anything, you can do whatever you please.
Lift the bonnet, sit inside, start the engine or get a really close up view of the engine. Little points are highlighted around the car that can be activated to get small narrated bits of cool information about the car and its features. The level of details and graphics in Autovista mode are almost unbelievable and you won’t believe that it’s running in real-time until you realize you are in control of the camera.
Each car also has a Top Gear point, which activates Jeremy Clarkson’s voice telling you what he thinks about the car. The great part about this is that it hasn’t been written for him. He gets to say whatever he likes about the car and sometimes his comments range from thought provoking to downright hilarious.
The Autovista mode comes with only a few cars unlocked but to unlock more you need to do their simple individual challenges, such as overtaking a certain amount of cars in a preset race or challenge, to make them available to you.
You also still have the ability to log into Forzamotorsport.net and see your profile along with friends’ profiles. You can check your photos, download hi-res versions or videos, read messages, check car club activity and so on.
Still want something else to do? Sure, go take a photo of your favorite car and send it your Grandmother.
The Grand Tour
The real star of the show is, and certainly should be, the addictive career mode. Starting from humble beginnings of city crawlers like the Toyota Aygo or Nissan Micra you begin racing in events through your career, taking you right up to the big leagues where names like Ferrari and Aston Martin are commonplace.
The career flows in an incredibly natural manner that has you constantly moving around the world from location to location but with the ability to pick from different events at that location ranging from class, car or even ongoing championship series’. As you finish your event, the camera simply zooms out to the globe and then zooms in to your next location while the career narrator says something like “today you return to the winding roads of…” or welcome back to sunny California as we..”, you get the picture. Thanks to the constant motion, you can easily find yourself hooked for hours and hours, starting each race with the words “just one more” swirling inside your mind.
It’s all no fun if there isn’t progression though, and that’s where Forza 4 really hits the sweet spot. As you earn money and XP points from racing depending on where you place, what difficulty assists you are running and so on… you level up. The leveling has changed now, with the previous level 50 cap being changed to a level cap of 150, with leveling happening faster than before.
Every time you level up you are given a reward that allows you to pick from a range of cars, always with a theme such as iconic classics, muscle cars, rally winners and so on and it really becomes fun and sometimes even difficult to browse through your selection and pick which one you want to take with you. Along with that you also gain Affinity Points for racing with a certain manufacturer. So, the more you race with say… BMWs… the more you will level up with Affinity Points with them and so you will receive perks such as money bonuses and permanent discounts on upgrades.
If you like sticking with your car, you can go and upgrade the parts, or what’s even better for people who don’t want to get involved, is the ability to have your car automatically upgrade to be eligible for the event that you want to enter.
The leveling up, upgrading, money hoarding, rewards systems and continuous flow of the career mode turns minutes into hours and is incredibly addictive, well paced and by far the most enjoyable racing career mode that I have experienced to date.
An issue that I did run into with career mode however, is that there is no difficulty setting for the competition and anyone who is even half decent at driving games will find themselves ahead of the pack far too often. Working your way up from 5th or 4th is definitely some of the most fun you will have, so to easily blast ahead can sometimes be disappointing, even when in a car that surely shouldn’t be leading the pack.
The Need For Socializing
If you are tired of the career mode, which won’t be an easy feat… then you can also jump into a wide range of multiplayer modes including normal races, drift modes and so on as well as some really fun virus and tag modes for when you’re in more of a mood for play, rather than precision.
There are also new additions like Rival Mode, which allows you to take on the best times set by other people on the leader boards and more importantly, your friends similar to the way Autolog works in the Need for Speed games. The higher up the leaderboard your rival is, the more you will get out of beating them. Some challenges have been picked by the folks at Top Gear but even better, there are challenges that will constantly change and be updated by Turn 10, meaning unlimited levels of awesome for those who love that sort of thing.
All of the modes including career and multiplayer work towards your level, money and affinity so the experience is seamless. Racing a championship against A.I cars, beating a rival’s score in a drift mode or playing some online multiplayer? No problem, it all works towards the same common goal, essentially making the entire game your career mode.
Going For A Test Drive
So what would it all mean if the driving wasn’t any good, right? So how does Forza Motorsport 4 fare in that department? Well, the good news is that it all depends on you. Crank up the assists and you can do nothing but steer if that’s what you like, however you won’t make much money in career mode, so you probably wanna take some assists off and leave only the essentials like traction control, ABS and maybe even the dynamic racing line to help you learn new tracks. More importantly, you can still rewind your blunders, although it has now been smartly included as an optional assist, with a percentage bonus to your winnings if you don’t use it.
If however, you are in it for the really good stuff… the realism and the feel of driving a powerful beast around some of the worlds most interesting circuits, then you are surely in for a giant treat. Switch all assists off and suddenly the game springs to life much like a Ferrari 458 Italia does when you set it to race mode.
Thanks to some fine tuning and work with Pirelli, Turn 10 have hit the nail on the head where it comes to realistic handling on the cars. Each car feels unique, tires can be felt gripping and letting go of the track surface as you corner and the weight of the cars translates over magnificently. While most gamers may not have anything to compare it, I have been fortunate enough to have been trained in track driving in road cars on a GP circuit and Forza Motorsport 4 is the closest I’ve ever felt to being back on the track in a real car again. The driving is sublime and any true petrol-head will get nothing but a real kick out of feeling their favorite cars under their control as they brake late, dial the wheel in and accelerate gently to find a perfect balance and clip the apex.
Speaking of which, every time you take a corner, overtake, drift or even get into a slipstream, the game will rate your move out of 4 blocks on the side of the screen. Hit an apex just right and you hear a small ‘bing’ indicating a perfect turn and 4 out of 4 blocks. This system is very subtle but incredibly addictive for anyone who loves testing their capacity for perfection on a track.
On The Grid
The car count on track has also been upped now from 8 cars to 12 and the extra traffic can really spice things up, especially thank to Forza 4’s magnificent Artificial Intelligence for their CPU controlled cars. Rather than just stick to a single line, or even to fake mistakes, the A.I in Forza 4 is genuinely tough to distinguish from humans sometimes.
Some drivers will drive more recklessly than others, some may take alternate lines through corners, bump each other, go in to hot to a corner when under pressure or even be very respectful. When watching some replays you could actually have a tough time trying to determine who is human and who isn’t as two CPU cars go screaming into the braking traffic, causing mayhem while they fight for 3rd place. They really feel like they want to get somewhere in the race.
It isn’t all perfect though. As I mentioned earlier, the A.I can be far too easy and it really is unfortunate as the racing is just as much fun, if not more so, than the driving itself. Hopefully it will be patched in later, but as it stands it should have been more of a challenge or at least an option. This feeds a few other frustrations all based around it, as you will sometimes have huge accidents in the game and have to rewind (or worse) when an opponent hits the brakes on a corner that they could have easily blasted through at full throttle. You will also notice that sometimes when you use the rewind function, some A.I cars do a little swerve as the race proceeds, which is usually no issue but can sometimes lead to them flying off the track or hitting a wall, which while hilarious, shouldn’t happen.
Besides those few niggles, there really isn’t much else wrong with the game on a technical level. Speaking of which, you might be wandering how it holds up in that department.
It Was All A Blur
While Forza Motorsport 3 was a good looking and decent sounding game, it definitely fell short in a few areas, especially the lighting and reflections on the cars, making them look a little dull and strange.
Forza 4 sees a pretty big leap in terms of overall polish, changing “pretty good” into “holy cow”. Every single car has been painstakingly modeled to look as close to its real-life counterpart and the tracks are equally as gorgeous, featuring rich, detailed environments with some even having different looking morning and afternoon settings.
Car interiors in the cockpit view look fantastic in all cars, the Autovista modes are in a league of their own when it comes to fine details and photorealism and even the menus are well even designed and pretty to look at.
The sound is equally as good, if not better. Each car has a unique and distinct roar taken from the real life version, and the sound has been tweaked to ensure that you always hear the best of it at all times. Tires don’t screech like they do in cartoons anymore, but rather sound like rubber crunching and sliding on tarmac, as they do in real life and realistic bashing and bumping noises come from the cars as they bump and grind during races.
The soundtrack is a mix of great choices for the menus and the races are filled with some more upbeat songs as well the 2011racing game trend of chucking a whole bunch of Dubstep music in as well. It is the Xbox 360 however, so if you don’t like it, just load up your own tunes on the console and carry on.
Better With Kinect
Turn 10, being a part of Microsoft, have done their best to put the Kinect motion sensor to full use in Forza 4. While most people think that this is limited to holding your arms up in front of you and steering with nothing, they have put it to much better use.
The Kinect’s voice recognition and commands have been integrated into the menus, which means that you can get around using nothing but your voice. The best part is that the voice commands usually cover things that aren’t on the screen, rather than just letting you say it rather than select it.
This means that when you are in your career race menu, with options of ‘start race’, ‘change car’, ‘difficulty settings’ etc, you can actually pull up a voice menu that allows you to jump to other areas, such as the car tuning or painting. Quickly getting around to other areas of the game is incredibly handy at times, although a big negative is that it hasn’t been integrated into all screens, leaving you feeling like a complete noob while you say “Xbox, xbox, XBOX!” at your TV, only for nothing to ever happen because that area doesn’t use it.
Another feature added with the Kinect, is head tracking. I’ve never been a fan of head tracking because it just never works properly, but Forza 4 has changed my mind because the Kinect head tracking is phenomenal. By either leaning your head, or looking left and right you can control the view in the game and the genius comes in that it works so on such a subtle level, without you have to think about it.
I noticed after a while that I was actually looking into the corners without realizing it and even with a glance towards my side mirror, it picked up the gentle head movement and moved the camera with me. What would make it even more better though, is if it didn’t have any niggles, but it does at times. I had a few cases where I was sitting exactly where I was before, but the head tracking notification started popping up and down constantly telling me to move back into the head tracking space, forcing me to have to switch it off and on again to recalibrate it.
Also, while the Kinect mostly likes people to be far away, the head tracking requires you to be a fair bit closer, which I would say was a maximum of around 2.5 meters. Anything more and you will find the notification bar moaning at you every time you lean back for a moment to relax. For the most part, the closer I was, the better and it does come with individual sensitivity settings.
When it is working though, it words damn well and it’s the sort of thing I hope to see in future in all driving games and would even be very welcome in games like flight sims, or first person shooters that let you look and aim a little separate from each other.
As a package, Forza Motorsport 4 is the real deal, hits every mark it set out to and comes across feeling like a high quality, polished console title.
It’s the type of game you were dreaming about the day that you bought your Xbox 360 and a 100% complete package that does almost everything you could ever want from a driving game for car enthusiasts.
Forza Motorsport 4 is quite simply the best, most enjoyable driving game available this generation and easily one of the best driving game ever made.
Realistic driving physics combined with a great selection of the world’s most exotic cars means that any car enthusiast will be in driver’s heaven. Lacks difficulty settings.
Design and Presentation: 9.5/10
Magnificent looking cars and tracks all humming along at an unshakeable 60 frames per second. Great menu designs.
An incredibly enjoyable, addictive career mode, multiplayer modes, rival modes, storefronts, car painting, auctions, photo modes, monthly challenges, Autovista and much more just means that there’s enough here to keep you busy until the V8s come home.
Great – Very Highly Recommended
Last Updated: October 14, 2011