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Forza Motorsport Review — A Love-Letter to Racing Fans?

Is Forza Motorsport the pinnacle of racing games?

Jeremy Proome

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After veering off to do some offroad and more festival antics with the Forza Horizon spin-off franchise, Forza Motorsport, which is essentially Forza 8, returns to the hardcore racing sim foundation that made the series so beloved. But, with a franchise that has just about perfected the racing sim genre, how have Turn 10 and Playground Games elevated Forza to new heights with Forza Motorsport?

The answer is the life-like detail of cars, tracks, and racing techniques across the board, and, most importantly, the accessibility to all of this, allowing even those more familiar with arcade racers to become simulation fans and appreciate the nuances of realistic racing.

There are no colourful flares, story elements, voice-overs, or gimmicky mini-games where you crash into certain things for points — this is racing in its purest form, and all the better for it.

And the racing itself feels as tangible as ever. A revamped physics engine gives every turn and swerve a lot more weight, literally, putting a lot of force onto your vehicle that you’ll have to contend with when straightening up; and improvements to how tyres react with the roads. Other racing games only have a single point of tyre contact on the surface, which creates problems for curbs and rumble strips that cars will inevitably hit (meaning a complete loss of traction for half a second or so). The new tyre physics system has 8 points of contact, so this allows tyres to find grip on any type of uneven surface. It seems like a very small thing, but racing purists will appreciate the finer detail and utilising corners to their advantage, rather than avoiding the apexes entirely because of an unrealistic moment.

Real petrolheads are in for a treat when it comes to upgrading your car, as you truly have to earn your progression, rather than just buying it. Driving better, whether it be managing corners better, improving lap times, or sticking to lines, etc, earns you points which are attributed to your car, and then you can spend those points on new parts. So, rather than simply earning cash for winning, you’re incentivised to drive better, which is an interesting gameplay hook.

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The new single player campaign in Forza Motorsport is the Builders Cup, a spiritual successor to the career modes from Forza Motorsport 3 and 4. You can jump into racing circuits that are split up into different car classes, like hypercars, vintage, or production, each with their own rules and structures. These are curated to be your gateway to discovering new cars you can truly fall in love with. See a car first on the showroom floor, get to know it by racing on the track, and then level it up and earn performance upgrades to build it into the ultimate track competitor.

Racing purists will also appreciate the visual details, as over 500 (yes, 500) cars have been painstakingly recreated, with every dashboard, side-mirror, and wheel arch representing the real-life counterpart. There is also a photo and replay mode, and a car viewer, so you can indulge in the vehicles in all their glory to your heart’s content.

The presentation around the cars also does them justice, with some impressive lighting that simulates the sun shimmering and shining off cars as it would in real-life, reflections, and some great additional detailing to the 20 tracks, such as discolouration on the tar, foliage on the sides, and branded signage that makes you feel like you’re in a real race.

Throw in a dynamic time-of-day system, and each time you race a track — whether it’s at sundown, midday, or night — it always feels and looks different, which is great for keeping things feeling fresh.

Forza Motorsport doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it just makes it a lot more detailed and adds some much-needed tread to the nuances of driving. Car enthusiasts and racing purists who own the steering wheel peripheral will most love what Forza Motorsport brings to the genre. It’s a solid racing game that also has a lot of forthcoming content, according to the developers, which is a promising prospect for fans.

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Forza Motorsport is available Xbox Series X/S and PC.

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