Home
Twitter
RSS
Newsletter
Luke
29 Apr, 2005

Forza Motorsport Review

Xbox Review | In one of the world's first verdicts, we find out whether the ultimate driving simulator has been eclipsed.
We should point out that at the point of writing this review we're the only multiformat website to review Forza Motorsport, one of the most anticipated Xbox racing games ever. With Brendan giving a modest 7.5 to Gran Turismo 4 last month there is a chance for Forza Motorsport to take first place (Has everyone forgotten Project Gotham Racing 2? Who cares if it's arcadey? - Ed.).

After intially being scheduled to be out last year, we're finally treated to Forza Motorsport nearly half way through 2005. Our early impressions of the game were not very impressive, with the game lacking polish and sense of speed. However, six months down the track PALGN has got a copy of the final code that Xbox gamers will be rushing to buy next week. So, has Gran Turismo 4 been dethroned? Is this the beginning of a championship franchise, or is Forza another Gran Turismo clone that ultimately fails?

Forza Motorsport was unveiled last year at E3 and is developed by Microsoft. The last flagship racing by Microsoft was Project Gotham Racing 2 which was released in November, 2003. It has been a long wait, but finally Xbox owners have their own simulation game. While Project Gotham Racing 2 is more of an arcade game, Forza Motorsport is leans towards sim territory.

There are five modes in Forza Motorsport which are selectable from the beginning. These include arcade, multiplayer, time trial, free run and the huge career mode. The arcade mode is a simple quick fix mode, where you can choose a track and a car and you're on your way. There are some really powerful cars available from the outset, but winning races will unlock other cars and tracks, including the famour Nurburgring and even a track based on the Blue Mountains.

Racing near the caravans..

Racing near the caravans..
Close
The multiplayer modes are pretty self explanatory, but gamers can play split screen, or Forza Motorsport even supports system link. Being a Microsoft developed game, it should come as no shock that the game is Xbox Live compatible. Microsoft haven't spared on the Xbox Live features, and so scoreboards and all kinds of racing types are selectable straight away. Just like Project Gotham Racing 2, Forza Motorsport is brilliant fun in multiplayer. Xbox Live testing is tough at the moment due to there being no players, but we can't wait to try it out. The time trial mode is just a novel inclusion that might not be ever visited, and the free run option is good for a quick, no pressure race. However, the true highlight of the game is really the career mode.

PALGN is willing to bet that gamers will spend 90% of their single player time in the career mode. Upon launching the career mode, players are asked to select their home region, out of Asia, Europe and North America. The home region affects the availability, starting cost and rarity of the cars in your career. In Europe, for example, players start with 23,000 credits and a list of six possible cars to purchase, such as the Audi TT Coupe 3.2 quattro.

There is no world map in the career menu and races can feel a little linear, as all options are selected from a career menu. The garade in career mode is really extensive, with upgrades able to be purchased, as well as trivial items, such as decals. All of the options in the game are broken down into small menus which can sometimes become a bit fiddly.

When we first loaded up the career mode, we thought it only featured six races, but, upon further inspection, there are over fifty events to race in. Each level of racing needs to be unlocked, which can make the game feel a bit restrictive. Winning races will unlock more credits, which can then be used to purchase over 230 cars from 60 manufacturers throughout career mode - more than enough.

One of the unique features of Forza Motorsport is the drivatar technology. This option allows you to train your AI drivatars to use the same driving techniques you do, so they race for you in competition. It is a very similar concept to Gran Turismo 4's B-Spec mode, except better thanks to better strategy and actually entertaining gameplay.

Oh yeah, this is my kind of car

Oh yeah, this is my kind of car
Close
So, how is the game play? Well, we're pleased to report that it is greatly improved on the code we saw six months ago. The game really does feel fast and realistic. One of the big differences between Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo 4 is that Forza Motorsport actually features a damage model. After the hype regarding the damage model, we really did expect it to be a bit better. The damage is very similar to Project Gotham Racing 2, except the damage does affect the cars a lot more realistically. We would have loved to have seen bonnets and tires flying off after a head-on collision, but we might have to go play V8 Supercars 2 for that entertainment.

One of the unique features of Forza Motorsport is the completely adjustable difficulty level. By adjusting certain settings such as damage, anti lock braking and AI difficulty, players can win or lose more credits in races. This is a really simple concept to grasp, that works really well by rewarding the more skilled players, without making the beginners feel alienated.

Forza Motorsport really does feel like a simulation game, the deveopers have done a brilliant job in making every car feel individual and authentic. We are really surprised how far the game has come since our initial impressions six months ago.

There has been a lot of hype surrounding Forza Motorsport and some of the hype has been about the graphics. Unfortunately the game isn't as graphically brilliant as we had hoped. That is not to say that the game doesn't look good, it is still one of the better looking racing games on the Xbox. The lighting is really well detailed and the tracks are very extensive. A lot of attention has been paid to the main stars of the show -the cars, obviously - and they look really lifelike, with shadows of passing buildings are viewable from the side of the car. The attention to detail really is incredible.

We've always gone on about how Microsoft should take advantage of the custom soundtrack feature of the Xbox, and it seems like they have finally taken note, incorporating custom soundtrack support in the game. The default music is really good as well with a rock theme, which is rather appropriate. Microsoft have worked well to ensure the game sounds just as authentic as it feels and all the engine noises sound great.

Forza Motorsport is a game that will last a ridiculously long amount of time. We personally shudder to think of how long it would take to complete the entire game, it would take at least fifty hours and this isn't including the Xbox Live features. The career mode is extremely long and purchasing all 231 cars would take a forever.

The irony in this shot is that Road and Track used to support the Need for Speed series.

The irony in this shot is that Road and Track used to support the Need for Speed series.
Close
Forza Motorsport manages to succeed in doing what other games have tried to do for years - to beat Gran Turismo at its own game. However, the game still has a few flaws which could have bumped it up to a score of 9 or even 10. The menus are awfully fiddly, and feel much more linear than they should. There is also no rally mode and the game pyschics do take a while to get used too.

Also, in comparison to Gran Turismo 4 there are not as many tracks or cars, but the game still has the potential to last a really long time. The damage is a bit of a disappointment and we would have liked to have seen more, but it is better than none.

The multiplayer modes are brilliant and really add to the game - playing online should be a dream and the game play is very addictive once the game gets going. Regardless of whether or not you were disappointed by GT4, if you like racing games, then pick this up.
The Score
Gran Turismo has been dethroned, we have a new benchmark.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Forza Motorsport Content

Win a car with Forza Motorsport
06 Sep, 2005 Or, failing that, a huge LCD screen.
Play Forza Motorsport on three screens!
24 Jun, 2005 Hidden feature allows three-screen, arcade-style shenanigans for home users.
Forza Motorsport goes gold
18 Apr, 2005 Finally..
12 Comments
8 years ago
Nice review. I would say Project Gotham 2 is better than GT4. And after playing the demo of Forza I still agree that Project Gotham is the best.

The thing, is even now Forza seems to be so similar to GT4. The thing thats cool is customisation though. Looks decent..Maybe not on par with Midnight Club 3..but decent.

These games really need more of a twist to them to make them intresting and unique. They tend to be way to linear.

I spose Ill hire the game and give it another try for the hec of it
8 years ago
I don't have a lot of experience in these games, as I own none of them, so I'll trust your review, and score.

So doesn't it bother everyone that a game that recieves a solid but not outstanding score is the new 'king'?

Sureley someone can do better!

Does this leave the likes of Burnout 3 (and F-zero GX if 'simulation' isn't a neccesity) as the best racing games out there? Are arcade type games almost universly better?

Just wondering what you 'car game' type guys think.
8 years ago
You can't compare GT4/Forza to the likes of F-zero or Burnout 3 - they're completely different style of games, even if you "drive" in them. Plus, arcade racers have more freedome with their content, handling and whatnot. Burnout 3 handles great, but when was the last time you did a 1,500ft drift into oncoming traffic? icon_wink.gif And where's the real cars in Burnout?

Anyway, until I try Forza I'm not going to "fall" for this review. We all know reviews are the opinion of person who wrote it, and by going with some of the last reviews I've read, I don't think the reviewer and myself are on the same page. What's average to one person, is great for another.
8 years ago
No offense but I actually felt as if this review was lacking something. Perhaps even a tad biased too? Well not biased but I know Palgn has been anticipating the final outcome of Forza ever since it was announced. You lot were anticipating it a whole lot more than you were Gran Turismo 4 and well I think this review confirms it. It is a good review, don't get me wrong but like Civic above me, I think we are on different 'pages'. Of course I wouldn't know yet but I will soon and then I'll offer my final comments.

I also notice the lack of mention about the fact you can play the Career mode either offline or online. You did mention that Live play will be awesome and that you can't wait to try it, but you didn't really mention that you could choose to play the entire career online if you wanted to.
8.5 is still a decent score although I still disagree with Gran Turismo 4's score so I won't agree with this one just yet. Next week I might though. icon_smile.gif
8 years ago
D.Lo wrote
So doesn't it bother everyone that a game that recieves a solid but not outstanding score is the new 'king'?
8.5 is a pretty outstanding score. Hell, anything over 8 drifts into must buy territory.


D.Lo wrote
Does this leave the likes of Burnout 3 (and F-zero GX if 'simulation' isn't a neccesity) as the best racing games out there? Are arcade type games almost universly better?
At the moment, I would say arcade is better. The area is far more contested, with the games you mentioned, plus PGR2 and so on. Simulations are a step behind right now - V8 Supercars 2, GT4 and this being the only top games I can think of, and I know that first two, while good/great, are flawed.


NismoR34 wrote
You lot were anticipating it a whole lot more than you were Gran Turismo 4 and well I think this review confirms it.
Actually I was massively hyped for GT4, and my expectations were pretty high. Same deal with Luke for Forza.


NismoR34 wrote
although I still disagree with Gran Turismo 4's score
I've just started playing it again. It's good, but the tiny things are really starting to irritate me. The massive intros before each race where you see your car take 20 seconds to get to the line, the fact it saves when you change cars, etc. The AI is just ****ing ridiculous the more you play it, too, making it really easy. But, like I said, if GT3 never existed, GT4 would probably be a 9 regardless of the faults, because it does so much right. But GT3 does exist, unfortunately. How a game innovates is part of our scoring criteria, so rehashes don't fare so well - see Mario 64 DS, which only netted an 8.


But glad to see people disagreeing with our scores.
8 years ago
I really dont have any bias for either of the games, in fact, we're the only site to score Forza below a 9 right now so some people would prolly say im being anti-Forza, guess we'll see next week.
8 years ago
Brendan wrote
At the moment, I would say arcade is better. The area is far more contested, with the games you mentioned, plus PGR2 and so on. Simulations are a step behind right now - V8 Supercars 2, GT4 and this being the only top games I can think of, and I know that first two, while good/great, are flawed.
I agree here. The Arcade Racing genre has been the more enjoyable this generation, and pretty much throughout all generations too. There is just more variety and it's easier to pick up and play too, so it is definitely more fun. As you said Simulations are a step behind now, but they are heading in the right direction. I think so anyway.

Brendan wrote
Actually I was massively hyped for GT4, and my expectations were pretty high. Same deal with Luke for Forza.
I know you were massively hyped for it mate, I think we all were but I was just saying that across the various articles for both games, it seems as if Palgn (or more precisely, Luke) was anticipating Forza a whole lot more than Gran Turismo.

Brendan wrote
I've just started playing it again. It's good, but the tiny things are really starting to irritate me. The massive intros before each race where you see your car take 20 seconds to get to the line, the fact it saves when you change cars, etc. The AI is just ****ing ridiculous the more you play it, too, making it really easy. But, like I said, if GT3 never existed, GT4 would probably be a 9 regardless of the faults, because it does so much right. But GT3 does exist, unfortunately. How a game innovates is part of our scoring criteria, so rehashes don't fare so well - see Mario 64 DS, which only netted an 8.

But glad to see people disagreeing with our scores.
See this is where I am in the minority as while yes the flaws you mention are bad, they don't actually bother me all too much. The long intros are tedius but I take the time to prepare myself for the race or just to admire the graphics. Saving when you change cars hasn't affected me as I haven't accidently changed to a wrong car yet and the AI being so stupid is definitely the biggest flaw, but one I can still look past. Why can I look past these flaws so easily? Because the game, while being just a mere 'update' to Gran Turismo 3 still maintains that GT feeling. It feels like a Gran Turismo game (well you would hope so) and it does what it sets out to do quite brilliantly. Being a simulation, most people play the game expecting an awesome racing package. I on the other hand don't really care for the racing side of things (although if it were to be just as good, I would definitely be happy) and I'd much rather play Gran Turismo for the driving experience. The ability to perfect laps thanks to the awesome physics and realistic nature of the cars and handling and so on, it is all what makes Gran Turismo great as far as I'm concerned. What puts the icing on the cake though is the ability to race on not only kick arse fictional circuits such as Grand Valley or Seattle, but also the ability to race on some of the best tracks in the world such as the famous Nordschleife or Laguna Seca. Perfecting times and laps on circuits that I admire in real life, in game is just too damn of a good experience for me as a Motorsport freak to pass up. icon_smile.gif
8 years ago
I would love to know what gave you the impression i was more hyped for Forza, to be truthful i was more hyped about GT4, Here are some comments about GT4 i made in the preview, and then Forza:

Gran Turismo 4:

- Gone are the days of extremely static crowds, similar in vein to V-Rally 3 spectators will jump out, take photos, run from cars and cheer, The crowds are still 2-dimensional but it is welcoming to see them move around a little bit.

- Control seems more fluent, the car responds well and the actual control feels a lot tighter

- The most impressive feat is the fact that Polyphony Digital have made all these improvements to the graphic engine but the game runs the same as Gran Turismo 3.

- The only gripe I have about the game is that it hasn't improved immensely (you will note this was one of Brendan's gripes as well)

- It is good to see that the game looks impressive and plays just as impressively.

Forza:

- PALGN recently had a very exclusive play of the game and we came away with very mixed impressions.

- first disappointment of the game was how bland the track looked, some of the screenshots released to this date, look absolutely amazing, yet in-game we were less than impressed by the visuals, it is not over-exaggerating to say Gran Turismo 3 looks better.

- One of the most hyped up features about Forza is the fact that it features real damage, whereas Gran Turismo does not, so how is the damage model? We would liken it more to Project Gotham rather than V8 Supercar 2. We were a little disappointed as we expect our car parts to be a bit more damaged by the end of the race.

- So, after our play test of Forza we left a little disappointed but still optimistic. It is very clear that this game definitely needs a bit more work put into it, and the graphics, really do need a bit more improvement

I mean, this is all i've written on both games after playing them both, so i dont see how you can think im bias.
8 years ago
a friend of mine has already got the game (real copy, not a warez copy) and he also had issues with it... and you've pretty much said what he said: graphics aren't as nice, damage model is really overrated, and he didn't like how the game felt... a little more arcadey than he'd like...

i guess the thing with arcade vs. simulation racers is that, relatively speaking, simulators are very young.... traditionally all car games have been arcadey as the platforms are only just getting powerful enough to even begin modelling the physics... while personally i get more satisfaction from simulators, i probably also derive more frustration from them too...

i also really like arcadey racers too... guess it depends on what i feel like at any one time...
8 years ago
Luke wrote
I would love to know what gave you the impression i was more hyped for Forza, to be truthful i was more hyped about GT4
I'm well aware of your disappointment in the Forza demo, and I'm well aware that the anticipation for Gran Turismo 4 around the site was also high. I'm not disputing that, I'm just saying that even with the disappointment for the demo, it seems like out of the two games you (meaning the site) were anticipating Forza more. Why wouldn't you too? Considering that it is basically the first real competitor to the Gran Turismo series...

Luke wrote
I mean, this is all i've written on both games after playing them both, so i dont see how you can think im bias.
If you re-read what I said earlier, you will see that I sort of corrected my biased comment. The only reason that word was used was because at the time, I couldn't think of any other that would help describe what I was trying to say. Why are we still discussing this anyway? I know that the anticipation was high for both titles here at Palgn, and all I am saying is that it seems as if Forza was wanted more than GT4. What's wrong with that anyway, we all have our opinions. I'm getting Forza this week, so chances are I might end up agreeing with you anyway.
8 years ago
Luke wrote
I would love to know what gave you the impression i was more hyped for Forza, to be truthful i was more hyped about GT4, Here are some comments about GT4 i made in the preview, and then Forza:

Gran Turismo 4:

- Gone are the days of extremely static crowds, similar in vein to V-Rally 3 spectators will jump out, take photos, run from cars and cheer, The crowds are still 2-dimensional but it is welcoming to see them move around a little bit.

- Control seems more fluent, the car responds well and the actual control feels a lot tighter

- The most impressive feat is the fact that Polyphony Digital have made all these improvements to the graphic engine but the game runs the same as Gran Turismo 3.

- The only gripe I have about the game is that it hasn't improved immensely (you will note this was one of Brendan's gripes as well)

- It is good to see that the game looks impressive and plays just as impressively.

Forza:

- PALGN recently had a very exclusive play of the game and we came away with very mixed impressions.

- first disappointment of the game was how bland the track looked, some of the screenshots released to this date, look absolutely amazing, yet in-game we were less than impressed by the visuals, it is not over-exaggerating to say Gran Turismo 3 looks better.

- One of the most hyped up features about Forza is the fact that it features real damage, whereas Gran Turismo does not, so how is the damage model? We would liken it more to Project Gotham rather than V8 Supercar 2. We were a little disappointed as we expect our car parts to be a bit more damaged by the end of the race.

- So, after our play test of Forza we left a little disappointed but still optimistic. It is very clear that this game definitely needs a bit more work put into it, and the graphics, really do need a bit more improvement

I mean, this is all i've written on both games after playing them both, so i dont see how you can think im bias.
To tell you the truth, from the review I got that Forza plays similar to GT4, doesn't look as good as GT4, has a pretty average damage model, has practically the same game modes as GT4, has customisation of cars and an online mode, plus it features less cars and tracks than GT4 and in the end Forza scores higher? Help me out here....
And why wasn't the AI talked about? We know GT4's AI is sh*t and from what I saw, Forza's is just as bad.
I'm not saying you or the review was biased, but rather unbalanced.
8 years ago
The review isn't biased, it's just not extensive enough. No offence to Luke, he does a great job for us, but I don't think that 2 short paragraphs talking about how it actually plays is quite enough for a game that's apparently better than GT4. If you look at Brendan's GT4 review for example, he covers the most important parts of what a driving game is all about. He talks about what the tracks are like, how the cars handle, how the computer AI reacts, how good the collision detection is, how the driving physics feel, what the sense of speed is like and how the lack of a damage system effects the game. The Forza review only touches on some of these, and really could have done with a little more description and opinion on each.

Like I said, it's nothing personal, i'm just offering some feedback on the review as people are believing it's biased when it's not, it just needs a bit more depth to it so people know why/how it's better than GT4 rather than just saying it is icon_smile.gif Otherwise it's a good review, very informative. I personally haven't read many details on Forza at all so i'm now anticipating this alot more than I was.
Add Comment
Like this review?
Share it with this tiny url: http://palg.nu/1zv

N4G : News for Gamers         Twitter This!

Digg!     Stumble This!

| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  Microsoft Game Studios
Developer:
  Microsoft Game Studios
Players:
  1-8

Extra:
Xbox Live compatible

Read more...
Currently Popular on PALGN
Australian Gaming Bargains - 08/12/11
'Tis the season to be bargaining.
R18+ Legislation
R18+ Legislation
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations Preview
Hands on time with the game. Chat time with the CEO of CyberConnect 2.
PALGN's Most Anticipated Games of 2007
24 titles to keep an eye on during 2007.
PALGN's Most Anticipated Games of 2008
And you thought 2007 was populated.