Review by Kirberteinstien55
Polarizing on many fronts, but an otherwise excellent title.
Xbox owners had to wait a long time for Forza to finally hit stores, but it did eventually make it, and in many ways lived up to the hype surrounding it as an answer to Sony and Polyphony Digital's Gran Turismo series. On paper, you see a phenominal title with everything Gran Turismo was missing, Porsche and Ferrari, fully developed online play, car customization, and in some aspects it is, in fact, a phenominal title, but it is not for everyone.
The first thing you notice about Forza is the opening loading screen, showing us the definition of "Simulation," which is what the game is pegged as. The opening video gives us an impressive visual experience to nameless, faceless, guitar-driven music, and then you're asked to start your career. Enter your name and you're plopped into a menu screen with the same nameless, faceless, guitar driven music-- except this time it's parroting Black Sabbath. Immediately you turn off your Xbox, take out the game, throw in some CDs, and get together a respectable soundtrack. The fact that Forza has a custom soundtrack in itself saves this game many points, as there are something in the area of 4 different tracks for both racing and menus, none of which have lyrics or an original melody. Back to the game, though. When you start out you can pick a region and a low level car from that region, and then you can go race. No license tests, no nothing, just pick a car and go. For those with short attention spans or little to no racing skill, the license tests of Gran Turismo were tedious, boring, and in the end futile, making their absence in Forza that much more appreciated. For a game that pegs itself as a sim, though, a lack of training forces you to, in some way, dumb the game down for poorer drivers. And so the suggested line was created.
The suggested line basically plots a course through a given course, showing you when to floor or lay off the throttle, and giving you a racing line that adjusts itself based on the performance of your car and the speed it's going at any given point on the course. It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, as there's always a better line or a faster speed you can take a corner at, but it's useful for the inexperienced, giving them at least a plotted course to victory provided you have the right car.
In terms of cars, Forza is no where near as strong as GT in number, but it does reel in its fair share of cars, with more than 200 to choose from. However, very few cars are available from the beginning of the game. Instead one must unlock and win cars for 'leveling up' in career mode (levels are obtained by amassing target quantities of credits through races), which at times is really good (in that nobody can jut buy the best car in the game right away) and at other times horribly poorly executed (When you are forced to race an unmodified car against a prize vehicle that outperforms you in every area or when you unlock new races but cannot possibly unlock a car to compete in them). On the whole the system works, but it isn't always perfect, and can leave many players feeling alienated.
The two biggest aspects of Forza that set it apart from Gran Turismo are without question the car customization and the online play. Being able to create designs on your cars to show off and sell through Live is a great idea, but it's not altogether perfect. The toolkit is ample for the type of work you're doing, essentially giving you a vector-imaging style of programme with a bunch of preset colours and shapes to use to create whatever you're talented enough with geometric shapes, decals and patterns to make. Many people, understandably, are turned off by this idea right away, as those of us less geometrically inclined tend to have trouble making things that look like anything other than a bunch of jumbled, deformed things that resemble letters, panties, or whatever else you choose to attempt to put on your car. Those who stick with it, though, find that it is a rewarding, fun experience that can create hours more playtime out of the game even after you finish the career mode. Unfortunately, once you are actually racing with the car the designs get less sharp in an attempt by the game to keep things moving, which can be frustrating when your work is especially intricate.
Online racing, on the other hand, takes the licensing Forza got that GT failed to get and makes you wish there never was a Ferrari. 80% of the games you will find online at this pont have people driving an Enzo Ferrari around like Hellen Keller, and the number only keeps rising. This problem is created by there usually being one or two cars in a class that just dominate in every category, and people tend to stick to those instead of going for variety or a challenge. Online racing can become quite arduous with everyone in the same cars driving progressively more poorly. If you find a good group of people you will love Online Play, but otherwise it tends to have more failures than good points.
Forza tends to have many areas that will cause gamers to turn away, but at the same time, gamers like me who are looking for a respectable alternative to GT4 need to look no further for that title. It's a definite buy if you're into racing sims, and at least worth a rent if you even own an Xbox. Those used to GT4 may have a hard time adjusting to Forza, and they are by no means the same game, but with Forza's customizable difficulty and cars you will be able to tailor the experience to your interests very easily.
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