Review by jwing789

Reviewed: 09/19/05

Frustrating and Fantastic

Yes, the tagline is a bit paradoxical. Then again, so is the game. Forza Motorsport at last gives Xbox fans a hardcore racing sim. But can it stand up against its rivals? And more importantly, should you buy it?

Graphics: 10/10
In a word: astounding. All of the car models are rendered very accurately. Lighting effects stand out in particular- you’ll be so busy looking your shimmering pearlescent paint or the dynamic shadows that you might drive into a wall. Damage on the cars (yes there is full damage) looks good but is not realistic. Of course, no game has ever portrayed correctly what happens to cars in a 60mph crash, let alone 200mph. Not even Burnout. This is probably because it would scare people. However, the damage that is there does look good, and since no other game has really done much better I can’t take points off. As far as the tracks are concerned, they are simply breathtaking, especially the ‘Ring. All of the real courses were authentically replicated with the same standards as the cars. They even include spectators, which are cardboard cutouts. Before you say “Lame” keep in mind no current generation console can produce, en masse, animated crowds and high detail cars simultaneously. Overall, you won’t be disappointed in this department.

Gameplay: 8/10
This is where the frustration comes in. Don’t get me wrong, this is a simulator and it does provide an extremely realistic feel in the way the cars drive. Thought you could handle an Enzo before? Guess again. Forza features plenty of modes, and online play that works well. Menus are set up well and are aesthetically pleasing. Customization of cars, from the custom decals to anti-roll adjustments, leaves nothing more to be desired. You sort of have to have knowledge of car mechanics to maximize the returns on tuning, but even if you don’t you can still get by with minor tweaks. The career mode is titanic, and you can play with various options such as suggested lines and electronic assist systems to change your difficulty. By making the game harder you can increase your potential winnings and vice versa. The list goes on. But then, the problems appear. First, don’t listen to the development team, they’re a bunch of liars. The AI are rubber banded. Maybe not as much as older games, but it is noticeable. If you played PGR2, the AI code from that is clearly cut and pasted into Forza. The computer cheats constantly, catching up supernaturally fast, not slowing down for turns…this all becomes clear in the advanced events. And it will piss you off. Nothing is worse than spending 45 minutes on an endurance race, mess up one turn, and then losing because the computer doesn’t make mistakes. Also, the AI cars are more massive, or at least glued to the track. Touch them and you’ll likely spin out, regardless of your vector of travel. Therefore it is unreasonably difficult to sabotage the AI. Just for once, can we have a racer where the AI does not cheat? Bueller? Bueller?

Content: 9/10
There are more than enough cars, with very few of them being total bombs. Sure, GT4 has three times as much, but look at their roster. Like 25 different Civics, a dozen Miatas…half the game are crappy imports for high schoolers. Forza keeps it cleaner with a much higher ratio of cars you would actually want to have. Quality over quantity. And don’t forget all of the technical data you get with them, right down to telemetry on the replays. Tracks are bit of a letdown though. Yes, they look great, and the real ones are a pleasure, but there are only about 10 tracks in the game. They get old. Very old.

Sounds: 9/10
The car sounds are fantastic. All very real. Crank up the volume and you’ll attract attention just from all the roaring. Excellent. The music is okay, fun to listen to at first, but it seems like there is only about 8 tracks, so again, the game gets worn out in that regard. Fortunately, you can use custom soundtracks. However, the developers screwed it up…again. Recall that in PGR2 you could have custom soundtracks, but the game muffled them so they didn’t sound as loud or as good as the licensed music. Since Forza music is from some garage band, they don’t dim your tunes, they randomize them instead. So although you can choose which album you want from your list, you cannot pick any specific track. It will always be random. Frustrating.

Overall: 9/10 Probably like a 9.3

Rent or buy? Forza is a great game despite a few shortcomings. It will no doubt keep your interest for a long time. If you are a sim racing fan, a must buy. Same if you just like extreme cars. If you aren’t into racing games much, and especially if you only play arcade racers like NFS, rent this first. Forza is VERY hard and will require getting used to, due to the realism. Otherwise, this is a solid game that is worth the price.

Rating: 9

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