The Forza Motorsport series has slowly become the preferred driving simulator among gamers over the years. The team at Turn 10 has slowly crafted an amazing experience built around community, customization and, of course, authenticity. The latest entry in the series takes the amazing package of the last game and, more or less, tweaks it more than anything else. Sure, there are new modes and ways to enjoy the game, but I still felt like Forza 4 was more of a refinement than a revision of the series. Still, it is hard to deny that this is still one of the best driving simulators on consoles today.
When I first hopped into Forza 4, I was more than a little overwhelmed. First off, I installed the game disc, then installed the complementary content on disc two, downloaded my cars and imported my save from the previous game. So far, my hard drive was packed with Forza content. The career structure has been revised to a world tour type of mode. Each year presents different events based entirely on the class of the car you are currently in. For example, if you are in a class E vehicle, you will end up competing in a slower race with slower cars. Hop into your suped-up 1990 Camaro, though, and you might garner a special race. There are several events per stop, and the events increase per year.
You can also go back and complete all the events from the grid screen, and there are tons of them. The sheer amount of content was first revealed to me when I checked my stats screen. Four hours of game time equated to 0.3% completion of the game. Yeah, it is that big. There are also a ton of cars and tracks, but to be fair, a lot of content has carried over from the last game. Still, the sheer amount of things to see and do here, just in career mode, is staggering.
While the career is huge, the rest of the game manages to be even more robust. Let’s start with car clubs. Here, you can create a sort of hangout for you and your friends where you can race, share cars and so much more. This also works in conjunction with the Rivals mode that lets you race against your friends’ times or load in ghosts. There is also the return of vinyl and car customization. Again, some of these artists are downright insane when it comes to creating these decals, and if you have the patience, you can create your own. The store doesn’t seem as robust as of yet, but give it a couple months and the designs will again be off the charts.
As you complete events in the tour mode you will earn credits, XP and affinity for the manufacturer of the car you are driving. All of these make things level up as you progress, with affinity being one of the most important. You see, the longer you drive one manufacturer’s car, the bigger the discounts until eventually you reach that magic number of free for parts. This makes upgrading your cars quicker and cheaper, allowing you to enter more races. Buying and collecting cars also becomes addictive, and Turn 10 knew this. You can now acquire car tokens, both in the game and, wait for it, by purchasing them with real money. Be careful, it is rather tempting.
One of the biggest changes to the game, though, comes in the form of Jeremy Clarkson. If you are not sure who he is, you need to pay attention. His dulcet tones and dry humor from the popular British show, Top Gear, are all over this game, and it demands notice. His narration of the game is outstanding and really brings the package together. It is hard to explain why one voice can make such a difference until you actually experience it. It is kind of like how the Planet Earth movies are made that much more special with Richard Attenborough at the helm. Plus, if you have seen Top Gear, you will understand.
Another massive addition is the inclusion of Kinect support. Not only can you drive using the device, but you can fool around in Autovista with it. Driving is what you would expect, you only handle steering and there is head tracking. It is more novel than anything else, but it does work quite well. Autovista is fantastic both with and without the motion device. Here you can check out the ins and outs of a selection of cars in massive detail. Jeremy Clarkson will narrate each item and even give you some insight into the history of the car. It is a very cool feature that will appeal to car buffs or anyone who has always wanted to sit inside a Ferrari.
What I loved most about Forza 4, though, is that it caters to everyone and every skill level. Top-tier players can fine tune every aspect of their car and turn off all assists for a true driving experience, while novice players can add auto braking and racing lines to help them out. The game also throws in some cool scenarios in the races such as Charger vs. Camaro, or the bowling pins to knock down. The game never gets stale or dry during your entire campaign. Online racing also returns with the standard list of features, and my experiences were pretty much smooth sailing. There is so much content packed in here that you will be hard pressed not to find something to have fun with.
Visually, the game is gorgeous. Watching the replays really shows off the fantastic car models. Track design is good, but the lack of weather effects really disappoints me. Damage modeling is decent and everything runs at a pretty solid clip the majority of the time. Car sounds are incredible, really giving you the sense that you are inside one of these machines as it barrels down the road at 100MPH. The sense of speed is incredible, and the menus are so slick and easy to navigate. Turn 10 knows how to craft presentation and it shows.
Forza Motorsport 4 is an incredibly robust package that will please any racing game fan. Even players not so keen on simulation owe it to themselves to check it out. There is so much content included on the disc that you could literally spend months trying to see it all. Combine that with outstanding presentation and truly spectacular handling and you have the definitive car-driving simulator. Turn 10 will be hard-pressed to outdo themselves with Forza 5, but here is hoping that it continues to evolve as well as the series has to this point.
Review copy provided by publisher.