|System: Xbox One|
|Dev: Turn 10 Studios|
|Pub: Microsoft Studios|
|Release: November 22, 2013|
|Players: 1-16 Online, 1-8 Offline|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Patriel Manning
The launch of a video game generation can be difficult on the average gamer. There are so many important decisions to be made. On top of choosing one console over another if your means don’t permit buying all three, there’s also the matter of choosing the first few games you’ll get. This dilemma is underscored by the fact that the first few games you purchase will likely be the only ones you’ll play for the initial months of the life of the console, which means they have to be excellent, or you’ll be bored out of your mind until releases start to pick up.
With that in mind, I’ve decided to simplify my review of Xbox One launch title Forza Motorsport 5 with a series of questions and answers designed to ease the burden of next-gen decision making.
How are the graphics?
In a word--ridiculous. This game is nothing short of beautiful. Everything from imperfections in the paint to the wear on the tires is rendered in outstanding detail. That’s thanks, in part, to the new graphics engine Turn 10 (reportedly) built from the ground up this time around. That’s also owing to the power now available through the Xbox One. If the gulf between this and Forza 7 is anything like the one between 2 and 4, we could be in for a serious treat.
The pre-race and post-race presentation also gives the tracks a festive atmosphere. Whereas tracks in Forza 4 have spectators and some stationary vehicles on the infield, here you’ll find wildlife, helicopters, and other touches to make career events feel like actual events.
How does it handle?
The cornerstone of Forza’s simulation has been its superb tire physics, famously provided by the tire manufacturer Pirelli in the previous iteration. This time around, Turn 10 has opted to use data from the research firm Calspan. The Xbox One’s controller does an excellent job communicating the state of the grip through tiny rumbling motors in the triggers themselves. The results are fantastic.
The returning tracks have received a makeover in the form of digital laser scanning, and the newcomers have been built from the ground up that way. Digital laser scanning has been employed for years in the best of PC racing simulators, and for good reason. It allows modelers to capture the track surface in very high detail, which means you get a more accurate in-game track representation. Couple that with Calspan’s tire data, Forza’s already excellent suspension simulation, and the potential for experimentation offered by upgrading and tuning, and you’ve got a pretty good recipe for a bottomless time-sink.
What about the audio?
It’s superb. I recommend surround sound and a few hours alone. It’s brilliant. The character of each of the cars is captured, nuance and all. The audio engineers deserve special praise here. The menu music isn’t bad either.
Will the AI run me off of the road in an attempt to stick to the driving line? I need to issue a correction before I answer this question: I said the AI in Forza 4 is great. It isn’t. It’s rubbish. All of the AI drivers are completely suicidal. There is nothing more important than sticking to the driving line at all costs and often at great personal sacrifice. They won’t do that in Forza 5…unless they do, of course. That’s because the artificial intelligence is powered by the players themselves. The game pays close attention to your driving style, then uploads it to the cloud, where it’s saved as a “Drivatar” that can then populate other players’ games.
It basically means you’re always racing against human players, and there are some safeguards that are in place to avoid racing against reckless players, and the results are pretty good so far.
How much does it cost?
$59.99 US unless you get the Limited Edition for $79.99 US. If you’ve got more money than sense, you can buy the Paddock Edition for a mere $120.00 US. It comes with a sweatshirt. And a water bottle.
Can I afford it?
That depends. Do you have $60? If so, you should be able to afford it. To be able to play the game, you’ll need Xbox One. That’ll set you back $499. An additional 60 cars can be purchased through the Season Pass for $50. If you think that sounds like a lot of money, we agree; it’s a bit pricey. That’s especially true when you consider where the car count starts.
How many tracks will be included?
Fourteen, initially. Yes, that’s less than Forza 4.
Is my favorite car in it?
Forza 5 has been advertised as having hundreds of cars, and that’s true. You might be saying, “How many hundreds? Three? Four?” Nope. There are exactly 207 cars at launch, which makes the marketing people both honest and disingenuous. The trade-off is that they’re all what Turn 10 calls “next-gen.” This means that they’ve all been modeled in such a way that you can walk around them, open the doors, pop the hood, and rev the engine right from the homespace.
So, did your favorite car make the cut? Is your favorite car the KTM X-Bow? Then yes, congratulations. Is it one of the more than 300 that may or may not have been left off the roster so it can be sold to you at a later date? Then no, your favorite car isn’t in the game. Maybe you’ll have the privilege of buying it again at a low, low cost in the future…