Forza Motorsport 4 Review for Xbox 360

Forza Motorsport 4 Review for Xbox 360

Car Lovers Rejoice

Gearheads unite! This week, Turn 10 released the sequel to this generation’s highest-rated racing game. Forza Motorsport 4 has just hit stores and we’ve put it through its paces to find out whether it’s worthy of a place in your garage.

If you’ve played any of the previous entries in the franchise, you’ll know that it is developer Turn 10’s goal to attract as many potential gamers as possible, regardless of their age or experience with video games. They’ve had mixed success at this, but that hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing. Forza Motorsport 2 failed on that front, after all, and some argue that the game was better because of it. The series’ third installment made considerable strides and was generally well-accepted.

With this latest release, it seems Turn 10 has struck a pretty good balance with the introduction of Autovista. Chances are you’ve already been briefed on the intricate details of this mode by now, but if you missed out, it basically lets you ogle ridiculously hi-res car models with or without the help of Kinect. If you’re a car lover and strictly a console gamer, before Autovista, there was never really a way to interact with cars on this level with the visual fidelity presented in Forza 4. Games like Test Drive Unlimited and its sequel allow for vaguely similar levels of interaction, and while they aren’t ugly, they’re certainly nowhere near as good-looking as this. And there’s still something to be said for Polyphony Digital’s painstaking modeling (on 20% of their cars), but all of the interaction with the cars takes place on the track and in Photo Mode. There simply is nothing on consoles that comes close to Autovista. The pretty graphics aren’t confined to that mode, either. The entire graphics engine has been revamped as a result of Kinect integration, and the results are difficult to believe at first. That Turn 10 have been able to achieve this on five-year-old hardware is pretty impressive. It’s like digital witchcraft.

Forza Motorsport 4 Screenshot

Kinect menu navigation works alright via voice controls, but I’d rather use a controller than wave my hands around, especially since Kinect can be a little inaccurate. Head tracking is great and adjustable—an excellent addition—but I can’t see enjoying that enough to warrant putting down the controller in favor of motion controls.

When you’re done drooling over your TVR or GTO and are ready to get out on the track, you’ll find that there have been some considerable changes there as well. Turn 10 partnered with Pirelli to provide the tire model for the simulator instead of the amalgam that had evolved over the past versions. The specifics are only fascinating to a select few, but the way it translates is instantly noticeable. The tires on all the cars in the game behave the way you’d expect them to. A person can literally bring their real-world driving experience into the game and have little to no trouble navigating even the toughest of courses. That isn’t to say that they’ll set great times, of course, but it also means that the road to becoming experienced has one less hurdle.

Forza Motorsport 4 Screenshot

Forza 4’s career mode is unique in that you can play through the entire game in one car if you’d like. Turn 10’s philosophy seemed to consist of getting completely out of the way and allowing the gamer to enjoy the game as they see fit. Not a lot of racing games are structured that way—it’s extremely difficult to pull off—but it definitely works here.

Among the complaints about Forza 3’s hidden assists were those tied to the “always-on” steering assist. It basically ‘guessed’ how much steering input a player intended to make based on speed, how quickly the wheel/control stick was turned, and things like that. As a result, the steering in Forza 3 felt wooden and stiff. In Forza 4, however, hardcore racers will be happy to know that you can turn this assist off and enjoy the harsh consequences of erratic lock-to-lock steering.

Forza Motorsport 4 Screenshot

Speaking of which, the damage modeling has seen a step up from the last iteration as well. In Forza 3, if you so much as looked the wrong way at any opponents’ rear bumper, the tail lights would disintegrate. The damage this time around is much more localized and a lot better looking. Performance is affected, as always, and the results coupled with the physics model are convincing. It’s especially satisfying finishing a race in first even though you’re hobbling across the finish line after a nasty crash.

The robust online options from Forza 3 have also made a return, complete with the enormous user-generated marketplace, the Storefront. While Forza 4’s Storefront exists as separate from the last version (meaning that users’ Storefronts won’t travel with them) it shouldn’t take long for the creative painters, photographers, movie-makers, and tuners to build up an extensive library of content. That’s because Turn 10 has taken ideas from the community and added them to the already-exhaustive graphics menu that painters had to choose from.

Matchmaking is better than ever too. The infamous Hoppers are back from Forza 3, which worked similar to matchmaking systems of shooters. Public custom lobbies have also made a return so gamers can fine-tune any aspect of their online interaction.

Rivals Mode allows players to compete asynchronously, besting each other’s times, which allows for some great back-and-forth gameplay while you’re jostling for top spot. It’s a great way to challenge your friends or take pointers from the players at the top of the leaderboard.

The sound has also been upgraded significantly over Forza 3. The cars in Forza 4 sound rawer, more alive. Upgrades will also result in a change in engine note, as well. While that may be a small thing for the average gamer, it’s a nice inclusion for car lovers.

Forza Motorsport 4 Screenshot

So Forza 4 has great graphics, sounds great, and plays extremely well. That’s not to say it’s without its drawbacks, though. While there are a lot of cars to choose from, there are some tracks that were staple tracks in the Forza series that have been removed: namely Rally di Positano and Sidewinder. Rally di Positano is in Forza 4, but it isn’t actually Rally di Positano; it’s Amalfi from Forza 3 with a different name. It’s a shame, really, as now there’s only one tarmac rally-type track, with Fujimi Kaido picking up the slack. Sidewinder, too, was a fun set of courses to hoon around on, though they weren’t immensely popular.

Apparently Positano was extremely labor-intensive for the developers, and there simply wasn’t enough time to bring the track up to snuff. But there are a few other omissions that don’t make any sense. The Bugatti circuit at Le Mans comes to mind. It was already built, as there don’t appear to be any changes to the main layout, so there’s no reason it shouldn’t have been included. Unless, of course, they’re holding it back to be released later as DLC.

Some of the tuning options have also been trimmed back, which probably has to do with the complaints over the Performance Index (cars in Forza are rated according to their performance, with upgrades impacting the PI) and the way all-wheel-drive cars were rated. While some of the changes are probably for the better, it’s difficult to understand why the makes that share parent manufacturers wouldn’t be able to interchange parts, as in the last version.

There are other things that were left out that impact the experience as a whole a bit less. There’s no night racing, and no weather effects like snow, rain, etc. There aren’t any rally-type point-to-point stages on anything other than tarmac, the controls, while good, still aren’t fully customizable after five years, and the in-game music is best left off.

All things considered, though, this is still a solid game. It’s also an able simulator. The frame rate is locked at 60 frames per second at 1080p, no matter what’s happening on-screen. I personally didn’t experience any screen tearing or outrageous graphical hiccups outside of the occasional highly detailed car model pop-in here or there. Still, all of the cars have hi-res interiors, they’re all fully customizable, and they’re all immaculately modeled.

Forza Motorsport 4 allows for the most consistently great experience, both on track and off, and any racing fan would be remiss not to pick this up.

The frame rate is always locked at 60 fps, Autovista cars are unbelievably good, and the tracks don’t disappoint. 4.3 Control
Controls are good, but not at all customizable. Wheel users are in for a treat. 4.4 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
I personally hate the in-game race music. The menu music is fine, but the real showstoppers are the cars themselves. They’re beautifully captured. 4.7 Play Value
If you ever get bored playing Forza 4, it’s because of your medical condition. Seek help immediately. 4.8 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Platform-defining graphics. “Forza Motorsport 4” sets a new graphical standard for the racing genre. Featuring dramatic Hollywood-style camera effects and an all new lighting engine, “Forza Motorsport 4” creates an unparalleled, dramatically realistic graphical experience—all running at a silky-smooth 60 frames per second.
  • Xbox LIVE showpiece. “Forza Motorsport 4” is making racing more social than ever. Create a Car Club and build the ultimate dream team of drivers, tuners, and painters from the “Forza” community. Share your custom cars and dominate the other clubs. With the all-new Rivals Mode, play against your friends whether they are online or not by challenging them for bragging rights and rewards in a variety of different game types.
  • Industry-leading innovation with Kinect. Autovista Mode brings the automotive experience comes to life. Walk around the car in a virtual showroom, crouch down to look at the details, or open the doors and hood using the power of Kinect. Immerse yourself with Kinect Head Tracking, which pans the camera view based on how you naturally look into the corners when you’re hard charging. Take the virtual wheel with Kinect as you sit on the couch with your friends and family—no controller required. You can even take advantage of Kinect voice control to easily navigate the game’s menu.
  • More of what you love. With more than 80 manufacturers, the most in any racing game available today, “Forza Motorsport 4” features unrivaled diversity and more of the cars you love. The all new World Tour Mode boasts new tracks, unending choice and hundreds of hours of gameplay as you travel the globe with your favorite car. With the most accurate physics engine, cockpits and damage on every car, and assists that allow even the most casual player to race, “Forza Motorsport 4” redefines the genre.

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