Forza Motorsport 5 Review for Xbox One

Forza Motorsport 5 Review for Xbox One

A Sensible Review

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.

Forza Motorsport 5 Screenshot

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.

Forza Motorsport 5 Screenshot

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…

Will there be any DLC?

Oh yes. In addition to the cars that might or might not have been purposefully left off the roster, there are some tracks that were also “not held back” for the leap into the next generation. An expansion pack (not to be confused with the LaFerrari Car Pack ) has already been spotted on the Marketplace, and there are sure to be more on hand later in the life of the game. Neither Tsukuba, Suzuka, Twin Ring Motegi, nor the fantasy track Fujimi Kaido are in Forza 5 to start, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them offered as a Tracks of Japan DLC pack later on.

Why are there so few tracks and cars?

If I had to guess, there are probably two principal reasons: time and money. With this being a launch game, there was probably a lot of pressure to get certain elements of the game ready before others, which has led to a “content shortage” of sorts. I also can’t ignore the potential to make fantabulous amounts of money by selling certain bits of the game later than others. And not to blame the BBC, but it couldn’t have been cheap to license the TopGear Test Track again and pay Jeremy, James, and Richard to record lines for the game. That money had to come from somewhere else in the budget.

Does it still have a livery editor?

Yes, and it’s brilliant. Painters will have a blast this time around.

Forza Motorsport 5 Screenshot

Does the sun ever set?


It has dynamic weather though, right?


Why not?

I honestly couldn’t be bothered to look up whatever excuse was offered as a response this time around. The desire to keep a stable frame rate was cited in the run-up to the release of both Forza 3 and 4 . Having to render the tracks twice for proper lighting under nighttime and daytime conditions has also been cited. Unless the Xbox One is far less powerful than we think (I don’t think that’s the case, for the record), the release schedule is probably more to blame.

It’s worth noting that there isn’t a motorsport that I can think of that takes place entirely under the sun. Not even Formula One takes place entirely during the day, despite the fact that none of the cars have headlights. Add to that the fact that there aren’t full pit stops or any kind of penalty/flag system, even for private online play, and you begin to wonder what “Motorsport” is doing there in the title.

I just bought a $300 Forza-branded Fanatec CSR. Is it compatible with Xbox One?

Yeah, no. But you can buy one of the new Thrustmaster something-or-other Xbox One-exclusive wheels that’s slightly better. Short of praying Fanatec and Microsoft (Turn 10’s actually not to blame here) come up with a solution, Fanatec-wheel users are getting the shaft here, to put it bluntly.

Should I buy this game?

Well, it’s Forza , so you know what you’re getting: outstanding simulation, ridiculously pretty visuals, TopGear integration, and greatly improved AI that isn’t exactly AI to begin with, which means the action on the track will be fantastic. On one hand, the cars have never looked better, but on the other hand, there are a lot fewer cars than before, and fewer locations to zoom about in. And in a game in a genre that relies heavily on repetition, having fewer cars and tracks than your predecessor is a poor showing, especially at the start of a generation. And in a game with “Motorsport” in the title, you’d think it would have more actual motorsport, at least as an option for those who wished to delve a little deeper.

If none of these things bother you, you’ll get hours upon hours of enjoyment out of Forza 5 . And if you are bothered, both Polyphony Digital and Slightly Mad Studios will have competing offers in short order. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.

As close to photorealistic as a launch title can be. 3.9 Control
Controller is brilliant; wheel support is lacking. 4.7 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Cars sound fantastic, and the music isn’t terrible. 3.0 Play Value
Lack of cars and tracks leads to more repetition than is desirable. 3.4 Overall Rating – Good
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:

  • Never race alone. By learning how you and your friends drive, the power of the cloud delivers real human behavior. Drivatar technology creates an ever-evolving network of opponents who are always ready to race. Real tendencies, real mistakes, real victories.
  • Rivals everywhere. Every corner a new challenge, every event a new chance to win. Compete against your friends’ top times in rotating challenges for in-game credits and bragging rights.
  • Fast and fair multiplayer. With Smart Match matchmaking and Xbox Live dedicated servers, experience epic, fast, and competitive multiplayer perfectly suited to your skill and style.
  • Curated customization. The power of the cloud means the best custom content now finds you. With a system that learns your preferred cars and paint schemes, seamlessly experience the most compelling user-generated content available.
  • Your ever-growing garage. Your automotive journey continues long after launch. Download, drive, and explore the most anticipated new cars in the world, months before they hit the showrooms, then challenge your friends in continuously updated online race events.
  • Unprecedented visual realism. The definitive next-generation graphics engine delivers stunningly realistic visuals in 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second.
  • Leading simulation. Racing’s leading simulation engine, developed for Xbox One in conjunction with Calspan and the world’s top automotive manufacturers, makes driving easy to learn and rewarding to master.

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