While I might be n3rdabl3’s resident Forza fanboy, I’m not one for overlooking the franchises shortcomings. Forza 5 was a bit of a train wreck, and alongside Forza Horizon 2 it fell in the bracket of cross-over between consoles that I never really bothered with. Forza 4 was more than enough to keep me entertained, and for many, myself included, it still holds the crown as the most well-rounded Forza title released. But has Forza Motorsport 7 stolen that crown?
Forza Motorsport 7 is Microsoft’s latest in the long running racing franchise, and it certainly makes a lot of moves in the right direction after fans have been left a little underwhelmed by the Motorsport titles that have hit the Xbox One. The return of a nicely progressive career, a numerous stock of circuits, and more than enough modes to feed anyones needs.
The career mode is based around the Forza Drivers Cup, a fictional event that has you working your way through 6 tiers of titles, in which you’ll be completing smaller championships based around different car classes, with your position in each race giving you points towards the championship and the cup. Reaching the required points for each cup advances you to the next tier. This method of advancement is really nice, giving a nice balance between progression and access, allowing players to access some of the games faster cars early on, but still requires the player to take part in some more entry-level events, creating a really nice balance.
The career also features showcase events, which vary from technical autocross events, passing challenges to factory spec races and full endurance events. These events create a nice change of pace and also grant the player the car in which the event takes place, as well as some nice points towards the showcase events appropriate championship.
Forza Motorsport 7 makes one rather major change in the form of collection levels. This progression system gives each car its own collection value, with certain cars being higher rated even within collection levels. the game features multiple levels, however only the first 5 unlock cars for purchase (they can be obtained prior to levelling through events in career however) and this system gives cars in-game additional value aside from their financial and use values.
The system is nice however I find it adds value to a lot of cars that many wont find to be all that interesting, and does somewhat force an opinion onto the player. Many might dislike the apparent locking away of cars behind a level wall, although most will find themselves unlocking these long before they can financially afford them. Some cars are available for a short time only, available through the Specialist dealer. These cars come nicely with a production number, showing which download number your car is. This might well become a factor when the Auction House drops in the near future.
Cars can also be accessed through the games crate system. Crates can be earned or purchased with in-game currency, and are full of items such as mods, driver gear, emblems and even cars for your collection. The crates might be controversial to some, but the fact they are purely in-game, and each car has multiple ways to be obtained negates the negatives for me. The new mod system is a vast improvement upon Forza 6 too. Gone are the performance boosts, which everyone resoundingly loathed, and now feature challenges and XP/credit boosts.
Another major change added is the inclusion of car homologation, which balances cars within the game to their associated event class, creating fair, consistent racing. This system is nothing short of fantastic. I was a little sick of the standard ‘class’ system, which is still present mind, but the separation of cars into other classes within these creates much better racing, and avoids the all too common issue within Forza titles of one car being dominant in any one class. You can still race by the old system, creating a lovely balance.
Car customisation hasn’t changed much, there are a few more engine swaps and some new racing wheels, as well as some more body kits. The game uses the same system as Forza 6, with each part brought individually, as opposed to Forza Horizon 3‘s cart system. This is a shame, as I really feel that Horizon’s method was much cleaner. Thankfully the long load time of Forza 6’s customisation has disappeared. A much less welcome disappearance is that of test drive, now requiring you to partake in an event, almost like a practise session for a race to use the system.
Aside from the lack of test drive, Forza Motorsport 7 is still stacked with options for creating your ideal racing experience. With regards to single player, you have the Forza Drivers Cup, and of course Free Play, which gives you so many options it’s almost intimidating. Free Play allows you to set everything from car class, Drivertar skill, as well as fine adjustment of the races weather and even the potential for rain and placement of weather changes throughout a race. You can also partake in the series staple Rivals Events, which bring another welcome change of pace. Forzathon events will also be coming to the game.
The games multiplayer will be a familiar affair for seasoned players, with multiple lobbies available. This time however, they feature the new car classes, not the standard letter based system. The selection of lobbies is rather lacklustre, and I’m hoping that more will be introduced as the games lifespan rolls on. With regards to gameplay, the multiplayer is the same old story. People don’t know how to drive.
Graphically, Forza Motorsport 7 is unrivalled. Even on my humble OG Xbox One, so god am I looking forward to seeing it on the Xbox One X! The lighting is second to none, with the tracks darkening as the sun goes down and gets blocked by the grandstands, the rain and storms look absolutely incredible, and the tracks have such a nice level of detail that you feel like you’re really there. Nice touches such as mirrors and wipers vibrating, as well as the camera shake that follows the cars movements really immerse you in the experience. The games presentation is fantastic, with slick menus and a crisp, clean presentation all around.
The games sound is another highpoint. The change in sound dependant upon your camera is greatly welcomed, really giving you the feeling of being inside the car if you chose the cockpit view. The reverberations through tunnels and even off of walls are incredible, really accenting the game’s great sound engine. The only real downside is the harsh crash sounds that are not reflected in the actual accident, and the slightly robotic sound of a couple of the games engines.
In terms of feel and handling, the game is the standard Forza experience. The feeling for those using a controller is the best you’ll find. Those using a wheel aren’t going to get the same experience they might in games with a more simulation based focus. The game does seem to have a better physics engine however, with the setup of the car really having an effect.
Last of all, the game features all the tracks (DLC included) from Forza 6, as well as the returning circuits of maple Valley and Suzuka, and the new fictional track Dubai. These additions finally give Forza the track list it deserves, and even with 4 of 6 cups completed, I’ve yet to race every variation at this point.
Overall, Forza Motorsport 7 is a massive return to form, bringing back that spark that has been missing since Forza Motorsport 4. The career is fantastic, the addition of the new classes create some fantastically competitive racing, and the new car collections help to add even more progression to the game. While I would have liked to see some improvement to the multiplayer to try to eliminate the classic ramming, the single player element of the game, and multiplayer for those who have people to race against seriously, are well worth the investment. Not to mention the graphical fidelity of the title itself.