Forza Motorsport 6 Review

Posted Sep 8, 2015
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Developer: Turn 10 Studios
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Platform: Xbox One, currently priced at $59.99
A review copy was provided for by Microsoft Studios.

The weather is horrible outside, heavy rain drops hitting the windshield hard. You’re driving down a long straightaway at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, speedometer inching towards 120MPH. Up ahead a turn materializes. You shift your focus ahead, to mastering the apex that stands in your way. Out of the corner of your eye a glint of light dances on your eye. The hood of a 2015 Chevy Corvette seems to float effortlessly by. The turn looms nearer, the brakes are applied gingerly. Mother nature and the laws of physics are on your side, you slide out of the turn nearly perfectly. Though there’s a puddle in the middle of the abrupt right hand turn, letting off the breaks and feathering the throttle works in your favor.

That only lightly touches the surface of the excitement that can be found in Forza Motorsport 6.

The moments experienced, though digital, can be tense and quite fun. Forza Motorsport 6 marks the sixth in the Motorsport franchise and the eighth Forza game overall within a span of 10 years. 6 wants to bring back the variety that was seemingly lost from the last one, giving us a plethora of cars and tracks to choose from.

And there are many different options, 460 different cars to be exact. All seem to be very well modelled, beautifully rendered in the ForzaTech engine. Masterpieces really. The level of detail inside and out is actually quite astonishing.

The graphics are always going to be a concern in a racing simulator such as Forza Motorsport 6. Are they good enough to be considered part of the ‘simulator’ genre? Do they convince enough that it feels like you’re driving this lightweight powerhouse of a machine? In this case it does. This is an evolution of the engine used in Forza Horizon 2, though with a far smaller scope. The graphics focus on the cars and the tracks themselves, and that’s where the strengths lie. There won’t be legions of fully animated fans and bystanders while you drive by, though your Jaguar F Type will have the high-quality interior dash materials you’d expect from the real thing.

And then there’s that damage model, something that can either be turned on to effect the actual operation of your vehicle, or simply turned on as a cosmetic effect only. It’s a fun thing to look at and each fractured window is different each time you decide to slam into a wall. That, and afterwards it’s enjoyable to just take a moment to drink in all of the damage you caused to yourself (and blame it on the AI of course).

And those tracks, rendered in almost exacting detail even with the same imperfections in the pavement you’ll find in real life, leading to those horrid and dangerous puddles as well. Even the writing found throughout in the Nürburgring is all there. But you won’t be spending your time enjoying the pretty landscape, unless you just want to crash your car.

The real fun is in racing, obviously. And the framerate is near constant at 60FPS and it’s definitely 1080P the entire time. The actual feeling of speed, as a result, is quite stunning. It’s a great looking game, and it runs very well on the Xbox One, even with a much less powerful GPU than even the PS4.

The physics are particularly impressive. Weather plays a crucial role in how your mighty machine reacts. Wet pavement is obviously tricky, and in Forza 6 the physically modeled puddles are being heralded as a first for racing games, and certainly they have a crucial effect in your ability to win. The feeling is markedly different, as if you’ll start hydro-planing if you don’t be a bit more light-footed.

Mass, or the lack of it, can be ‘felt’ as well, in the way a car handles and how it responds. It’s a joy to take out a super-car on the Nürburgring and take it up to near 230MPH while struggling to keep it under control because it weighs very little. The tracks surface makes a huge difference in handling too, with the suspension struggling to keep up at times on cobble stone like surfaces and of course struggling on dirt or in the grass. It all adds up to a tremendous experience.

The instant feedback from executing good turns is a great touch. Not only does it feel good, smooth and satisfying, if you hit the apex just right, but the flashing acknowledgement of your achievement is fantastic for the budding beginner such as myself. It works well as a teaching tool.

The career mode starts off as a very well guided tutorial, though every race counts towards your career and isn’t just there solely to help you learn. You’ll start slow, being told about how the game works, if you’re new, and being reintroduced to the concepts of racing if you’re not. Once past the tutorial stage, of course you can enjoy some free play, test driving the vehicles in your garage and of course the real draw; multiplayer. Multiplayer wasn’t explored due to not having anyone to play against. If Forza Motorsport 5 and even Forza Horizon 2 are any indication of what the experience will be like, I think we’ll be in for a wild and fantastic ride.

Career mode is linear, however, meaning that you can’t skip ahead to the categories that you want to race in, or think you’d do well in due to the cars available. You have to finish all of them. Also, if you don’t get in the top three in a particular race, you have to do it again until you do. But that’s where the sliding scale of AI actually comes in handy, and the only penalty from adjusting things is having less of a credit bonus at the end. Instead of making you feel like a complete loser for not being up to the task, it actually ends up being alright.

Also in career mode you’ll find two other wonderful categories you can race in; Stories of Motorsport, where you get to go play through a narrative of the essence of what racing is, starting from where most get their own inspiration and moving through the different kinds of autosports. The next is the Showcases category, which is a way to experience (as closely as possible) some of the iconic and otherwise vibrant parts of racing.

Something else that’s quite the fun surprise is the partnership with Top Gear, letting you hear the voices of James, Jeremy and Richard. That and being able to race against the Stig in some very difficult challenges. A most useful partnership indeed.

The physics are particularly impressive. Weather plays a crucial role in how your mighty machine reacts. Wet pavement is obviously tricky, and in Forza 6 the physically modeled puddles are being heralded as a first for racing games, and certainly they have a crucial effect in your ability to win. The feeling is markedly different, as if you’ll start hydro-planing if you don’t be a bit more light-footed.

Mass, or the lack of it, can be ‘felt’ as well, in the way a car handles and how it responds. It’s a joy to take out a super-car on the Nürburgring and take it up to near 230MPH while struggling to keep it under control because it weighs very little. The tracks surface makes a huge difference in handling too, with the suspension struggling to keep up at times on cobble stone like surfaces and of course struggling on dirt or in the grass. It all adds up to a tremendously exciting experience.

The instant feedback from executing good turns is a great touch. Not only does it feel good, smooth and satisfying, if you hit the apex just right, but the flashing acknowledgement of your achievement is fantastic for the budding beginner such as myself. It works well as a teaching tool.

Let’s not forget about the sound design, either. The music is atmospheric and helps you (me anyway) to focus on racing, on getting the most out of it. Each car seems to have its own actual engine sound mapped into the game, so that’s good. The tire screeching noise, however, kind of sounds like Mel doing her impression of what a kookaburra sounds like.

The AI is ruthless, if you happen to let them be aggressive in the settings. They’ll ram you off of the road and just try to destroy you. But other then that they play smart and seem to respect the difficulty levels. The ability to nearly change that on the fly is a helpful feature, because sometimes a particular track just ends up being far too easy.

Conclusion

As a racing simulator it does well with a very realistic Newtonian physics engine, superb weather effects, gorgeous graphics. You definitely get rewarded for great driving, but it sets you up for success and you can easily adjust the difficulty should you need to. What might not be so good are some questionable sound effects that don’t seem up to the standard of such a high-quality production. In addition, compared to it’s direct rival, the Grand Turismo series, the selection of cars and tracks is quite low. That doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy the 460 on offer, however, because you most likely will.

Forza Motorsport 6 does, however, offer a first-rate racing simulator experience on the Xbox One, one that any racing enthusiast could be very happy with. Certainly, it’s a great improvement upon Forza 5. Overall, it’s a well made successor that will let you experience the joy of racing from your couch.

 

 

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