This love letter to cars struggles in some spots, but if you have a thirst for racing titles on your Xbox One, this is the game for you.
Forza Motorsport 5 does the unthinkable: it delivers an unrivaled racing experience that everyone can enjoy, it makes people who couldn’t care less about cars appreciate them and it’s a technical showcase no Xbox One owner would want to miss. This love letter to cars struggles in some spots (mainly its weak single-player content,) but if you have a thirst for racing titles on your Xbox One, this is the game for you.
Forza 5’s main innovation comes in the form of drivatars. As you race, ForzaMotorsport 5 compiles data and turns it into an AI representation of you that matches your driving style. This AI is then uploaded to the servers so that it can compete against friends or complete strangers and earn you money even when you’re away from the console. Racing against drivatars is a rich and realistic experience because they behave like humans: they make mistakes, they are unpredictable and they’ll beat you. Playing against other people’s drivatars can be chaotic because some human players are overly aggressive but luckily, you can adjust their difficulty before each race. The best part about the drivatar system is that it makes offline races feel like you’re playing online.
Another aspect where this game shines is in its controls, primarily the rumble triggers. Whenever you hit the gas or you break, the triggers vibrate accordingly. Although this sounds like a shallow detail, the physical feedback you get in return is invaluable and I can’t see myself going back to older Forza games only because I wouldn’t get access to this feature. Of course, the cars are responsive as ever and being able to customize the different assists makes this simulation game approachable to newcomers and challenging to seasoned fans of the genre.
I spent most of my time with Forza Motorsport 5 in the single-player career. In this revised mode, you have access to several leagues where you can race using American muscle, exotic, rally, vintage or compact cars. The different leagues have a series of races and events (in these, you pass as many cars as you can, chase opponents or hit bowling pins to obtain points) where you use specific cars, but the problem is you get bored with doing the same thing again and again. On top of that, there’s no story to follow or an open-world to explore, like in the fantastic Forza Horizon spin-off. That’s not necessarily a problem with the game, but I found my self bored with the simplistic structure of buying a new car to complete a league and then move on to the next one.
If the single-player portion isn’t for you, there’s also a multiplayer offering. To be completely honest, the drivatar system works so well and it’s so well-integrated into the single-player that I had no interest in playing against other humans online. Then again, that’s just me and some people are only interested in good old multiplayer and what’s available here is as solid as ever. There’s also a split-screen mode to play against a friend locally and that’s as satisfying as it’s ever been.
In terms of content, Forza Motorsport 5 has some problems. The game lost around 300 cars and around 20 locations from its predecessor and while someone like me, who’s more of a casual fan of the series, won’t notice, there’s not as much variety. Forza 5 shipped with 200 cars from 50 manufacturers and 17 circuits, but more cars packs became available as DLC. It’s worth noting that while the Game of the Year Edition comes with all the downloadable content, the base version of the game no longer has access to the DLC.
Something that I can’t overlook is the game’s technical aspect. The stunning and realistic visuals are definitely a draw. This is the game you need to show other people so that they see the power of the Xbox One and this generation of consoles. The models have been improved significantly from the Xbox 360 era, the frame rate is as impressive as you remember, there’s a solid sense of speed and the Autovista, a mode where you can explore your car in detail (though you can’t look at what’s under the hood,) evokes admiration. Without going into too much detail, the same attention to the detail goes for the audio and those who own a surround system will definitely get a lot out of this game.
There’s something undeniably romantic about Forza Motorsport 5 and the care and affection that went into making this game make it irresistible. The drivatar system makes offline races feel as thrilling as online competitions, the technical aspect is jaw dropping and the tried and true gameplay is a blast. There’s a feel to this game that makes it just so much fun to play and much more than the sum of its parts.