Forza Motorsport 4

Score

Sections

Pros

  • Beautifully rendered cars and tracks
  • Satisfying handling with configurable assists
  • Strong career plus a huge range of modes and options

Cons

  • Kinect features are limited
  • Racing could be more unpredictable and exciting

With Forza 3, Turn 10 studios finally cracked it, producing a game that

improved on the rather bloodless racing that marred Forza 2 and finally

matched Gran Turismo for cars, tracks and game modes. So, where to take

the series next? Turn 10’s answer is both a refinement and a whopping

great expansion, with a revised graphics engine, career structure and

handling model, all tied into a bumper package of cars, tracks and modes

that makes Forza 4 the most comprehensive rival Gran Turismo has ever

faced. It’s a generous game, in every way possible, and one that bends

over backwards, forwards and sideways to please anyone with an interest

in four-wheeled autos.

And

by everyone, we mean everyone. Microsoft has sensibly held back from

pushing Kinect features into every area of the game, but this is still

one of the most Kinect-friendly ‘hardcore’ games that the company has

released to date. The new Kinect steering mode – with CPU-controlled

acceleration and braking – is restricted to simple one-off races and

challenge events, but it works surprisingly well, and if it gives

younger gamers and families a simple,fun way into Forza, all the better.

Navigating the game’s numerous nested menus through voice is

arguably easier than doing so with a controller, and if the much-trumped

AutoVista feature is a flashy gimmick, then at least it’s a good flashy

gimmick. Through a series of simple pointing, leaning swiping and

grabbing gestures it’s possible to check out the cockpits, curves and

engines of a good range of luxury cars of the sort that most of us will

never see physically, and if the occasional bits of Jeremy Clarkson

commentary get perilously close to self parody, then at least they make

the experience a bit less clinical.

But

then you don’t really splash out $40 on a new Forza to look at cars or

waggle an imaginary steering wheel: you do it for an authentic

experience of driving. Here Forza 4 excels. The game uses a new handling

model based not solely on manufacturer data but also on tyre data from

Pirelli, which Turn 10 claims has transformed Forza’s physics

simulation. Well, it’s hard to say whether Forza 4 beats GT5’s famously

realistic handling, but it certainly matches it. While – tragically –

you won’t find us driving high-end Jags and Ferraris on our weekends,

the cars in Forza 4 handle like you imagine that they should. And if you

don’t agree, check your current difficulty settings. Should you find

you’re not working hard enough while keeping vehicles on the road at

high speed, then it’s time to start switching some assists off. As we

said, Forza really tries hard to give everyone a good time, and not just

those of us who want our driving sims accurate and exacting.

The

graphics, too, are fabulous,with Turn 10’s brand new lighting engine

doing a spectacular job of knitting cars and tracks together to make one

sometimes hyper-realistic scene, with the kind of rich, natural light

that Hollywood cinematographers would wait all day for. If Forza 2

suffered from an excess of sterile-looking race-tracks, then Forza 4

goes even further than Forza 3 in redressing the balance, with a new

sprint through a stunning alpine track a particular highlight. The cars

are beautifully modeled, and the whole thing looks like a moving

photo-shoot for a particularly glossy high-end car magazine. A quick

spin along the Amalfi coast in a classic sixties Alfa Romeo leaves you

pondering the unfairness of a life in which you’ll never get to do this

for real.