Forza Motorsport 4 Review

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.

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