Turn 10 Studio’s next-generation racer appears as an exclusive launch title on Microsoft’s new Xbox One console. With Forza Motorsport 5, it continues the hallmarks of providing the player with a dream scenario of driving some of the most exotic supercars.
In fact, the McLaren P1 appears for the first time in the video game series and after an intro by Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson saying how much we love speed and cars, you are given an one lap experience with Woking’s finest racing machine.
As the car rolls onto the starting grid at a street circuit in the centre of Prague, you immediately sense just how beautiful this game really is.
The power of the Xbox One console allows Forza Motorsport 5 to feature near photo realistic graphics and from the cockpit view; you can see every single texture. From the carbon fibre feel on the main dashboard, to the fabric in the car’s interior.
Even the exterior and trackside is rich full of colours and texture. The level of detail is really impressive.
As soon as the race starts, you press the right trigger on the Xbox One controller and straight away, you can feel the wheel spin as the car struggles to get off the grid! The left and right triggers vibrate when applying the brakes and throttle, given a sense of immersion of driving a car for real.
It’s a strange and yet satisfying feeling at first, but after racing one lap around the fast and flowing Prague circuit, you realise just how important this feedback provides in terms of pushing the car to the limits.
Once the opening race is completed, the main menu is presented and with that, all 200 cars are available at once. No need to start with a slow city runaround, you can jump straight away in selecting your dream vehicle.
New additions are the open-wheel cars including the Dallara DW12 IndyCar and Formula 1 cars from the likes of McLaren, Ferrari and Lotus.
The ability to slide sideways in James Hunt’s championship-winning McLaren M23 is just fantastic and you can contrast the impressive engine sounds from Niki Lauda’s Ferrari 312T2. The Lotus E21 as driven by Kimi Raikkonen is the fastest car in Forza Motorsport 5 and equally, the most expensive costing six million in-game credits!
As for the list of tracks to race on, the legendary Bathurst makes an appearance along with a new layout to Silverstone, the challenging Spa-Francorchamps and unfortunately the Yas Marina circuit.
Despite these new additions, it’s a shame that Forza Motorsport 5 has lost some variety of racing that made it great. Gone are Fujimi Kaido, meaning no hairpin bends to drift around; drag strips, so no need to do drag racing; and without Camino Viejo De Montserrat, there is no joy in racing around beautiful scenery.
And yet two of my favourite race circuits, Suzuka and the Nürburgring, are missing. This is the biggest insult of all, as the most challenging and iconic endurance racing events have left a big void in this game.
With only 200 cars and 14 tracks, Forza Motorsport 5 feels like a little upgrade from Forza Motorsport 4 in terms of what to race and where. In addition, the game abandons the notion of offering free cars as awards, instead just handing out more credits.
You still get Xbox Achievements in terms of levelling up the driver and manufacturer skills but as of now, there will be no prize car for your reward.
Instead, pure dedication is needed to fully complete Forza Motorsport 5. With eight leagues, each with between three and seven race series, this game requires you to drive flat-out all the way in order to win gold medals and gain the perfect 100 per cent record.
This can be difficult to achieve thanks to the limited number of tracks and repetition comes into play with the same circuits, just different configuration, popping into the racing series.
Another negative point is Forza Motorsport 5 has removed the test driving option and limits to just a handful of cars available in its free play mode. Okay, you have to earn that privilege of driving Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus F1 car, thanks to hours and hours of racing but wouldn’t it be nice just to have the chance to mess around on the Top Gear Test Track in free play mode please?
However, I must admit the AI is really impressive. Unlike Sony’s Gran Turismo series, the computer-controlled cars in that game just become mobile chicanes. Sticking to the racing line and don’t even attempt to overtake you.
In Forza Motorsport 5, the AI is based on Drivatar meaning more human-like computer opponents to race against. Your friends’ names appear above the AI cars and it’s fascinating to see the differences in driving styles while racing.
Apparently, the Drivatar is formed by studying their driving skills in their races and then replicate to your race.
It feels surreal to try and pass your best friend even though it’s a computer-controlled car. But it does make the racing more personal and exciting, and the AI does seem more human and aggressive. So a win-win for the latest instalment of Forza.
As for the new features, the fantasy circuit of Prague reminds me of the city racing in Project Gotham Racing 3. The mix of wide-entry corners and steep climbs around this track full of beautiful architecture is a visual and driving highlight.
The popular motoring show Top Gear has been expanded beyond the chance to race on the Top Gear Test Track. Each series is introduced by one of the three presenters with voice over from Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. Even The Stig makes an appearance, well according to Clarkson, it’s actually The Stig’s Digital Cousin. Still, the chance to race against The Stig is brilliant and a sense of satisfaction comes as you have beaten him in equal cars.
The level of graphical detail makes Forzavista even more spectacular. You can gaze upon your dream car and look in every detail from the inner stitching in the car’s seat to the mighty engine when popping up the hood.
So is Forza Motorsport 5 worth the hype of the new Xbox One console? Yes, thanks to the high quality visuals and perfect handling. But you do sense it was rushed out to meet the launch date of Microsoft’s next-gen gaming machine.
A lack of cars and tracks from previous Forza series is the low point but the game still provides the ultimate driving pleasure. Still great fun and the livery designs from the talented Forza players’ makes each car personal and unique.