December 6, 2013

Forza Motorsport 5

Lasting First Impressions

Where would a new Xbox console be without Microsoft’s definitive racing sim, Forza Motorsport? Turn 10 Studios’ Forza Motorsport 5 had its engine revving and ready to go the minute the clock struck midnight and the Xbox One was officially launched, ready for players to experience the next generation in simulation racing.  This time around, the simulation doesn’t end with just the actual racing experience.  Developers have gone above and beyond to craft incredibly detailed cars and tracks to a level of detail you’d be surprised to find out actually exists in the game.  Forza Motorsport 5 is pushing the boundaries of what we can expect from the driving experience of the future, today.

Forza 5 screen 6

Let’s make one thing clear right here and now. I love racing games, but I tend to lean towards the arcade style of racing. Ones that tend to defy the laws of reality just to have fun  with cars and the need for speed. The Forza Motorsport series, on the other hand, is all about reality. It’s about getting the physics of racing exactly right and putting players behind the wheel of hundreds of cars, on multitudes of race tracks and giving them a (simulated) real life experience.  You won’t find nitro boosts here and drifting around corners is a bad thing in races like this.  This is about understanding the car and understanding how to drive to maximize your race time.  Turn 10 Studios has a passion for cars and it shows.  It’s going to take so much patience and practice for me to acclimate to driving properly in this game.

At a recent Xbox One preview event, a member of Turn 10 Studios gave me some samples of just how detailed this new version of the Forza series is.  When they designed the cars, they actually have a process in-game that applies the paint to the car in three different layers, to mimic a real life car with primer, paint, and finish coat.  These layers can then be peeled off individually as the car takes damage during races, giving each car a personal and realistic look both before and after a race.  Even the texture of the paint is simulated in this process.  As the light passes over the car, you can visually see the ripples of the paint or the texture of the carbon material. This is just one example of the sheer amount of detail that can be accomplished on the new Xbox One hardware.  I remember asking if what I was seeing during some cut-scenes was film or in-game footage, and the answer was “in-game”.  I was absolutely awestruck.

Forza 5 screen 7

Another wonderful innovation for any racing game is Forza Motorport 5‘s implementation of Drivatars.  Gone are the computer controlled AI racers.  Every race that you experience will be populated by your friend’s Drivatars, a simulated version of them. Drivatars are created using averages of all your races as you progress through the game so that your friends can feel like they’re actually racing you.  This is not a ghost car like we’ve seen in other races that simply record your exact routes. These drivatars will drive and act like you would, based on a multitude of data that is constantly being collected as you drive.  Data such as your highest speed, lowest speed, average lap time, etc. is all calculated and used to created a realistic version of how you drive and react to events.  This data is then uploaded to the cloud servers so your friends can truly experience what its like to race against you.  All your races will be populated first by people on your Friends List who have Drivatar data, then, any remaining slots will be filled by random Xbox Live opponents.

Finally, Forza Motorsport 5 is unbelievably gorgeous.  The power of the Xbox One shines through the utterly realistic imagery found in this game. Not only do the cars look and feel absolutely real, the tracks look like they are from high resolution film.  The lighting effects are outstanding. As the sun shines through the windshield of the car, the screen brightens and creates a haze to simulate the sun actually shining in your eyes so the road is more difficult to see.  Every little detail that could be included in this next generation racer has been included.  It seems like Turn 10 Studios held nothing back.

Forza Motorsport 5, while it may not have as many cars or tracks as previous titles in the series, this is just the beginning of the next generation of racing.  We all know that the first released games of a new console lifecycle, when looked back on years from now, tend to be the worst games of the generation.  If that is true and this game will be seen as the worst of this generation, I am hardpressed to imagine what we can expect from the next iteration of this franchise.  Forza Motorsport 5 is an incredibly beautiful, impressively detailed game and any fan of the series should be in their glory right now.

Turn 10 Studios, I gave you an hour and I am IMPRESSED.

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About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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