As an Xbox One launch title with a highly regarded history, Forza Motorsport 5 promises to be a truly next-gen racing experience. But can the game live up to its own hype, or is it just a motormouth?
The first thing that strikes you in Forza Motorsport 5 is the incredible wealth of options to explore. In Career mode, every league offers different cars, rewards and challenges. As one car won't be suitable for all competitions, it encourages you to explore and consider the full roster of motors, as well as motivation to save up for your dream machine. From compact sports cars, to exotic and vintage, each championship series offers plenty of variety.
Cars can be purchased using in-game credits or tokens. Alternatively, tokens can be also be used to temporarily double your XP for quicker ranking up. Signature events are even customised to your particular vehicle, offering a unique challenge.
With driver assist options available, novices can hit the tarmac and start winning races as they get to grips with the controls. You are also given live performance feedback when you overtake or successfully navigate a hairpin bend. There's even a coloured line on the track suggesting the best driving line to shave valuable seconds off your lap time.
If you turn off several of the driver assists on the car (such as braking, steering, traction and stability), you will earn a higher payout. Once you get confident in your handling, it's definitely worth doing this for a faster cash injection. If feeling particularly adventurous, you can also change the car damage from cosmetic to simulation, meaning that you will burn fuel, degrade your tires and potentially even blow up your engine!
The more races you compete in with the same car, the higher the manufacturers affinity level becomes, giving you a higher credits bonus.
At the end if every race, you get to see your current global leaderboard position. As you progress, the Drivatar system cleverly learns your racing style and then races in the community on your behalf. This provides a bonus cash payout between gaming sessions and more realistic AI drivers for everyone to race against.
Some races are rather long, with a single lap lasting well over three minutes (or perhaps that's just me?). As you can imagine, a misjudged corner on an otherwise perfect lap would be rather frustrating. Thankfully, the instant rewind feature allows you to conveniently reverse time and try again (and again in some cases).
In Rivals mode, you can enter weekly and monthly challenges to try and beat the best lap times on the leaderboard. Free Play offers custom races and split screen racing against friends. The Multiplayer Hoppers mode allows you to compete online in global races and offers a variety of leagues, classes and special events to compete in. You can even tune into Forza TV to enjoy the community's most popular replays or view your own.
It's also well worth linking your Xbox Live account at the official Forza Motorsport 5 website (www.forzamotorsport.net) where you are regularly rewarded with in-game goodies such as credits based on your tier performance.
The stunning locations vary from the iconic Top Gear track in Dunsfold, England to Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi. However, with only 14 tracks (compared to Gran Turismo 6's 71) and 200 cars (Forza 4 had 500) to pick from, repetition becomes commonplace before you've fully explored every game mode. Investing in a Forza Motorsport 5 season pass will add an additional 60 cars into the mix, but at an additional £39.99, it's not particularly good value for money.
Another huge omission from the game is any sort of weather or environmental effects. As you tour the world, the weather is always perfectly sunny. There is no fog or rain (particularly noticeable in England), mud to carve through or ice to skid on. You can't even take your car out for a spin at night with the lights on. All of these would have added great variety, challenge and most importantly, replayability to the tracks. Plus, imagine how impressive the cars would have looked with beads of rain running down, or an increasingly muddied windscreen hampering your visibility.
With car handling to suit novices and pros, arcade and simulation drivers alike, Forza Motorsport 5 is highly accessible for all abilities. It's also one of the best looking Xbox One launch titles, ideal for showcasing your next-gen console in glorious 1080p at 60 frames-per-second. Track repetition aside, there is plenty to keep you busy and the innovative Drivatar system sets a new a standard for future racers to aspire to.
Review by: Sarah O'Connell
Review Date: 24th November 2013
Forza Motorsport 5
Rating out of 5: