September 08, 2015

Forza Motorsport 6 - Review

For 10 years Xbox fans have been treated to a wonderful series in Forza, for the latest entry in the series the team have added new features as well as host of new cars, in fact a lot of cars.

Forza Motorsport 6 starts off with you taking the reins of the cover car, the 2017 Ford GT, as you speed around the home of the Brazilian stage of F1, Rio. The game is actually starting you off on a double edge sword, as a racer, you must win, the instinct is there, but as the game is so beautiful to look at, you will also want to slow things down and take in the sights of Rio. What it does do though, is thoroughly wet your appetite for what is to come.

Forza 6 is broken up into a variety of gameplay offerings, there is the standard career mode that will task you will be competing in a series of races at a range of courses from around the world, you can select to race in your own series through the freeplay option, jump online to test your metal against racers the world over or you can try test drive which lets you take control of any car you want and drive on any track you want, just for fun. In the first three modes, you will earn experience and credits for each race you complete, freeplay does not give any of this, but it’s the fastest way to taking the hottest cars out on the track you want.

The career option is really well built over the one found in Forza 5, offering a more defined experience and progression path, but it is still just a series of races linked together. The reason to complete the career mode is that it will earn you a stack of credits, which you can use to purchase new cars and mod packs. There is also the affinity level, which will see you getting rewarded with credits the more you drive cars from the same manufacturer, so sticking with your favourite car brand is going to reward you. The other thing that levels is your driver experience, which is done by earning XP as you complete races, but while each race will give you a standard amount of xp, depending on your skill level you can earn more. Turning damage on, increasing the Drivatar difficulty or such will give you bonus xp, when you race with mods equipped, if you meet the conditions of the mod you can earn even more.

While racing is obviously the key part, its the new inclusions to the racing that will draw most people in, night time racing is present as is driving in the rain, each time you experience the new ways of driving things will be different. Driving in the dark is something we are all familiar with, it can be fun but also nerve wracking, well now add to taking a corner around the Nurburgring at 100 miles an hour to the equation and it becomes unlike anything else. Racing through the rain is even crazier, not only do you need to contend with the darker conditions, the rain pounding the screen, you will also need to be careful of the puddles on the road, which depending on their location can be a pain or a blessing. Puddles can be small and fun to splash through, or large and hazardous and its those you need to watch out for, should you hit one at speed, be prepared for the car to lurch to the side that is in the water, a true effect, but one that can result in your spinning of the track.

Speaking of the tracks, the ones on show here tick the boxes of a familiar list that almost every racing games has to include, the aforementioned Nurburgring is here, Le Mans, Bathurst and others return, Brands Hatch, Daytona and Watkins Glen make their debut with tracks like Rio returning for the first time since the original game and Indianapolis showing up again, after it was rebuilt a few years back. There are 25 tracks in total, but with different directions and layouts there are over 100 variants on which to drive around on. The issue with the track count is that some of the number repeat, with the only difference being the time of day or the weather, the full course of Nurburgring is listed 6 times, day, night, wet and the same in reverse order, you can’t actually select the weather or time of day for yourself, Bathurst does not have anything other option than sunny, but as with Forza 5, the sun is perched down low, which will blind players as they come down the long straight.

The restriction on the tracks is a disappointment, as is the fact that the weather does not change, if you go to a track where its listed as wet, it will always be the same type of wet each and every time. Puddles do not change locations, the amount of rain does not vary, these are real issues when you consider that Forza Horizon 2 last year had a weather system that would change in real time, leaving puddles everywhere, not seeing that same system here is a missed chance. Thankfully you will spend more time looking at the cars than you will the tracks and why not, each of them is wonderfully detailed, but that is something we have come to expect from the series by now, being able to move around a car, explode it and see what is underneath is a treat, but the downside is you still feel like you’re stuck in a pool when moving. There is a nice voice that explains where you are going when the next track is loading in the career and gives background on the cars that are present in Forzavista mode, what is a shame is that it seems like a missed chance to have the blokes from Top Gear talking.

Speaking of Top Gear, the test track is back as well as digital Stig, but as it is to be expected Jeremy Clarkson is not to be found anywhere, Richard Hammond and James May are all you will get, but even then they are listed on the screen as Automotive Journalists, so while Top Gear is here in name, its not here in anything else. Those sounds are nice and all, but the cars themselves are even nicer, I strapped on a nice set of headphones and just immersed myself in the cacophony of sounds that each car provides. The sound of the new Ford GT is amazing to behold, but loading up a classic American muscle and hearing that amazing base was a treat, even after rolling an Aston Martin Vantage, hearing the crippled gurgle of the engine, I cringed as the sounds were so disheartening to listen to. Each car sounds great, add that to the music that plays through the game, it is a wonderful audial package.

Sadly, the visuals are a hit and miss, each of the cars are detailed in earnest, the menus are crisp and clean, the problem however lies with the tracks, if it’s a large building, part of the pit or contained with the boundaries of the track itself, it looks great, the problem is that things outside of the track look less so, trees are made up of sliced elements that when viewed at anything slower than breakneck speed look horrid, the crowds are static and bland, with the occasional person waving a flag, but even they are not capable of avoiding clipping through trees and other spectators, the draw distance is also impacted, with trees and elements fading in as you get close. The most notable oddity from a visual point of view is that when you rewind the game, if you should make a mistake, when you are on a track cover in rain, the rain elements still playout in a forward motion, the beads of water will roll back off the windshield, as if you were driving forward, but as ever other element reverses, this stands out as an oversight like nothing else. These issues are blights on a wonderful package, but don’t be fooled, you will notice them when they occur.

Forza Motorsport 6 is a wonderful racing game, the addition of the nighttime and rain covered tracks have helped mixed up what could have been another formulaic racer, but with the limits on when you can use the rain and nighttime elements and the odd graphical issues, its held back from being greater still.

Thanks to Xbox Australia for supplying the game for review

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