It seems there are somethings that are set in stone, the sun rises in the east, one is the loneliest number and a Forza game will see release each year, this year we get the next entry in the Motorsport arm, but is this years entry right for pole position?
Forza Motorsport 7 changes things up from the previous release, players are given a series of cups to aim for, rather than just racing around. The single player experience is broken up to a series of cups, each offering more requirements to claim that cup for yourself, with the Seeker cup being the first and the easier. Each cup has a requirement of points that you need to earn and you can do that in a range of ways, the first and quickest is by competing in one of the many series that the game has. Each series will have a set theme, racing in a specific type of car and at the end of the series, you will bank whatever points you have earnt. Each position earns some points, though coming first will give you the most, but in addition to the series, there are one off events that you can compete in as well, these will give you a specific challenge to complete, which will earn you a good chunk of points. Combining these ways of earning points, is a solid mix of racing that helps you feel like you are making progress. Taking things online and proving yourself against real world players is fun, but unless you love a challenge, you will likely stay away.
The game also tracks your progress in two other interesting ways, your driver level, which levels up based on how you drive, the fancier you drive the more xp you earn and the more you level up. The second way that the game progresses in in your car collection, something that has some restrictions on your progression. As you level up your driver, you will get to choose from one of three perks, either credits, a driving outfit or some form of car discount and two of them are worth considered lol. The car collection progress is based around the number of cars you have in your collection, but each car you had has a value, the more basic or common the car, the lower the value and the reverse if it is a rare car. Each cars value is added up to a total, which when reached levels you up and that is important, I honestly never though that my car collection would be important, but some of the series that you can join are locked behind a car collection level requirement, so you need to focus on it.
Of course, as a racing game, the driving of the cars is perhaps more important than anything that you can do off the track and the game strikes a great balance in how the cars drive. Once I started I paused the opening races and tweaked the settings until I found my preferred style and I was able to race proper. As someone who is not massive with the sim racing games, my style skewed more towards the Horizon end of the racing spectrum, but it was still a challenge to play. Coming in hot into a sharp corner and slamming on the breaks would result in my either missing the turn and barrelling off road, or doing a 180 and facing the cars that were behind me. Learning and following the driving line was crucial to my success and while I ignored all the technical aspects of the game, I still managed to discover more about the cars.
While each of the cars is a big part of the game, the track selection is just as critical and this is where things fall apart, simply because I have raced on these tracks dozens of times before. With Project CARS 2 releasing only a few weeks before Forza Motorsport 7, I knew going in that a lot of the tracks would be duplicated, the problem was though, that I was racing on tracks that were in past Forza games and I knew them from that. I was racing on repeating circuits and while visiting De Spa and racing upon its variants is cool the first time, being that I have raced around that course in many forms over the years, has lost its appeal. The addition of random weather to each track does make visiting some interesting, but much like the water in Horizon 3, it never really impacts unless you are driving like a mad man. People are always going to be dividing over track selection, but it is an issue when you have multiple racing games released and the tracks included repeat within each, Turn 10 have a love of cars that you can see with ease, so seeing them craft more of their own tracks would be something I could enjoy.
The game does attempt to offer you more to do in terms of loot crates and mods, with the former helping you unlock the latter. Each loot crate you earn will grant you a series of mods, each mod can grant one time bonuses or make the game more challenging. The easiest mod card to explain is the one that doubles your win amount, you win 10,000 and the mod gives you another 10,000, these will help boost your credits, but they are usually one and done. Other mods can turn off a feature, like ABS, making you rely on proper breaking and control of your car, others will reward you for sticking to the driving line or staying on track. The results of these mods might not seem great, but if you use them right, you can get some great bonuses out of them, the game also offers special cars to help you bolster your funds. The Forza Edition cars will have a blanket perk like 15% bonus to your winnings, but they will each of their own special perk, like another 5,000 if you use that car at Laguna Seca or Long Beach, so using those cars at the right time, can give you a tidy bit of cash, helping you buy even more cars for your collection.
The love for the automobile that Turn 10 have shines again through almost every part of the games presentation, each car is modelled genuinely well, light reflects off the surface of the car, rain beads of the cars windshields and the damage you can take seems intense. With a roster of over 700 cars, the amount of attention is incredible and while yes, some older cars don’t look as great as their newer brethren, they still look great. The tracks all look great, Dubai is an example of their ability to create their own tracks and with the shifting sands that dot the horizon, it looks a treat and transitioning from the bright desert landscape to a dark tunnel, is something that is easy to enjoy. The weather elements add a level of variety to each track, while you can choose to have rain or not in solo track mode, starting a race out with sunny skies, only to see the grey clouds roll in, is something that never gets old, I honestly can’t wait to see it in 4K. The games menus sadly are bland, lots of giant boxes everywhere, with nothing really standing out and it becomes quite noticeable, that you are in a warehouse of sorts, when you go to load a track, with your driver standing in front of a giant screen.
Sound wise, the game misses the mark quite a lot, purely because it fails to deliver on a lot of fronts, but I can say, each of the cars sound great, so no worries there. Where the game falls flat is how it presents itself, the music is only found in the games menus, before and after a race, never during and while I can appreciate it for short courses, with only a few laps, the endurance events, that can last well over an hour, with nothing but car sounds, quickly becomes bland. The other issue I had is the voice work, the narrator guy, who explains things is fine, it is the others that is a concern, when you select a special event, you get an intro from someone special, like the Ferrari test driver or such and you can tell they are not used to speaking to a microphone. My problem is however, with the Top Gear branded events, Jeremy Clarkson and the like are not here, which is fine, but they use Rutledge Wood, Tanner Foust and Adam Ferrara from Top Gear US, a show which has not been in production for nearly 2 years at this point and the new show Top Gear America has three completely different hosts, it’s an oversight that stands out greatly.
Forza Motorsport 7 is a fantastic racer, it makes it much more appealing to people like myself, who don’t enjoy sim racing, but still has that option for those that do. The car selection is vast and you will likely never pass 100 of the cars driven, but the games extremely repetitive track selection and bland audio presentation are a letdown. Given that this is the 7th entry in the main series, I would expect more and I fell that the Motorsport series has stalled.