Forza Motorsport 5 Review: Next-Generation Micro-Transactions
When compared to arcade-style classics like Need for Speed and Burnout, simulation racers can have a hard time balancing accessibility for newcomers and the brutal realism needed to woo the hardcore racing fanatics.
It’s an act at which Forza has traditionally excelled. With some fairly innovative features like the guide line as well as steering and breaking assists to show players what an ideal run looks like and help them hit it, the series is the definition of the maxim “easy to learn, hard to master.” Forza Motorsport 5 continues that tradition and mixes it with a host of new features and graphical improves, as well as an unhealthy dose of micro-transactions.
Forza Motorsport Five
Platform: Xbox One (Reviewed)
Developer: Turn 10 Studios
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date: Nov. 22, 2013
Forza 4 is probably the game that for which most people know the series. It brought a lot to the table, with several hundred cars, 26 tracks, voiceovers from Jeremy Clarkson of TopGear fame and some really fantastic updates to car customization, multiplayer and more. As racing games go, it was just about everything a motorhead could hope for.
Forza 5, on the otherhand is stuck in the unenviable position of having to follow such a strong effort and being the heavy-hitting launch title from Microsoft for its brand new Xbox One. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite the make the cut.
There are a few really excellent changes in Forza 5 that keep it from being a total wash. The career mode in single player is a lot more non-linear than in in the past, and that means quite a bit. In previous installations, you’d be forced to follow a fairly rigid progression from terrible car, to crap car, to okay car, to awesome car and beyond. You’d be stuck with any given pick for at least a few tournaments, and driving those same cars over and over tended to get old pretty quickly.
Forza 5 opens the field up a bit — you’ll have several leagues you can select right off the bat, and provided you can afford to purchase cars or upgrade old ones to be competitive, you’ll have plenty of events to toy with. What’s more is that these events are a bit narrower than usual, and while you could simply buy one or two “A” class cars to carry you through, here they’re more often grouped into more specific subtypes like “Modern Grand Touring,” “Classic American Muscle Cars,” or “Track Toys.” It fits with what seems to be Forza’s real assertion — that all cars should be enjoyed and loved simply because they’re beautiful machines worthy of our respect.
These tweaks are nice, but they’re pretty minor compared to the addition of Drivatars. These take the place of traditional AI opponents in-game, and are tied to actual players. Basically, as you and everyone else continue playing Forza, the game collects statistics about how you race. It’ll keep track of how well you can turn, how fast you accelerate, what cars you drive, how aggressive you are when passing people and so on, and then collates that data into a rough digital recreation of you, which then races against other players. This gets particularly interesting when friends start showing up — I know I got more than a few chuckles when friends sent me messages telling me to stop being such a jackass.
While this might not seem like that big of a deal, it does allow the game to keep 16 opponents in-game — more than Forza has ever had. In turn, Forza 5 groups winners into four categories. If you place first through third, you’ll get top payouts and a gold medal. Fourth through seventh is silver, eighth through tenth bronze and then … the others. This is done to encourage players to take more risks with difficulty and physics.
Again, in previous titles, top payouts only went to players who placed first, and ramping up the difficulty or adding additional challenge by using more realistic physics and controls would boost winnings, but at the risk of giving up the gold. This time around, Forza pushes players to play around with settings and tweaks with their cars, which encourages players to start testing their limits to maximize their in-game winnings. If you’re consistently placing first, Turn 10 acknowledges that you really aren’t being challenged. Stepping up your game a notch or two will put you on the edge of getting gold or silver, increasing your investment and the likelihood that you’ll push yourself.