When Turn 10 announced it would be bringing back the Forza Motorsport title for a seventh generation, naturally, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. I've been playing racing games for the better part of the last decade, and now that Forza Motorsport 7 is finally out, I can confidently say it's one of the best racing games I've ever played.
is the tenth Forza-branded title in Turn 10's history, and comes a year after the release of . Unlike the more arcade-like Horizon games, the Forza Motorsport series focuses on more on true realism and car physics, while keeping all the gameplay on pre-set tracks that are either developed from scratch or taken from real life.
Ever since I stumbled on the Forza Motorsport 4 demo for the Xbox 360, I've been pretty hooked on the series. The sights and sounds of Forza always seem to be a cut above your run-of-the-mill computer simulator, while managing to keep the realistic physics of driving intact.
The seventh time around, Turn 10 has added a whole bunch of new features to separate the new game from . Things like 4K video, customizable drivers, 32 tracks, dynamic weather, and over 700 drivable cars are all included in the new game.
The graphics are probably the update I noticed most. Since the 4K-capable doesn't come out until next month, I didn't have the opportunity to test out the full visual capabilities of Forza 7. But even on my , the game was stunning. It's a step above Forza Motorsport 6, using the in-game sunlight and reflections to immerse you fully into the driver's seat. The cars looked prettier than ever, and with the game's "Forzavista" mode, you can experience them up close and in-detail.
The sound is also worth mentioning, since Forza always seems to nail it when it comes to engine and cabin noise, while competitors sometimes sound a little vacuum-y. Sitting inside the cockpit of Ken Block's Focus RS RX, for instance, sounded exactly as it did in its Gymkhana 9 on-board footage, right down to the shifting and gear whine.
As I mentioned in my write-up of the demo, Forza 7's new dynamic weather feature is a welcome addition that adds tons of variables while driving on track. One minute it's dry, and the next, you're sliding into the grass because your braking zone started way before you thought it did. Just like in real life, Forza makes you think about where to place the car, and has consequences if you mess up. Even as a Forza veteran with a mastery of the controls, it took me a few tries (and more than a few lost positions) to get accustomed to it. What's even more challenging is figuring out how far you can push a car once the track starts drying out. Could I take that corner flat? How late can I brake now that there's no puddle there? All questions that needed answering if I didn't want to make a fool of myself online.
The driving physics are some of the best in the industry, and although I was only able to play with a traditional controller, it's clear Turn 10 knows how cars work. Driving a 911 GT2 RS, the game's cover car, for example, feels like driving a 911 in real life. The front end gets light under acceleration, and there's a lot of sawing at the wheel—or in my case, the thumbstick—to keep the car in check. Of course, you don't get any of the g-forces like you would actually driving the car, but the dynamics are there.
The one thing about car controls in Forza 7 that still seems to be lacking is the steering. While using the thumbstick, the steering doesn't always instantly respond to quick back and forth movements (i.e. switchback turns that require a quick left-right of the wheel). It's almost as if the in-game person driving the car couldn't physically swing the steering wheel left to right fast enough, even though you, the person controlling the wheel, could. After awhile you get used to it, but it's kind of strange to have to deal with at all.
Acceleration and braking are controlled by the right and left triggers, respectively, and respond naturally depending on how hard you press them. The little vibration motors inside the triggers begin to rumble once you get close to locking up the brakes, which is especially useful if you have ABS switched off.
For the first time in a Forza game, you're able to customize something other than your cars. Your driver character, which will represent you in the car during every one of your races, can be dressed up in seemingly endless different outfits. The game offers everything from Ken Block's Climbkhana uniform to a full-blown astronaut suit. There's also a stylized suit for every circuit in the game, as well as every national flag. Now only if there were a Road & Track suit...
At the launch of Forza Motorsport 7, the multiplayer is limited to five or six different sections, each with a selection of about a dozen cars to choose from. The most fun lobby I joined was the "Welcome to Forza" section, simply because I only had one car to choose from: a Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo. That meant the only differentiator was skill level, which resulted in some seriously fun wheel-to-wheel action.
Another game mode, titled "Track Toys," pits you against a bunch of people in cars like the Lotus 2-Eleven, BAC Mono, and Ariel Atom. If you know your car control, you'll dominate the lobby.
The single player campaign gives you hours worth of challenges and race series events, all involving different genres of motorsport and eras of racing. Some of the in-game events feature voice-over from notable figures throughout the auto industry. People like Porsche factory Driver Patrick Long, FCA Head Designer Ralph Gilles, and even Road & Track's own Editor in Chief Kim Wolfkill make an appearance. Though If I'm honest, the single player stuff doesn't interest me much since you're not racing against real people, as much as Forza's "Drivatar" system tries to convince you that you are.
If you're into cars, it'd be hard not to like Forza Motorsport 7. Once I got my hands on it, I didn't put my controller down for 13 hours. Like any good video game, it's incredibly addictive. The experience of looking for that last tenth on track in your dream car is something you won't be able to find anywhere else. I can't wait to get back to my Xbox tonight.