Forza is Microsoft's flagship racing series for Xbox and PC gamers. A few days ago, Microsoft finally launched the latest entry in the series, titled Forza Motorsport 7, developed by Turn 10 Studios. Although we received a review code for the Ultimate Edition of the game prior to its launch, due to some very annoying issues with the Windows Store (more on that below), we had to delay our review of the title.
However, after playing the game for a few days, it's time for the full review of Forza Motorsport 7. So strap on your seat belt and rev right in!
As I've mentioned in all of my major game reviews, I think it's important for the reader to understand the mindset of the reviewer. Why did they choose to review the game? Do they have experience with past titles? Do they even like the genre? I'll attempt to answer all of these questions, and more, in this section of the review. If you feel that you would rather read about my impressions of the game directly, feel free to jump ahead to the next section.
I've never been an avid fan of racing games. That doesn't mean that I've tried only a couple and given up after that. In fact, I've played titles from nearly all major racing series and standalone titles including Need For Speed, Forza, DiRT, Assetto Corsa, Gran Turismo, Test Drive, and Burnout. Although I've enjoyed a fair few of them, none of these are among my favorite games.
As such, I approached Forza Motorsport 7 with a lot of caution, and lengthy discussions with Neowin's Senior Editor, Rich Woods. Most of our other reviewers were busy with other titles (Destiny 2, Cuphead, Samsung's Galaxy Note8, etc.), and hence, I was selected to review Microsoft's latest entry in its flagship Forza series.
Although we received a review code from Microsoft a couple of days before the official launch of the Ultimate Edition, some Windows Store woes ensured that we would not be able to complete our review before the embargo deadline. Weighing at a massive 95.3GB on the Windows Store, the title would repeatedly fail during the download process. What's worse is that every time it failed (even if it was at 95.2GB), it would restart from the beginning. It is important to note that this is very different from Valve's Steam store, where downloads resume seamlessly from where they left off.
After several days of failed downloads and installations, it was becoming clear that downloading Forza Motorsport 7 directly through the Windows Store would be impossible, so I had to divert to a workaround that I found on the official Forza forums - where hundreds of others like me were facing the same issue. Although the workaround was fairly complicated, I finally managed to install the game a few days ago, read on for my impressions of the actual game!
Cars and tracks galore
Forza Motorsport 7 offers over 700 cars - including Forza Edition variants - to own and race in, making the roster of cars truly a spectacle to behold. Although production cars from some manufacturers such as Toyota and Tesla are absent, the title boasts hundreds of cars from almost every other major company such as Ford, Ferrari, Audi, BMW, Aston Martin, Honda, Lamborghini, Peugeot, Renault, Porsche, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, and many, many, more.
Another noteworthy addition to this year's offering are racing trucks. Although these aren't really pleasing to the eye, especially compared to the mouth-watering selection of other cars, racing in these gigantic vehicles is certainly a daunting task. Although I initially felt that the trucks could be controlled like your average race car, the real challenge came a bit later in the race, when I had to turn a sharp corner in this behemoth of a vehicle, battling against inertia and respecting the laws of physics, all while speeding along at over 120mph. All of this made for a very thrilling and unique racing experience.
Additionally, the liveries and level of detail of these cars are a sight to behold. The cars feel extremely authentic and the fact that you can watch the physical embodiment of your driver and watch him shift gears is fascinating. The behind-the-wheel experience further added to the level of realism and detail, and made me feel if as I was actually sitting in the driver's seat. The realistic vibration in different parts of the car when I was driving along at high speeds furthered the authenticity, and the sheer excitement in trying to surpass every other car on the track makes racing in Forza Motorsport 7 a very satisfying experience overall.
The title also offers over 30 tracks to race on. While this selection obviously isn't as diverse as the collection of cars available in the game, it consists of many scenic and diverse circuits such as Mugello, Suzuka, Maple Valley, Dubai, and Le Mans, among others. Although I wasn't as fascinated with the scenery at first - given the high-adrenaline nature of the gameplay itself - it was absolutely gorgeous when I took the time out to focus on it (after I was safe distance ahead of the other racers, that is).
The level of detail and polish in the environment, which includes the trees, grass, snowy mountains, clouds, and the crowd, is very high and complements the realism of the cars as well. Each track feels quite fresh and makes for a unique experience every time you race on it.
Forza Motorsport 7 does not only offer an exceptionally high amount of detail in its cars and environments, it also backs it up with some stunning gameplay. Each car, depending upon its specifications, is very different not only in terms of looks, but in control as well.
The title allows you to race in both single and multiplayer modes. The former also includes a sort of a story mode, dubbed the "Forza Drivers Cup", which is actually a championship with six divisions, with multiple races and showcase events. Completing these events awards you with series points (SP), which unlock further races. Although this game mode is fairly linear, the diversity in the events means that you won't get bored even when you're grinding just for the in-game credits (CR) to buy more cars.
Speaking of buying cars, even if you manage to accumulate boatloads of CR in winnings, that doesn't mean that you can purchase the high-end vehicles right away. In fact, buying cars will award you with separate points which will accumulate and raise your collector tier, and unlock more cars to purchase. Although this sounds like a grind, I found the overall experience of waiting eagerly for my favorite vehicles to unlock quite fun.
Forza Motorsport 7 also counterbalances this grind with level-up rewards. Every time you gain enough experience points (XP) to ascend to the next level, you can choose one of the three offered rewards. These include a CR bonus, a discount on a car (this discount can sometimes be 100%), and some cosmetic changes in your character. I found the last option most unappealing and I personally find it strange that gamers would even consider getting a new set of overalls instead of a shiny new car or even some in-game credits to buy the cars they want. To each their own, I guess, but I never even gave the new suit any weight every time I leveled up.
Another option in the singleplayer mode are casual races that you can customize to your liking. This allows you to race in your favorite cars rather than being bound to the options available in the Forza Drivers Cup. I mostly used this to test drive my new purchases and occasionally when I wanted a bit of change after pouring hours into the Drivers Cup.
The game's multiplayer mode is extremely solid as well, and makes for very competitive and balanced matchmaking. Homologated events ensure that you are evenly matched with your opponents, and even beginners like myself have a chance of winning races, provided that they keep their heads during all the excitement. It doesn't take too long to find a match, at least in these early stages, where the online player count is fairly high. However, at the time of writing this review, the Leagues and Forzathon events are locked, and will be making their way to gamers later on.
The title's "Rivals" mode adds another fun twist to Forza Motorsport 7, providing a wide array of different racing events to choose from, with more added frequently. In short, there's enough content in Forza Motorsport 7 to keep you entertained for weeks.
In all of these modes, you can configure and customize your car to your preferences, which allows for greater freedom in gameplay. However, casual gamers of racing titles such as myself will feel a bit lost at first as to what to modify to enhance their racing experience. Tweaking around in these settings and figuring out which ones best suit you is the best way to understand them for beginners, or if you're still facing difficulty, you can simply choose the homologation option.
It's an absolute joy to sideswipe your opponents off the tracks, and even into barriers. However, if you're the one getting shoved off the tracks, you can simply use the "rewind" key to trace back your steps and choose a different strategy. In fact, I actually used the rewind option almost 15 times on the same turn when I was sideswiped into a wall, not because it made me fall back (I came last in that race, for clarification), but simply because the realism of the actual scene of me trying to regain control of my car as it drifted recklessly into the wall was absolutely gorgeous.
For beginners such as myself, Forza Motorsport 7 also features several race customization options such as assists, and drivatar difficulty. For those unaware, drivatars are portrayals of real-life players by the AI, based on the driving data of real gamers gathered by the game, which make races feel more realistic even when you know that they aren't actual players.
But perhaps the most noteworthy addition to this year's Forza is dynamic weather. You read that right: the weather can change during a race, and not always to make your race more difficult, thankfully. In one lap, there might be cloudy weather, and in the next, fog may begin to creep in, making that lap a fresh experience as compared to the previous one. All in all, the mechanic is certainly very interesting and makes races more challenging and competitive.
The Loot Box and VIP Pass controversy
Almost everyone hates loot boxes. It's even more despicable if they are shoehorned into a game that already costs $99.99 (reminder: this is a review of Forza Motorsport 7 Ultimate Edition). But I'm completely fine with them being present as an option in Forza Motorsport 7.
Wait, wait, hear me out. Loot boxes in Turn 10's latest title are present as an option only. In no way does the developer force you to purchase loot boxes. In fact, you can't even purchase them with real money, rather they can only be bought using in-game CR. This alone mitigates the potential negative effects of the mechanic.
To further emphasize, so what if the price of them can go up to 300,000CR? I, for one, felt perfectly at ease with them being listed in the game's store. The loot boxes offer up various rewards including cars, overalls, credits, and mods, among other things, but it isn't like the game is pushing you to purchase them. In fact, you can easily and completely ignore them if you hate the mechanic - which is perfectly understandable - and it won't hamper your playing experience.
The second matter, which is the VIP Pass, is more severe. The Pass costs a whopping $19.99, which means that the player is within their right to expect a decent bang for their buck. However, Turn 10 shafted its fanbase a bit when it changed the VIP Pass model. In its previous titles, purchasing a VIP Pass from Turn 10 guaranteed you more credits in every race.
However, in this year's offering, $19.99 provided you with five VIP Passes, and each can be used five times. This accounts for a total of 25 uses, which essentially makes it daylight robbery, especially given the high price tag as well as the fact that the developer didn't properly disclose this in the Windows Store.
This obviously led to a huge backlash from gamers, who criticized Turn 10 Studios for unfairly making money by deceiving its fanbase. Following the outcry, the developer relented and promised to make changes to fix the mess.
In fact, the U-turn from the developer is the only thing that has convinced me from docking off points in this review. I'll still list it as a negative though, given the fact that these changes have not been fully implemented. In order to compensate VIP members such as myself, Turn 10 Studios offered one million in-game credits immediately redeemable, along with five expensive race cars. Additionally, it has also promised that it will revert to the original model followed by the VIP Pass "soon", so all should be well.
Apart from a couple of missteps in the execution of some of the game's mechanics, Forza Motorsport 7 is an excellent game for both beginners and veterans. The selection of cars is simply mouth-watering and the level of detail in the vehicles, as well as the environment, is exceptional. It is also important to note that you're essentially getting the game on two very different platforms (Xbox One console and PC) without additional charges, regardless of the platform you purchase it on, thanks to Forza Motorsport 7's Xbox Play Anywhere capabilities.
One minor issue with the title is that it contains lengthy loading screens before the start of each race. When you're about to begin a relatively short one-lap race that should be over in a minute or two, waiting for more than a minute for the race itself to load seems overkill.
Secondly, I really think that this title should also make its way to the Steam store. Downloading 95GB titles from the Windows Store is a pain, especially when the download is prone to multiple failures and restarting from scratch. I am yet to experience this problem on Valve's digital distribution platform. Making this transition will also open the title to a bigger community of gamers, which will only help in increasing the number of sales.
Another way to solve this would be to decrease the download size. As the situation currently stands on PC, you'll be forced to download all 4K assets of the game - which make up a lot of the 95GB - regardless of whether you even intend to play it on a 4K display. On the other hand, the Xbox One has to download around 70GB, since the 4K overhaul will be coming with the launch of the Xbox One X next month.
Overall, Forza Motorsport 7 is a refreshing racing title that isn't only inviting to series veterans, but to beginners as well with its fancy cars, detailed configurations, exhilarating races, and other customization options. I immensely enjoyed my time with the game, and have no doubt in stating that it is not only my favorite racing game, but also the title that has reinvigorated my belief in the racing genre.
You can purchase Forza Motorsport 7 from the Windows Store links given below:
This review of Forza Motorsport 7 Ultimate Edition was conducted using a review code provided to the reviewer by Microsoft.
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