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Forza Motorsport 7: A Gem with Some Minor Flaws

Patrick Hoffstetter October 10, 2017 Forza 20 Comments

This past weekend, I got in some proper video game time. It was then that I truly remembered how great it is when you can make a racing sim silly yet still technical. There’s a perverse joy found when you take all of the technology and handling models that Turn 10 Studios developed, and then you throwing some ridiculous vehicles its way. I boosted the lovely Hoonicorn as far as it would go, turned all the assists off, then loaded up the old Circuit De La Sarthe and went wild. A fresh version of Forza came alive once more. 

After last year’s gigantic and deep Horizon title, I worried about whether or not Motorsport 7 was going to be able to live up to the prior titles. You take the best bits of the Horizon open-world games and throw it into the more serious and buttoned up circuit-based racing of the Motorsport series, and where does it get you? This is the conversation we’ve had a couple times since the first Horizon back on the Xbox 360, but until this release it never felt like they had really nailed it. It was always two steps forward, with one step back. Always pulling the punch back from putting too much fun or personality into the serious side of the franchise.

Here though it’s a different story. Brought into the world of Motorsport is body kits, Forza edition cars, and customizable drivers.  For the first time in either series you now get the chance to customize not only what type of gear your driver is wearing in the cockpit, but also the gender of your driver, which is a nice level of inclusion that I wish more racing games would embrace. This goes as far as revealing that one of the most infamous drivers in the history of Forza AI has been a woman the entire time, a lovely nod to the message that driving is for everyone. And of course, you can’t not mention the shear number of Porsche cars in the game, which is a fantastic bonus after years of dealing with paying extra for one of the most ubiquitous marques in sports cars.

Of course, the main meat and potatoes of any Forza Motorsport title is the campaign, letting you rise through the ranks of drivers everywhere, with your ultimate goal being to win the brand new Forza cup. It’s a neat concept for a campaign that let’s you bounce around between every discipline and series on the face of the earth. From NASCAR, to Formula E, you’ll be exposed to pretty much anything that runs on four wheels. Complimenting the improved campaign are the graphics, which even on a launch-spec Xbox One blew me away. With the upcoming Xbox One X and the PC release, the game can push 4k resolution graphics at a solid sixty frames-per-second. It honestly takes a while to really appreciate how much work they’ve put into the Forzatech engine since moving to the new generation with Forza Motorsport 5.

I have spent my time with the game using the controller and playing with various levels of driver aids, trying to judge what someone completely new to the series would experience jumping in blind, and without a racing wheel. I’m more than pleased to report that the team has nailed the level of accessibility lacking in more niche racing titles. Hardcore players need not worry that the game has been dumbed down, as everything they’ve come to expect from a Forza title still exists in the assists menu.

But, I can’t talk about assists without getting to the flaws in the paint here. Instead of rewarding higher levels of difficulty with more credits, you now only get bonuses from the modifiers found in the loot boxes, which are an evolution of the card packs found in the last game. On it’s face, the change isn’t too severe, but some will find themselves wondering why they bother with turning off TSC and ABS if they aren’t getting rewarded for it. The other devious part of the new loot box system is that you will now have cars and driver suits that you can only get through purchasing higher tier boxes. This rubs me the wrong way, and feels way too “Pay to Win” for me right now. But, nothing was more egregious than the launch version of the long-running VIP program. Initially launching with a limited amount of credit doublers, a major restriction  from past games, fans felt deceived and mislead about the new nature of the program. Thankfully, Turn 10 has apologized and promised a return to the old ways.

Other minor issues are just odd choices that speak more to how I like my Forza, rather than major problems with the game itself. For instance, I find it annoying that you can only test drive cars in-between races in the campaign, and only on the circuit that you are about to race on. The lack of Time Trials is an odd exclusion of a game mode that I’ve always found to be core to any racing game. Oh, and the lack of Toyota and Lexus street cars is a major bummer, as I am deprived of my beloved Lexus LFA. But on the other hand, we gained Porsche right out the box, so you win some you lose some. Such is the reality of licensing cars.

Overall, the game is a solid improvement over 6, and a testament to what Microsoft is willing to put behind the car community as a whole. Games like Forza are the next step in getting younger generations into our hobby, and keeping the torch burning even as some of these cars are relegated to the history books. I think everyone at Turn 10 can hold their heads high and be proud of what they’ve done with the series, and I can’t wait to spend more time driving ridiculous cars rendered beautifully on all sorts of circuits. I hope to see you all out on the racetrack.

[Disclaimer: Microsoft and Turn 10 provided us with early review copies of the ultimate edition of the game.]

  • caltemus

    These are not minor flaws, they changed nearly every aspect of the game with the intention of reducing the number of credits you get. This means everything takes longer, and steers you to loot crates if you don’t want to grind forever. They changed the way the upgrade system is implemented, so now you can’t upgrade your car and use it across several events in the single player ‘campaign’. You no longer receive bonus credits for turning off assists such as traction control or racing line.

    Forza has gone from being a simulation racing game on the console, to being a hardware demo with microtransactions. As someone that has bought every version of forza since 2, they lost a customer and disappointed a fan. I only hope that these changes came down from Microsoft, and did nor originate at Turn 10. I may sound a bit overzealous here, but I only bought this console for the forza series, and the xbox one has been a disappointment from day one. At least forza horizon 2 was good, but I blame playground for that.

  • Troggy

    What I love about Forza 7:
    * Circuit racing! Lots of circuits. I much prefer it to to the Horizons street racing format.
    * Classic cars, from the beginnings of racing.
    * Australian cars, including some of the racing legends of Aussie motorsport
    * Homologation racing. I’d rather drive a slow car fast than punch a fast car from corner to corner.
    * The weather effects are fantastic, puddles and water runs can completely change the racing lines during a race.

    What I dislike:
    * Car upgrades such as AWD and engine swaps irritate the hell out of me. You can swap the engine to give nearly every car 1000hp and AWD and run TC, ABS and stability control to iron out the handling without any consideration to driveability, In the first Forza, the engine swaps and mods were constrained to what was physically possible and (usually) period correct. You can’t put a 6.0L V8 into an Impreza, it shouldn’t be possible in the game. Nor did anybody ever put AWD into an RWD 50’s GP racer. Engine swaps and mods should be kept what could actually be done – or what has been done – in the real world. Sure I don’t have give my cars AWD, but it makes multiplayer a lot less enjoyable when everybody is running AWD and relying on the assists to make them driveable. It effectively makes every online race a single-make series with everyone running the same maxed-out build.
    * No penalties for using assists? Come on, what’s with that?
    * The card/mods system. It holds no real value to me when it wastes credits that could be spent on cars, and I’m not participating in micro transactions in a game that already costs far more than average. This isn’t a major issue for me, I simply don’t want to play that way.
    * Upping the Driveatar difficulty only seems to make the AI cars open the throttle a little wider on the straights, they don’t sharpen their lines or cut apexes any closer.
    * Given the diversity of machinery available, it seems curious that FWD, AWD and RWD cars all use the exact same racing lines and braking points. There is very little place swapping at all amongst that AI cars, it just becomes an inline bobsled race after the first few corners with little old me carving through to pack to make it to first by the last lap. (I’ve got it set to a high degree of difficulty – Highly experienced or something like that)

    My negatives are a little long and ranty, but don’t get me wrong, I think this is a good game and I will get many hours out of it. But this will probably be my last Forza title, I will probably look into some something closer to a simulator like PC or Assetto than the Forza half sim/half arcade approach.

  • Grant Linderman

    I was looking forward to this game a lot. Honestly it’s a bit of a let-down. Starting always in 12th place in three-lap races in the career mode makes turning up the difficulty utterly unsatisfying since I end up crashing my way to 5th or 4th place before actually racing my way to 1st before the races end. And as mentioned you don’t get to upgrade a car you like as you progress on in the game – all cars get ‘homologated’ to their various classes. Great plan for making the racing competitive, but definitely makes the game less involving. Also a lot of the cars I want are locked (ie: Mustang 350R, GT3 RS 4.0, etc)… only available as prizes or in prize crates. Which brings me to prize crates. F that noise. The whole prize crates business is stupid and I deeply wish it wasn’t part of the game.

    The graphics are incredible, the physics are great, the driving experience is really very good. But I’m getting bored and I’ve had the game for a week. The tiers aren’t getting harder and you always start in the dead middle of the pack. It’d be ridiculous to qualify for a 2-4 lap race, but I would deeply prefer that at this point. At least then there’d be a reason to turn the difficulty up. Feel like I should’ve gotten more for buying the ‘ultimate’ edition. Horizon 2 and 3 were way, way, way better from an overall experience standpoint, even though the driving mechanics in Forza 7 are much better.

    • Sjalabais

      The whole loot crate system is essentially unregulated gambling. Over the last year or so I have only played World of Warships, and that’s being published by the most profitable gaming company there is, Wargaming. They have implemented gambling and the psychological effects of it into the spine of the game, and it’s equal parts fascinating and disgusting. I’m surprised that so far, basically only China has started to produce firm public regulations on the matter.

    • hwyengr

      You mean there’s another mode to the game besides hotlapping the 928?

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b3f8faa2e3241052f0d40e9f5f71449c5739832b409d047821bd7beb97a28c99.jpg

      • Ok, what is the cheapest way to get my hands on a 928 in okay rendering quality: buy an Ex-one or a cheap PC?
        Also, will it gain 10-20% per year in value? Is there a 924 or 944, and is it an NA?

        • hwyengr

          Sorry, just the 951.

        • crank_case

          Get an XBox One, they’re probably going to be discounted now the XBox One X is coming out.

    • Troggy

      Starting in 12th is a peeve of mine too, but you can increase the number of laps in the assists to a “long” race and you will have enough laps to actually race your way to the front and have a decent battle for first. I race with the difficulty fairly high and it’s far more enjoyable than crashing my way to first place in only 3 or 4 laps. I don’t know why they can’t randomise the field so that there are faster AI drivers at the back of the grid, and the AI drivers are actually racing each other rather than providing a bunch of moving obstacles.

      • Grant Linderman

        Changed the length to long. Game is much better. I have the AI on whatever is between ‘Expert’ and ‘Unbeatable’ (‘Pro’ maybe? can’t remember.). Was lapping the AI on expert on long races. And I’m playing with a controller (not a wheel), and I’m also not a racing-game phenom. Maybe the ‘driveatars’ (sp?) will get better when more people play the game? Right now they’re pretty weak.

        Still doesn’t fix the lack of a discernible progression in career mode and definitely doesn’t fix the stupid prize boxes. But making the races longer does make the racing more fun for sure. Also you get more $ and XP for longer races so who needs the prize boxes anyway. As long as there isn’t a car I really want that’s only available via prize boxes, I’m content to pretend they aren’t there.

  • Corey Harrison

    I’ll just stick with FM6 thanks. The more I read about this game, the less I want to play it. Maybe next year when it’s cheap.

    • crank_case

      Pick up Assetto Corsa – sure it’s rough around the edges graphically and doesn’t have much of a career mode or dynamic weather, but it and Dirt Rally are best console recreation of driving I’ve come across.

      Forza 7 should have been sort of the spiritual successor to Gran Turismo 4 with a car count like that, but instead the hobbled it with all sorts of weird ideas from other gaming genres, homogenized the experience, and took away the simple freedom of test driving and doing hot laps in a car of any tune as you saw fit.

      It’s a weird mess that needs a major patch.

      • hwyengr

        You can still do the hot laps, set the number of drivatars to 0 in a Free Play session.

        • crank_case

          Why should you have to fiddle round for a basic feature of pretty much all racing games? The old class rivals was fun too, that gone removes a lot of where I spent a lot of time in the game.

  • I’m on Forza 4 since my ‘360 didn’t break yet, so enlighten me: which Forza is best Forza?

    • crank_case

      Assetto Corsa.

      😀

    • Grant Linderman

      Most fun: All of the Horizon games (2>1>3).
      Best Forza: Forza 6.

      Assetto Corsa is pretty legit. A little dry, but legit racing.

      • Looks like I should get a used copy of Horizon 2 then, as long as the ‘360 is still alive…

        • caltemus

          Not worth it, the 360 version of Horizon 2 was botched and made by a separate studio, with many removed features over the xbox one version. It’s actually the reason i ended up getting a xbone.

          • A ‘one is 10 times as expensive as the used game – but is it ten times as fun?

            Anyway, there will be a new console in the next few years, and it will be probably the one with the lowest running noise, I am not impressed by the’ 360 as an element in a HiFi* environment.

            *It’s an open kitchen/living room thing, but the fans are louder than fridge and dishwasher combined.