Posted by: automatix on Dec 05, 2011
Since my very brief review of Skyrim seemed to illicit a reasonable response, I figured I might as well fuel the gaming fire, by submitting my take on the best racing game ever made. Oh, sorry, I was meant to save that for the closing paragraph, but I've never been very good at this writing thing.
So, the game then: Forza Motorsport 4 is the latest version of, well, you guessed it, Forza Motorsport. Which is basically the Microsoft XBox 360's answer to the ever popular Gran Turismo franchise (GT), which is made only for the Playstation. But since Sony has screwed up royally with peoples' privacy and credit card details lately, I've decided to bin the clunky old PS3, and rely instead on something made by Microsoft. Ouch. That sounds very wrong on so many levels, but until there's an Ubuntu powered console on the market, I dear say I shall stick to my 'box.
Anyway, Forza has been around since 2005, when Turn 10's game first appeared on the original XBox. Since we never officially got that console in SA, not many people in our country got to know the original game, which is just as well since it was okay rather than great.
Subsequent versions have steadily improved on the original, bringing in more tracks, newer cars and better simulation of real-life conditions. They did go through a bad patch, though, with Forza Motorsport 2, when a bunch of unrealistic tracks were added. Horrible. Just horrible. As a result I skipped Forza 3, and went straight 4 - and what an experience it has been.
Now before I continue, I need to brag a bit: I've been a motoring journalist since the mid-nineties. I've driven more than 5,000 different cars, on roads in more than 40 countries. I've flung heavy metal around some famous race tracks, and spent time behind the wheel of many exotic cars. And yes, they do tend to be chick magnets.
So I feel fairly well-qualified to judge the most important aspect of Forza: Its simulation properties. And never before have I come across a game that so accurately mimics real life. Each car sounds different and handles differently, but they handle and sound exactly the way they do in the metal. Audi quattros tend to under steer like pigs, and in Forza 4 they do exactly that. BMW M-cars can be tail happy with the electronics switched off, and in Forza they are. Small cars are nimble but slow, while things like the R8 are fast but less than exciting on tight tracks... The list of things they got right is impressive - damage, for instance, which is well-executed too.
But as with each iteration of the game before it, Forza 4 does have some flaws. The menu system is a bit confusing, and the 'natural progression' of your career feels pretty unnatural at the best of times. But all of this is worth dealing with, in exchange for some of the best racing you're likely to find on a console any time soon.
I haven't tried it with the Forza Racing Wheel yet (this is out soon, eh?), but I reckon it'll just make the game even better. If that's even possible!