Forza Motorsport 4 Review

By Jason D'Aprile - Posted Oct 10, 2011

One of the best racers in the industry just got even better, making it the absolute king of the road.

The Pros
  • Gorgeously presented
  • Plays fantastically
  • Tons of cars, tracks, and events
  • Excellent online features
  • Accommodates all levels of skill
The Cons
  • Largely similar to the previous game
  • Not enough use of Top Gear
  • Kinect implementation is a gimmick
  • Still no Porsches

Forza 4 Review:

While others have tried to get into the auto-racing sim market with fairly recent additions like NFS Shift and Codemaster’s GRID, gamers still tend to look to Sony’s Gran Turismo as the purest example of the genre. Yet, Microsoft’s and Turn 10’s Forza Motorsport has improved significantly with every sequel. The first two games were excellent, the third was brilliant, and now, with Forza Motorsport 4, the series deserves to finally be crowned the king of the road.
 

 

Smells Like a Sequel

Granted, while there’s a good bit more here than before, there’s an enormous amount of familiarity as well. This is expected with any sequel of course, but there are elements of Forza 4 that seem virtually identical to the third game. The gorgeous visuals are tweaked here and there—the game runs at a solid 60 fps and is smooth as silk.

There’s still no Porsches (damn you, EA. Microsoft shared, why can’t you?), and the game still follows the engaging, RPG-like level progression scheme. The physics, handling, and damage all feel very much like the previous game as well. Damage, in particular, isn’t nearly as satisfying as in Shift or DiRT, and only really makes an impact (so to speak) on the harder difficulty levels.

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A Career Racer

Specs-wise, Forza 4 might not be as overeager to weigh players down with as absurd a numbers of cars as GT, but it’s a hefty game. Install the 2.8 gigs worth of extra content on disc two and you’ll have over 500 cars at your potential disposal. From tiny Class F bread boxes to full-on heart-pounding super cars, there’s something for everyone.

The career mode offers ten seasons of racing instead of six this time around, which alone adds hours more play time, and there almost 300 different events. Instead of using the racing calendar of Forza 3, these events focus on global locations. So, expect to travel from the Far East to New England back to back. What’s particularly creative with this road trip set-up is that every stop offers a choice of three different events. These events offer variety based on the class of car you’ve selected, so one might be a general class-based race, while another is specific to a manufacturer.

In addition to the standard track-based racing that cause non-simulation lovers to generally flee in boredom, Forza 4 will occasionally open the road up to races that follow a linear path and even have civilian traffic. Some events are one-on-one races, others might be time trials, and there are even strange bonus events like car bowling and soccer.

Forza 4

Racing Alone with Friends

All this variety gives Forza a leg up on the far dryer Gran Turismo simply because the game offers both a gorgeously impeccable driving experience for purists and a truly entertaining racing game for casual gamers. No matter what skill level the player is, Forza Motorsport can adjust to make them feel like a champion.

Granted, going online in the game’s community section could deflate anyone’s ego quickly, but there are enough enhancements here to make Forza vets eager to jump into the driver’s seat again. Car clubs—the racing equivalent of a clan—let you form your own gang, and the leaderboard takes on a whole new life thanks to the inclusion of rivals. Here, players can compete against the best times and ghosts of others (especially friends), without actually having to race against another human. It’s certainly a nod to EA’s Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, but it adds immensely to the overall experience.

Another nice tribute to car nerds is the Autovista mode, which lets players take an up close and personal view of a variety of sweet, sweet rides. Move around the car, open the doors, hop in, drool over the dash, and pop the hood to see what makes an Italian stallion run. There’s only a small number of cars presented to this detail, but it’s still a nice feature.

Forza 4

Kinect in Style?

The much-hyped Kinect features are very limited in scope. Using your body to move around the cars in the Autovista mode is a neat trick, and the head-tracking functionality available during any race is interesting. Actually driving the cars with your empty hands, however, is limited to a free run mode. Here, the game turns into a much superior version of Kinect Joy Ride, but it’s still just a gimmick.

Finally, the association with the British Top Gear TV show (mainly commentary from Jeremy Clarkson) is laudable, but we wanted more of it, with more of the show’s humor. Between Clarkson’s dry monologues about the Autovista cars and the main narrator’s sophisticated British tones, it’s all very classy, but could do with a dose of nitro.

Forza 4

Racing Perfection

There’s no shortage of great things to say about Forza Motorsport 4. It’s a game full of fantastic little touches of style and finesse, polished to a diamond sheen. True, this isn’t a revolutionary upgrade from the last game, but it adds dimension in all the right places that simply improve on an already great game. Even if you’ve shunned Gran Turismo, Shift, and GRID for their massive layers of fearsome complexity and unforgiving, real-worldness, Forza has something in it for every type of racing lover. Except, sadly, explosions. Maybe next time. . .