Forza Motorsport 4
Forza Motorsport 4 is a fantastic driving game package. It refines all of the series’ better qualities and, in a lot of ways, is the best game of its kind out there. Its highly configurable nature means that it is both accessible to the layman and familiar to those already accustomed to Forza’s brand of intensive racing simulation. If you’ve already played plenty of its predecessor Forza Motorsport 3 however, this sequel will often feel like treading over old ground, as it doesn’t quite re-invent the wheel or change up its formula too dramatically.
The game’s general structure throughout the career mode has been encapsulated as a world tour, moving you from one race to the next to encounter the vast array of tracks and class-dependent cars the game has to offer. You are constantly acquiring new cars simply by winning races (or at least making the podium); and you also build up a healthy amount of the credits to splurge on other cars as well. Certain tournaments and the races within them are tied to specific car requirements, so if you feel the desire to upgrade any part of your chosen vehicle for whatever reason—whether you do so manually or choose the game’s pre-set configurations—you may find yourself eligible for previously restricted events, but then subsequently locked out of others.
Unlocking Driver XP pushes your career forward, granting you a new car free of charge every time you level up. Although finishing races in a high position is obviously preferred, you still unlock new parts, tuning setups and vinyl parts to equip your car with, even if you don’t end up performing too well. Even though you will earn more in return for better racing, you are always being rewarded in spite of your ability. If you find yourself struggling or even finding races too easy, the configurations to adjust difficulty are vast and suitably in-depth.
Just like the previous games, a massive array of car decal designs (as well as tuning setups and cars themselves) can be viewed, sold and purchased online using in-game credits and sifting through the online store can be a joy all in itself. It’s absolutely recommended that you check this stuff out—there are plenty of amazing user-made car designs to use for your own cars both in the single-player career and for online matches. The excellent menus also make perusing through all this content very easy and manageable, which is especially helpful considering just how much of it there is.
As ever for the series, your single-player career profile carries over into the online multi-player arena. You have a wealth of options to configure to your liking, including setting up class-specific races, disabling on-track collisions to stop everyone smashing into each other, and even forcing all players into one camera setting for the duration of a race. Cars can also be shared online, a feature that is implemented in the game’s car club feature which allows you upstart your very own online racing teams and compete on club leaderboards.
A new mode called Autovista is also introduced in Forza 4, although it doesn’t really involve you playing anything. Instead, it’s what you could consider a virtual car showroom. You walk around a chosen car in an empty space and select parts of the car to learn more information about its working parts; complete with commentary that is often narrated by Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson. Not every car in the game is given this special treatment, as it’s only really reserved for popular cars that have unique qualities about them. This is probably for the better, because ultimately, you wouldn’t really feel compelled to hear detailed analysis about any slower or less prevalent E-class cars over a Ford GT, for example. Kinect support is also available for this feature, although its implementation feels like an unnecessary addition and is better experienced with a controller in hand as a result. Nevertheless, it is an interesting addition that will be sure to satiate those who really are invested in everything to do with cars, but it’s not something you’re likely to revisit more than maybe a couple of times.
At no point does Forza Motorsport 4 feel as impactful as its predecessor did two years ago, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s an inferior game. In fact, its refinements and production values are executed so well that it is arguably not only the best game in the series, but the best driving simulator on the market. If you missed out on the third entry, then Forza 4 is highly recommended. But if you’re not quite ready to delve back into an experience that is largely unchanged from the last outing, then you might not find much worth coming back for.
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