Forza 4 review

Forza 4 review

It’s been a long time coming, but the forza franchise is back with its 4th installment. Good golly Miss Molly, this one is the business! My last dance with the franchise garnered an exceptionally high score; in fact I gave it a 10/10. So you could imagine the expectations that must be met here. Let’s dissect Forza 4 and see if it’s worthy of its legacy:

When looking at any racing simulation, there are 2 main categories that must be paid close attention to: graphics and physics. However, Forza 4 has managed to etch a 3rd point to the list: community.

Let’s start with the graphics, as everyone loves eye candy. Speaking of which, there’s plenty of that to indulge in with Forza 4. While still beautiful, Forza 3 had a “video game” look to it. This time around, you can clearly tell the goal was photo realism. If you’ve ever seen Gran Tourismo in action, you already know what it is to experience photo-realistic graphics. Turn 10 seems to have found the formula for this as well. Forza 4 is as good as it gets to the eye. The tracks are beautifully done and offer an insane amount of detail – right down to the painted directions on the road of the world famous Nurburgring. Added touches like sun glare, fog and even tire marks from the last lap all add to the breathtaking experience.

The cars themselves were given the same level of detail. Every single car in the game is done with extreme detail. The car models are recreated with damn near perfection. The in-dash view also received a face lift. This view was introduced in Forza 3, and has now reached a new level. Turn 10 pulled the camera view back a bit, allowing the player to see much more of the cockpit. The change is noticed at first, but it never seemed to hamper perception or gameplay. Actually, racing the many different cars in Forza 4 and experiencing the different dash boards proved very rewarding.

Although it’s amazing to see stunning visuals like the holes in drilled brake pads when sitting still, the real joy of the graphics overhaul is made apparent when everything is in motion. The game runs at a silky smooth 60 FPS and leaves little to nothing to be desired. When you gather up a nice bit of speed the game does a new graphical trick where it blurs everything around you except the road. It may sound a bit weird in description, but once you see it, you will understand. The blurring really adds to the sense of speed. The in-dash view has also been giving a few tricks. The camera is very dynamic and moves with the motions of the car. This gives the perception of an actual person’s head reacting to high G force turns or sudden braking. Another of my favorite aesthetic flairs are flames from the tail pipes of cars. Certain cars will back fire when coming down from a high RPM aggressively. Depending on what upgrade parts you outfit your car with, regular cars will do it as well. Its not much of a big deal, but still fun to look at.

Much to my satisfaction, Turn 10 has spent some time fine tuning the physics engine in the game. Although it’s pretty much what we got in Forza 3, gameplay feels more refined and fresh. From the very first welcome race, you will notice how "right" the game feels. Accelerating, turning and braking feels just like you would expect it to in real life. The vibration feedback that the control provides, plus the sound of the tires and engine, gives you a natural sense of driving. The experience you get when driving a Lexus LFA compared to something like a Subaru STI is vastly different. The LFA will give a sense of snapping your neck speed, high G-force turning and effortless braking. Where as, the STI will give you the empowering feeling of working to get every ounce of performance, keeping it in the power band and hammering the throttle all the way through the turn. I’ve even tried driving a few cars in the game that I have driven or owned in real life, and they all behave like I expected. This real world simulation was executed well in Forza 3, but in part 4, it has been perfected!

Real world physics are still a huge part of the game and seem to have been improved. Simple things like a V12 pulling away from a V8 on a stretch show cases Forza 4’s simulation prowess. Heavier cars require much more effort to brake correctly as the momentum is against you; as a result, they aren’t as nimble in the corners. Lighter cars require far less aggressive breaking and as a result, breeze through corners with ease.

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Upgrades and turning both seem to now have a much larger impact on cars. Sure, you can slap as much parts as you’d like on a car, no one is stopping you from doing so. However, in this year’s version, I am beginning to notice a much more thought-out upgrade gives you a much better result. For instance, it’s almost instant to purchase the stage 3 turbo upgrade. But, from what I’ve noticed, that’s not the best option. You’d benefit from the stage one upgrade alone with stage one exhaust, stage one cams and maybe a clutch. You’ll get all of that for the same amount of points, and will have a much more rounded setup. Turning is a bit trickier, but when done right, seems to affect the cars a lot more. For the first few days, I found myself over turning. I’d do conventional setups on what I knew worked, but as time went by, I noticed I had to treat each car differently. This resulted in my turning addition and a quest to perfect every car I own!

Added to this year’s game is “Simulation steering.” This feature is mainly to enhance the steering feel when racing with a racing wheel. I can’t comment too much on how effective this is because I do not own a wheel. Even though, I enabled it for the hell of it. It is FUN! Really precise movement is needed to even make it worth the while. Simply tapping the thumbstick all the way in the other direction to counter-steer does not work here. In fact, that pretty much counts as locking the wheel in the opposite direction while doing 140 mph – not nice!

Turn 10 could have covered their basis and just given us the most beautiful racing game we’ve ever seen bundled with the most realistic, real world physics engine known to any gamer. That alone would have placed Forza 4 comfortably at the top of the pack; but they didn’t stop there. Forza 4 takes the community aspect of the series to a whole new level. The game takes on a new wonder when the community is introduced.

Returning from previous games are the storefront and auction house. The storefront offers gamers a place to showcase their in-game talents. Everything from paint jobs to car tunes can be uploaded. The great part about this is that gamers can actually set prices and various other parameters for their uploads. For example, you could have a one-time tune for a really rare muscle car, and only have 10 tunes go up for sale. This gives you the chance to sell each for a crazy price like $40,000, just because it’s a rare tune and the availability is limited.

The same premise is applied to the auction house, but this time for the cars themselves. The auction house is a great place to find some deals on cars during your career or even if you’re looking to collect. Often times you’ll find tuned versions of your favorite car sitting there waiting for you to spend that hard earned career money.

Perhaps the biggest addition to Forza 4, and what I feel to be the biggest addition in the game period, is the car club. The car club is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It gives you and your friends a place to perform as one in the online community, just like a clan on a FPS title. The car club gives you and your friend some very compelling features. The first of many is the ability to rate the members against each other, almost like a leaderboard that you actually care about. Second is the opportunity to rate the car club as a whole against other clubs. And last, and my favorite of them all – the car club garage. All members of the club have the ability to “share” their cars to the club’s garage. This allows other members to not only test drive them, but select them in online races. My current club has about 17 members, and we have over 50 cars to choose from in all different classes. This keeps things fresh whenever I am tired of racing my cars, or I need a friend’s car who I know is a bit better than my own, I can select it and get down to business.

Back again to frustrate you more than ever before is the career mode. Turn 10 took it upon themselves to spice up the career more a bit. First off, the AI drivers got a much needed bump in intelligence with additional humanistic elements. They make mistakes, swap paint and are even overly aggressive at times. I swear, it’s as if these guys remember what you did to them 2 races ago, and will make you pay if they ever see you again. The new and improved AI definitely adds an added difficulty level to the career. When I reached level 45, the races became almost impossible to win. I would be lucky if I saw 3rd sometimes. I spent a few minutes searching for some sort of difficulty setting to turn those guys down, but there was none. Thanks to a tip from one of our Youtube viewers, it turns out the career is dynamic, so the more you progress the more they do as well. So I suppose I will continue to be owned until I step it up a notch.

Challenging career mode aside, you always have the option to do the event races. This is pretty much a giant list of all the races in the game, and, you can do them in any order you please. New to the career mode is the rival mode. Here you can complete set challenges against your friend’s ghosts. I assure you this is an addicting mode, as you will all try to outdo one another.

Turn 10 has added a new mode called Autovista. Here there are a handful of premium or rare cars from the game available to explore in 3D. Not only can you explore, but there are facts about the vehicle all around. You can even get in the driver seat and start the car. To top it off, Top Gear’s own Jeremy Clarkson does the voiceover and introductions for all the cars. Sweet touch. One last bit worthy of mention is the Kinect integration. If you own a Kinect, you have to try out the head tracking control. The kinect will keep a close eye on your head movement, so while driving, if you look left, the camera in the game will pan to the right. Some say its loads of fun, others say it’s useless. I say it’s fun and worth a try at least once.

Forza 4 is indeed a well-executed project. It not only delivers, but surpasses expectations on what a racing simulation title should be. Turn 10 tossed everything and the kitchen sink into Forza 4, and they polished it up well. The new graphics and physics engine will keep the tuners and car enthusiasts happy for a long time to come. The community and online racing world will no doubt steal your bed time hours for months to come. Forza 4 is indeed worthy of a 10/10, and that is what it shall have.

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About the author: Ramon

 

 

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4 Comments

  • best review for this game i have read so far. i am still waiting for mine from gamefly. i knew i should have purchased it

  • Michael C

    I should’ve bought this game instead of that F1 2011 game. The new F1 game sucks!

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