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Forza Motorsport 7 review

James Allen On January 8, 2018

Forza Motorsport 7 is potentially the most important Forza titles released for quite some time. On top of being a prime system seller for the new Xbox One X console, Forza Motorsport 7 also launches right in the midst of an exceptionally busy year for the racing gaming genre.

So, with such pressure to deliver, Turn 10 Studios really needed to hammer home its credentials in developing a fully fleshed-out and enjoyable racing game. For the most part, Forza Motorsport 7 does succeed in that - even though, as with its Xbox One-era predecessors, the end product isn't as consistent or as well-rounded as was initially hoped.

From (Relative) Rags To Riches

Expansive campaign modes are part and parcel of Forza the franchise, and Forza Motorsport 7’s has one of the most extensive to ever grace a Forza release. Dubbed the ‘Forza Driver’s Cup’, this six-tier-long series of events tasks players with climbing through the ranks to become the Forza Drivers Cup champion – experiencing a broad variety of racing divisions along the way.

Though not quite a Gran Turismo-style of career mode (players have the option of selecting from supercars and 1960s F1 racers as their starter car, for instance), Forza 7’s setup is paced reasonably well and initially does a good job at acclimatising players to the campaign structure. The events are also tailored more to the strengths and weaknesses of each car division, with fewer unusual car/track combinations this time around than there were in Forza Motorsport 6 – though it is a shame there aren’t any off-road venues to accommodate the game’s many off-road-biased cars.

Progression systems are also at the core of the Forza Drivers Cup experience. Series Points are awarded based upon the player’s finishing position in races and showcase side events, with a specific amount of points (usually four fully-completed divisions’ worth) being required to unlock the next tier of events. Certain cars are also locked behind Forza Drivers Cup progress and even the accumulated score of your in-game car collection, which further incentivises players to experience new event types and car genres.

The ‘Collection Tier’ car collection score mechanic, though, is quite inconsequential. Not only does it take a very short time to unlock the last batch of cars exclusive to the Tier 5 level, but there’s very little incentive to further increase your Collection Tier bar unlocking the achievement for reaching Tier 8.



Overall, while it doesn’t fundamentally revolutionise single player campaigns in racing games, the Forza Driver’s Cup structure does offer a well-paced and varied enough experience that easily ranks among the best we’ve seen so far on an Xbox One-era Forza Motorsport title.

Content, content everywhere


In terms of what’s included on the disc, Forza Motorsport 7 is almost unrivalled this generation. An assortment of 135 track layouts spread out across 32 locations is certainly impressive, irrespective of the fact the game’s only new-to-Forza venue is the stylised Dubai street course, and the absence of much new metal to the series is offset somewhat by the base game’s colossal roster of 701 cars.

Even more impressive is the variety on offer, with the aforementioned gargantuan car selection filtered into 63 different categories for career mode and themed online hopper events, ranging from one-make cup series to more broadly encompassing classes cafefully tailored, to huge road and racing car offerings, there’s plenty for automotive and motorsport enthusiasts to be satisfied with here.



Likewise, while other recent racing games have amassed greater track rosters, there are still more than enough location variants to keep offline and online racing fresh – though having dynamic weather and time of day transitions on all of the circuits would have been preferred.

That being said, the transitional effects are a welcome addition over Forza Motorsport 6’s baked-in effects. It’s far from being the most comprehensive or authentic system you’ll find in a contemporary racing game (aspects like drying racing lines are nowhere to be seen, and most-if-not-all sanctioned races would be red flagged in response to conditions akin to Forza Motorsport 7’s full-on thunderstorms), and it’s a great shame that the auto-changing tyre compounds negate the need to pit for new rubber when the conditions change, but what is here is an appreciated step in the right direction for the Forza franchise.

Regardless of the race conditions or in-game environment, the content in Forza Motorsport 7 is all depicted in stunning fidelity. Even on a base Xbox One and a standard 1080p television setup, Forza Motorsport 7 is a feast for the eyes, with the detail in the car models being particularly impressive. Such accurate asset modelling does come with the penalty of lengthy loading times (with the ‘My Garage’ sub-menu becoming increasingly sluggish to navigate as the player’s in-game car collection expands), but the loading times are noticeably reduced on beefier PC systems and the Xbox One X.

A good base setup…


All of these features would be worthless, though, if the base act of driving wasn’t up to scratch. Thankfully, for the most part, Forza Motorsport 7 is an enjoyable game to play that’s also been subtly massaged in comparison to its immediate predecessors.

Not that those changes will convert many who aren’t fans of the Forza driving model, however. Despite feeling more hunkered down and responsive to player inputs than previous Xbox One era Forza Motorsport titles, there’s still an element of floatiness to the driving model, and the sensations of aspects such as tyre flex aren’t as clearly transmitted to the player as they are in more dedicated driving simulators.



That said, there is enough tactility to provide a somewhat intuitive experience. The abundance of grip makes it fairly straightforward to place the car where they want accurately and consistently, with the more gradual grip transitions making it much easier to correct oversteer moments than before, and there’s now a greater feeling of body motion over choppier road surfaces. There’s still room for improvement and the system is clearly more optimised for a controller than a wheel, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Likewise, while the offline racing experience hasn’t been fundamentally changed for Forza Motorsport 7, the alterations that have been made are welcome. Of these additions, it is the ability to customise race lengths in the career mode races that surprisingly had the most positive impact: with more laps in which to chase down the leading cars from the forced mid-pack starting position, there’s now a greater incentive for players to bide their time and line up passing moves, instead of resorting to reckless dive bombs and constant clashes with the AI competitors.

Better still, having longer races finally gives the simulated tyre wear and fuel consumption settings some actual purpose in the campaign. With options such as pitting earlier to attempt an undercut on the AI, to adopting a one-stop refuelling strategy by eking out a couple more laps in the first stint, Forza Motorsport 7 offers a level of strategic flexibility that hasn’t really been required in a Forza game before. As with the driving model, it’s a system that definitely has room for improvement, but this new feature is definitely one that players who want a more drawn-out racing experience will definitely appreciate.

…but more fine tuning is required


Though Forza Motorsport 7 does improve on its predecessors, there are ways in which the title marks a regression for the franchise. Granted, a lot of these backwards steps are minor, but they do all add up to put a dampener on Forza Motorsport 7 overall.

Locking over 100 of the game’s on-disc cars away from campaign mode use as time-limited prizes or Specialty Dealer stock, for instance, is an unusual design decision, and the addition of extras such as Driver Gear avatar skins and consumable Mod Cards appear to only be present to justify the existence of the Prize Crate loot box mechanic. They’re admittedly not high priority issues, but it’s still irritating that they’re present in the first place.



Likewise, the new Homologation system has had a hit-and-miss implementation. On the one hand, the mechanic has resulted in closer and more balanced racing both online and against the AI, and there’s a new strategic element in building a car that doesn’t exceed specific performance limits. On the other hand, the system’s often stringent restrictions mean there’s often very little that can be done to modify many of the cars; thus removing the long-running Forza franchise option for players to build cars to suit their wants and needs. There’s lots of potential in a more refined Homologation system in future Forza Motorsport games, but the current setup is still in need of some more tweaking and balancing.

Other aspects, however, are far more difficult to tolerate. Despite being highlighted in the ‘Features’ section on the official Forza Motorsport website’s Forza Motorsport 7 tab, spectating tools for online races still aren’t present in Forza Motorsport 7, and there’s still no sign of the driver adjudication system that was discussed during behind-closed-doors press briefings being introduced anytime soon. These features will likely be included at the earliest in time for the first round of Forza Motorsport 7-hosted Forza Racing Championship esports rounds, but their absence currently makes the game a pretty poor tool in which to host organised online races with.

Further compromising the online racing aspect are the heavily reduced Rivals leaderboards and hopper lobbies in comparison with prior titles, in favour of a Homologation-dictated series of events – with the complete removal of PI class-based leaderboards being the most prominent casualty of this multiplayer mode cull. Granted, the arrival of ranked League lobbies are welcomed, but they aren't enough on their own to fill up the multiplayer void.

Factor in the aforementioned organised race limitations and the paltry race rewards for completing online events and the end result is a Forza Motorsport game that doesn’t offer that much for players who’ve grown accustomed to the online features that have previously been a long-running staple of the franchise.

Quite possibly the most aggravating aspect of Forza Motorsport 7, however, is the AI system. Though the Homologation feature has bunched up the field and ensures the leading pack of cars don’t roar away into the distance, it hasn’t fully addressed the rest of the Drivatar setup’s limitations. With wide performance gaps between the various difficulty settings, races against AI that closely match the pace of the player are fairly infrequent, and the unusual behavioural quirks of the Drivatars means clean racing with the AI isn’t that common either.



Drivatars also have an unusual habit of being given a speed boost on higher difficulties, regardless of whether or not there are Homologation rules that limit the amount of power an eligible car is allowed to produce. As a result, pretty much all but the fastest Forza players are forced to reduce the difficulty when racing on power-dominated tracks or single-spec career mode events in order to maintain pace with the AI.

Overall, while the Drivatar system has been improved, the tweaks that have been made aren’t enough to iron out the cracks in this cloud-powered setup that Turn 10 Studios has been implementing in its games for over four years now.

On balance, Forza Motorsport 7 is the best Xbox One-era Forza Motorsport game to date. With an almost unrivalled array of content from launch, a more engrossing career mode setup and a more intuitive driving model, Forza Motorsport 7 does boast a mighty package that’s hard for car-obsessed racing game enthusiasts to ignore.

Despite being the better all-rounder, however, Forza Motorsport 7 is lacking in other areas. The limited multiplayer functionality and barely improved Drivatar system are certainly the most obvious examples of these, with myriad other issues further dragging down the quality of an otherwise enjoyable and polished (on consoles, at least) racing game.

With more features, content and improvements due in the coming weeks and months, Forza Motorsport 7 certainly has the potential to evolve into a truly great racing game that Xbox and PC players can become engrossed in until its sequel is presumably released in 2019. As it stands now, however, Forza Motorsport 7 is a fun-yet-flawed title that dazzles and entertains for the most part - but is still able to irritate and disappoint with its sometimes-inconsistent execution.

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