Racing games have always had a special place in people’s hearts. The ability to thrash around a circuit in a Ferrari without any liabilities has long been the dream of huge numbers of kids (and adults). Now, exclusively for the Xbox One is Turn 10’s Forza Motorsport 6, a beautifully crafted testament to that dream.
Forza Motorsport is the Microsoft’s premier racing game, much like competitor Sony’s Gran Turismo franchise. It brings the simulator racing experience to the common folk. Racing gamers label such games as “Sim-cades”, a portmanteau of “simulator” and “arcade”- not so technically mind-boggling as truly accurate driving sims like iRacing or Assetto Corsa but not a walk in the park to play either like the Need For Speed series of games or Ridge Racer. That said Forza Motorsport 6 once again ups the ante for console players in all aspects – driving physics, sound immersion, AI skill and drop dead gorgeous graphics. Players start their career with the entry level S2000, Impreza 22b etc., each one with their own handling characteristics and powerbands, and the game rewards players at each level up with a “Prize Spin”. These raffle prizes can be anything from cash, to “mods” that can be used for one race such as EXP boost, or more permanent mods such as increasing grip levels on one specific track, the luckiest players on the other hand may win a coveted car on their first spin. On my first level up and first prize spin I was lucky enough to be awarded the Bugatti Veyron – clearly the developers were after a high score.
One of Forza Motorsport 6‘s strengths lies in the game’s sound design for their cars. Every car in the game sounds unique and for the car enthusiast this is easily half of any racing game’s immersion. Whether it’s the 787b’s 4-rotor Wankel screaming through the Mulsanne straight, Impreza exhausts burbling, or the McLaren F1’s S70/2 V12 6.1 litre engine singing in all it’s 627 horsepower glory, there truly is no need to have background music playing during a race, but for the more casual and laid back racing experience the game does offer its own soundtrack.
There are approximately 400+ cars available to the player, with more coming down the road via DLC. Each car when purchased grants the player the Forzavista option in the main menu. Forzavista allows players to get up close and person to their dream cars, showing interiors, wheel wells, bonnets, and engine bays, all painstakingly recreated exclusively for the Xbox One. The amount of detail in the McLaren P1’s engine bay is breathtaking from an engineering standpoint. Include the fact that you will probably not get this close to a real $1.35m hypercar in real life and you will soon understand Forza 6’s appeal to racing fans all over the world.
Driving physics in the game are extremely challenging even for seasoned racing gamers, which is further amplified when the various assists such as TCS (Traction Control System), ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) and ASM (Active Stability Management system) are turned off. Combine this with playing on a gamepad with limited controls and you’ve got a recipe for slipping and sliding all over the track for the first few hours in the game. This of course varies with what type of drivetrain your vehicle has, as 4WD and FF cars are less prone to oversteer than FR or MR cars, especially during lift-off. Tyre dynamics are also realistically simulated in Forza 6, with choices between racing or street compounds, tire size. Sidewall flex, a phenomenon where the sidewall of the tire flexes and alters the tire geometry under heavy G cornering, is also a factor in the game, as well as cold tires that give minimal grip during the start of a race. This translates to: no intense cornering and braking when tires are just fresh out of the pit, if your goal is not 1st place or “Best time”. Time of day also plays an importance on how quickly your tires heat up, as does the tires’ compound.
Hydroplaning is very much pronounced in Forza Motorsport 6 – in-game tracks have puddles recreated by Turn 10 to be placed where the actual puddles in the actual tracks should be. When the weather doesn’t cooperate, Forza 6’s tracks aren’t just wet for the sake of being wet, they are realistically, strategically wet, and these puddles will wreak havoc on your racing line. The game’s controls are elementary, and any beginner ready to begin his/her virtual racing career will be breaking records in no time – provided of course they start with the game’s assists and work from there. An unfortunate problem though is the difficulty/inability to use some older Logitech/Thrustmaster Steering Wheels such as the g27, g29 or t300, t500 in the game. The only way to combat this is to buy wheels specifically introduced for the Xbox One, although these are numerous and usually high quality, such as the Logitech G920 and the ThrustMaster 458 Spider Racing wheel.
With the tonnes of racing games being churned out in today’s industry it is quite easy to spend $50 on a racing game and then regret it a few days later because it did not deliver. Forza Motorsport 6 is not that game. Forza 6 delivers in almost every category that a sim racer could want, and the game is the ultimate in petrol-induced euphoria for console-racers. Everything good that can be in a racing game is here, and while the physics may not compete with the best PC racing sims, Turn 10 is adamant in getting there (it is a competition after all). Both Forza Motorsport 6 and Gran Turismo 6 are their respective console’s kings of racing, each one trying to one-up each other in the race for better graphics, better physics, better sound, and better gameplay – and the winner in this race are the players. We sim-racers love every single millisecond of the competition, and we are itching for more.