Forza Motorsport Review

When you think of an epic driving simulator, the first thing that probably comes to mind is Sony’s Gran Turismo series. Microsoft is out to change that by introducing its own ultimate driving simulator, Forza Motorsport. With a lot riding on the game and what it means to the PlayStation 2 – Xbox rivalry there’s a lot of pressure on Forza Motorsport to give Gran Turismo 4 a run for its money. Well Forza Motorsport does quite well in the stretch and finally gives the Xbox a marquee driving simulator to rival Sony’s.

Now that's a ride.

You can’t have a marquee racer without a lot of cars drawn from the real world. Forza Motorsport certainly delivers in this department as it features over 230 cars from 60 manufacturers. In addition, you have a wide array of parts that can be purchased to upgrade these vehicles making the number of unique vehicles possible staggeringly high. In fact when customizing your car the game will even determine a uniqueness factor for it as a way to encourage you to customize and tweak your car as much as possible, and you’ll receive bonus credits for winning a race with a unique vehicle. Creating a unique vehicle also enhances its value and if you want to sell your car online over Xbox Live, you’ll want it to be as available as possible. All of the possible customizations are not just on the inside, though. You can paint sections of your car such as the hood or roof different colors, apply decals that can be scaled, rotated, and placed just about anywhere on your car, and even tint the windows. If you enjoy tweaking and pimping out your ride, you’ll be in heaven … and you won’t be limited to one car either. Once you start earning credits you can start adding ever more powerful cars to your collection and access them all through your garage. In a unique twist the game even has you select a starting region from North America, Europe, and Asia that will determine which cars are rarer and give you discounts on local makes.

All of this customization and tweaking wouldn’t mean a thing if the racing wasn’t fun. Good thing for Xbox racing fans Forza Motorsport does not disappoint on this count. For sim enthusiasts Forza provides a realistic and challenging race environment, but this does not mean that more casual race fans or gamers new to the genre will be left in last place skidding all over the track. There are a number of game assists available that make it possible for newbies to jump behind the wheel and have a chance of competing and, yes, even winning. With traction control, stability control, and antilock brakes enabled, you’ll have an easier time negotiating the curves and turns than you would in full sim mode. However, these options do not make the game an arcade racer and you’ll still have to be smart about controlling your speed and your point of entry into turns or you’ll go skidding off of the track. If picking your path, or line, through turns is proving to be frustrating, Forza Motorsport has an innovation that’s so simple and yet so helpful that it’s a wonder that it hasn’t been a part of racing games for a long time. The suggested line feature puts a dashed line on the track that shows the best path to drive along. The line is also color-coded to let you know when to brake, coast, and hit the gas. Furthermore, as you are turning through a curve the line’s color will change as needed based on your current speed and position in the curve. You won’t necessarily get the best possible times following the game’s suggested lines – that’s where driving skill comes in, getting the most from your car by pushing it to its edge – but if you’re learning to race or are having a little trouble controlling the cars it is a godsend.