My copy of the game was delivered by Amazon on release day. I installed it on the hard-drive, bought the season pass, and brought the game up for a test run.
After getting it set up to run with my Fanatec wheel and pedals, and turning off all the driving aids, it proved to be an immensely enjoyable game. There is one initial caveat, I personally think the music sucks pond water (that can be taken care of by turning it off or playing your own play list), once that has been dealt with, you can move on to a truly great gaming experience.
The scenery is fantastic, the roads are interesting to explore, and the day night cycle is wonderfully done. With the driving aids off and the wheel settings properly dialed in, the Forza 4 based physics really shine, making the act of simply driving around feel far superior to the experience provided by the Test Drive Unlimited games.
The racing is enjoyable as well. The AI seems to be about as adept as that in Forza 4 (time will tell if this is true all through the game) and the fact that the racing is not taking place on a track and you often have to deal with random traffic, brings a completely different feeling of exhilaration from what you feel in a track based game.
Besides street racing, back road rallying, and the obvious ability to just cruise around gawking at the marvelous backdrops, the game provides a number of frankly ridiculous, but none the less amusing and enjoyable challenges. One that occurs early in the game is racing a Boss 429 Mustang against a P-51 Mustang. Yes it is about as silly a concept as you could dream up for a car race, and yet, some how, it just works.
The game allows for some car customization. You can paint your vehicle in much the same way as the other Forza games. You can also buy and apply upgrades to the cars. Sadly, however (at least for me), the ability to tune the vehicles is lacking. This has always been one of my favorite activities within the Forza games and I will definitely miss it here.
So far, this game has to get a two thumbs up. Time will tell if the score needs to be adjusted, but for the time being, I would definitely award 100 points for the developers brilliantly pulling off what many people have been ignorantly claiming to be impossible. If you like racing games, even just a little bit, you have to get this game.