In 2005, Turn 10 Studios introduced us to their visionary production of professional racing in video game form. Forza Motorsport, the beginning of a series of Xbox exclusive video games, had proven to revolutionise racing in video games; its successors only furthered it's revolution. Forza, an Italian word for force or strength is only accurate and appropriate, given the game's influence on simulated racing, which (intentional or otherwise) set quite a few standards for other similar games to follow.
Turn 10's first instalment of the franchise featured over 200 drivable vehicles, organized into six different classes and three subclasses of the highest, rated by performance. Standard performance vehicles, sports cars and general performance vehicles are organised into classes D, C, and B respectively. Higher performance vehicles, supercars, and purpose-built racecars were organised into classes A, S, and R (subclasses GT, GTR, and P1.) Forza Motorsport also allowed for tuning and upgrading vehicles to a degree; there's no body kits, nitrous, or decals. Turn 10 left street racing elements out of their professional racing game for obvious reasons. These were just two features the game had to offer that showed face in later instalments. Turn 10 Studios produced a sequel two years following and a third instalment in 2009. Their most recent, Forza Motorsport 4, is their best-rated and most overall grossing game in the franchise; although generally speaking, the franchise as a whole sold over 10 million copies to date.
Forza Motorsport 4 isn't much of an innovation as was its predecessor, Forza Motorsport 3, but the game does have slight improvements (nothing vast as critics have claimed.) As featured in Forza 3, races are conducted on closed circuit tracks. These race courses are mix between circuits courses and point-to-point courses, as well as real-world and fictional locations. Each course features as reverse configuration, and many have multiple other configurations. Forza Motorsport 4 offers 500 vehicles to race with or against, a little more than its predecessor (with a little over 400 vehicles; more than 500 in the Ultimate Collection version) with many of these vehicles having appeared in the previous instalment. With over 80 manufacturers, including Aston Martin, Ferrari, Chevrolet, Nissan, and Lamborghini, to name a few; as well as several popular vehicles including James Bond's classic Aston Martin DB5, the DMC DeLorean, the well sought-after Bugatti Veyron, and even the Lamborghini Aventador, the racing experience is quite impressive.
When I first started the Forza Motorsport 4 experience, I was a little overwhelmed. The introduction sequence was quite stunning and the visuals have been vastly improved since Forza 3 (but differences are minimal to none to the naked eye), but after I got into my first race, everything felt a little too similar to its predecessor. Forza Motorsport 3 was a revolutionary experience, so one cannot expect much change in terms of gameplay, especially when it proved to be a successful approach to racing video games...however, I didn't expect the latest instalment to be a practical clone with 100 more vehicles thrown into the mix.
One significant difference I noticed when compared to Forza Motorsport 3 is that the cars you drive no longer gain levels along with you. Instead, driving a car increases your affinity with its manufacturer, which then rewards you with cash bonuses and discounts on car upgrades. It's a great system in theory, but it's baffling that with an affinity level of just four; which might take you only a handful of races to achieve, you qualify for a 100 percent discount on all parts. That means you can take your E-class Toyota MR2 with 145 horsepower and turn it into an S-class car with over 350 horsepower without spending a single credit. This makes it a lot easier for you to make your favorite cars competitive online and leaves you with more money to spend on new vehicles, but in conjunction with the new option to purchase cars using Microsoft Points, it devalues the in-game currency.
Regardless of how you acquire them, Forza 4's cars are a joy to drive, regardless of how unresponsive on the track they feel. I won't get into petty complaints, but I will admit that the game is much more enjoyable if you toss aside the conventional Xbox controller and plug in your overpriced Mad Catz steering wheel or your cheaper wireless Speed Wheel; driving is a lot less of a headache when it comes to executing sharp turns as your vehicle will actually turn as if you jerked the wheel all the way to the left or right, opposed to its reaction to an analogue stick, with the in-game steering wheel only turning about 30°. I'd invest in either, but unfortunately, I'm not too lazy to use the brake; still, one shouldn't have to if the "realistic racing simulator" actually handled appropriately.
Like previous games, Forza Motorsport 4 does a fantastic job of catering to drivers of all skill levels. Options like assisted braking and steering, traction control, and the suggested racing line make it easy to get behind the wheel and compete even if you've never played a racing game before. Using any of the driving aids, including the useful rewind feature, means you earn less prize money at the end of every race, but unless you desperately want the achievement for owning every Ferrari in the game, this is hardly a cause for concern. The only real worry with the driving aids is weaning yourself off.
With even the best and newer vehicles, the Forza games doesn't reinvent driving, but instead, it refines and improves on what proceeded it. That's no small achievement given how games left and right attempt to revolutionise their genre and fail. While Forza Motorsport 4 isn't much different than Forza Motorsport 3, I find its best redeeming factor to be being the newest game in the franchise. If you can live being "out-of-date" then I suggest waiting for a price drop before picking up this game.