by Brian Robbins
I have no idea why I like the Forza franchise so much. I’m really not that into cars or manufacturers. I could care less if I’m driving a Geo Metro or an Enzo Ferrari but when I play a Forza game I’m all of a sudden a car nut. I was extremely pumped to play the next generation’s version, Forza 5. I waited in line at E3 for about an hour to check this one out and I’m happy to report that this game delivers. Racing fans and non-racing fans rejoice: this is a must have title for Xbox One’s launch this November.
When you first start the E3 demo you’re given a choice of which car you want to drive. Like everyone else, I picked the bright red Ferrari over the Lamborghini. The only mode available was just a race around a city. There were no other cars to race against and it could have been more exciting if all of the E3 testers could race against each other via system link but alas this wasn’t the case. I still had fun testing out the racing aspect of the game. As opposed to previous Forza games, this time the cars actually felt like they had some weight behind them. It took a little bit of getting used to but Forza veterans and newbies will quickly adjust.
One of the new Xbox controller’s main features is the rumble in the triggers. While sliding into a sharp turn the rumble felt realistic as you can feel the tires grip the pavement. I was skeptical about the rumble feature of the triggers when Microsoft first announced it but now I don’t know if I can go back to play Forza Horizon without it. The concept works and it will be fun to see if different cars have different amounts of feedback.
No doubt the most recognizable feature of Forza games is being able to customize your car without limit. I’ve seen Halo: Reach decals and even Brad Pitt portraits painted onto cars in previous games. Luckily, Forza 5 continues this. Of course you can sell them in the Forza marketplace for in-game currency but now the store can remember your buying habits, in a similar way that Amazon recommends something based on your previous purchases.
One of the developers informed me that we can’t transfer any of our cars from previous Forza games, not even paint jobs. This crushed my heart but he made me understand that they had to completely build everything up from scratch with this game. I accepted the hard truth but I was still disappointed.
Another huge let down for me was the audio. One of the best aspects of Forza: Horizon was the soundtrack! I would race down the rolling hills blaring Arctic Monkeys from my car’s stereo. They informed me that all the audio was done in house and there weren’t going to be any featured bands in this game. The music seemed fine but it was lame not to have a choice between their music or licensed bands. I guess I’ll just have to listen to music on iTunes at the same time while playing Forza 5.
Since this is an Xbox One title, you immediately notice the visuals. They look great, don’t get me wrong, but at times they seemed a little bit underwhelming compared to other Xbox One games. During the E3 demo I stopped my Ferrari to see if the fans cheering on the side of the track were still hideous, and guess what? They are still frightening manikins. In one part during the race, fans on a bridge threw confetti on my passing car and it was stunning to see each piece go off in different directions. Also, the lighting and shadows in the first person view from the dashboard has to be some of the best I’ve ever seen.
One of the big features in Forza 5 is how they’re handling the Cloud feature of the Xbox One. Using the cloud, Forza 5 can bring your Xbox Live friends’ driving habits to your AI. This seems like it could be very innovative and something that all future racing games will need to stay competitive in the future.
With my hands on time with the E3 demo, I have to say that I’ll be picking this up at launch. Sure, the missing audio options are a little bit disappointing but that’s just a minor gripe I had. When it comes to what really matters–which is gameplay– Forza 5 doesn’t let you down. Hopefully, I’ll see you guys online!