Forza Motorsport 4 is a racing simulator for the Xbox 360. After clocking roughly 400 hours on Forza Motorsport 3, and enjoying nearly every minute, I was looking forward to this new release in the franchise. However an hour into playing the game, I released, except for a few additions, this was almost exactly the same game. Then I thought to myself, is this a bad thing? The answer is a yes and then followed swiftly by a no.
Forza Motorsport 4 consists of three main modes: Career, where you complete a tour of the globe multiple times trying to become the best racer on the planet, there is no story to bog you down, just a polite British man to hold your hand and drag you from race to race; Auto Vista, where the same British man and Jeremy Clarkson from the British version of Top Gear tell you about over a dozen fast or special cars; and lastly Multiplayer, where you race up to 16 other drivers around some of the worlds best racing tracks.
The Career is probably where you will spend most of your time in Forza 4, as you play you unlock a selection of different cars, ranging from a Citroen C4 all the way up to Peugeot 908 No.9 R1 racing cars that can go from 0 - 200+ in a matter of 10 seconds. The career consists of three different types of events. You can race against up to twelve cars in a race around different tracks, drive in cone slaloms, or even hit down bowling pins around the Top Gear Test Track to rack up a high score. All of this adds much needed variety to the franchise which used to consist of just longer and longer races that became progressively harder as you went along, but could always be toned back with an adjustable difficulty option. Now however, the difficulty is predetermined by what car you are driving and what types of upgrades you have on the vehicle as well as how far into your career you are. The Artificial Intelligence can be much harder this time around, they’ll shove you off the track if you try to over take them on a corner, and they’ll generally take corners pretty well. The rewind feature is back and can be exploited like always, as there is no limit to how much you can use it, then again you do have the option to turn it off. Though there is a more prominent bug this time around, which occasionally reared it’s head in Forza 3, when you use the rewind feature on a corner, more often than not the AI will fly off into a wall as they have not been able to adjust after you’ve rewound.
Auto Vista is the biggest and weakest new entry to the game. You’ll explore expensive cars and the two British Men will talk about the cars as you highlight different parts. This mode can be really interesting if you have a real passion for cars and not just racing, however for most of us it will be something that you flick through from time to time just as a distraction from the core gameplay.
Multiplayer has had some needed tweaks since the previous title. It is now possible to set up you own clans within the game, these are known as car clubs. Within these you can share your cars with the rest of the club, race against other clubs for supremacy in team or one on one events. Rivals mode lets you play against a ghost of another player from another part of the world, but you have the option to play against friend’s ghosts. There are multiple game types, that range from standard races for up to 16 players, to cat and mouse modes. You’ll often find that in multiplayer races however that players will clump together on the first corner, and this is where the race is often won or lost.
Forza 4 also supports Kinect. It can be used for driving the car, however you have no control of the acceleration or braking, taking you out of the experience by quite a bit, the steering also doesn’t feel as responsive as it should. Another use is for head tracking, which at first seems like a sensible idea, however in practice it doesn’t work so well. To use this function you turn your head and the camera will turn in that direction, though this poses the problem that you have to look out of the corner of your eye to be able to see the television, anyone with glasses won’t appreciate this, as all you will see is the side of your glasses. Lastly you can use Kinect voice support to move through the menu’s quickly, which works for the most part, however if you have the audio coming though the television, or any background noise, Kinect will pick it up and start moving you to another menu before you can say cancel, not good.
Forza 4 has seen a step up since the last entry. A reworked lighting system adds more depth to the scenery and the vehicles, it now feels like they are part of the same world, where as before it didn’t always seem that way. The reflections on the car aid this a lot and this is most apparent in Auto Vista, at times it is almost like a photograph or video of a real vehicle.
The soundtrack is good for the most part, with rock and dance tracks, this holds up to the generally high standards for the Forza series on the soundtrack front. Game audio is where it shines however. Through television speakers, the audio is powerful and can often make you feel like you are in the race. However the game sounds best through a surround sound system. Driving a Pagani Zonda R at top speed has never sounded quite so good.
This is a very fun game, the only problem is that to anyone who has played the previous games, it is all too familiar. If that isn’t a problem then this is an enormously fun game. It can be challenging and addictive, you just need to like to drive for fun. It should also be noted that the Kinect support doesn’t really add anything to the game, so do not be mislead by the “improved with Kinect on the front of the box”.
Forza Motorsport 4 is an easy game to recommend to anyone who hasn’t played Forza Motorsport 3 or to anyone who just likes racing games. However if you have played Forza 3 then you have to ask yourself, do you want to play more Forza Motorsport 3? If your answer is yes, then buy Forza 4, it is very good, it is just very similar to 3 except for a few added game modes. If you haven’t played 3, then this is a game that you should play, as it is the best racing simulator on the market.