My love of serious racing games can probably be traced back to Geoff Crammond’s BBC Micro game, REVS. Back in 1984 REVS stood out from the crowd due to it’s realistic simulation of Formula One. Over the last couple of decades my love for Formula One waned, and my love for touring cars became king. I followed Codemaster’s TOCA series from the PC, to Playstation and finally onto XBox. Then, with the launch of the XBox 360 came the first in the Forza Motorsport series. Over the years Forza has evolved and with the launch of the XBox One became better than ever, even if it didn’t live up to everyone’s expectations.
Turn 10 had a lot to live up to with Forza 6, it was their second Forza game on the new system, so they would have had enough time to milk the most out of the XBox One, and it was the 10 year anniversary. Nighttime and wet weather racing were touted as the big draw cards, both of which had been done before by other driving games, so anticipation was a little mixed for me.
More cars and more tracks were also promised.
So what did we get?
Well to start with over 450 cars, and 26 tracks, including 9 that are new to the franchise. Real-world tracks include Nürburgring, Bathurst, Spa and Le Mans along with Six new locations: Brands Hatch, Circuit of the Americas, Daytona, Lime Rock Park, Monza and Watkins Glen—make their debut. Rio de Janeiro returns from the original Forza Motorsport with a new track and Indianapolis was recreated after it’s 2014 renovation. Two tracks also return from Forza Motorsport 4: Hockenheimring and Sonoma.
That should be enough to keep the haters happy.
Then we come to night time racing. This isn’t what I was expecting. Though I should have been as Turn 10 never seem to do anything by half. Night time racing on most of the tracks mean pitch black. There is no street lighting, no full moon. Just your headlights. It’s scary and adds a whole new dimension to tracks. Only being able to see a short amount of track lit up by your headlights turns even your favorite tracks into an edge of your seats experience that demands that you master the track all over again. And be careful if you race with damage on, because a few bumps and you can knock both your headlights out meaning you’ll have to drive the back straight (and all of the following corners) of Le Mans essentially blind. It is nothing short of amazing and makes other night racing games laughable by comparison.
And then there’s the rain. From Colin McRae to F1, I’ve seen rain done well. From the in car view with wipers and rain running up your window, to the sheer amount of water thrown up by the cars in front of you, rain has looked spectacular in many racers before. It’s even affected driving, especially cornering and braking. But for Turn 10 it apparently had to be more than cosmetic, more than a little bit slippery. For Turn 10 there had to be surface water and aquaplaning. Hit a puddle at the wrong speed, wrong angle or just at the wrong time and you’ll be in all kinds of hurt. Rain in Forza 6 is a real game changer. Just as with the nighttime racing, it turns the familiar into a brand new challenge. Learning what puddles you can and can’t go through is the name of the game.
And with both night and rain, Turn 10 tell us that the lower temperatures also effect how the tires grip the track. We’ll have to take their word on that one, and their word is pretty damn good.
Visually the game is obviously stunning, the cars handle well, and the sound effects are great, with a emphasis on tire noise, giving you audible clues as to when your tires are gonna give up on gripping and let you slide. Every car feels, sounds and handles differently. All 450 of them.
The variety of races and events is massive, as you go through the career mode, you’ll be introduced to all the different levels of the sport and along the way be invited to all manner of showcase events, from the straight up race around the Indianapolis oval, to the crazy Top Gear car bowling, to the time investment of endurance racing at Bathurst. There is plenty of scope. And even when you’ve finished the career mode, because each step gives you six options, you can go back through it 5 more times. More if you want to try out ever single car in the game.
And yes, I did mention Top Gear. The test track is back, as are two of the former presenters. No guessing as to which one is missing, along with the Stig’s digital cousin, who will challenge you to a hoist of different races.
The drivatars are back, and better than ever, having had a fair number of games to pool their driving data from, adding their realism to the game, proving that not all drivers can do perfect lap after perfect lap. Online works well, though as per usual, it works best when playing with people you know and can trust not to be dicks.
Customising your cars is back (of course) and you can even import your saved artwork from Forza 5.
Two more new things for Forza have also been slipped in. The winning wheel from Forza Horizon is here, which makes collecting a decent amount of cars and money a lot easier, and then there are the Mod cards, a system that lets you collect cards, that when slotted into the available slots gives your car benefits, like extra grip, more experience, stuff like that. This is probably my least favourite feature. But it’s only a minor niggle for me. The simple career mode and the winning wheel however make the game very accessible, which is good on the one hand, but on the other gifts up so much so early, that sometimes it feels like the game isn’t encouraging you to work that hard. You could in reality cruise through the game never really caring if you came first or last. Though early on in the game at least, if you don’t come in the top 3, you don’t progress. So there is that incentive.
In short, Forza 6 is everything I could have hoped for an more. The things we feared could have been just gimmicks turned into game changers, and Turn 10 once again re-defined what it is to be a racing simulator, giving Drive Club and Gran Turismo a hell of a lot to think about.
Forza 6 is without a doubt the best racing game currently available.
Reviewed on: XBox One
Rating: G Suitable for general audiences.
Reviewed by: Jonathan