Forza Motorsport 5 box artGiven time to write and unlimited reader patience, I'm sure I could create a raw list of hundreds of good reasons to buy Forza Motorsport 5, the newest title in the storied Forza franchise. But, for those of you interested in cutting to the chase, let me lead off with the top two:

1. It's the only truly next-generation racing title you can buy right now.

2. I've had it for two weeks and I can't stop playing it.

That second one is critical. After years of reviewing driving and racing video games, I have to say my ability to stay interested in a title past a few days has markedly decreased. The fact that FM5 has stayed slotted in a still-shining-new Xbox One, while supposedly excellent titles like Ryse: Son of Rome and Dead Rising 3 sit by largely unplayed, is telling.

Even after sampling the new Forza at E3 this year, I wasn't entirely sure that would be the case. As pre-launch news filtered in about a smaller roster of cars and fewer tracks than were available for Forza 4, my expectations dimmed even more. As it turns out though, I needn't have worried, because Forza 5 is worth the massive amount of marketing that has been bestowed upon it to date; it's the first game you should play for the Xbox One if you care about cars, and it could be the racer that finally quells the rivalry with that other title from Sony. Here's why.
Toss the disc into your newly acquired gaming system, get past the obligatory downloads and installation (one unfortunate time suck that all new Xbox One users will become acquainted with) and prepare to be consistently stunned with what you see. Developed from the ground up to be played on next-generation hardware, FM5 looks every bit the evolutionary step forward in driving games.

Viewed in a static state, all of the vehicles of the game appear just a hair's breadth shy of being perfectly photo realistic. Certainly when viewed in Forza's returning Forzavista mode – essentially a virtual walk-around of a single car – each and every vehicle in the game looks utterly lifelike, down to hints of orange peel in the paint and appropriate texture on the metal of visible brake rotors. Hell, just have a look at the screen saver video:

Forza Motorsport 5 Introduction

More impressive, by some margin, is how the renderings of the vehicles hold up while underway. (Please note that the in-game screen captures appear to be lower resolution in our galleries than they do in actual play – a product of the capture software.) The overall lighting of the game is, excuse the pun, brilliant, and the play of light and shadow on and around the moving cars is unprecedented. Turn 10 Studios committed early to creating an experience that would run at a fast, flowing 60 frames per second, and the result is this impeccably smooth presentation of both cars and tracks at speed. And, despite some pretty heavy criticism leveled at the studio for the final product versus the ultra detailed build of Forza we saw at E3, details like street surfacing, suspension movement, damage modeling, etc., is all pretty great.

Even in full-n00b mode, braking and accelerating feel weighty and tactile.

Of course looking great and driving great are two completely different things. If there's one spot where Gran Turismo 5 still really had it over Forza Motorsport 4, it was in the more precise vehicle physics and faithful reproduction of the real world driving experience. With Forza 5, however, Turn 10 has taken quite a few leaps forward.

FM5 still offers a very nice pick-up-and-play experience for those who aren't into the hardcore simulations, with assists that range from steering and braking aids, to an easy to follow driving line, automatic transmissions and many selectable levels of competition (more on that in a second). With all of the above tuned for the novice, it's very straightforward to pick up a controller and race decently – even win. What's great is that, even in full-n00b mode, braking and accelerating feel weighty and tactile, thanks to the ingenious trigger motors of the new XB1 controllers, and cars offer a significant sense of grip-limit.

Forza Motorsport 5Forza Motorsport 5Forza Motorsport 5

The other major factor in Forza 5's realistic gameplay is the much-vaunted Drivatar system.

Start to turn the assists down or off – completely manual braking and steering make the biggest difference here – and play becomes instantly more challenging, and even more faithful still to the real world dynamic experience. Steering inputs have heavy consequences if they aren't subtle; understeer and oversteer are progressive in development but ticklish to deal with on the edge; front /rear balance and curb weight make themselves felt on every corner.

I'm fascinated to see if Gran Turismo 6, running on Playstation 3 hardware, will be able to fully match the accurate simulation of physics here. Right now Forza is in the lead where GT has always hung its hat, and with no PS4 version of the Polyphony franchise in sight...

The other major factor in Forza 5's realistic gameplay is the much-vaunted Drivatar system. For those of you who missed it, this is Turn 10's newest take on replacing artificial intelligence for the cars you race in offline play.

Forza Motorsport 5

​The basic idea is that everyone who plays a game of FM5 creates a Drivatar with his or her profile, which then is uploaded to the cloud and constantly updated with new driving data. If you tend to brake early, so does your Drivatar; if you're slow through The Corkscrew at Laguna Seca, so is your Drivatar. The result is meant to be a single player experience where your opponents are still just as crafty and unpredictable as live human opponents.

The result is that all races feel much more 'alive' than in any other title I've played.

And the system works, perhaps even a bit too well.

Here's what I don't like: most of the people who play Forza 5 so far, and their digital representations like them, have just terrible manners on the track. Where standard racing AI will allow me, if I'm on my game, to scythe elegant lines through corners and between dimwitted opponents, Forza's cadre of bloodthirsty Drivatars is more likely to brake check my ass, and force me into the gravel trap at Turn 1.

What's more, while you can select opponents ranked anywhere from "New Racer" to "Unbeatable," the lower tiers' incompetence is almost as difficult to deal with as the ace drivers' skill. Crowded starting areas filled with easier-to-beat Drivatars turn in to screeching sinkholes of burning brakes and bent metal. The programing team has handcuffed the Drivatars to a certain extent, to save us all from simply irrational behavior (driving every track backwards), but a lot of chaos still gets through. It's not that the new system is bad, far from it, but the result is that all races feel much more 'alive' than in any other title I've played. That was probably the goal, but be forewarned.

Forza Motorsport 5Forza Motorsport 5Forza Motorsport 5

If the replacement for artificial intelligence is slightly more real than I'd always like, the small moments of magic that crowd the rest of the FM5 experience more than make up for it.

No kidding; FM5 now allows for up to 3,000 individual layers per car side.

I'm not the world's most enthusiastic Top Gear fan, but even I can appreciate the application of that series and its stars here. The TG test track is back and is one of the more entertaining circuits of the game: a new set of races asks you to best The Stig's Digital Cousin and every one of the racing series is introduced with a great cut scene by one of the Top Gear triumvirate. Clarkson gives us a representative sample, just below.

The car customization available in Forza 5 is also pretty delightful. Fans of the series will recognize the system for mechanical upgrades (with manual and auto-adjusting versions), but the ways in which you can visually personalize your car are far richer than they were in Forza Motorsport 4 or Forza Horizon. Use stock graphics or design your own, spray with a nearly infinite variety of paints and finishes (I found the various patterns of prototype-car camouflage quite charming), and layer away until your heart's content. No kidding; FM5 now allows for up to 3,000 individual layers per car side. My flat green and black "doom" E30 M3, seen in the gameplay gallery, is a pretty poor example of the fun you can have. (I'd love to see your designs, gamers – hit me up on Twitter @Seyth or message me on Xbox Live, gamertag: FisherSpassky.)

Forza Motorsport 5 Jeremy Clarkson, Iconic Sports Cars

It's very difficult to see Forza Motorsport 5 as anything less than the very best in class.

I could pick nits with a smallish number of overall vehicles (see all of them, along with the Ferrari DLC pack, in our awesome gallery) and too few tracks, but the reality is that this is a game I won't be putting down for some time.

At Autoblog, we don't have a history of scoring cars or video games on some kind of numerical scale as a summary. I think that's correct, as good reviewing includes a lot of nuance, and the understanding that something that I love isn't necessarily 'good' or 'bad' in a way that is easily quantifiable. Some people like chocolate, some like vanilla, and all that. However, if you look at racing and driving simulation games as a whole, it's very difficult to see Forza Motorsport 5 as anything less than the very best in class. Period. Ten out of ten; full points.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've just downloaded a LaFerrari to drive at Spa. See you on the track.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 63 Comments
      GVIrish
      • 1 Year Ago
      If the author has played console racing games for a good amount time, I'm surprised that he didn't mention all of the features that Forza 4 had that do not exist in Forza 5. *No Auction House *Can't drive every car in Free Play mode *You can't sell cars back for credits. You can delete them for 0 credits *No private multiplayer lobbies *No car clubs Then there's the microtransactions. The prices for some of the cars in the game are set VERY high, to the point that you've got to spend about 30 real dollars to get enough tokens to buy the Lotus F1 car. If you bought the LE of the game on the promise that the included tokens could buy you any car in the game, well, you got scammed. Oh, and let's not forget that the $300 Forza-branded steering wheel you bought for Forza 4 won't work with the Xbox One because Microsoft decided they'd rather you buy another $300 steering wheel. All of that, and there's less than half of the cars in the game and only 14 tracks. Old favorites like Suzuka, Road America, and the Nurburgring are all gone (Nurburgring will be downloadble at some point). Yes there'll be more cars with DLC, but you'll pay $50 for the privilege of getting 60 more cars, a 66% price increase over Forza 4. So yes, if you already have a Xbox One, and you don't have a PS3, and you don't mind the fact that you're getting far less content but far more microtransactions, Forza 5 is a great buy! But if you were a fan of previous Forzas like I was, be prepared for a rude awakening.
      Lachmund
      • 1 Year Ago
      The game is an embarrassement to all real Forza fans. It is clear Turn 10 was forced to release it early so it can be released at launch. At the moment this is only half a game and it's clear Microsoft simply want to suck their customers dry with payed DLCs for missing cars and tracks and microtransaction. Shame on you Microsoft and Turn 10!
        jayvelliott
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Lachmund
        Preach Brother! Fooled me in Forza 2,3, and 4. I feel like im being ripped off every time i buy these game...and i think most Forza fans are fed up. Its like you buy all these cars in Forza 3 only for them to be missing in Forza 4.. You buy them over again...then Forza 5 comes and you have to buy them over again just because the trunk opens and the head lights turn on? no thank you
      Mike
      • 1 Year Ago
      Forza 5 Prologue would be a better name for this game given the lack of content compared to Forza 4. Talk about a major set back just to be ready for launch. Don't even get me started about the micro transactions and limited availability of cars in free play. I wish I could get my $80 back I spent on the Limited Edition. As a long time fan of the series it's just a big disappointment. Only thing MS could do is offer a boatload of free DLC to get it closer to the level of Forza 4.
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      It doesn't support any existing driving wheels. Oh, you bought a $400 Fanatec wheel for 360 to play Forza 3/4 because those games didn't support older wheels either? Too bad. Throw it in the trash and get ready to pony up hundreds again to drive this game like it's mean to be driven. And it's funny you say you just downloaded a LaFerrari. Did you forget to mention you had to pay to download it? MS removed half the cars from Forza 4 and half the tracks. And they added piles of day one DLC (additional cost content). This game is an absurd cash grab on MS' part. It's disgusting. GT may not be as good as Forza, but I can use the same Logitech G25 steering wheel on the PS2, PS3 and I'm quite sure I'll be able to use it on the PS4 too. And Sony never even saw a dime of licensing revenue from that wheel, it was sold as a PC wheel. Greedy MS.
        Lachmund
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rotation
        Oh yeah, I totally forgot about the wheels...unacceptable! Sad that, unlike lots of real reviewers (the game has a 83 on metacritic), the author in all his enthusiasm decided to simply overlook those serious drawbacks.
        LLL
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rotation
        PREACH ! Bruthuh PREACH !
        rsxvue
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rotation
        Another way Microsoft nickel and dimes the consumer.
        GVIrish
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rotation
        Because of the steering wheel issue I just bought a used PS3 and will be picking up GT6. I'm in for $175 instead of $560 and I get to use my steering wheel and pedals.
          GVIrish
          • 1 Year Ago
          @GVIrish
          I'll upgrade to whatever makes sense at the time. I had preordered an XB1 with Forza 5 and BF4 but when I found out about the wheel nonsense I cancelled and decided to go with the PS3+GT6. I was a big fan of FM3 and FM4 that whole deal turned me off. If Forza 6 gets things back on track I might return to Forza but I don't think Microsoft is going to relent on the wheel issue, and as of right now, Sony is not blocking existing wheels. I'll be buying a PS4 anyway so at the moment it doesn't look like I'll be buying FM5 or FM6. I'm not going to bet on Polyphony Digital getting GT7 out quickly, but if it's out in 2 years I'll be happy.
          The Wasp
          • 1 Year Ago
          @GVIrish
          Cool story. What are you going to do in 1-5 years when the PS3 is completely obsolete?
          Lachmund
          • 1 Year Ago
          @GVIrish
          wasp..we will buy a PS4 and GT7 and still use our old wheels!
          clquake
          • 1 Year Ago
          @GVIrish
          He could also wait 5 yrs when the price drops and all the bugs have been worked out.
      LLL
      • 1 Year Ago
      What about rendering everyone's very expensive wheel and pedal sets, incompatible!?!?! Microsoft??!! Yet Sony says "sure"! u can use your old controllers, no worries!!(my CSR Elite is not old barely a year...) Greedy effin Microsoft! Bye Forza! Welcome back, my old friend Gran Turismo!!
        LLL
        • 1 Year Ago
        @LLL
        the big slap in the face is the fact that both of the new consoles are no more than a tightly packaged PC running two different OSs.. If the PS4 can use our existing hardware then SO can the Xbox1...
          Lachmund
          • 1 Year Ago
          @LLL
          unfortunately not since Microsoft doesn't support those wheels because it wants to sell their overpriced Forza wheels first.
      jayvelliott
      • 1 Year Ago
      Agreed these guys are like the government or politicians. They just get greedier and greedier. Now you have re-buy all the tracks and cars you paid for in Forza 4. I did it when they went from Forza 3 to Forza 4 I refuse to do it this time. It's like you buy all the cars and tracks just for them be stripped from the new version of the Game. Why not just include all those same friggin cars from the start? No instead they will release less cars and tracks and you have to buy them again....why you ask? Because before the head lights didn't work and the trunk didn't open but now it does....go F yourself Turn 10...
        John Ralphio
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jayvelliott
        This is why I purchased 'Assetto Corsa' for PC. I'm basically trying out my options at this point. I'm happy to wait until Xbox drops to $400 or less and Turn 10 re-release Forza 5 with DLC included. I've always been unhappy with the selection of tracks in Forza. Releasing with less then FM4? This should not be a launch title, if Turn 10 didn't have enough time to make a complete game.
          Lachmund
          • 1 Year Ago
          @John Ralphio
          I'll just quote a Turn 10 spokesperson: "We had extraordinary success with our DLC model."
      XT6Wagon
      • 1 Year Ago
      Forza 5, The REAL DLC Simulator. Its so bad they don't even know they are talking about milking the public... well... in public. Their response to not having Nurburgring? Straight up admitted they already planned the first year of stuff for you to pay extra money for. I'd love to have GT6 in 1080P and 60fps in live racing, but if I had to give something up.. I'd rather pay $60 for a bit worse graphics than $100+ and not even know when/what I'll get the other 1/2 of the game. GT5 was already leaps and bounds better than Forza 4 for "car porn". Look, sound, everything was just that much better. Double so when you fired up a 16 car race with supercars on a fast track and then watched the replay. In game the difference in graphics wasn't a deal breaker, but the replay mode where it could run 1080P native... That said, GT5 felt more like chores than fun at Times. I hope GT6 brings back some of that epic fun that GT1/GT2 was.
      Justin Shaw
      • 1 Year Ago
      Was pretty bummed at first that I went with the PS4 subsequently meaning going the GT route. But after hearing of all if this games short comings, I'm glad I never sold Forza 4 or my 360. Just hope GT doest pull this same stunt
      Temple
      • 1 Year Ago
      Seriously, this reads like blatant advertisement. This "review" even has a picture of the box. Also, the controversial microtransactions aren't even touched on, which every other real gaming site is talking about (basically nickel-and-diming you after you've paid $60 for a game). And seriously, this game lacks Suzuka and the Nürburgring Nordschleife tracks that were in Forza 4. A big deal to auto-enthusiasts being that its the world's most famous tracks, and a constant source of discussion. Instead the exclusions are brushed over with the line " this is a game I won't be putting down for some time."
      clquake
      • 1 Year Ago
      Turn 10 is "addressing" the "concerns", but it's still a blatant money grab for 50% off, you're still paying $60 for a half baked release and the privilege of paying more for content that should have been included in the first place. In my opinion, they should GIVE the dlc away for 6 mos to a year from the day you first play it.
        steve_macdonald
        • 1 Year Ago
        @clquake
        It's $60 fer cryin' out loud. Unless you're dirt poor and really can't afford that, complaining about the price for what amounts to hundreds -- maybe thousands -- of hours of enjoyment for most car people is simply petty. And if you're THAT poor you can't afford an Xbox One to begin with. Until you can create a better, more complete driving game/simulator for $60, I'd just as soon all you haters just zip it for a change.
          Toyota Winnipeg
          • 1 Year Ago
          @steve_macdonald
          The game is half finished and was rushed to market by the publisher because they needed a launch title. Now they're stuck with half of a games worth of content and stake holders that won't let them give away something for nothing down the road. Just because I bought the console and game doesn't mean I see it as good value.
          Lachmund
          • 1 Year Ago
          @steve_macdonald
          I find it kinda sad that there are really people who seem to willingly accept this rip off. It is you people who allow them to try those stunts on us and that really sucks.
      Toyota Winnipeg
      • 1 Year Ago
      I've been a huge Forza fan since it's inception, but this latest version makes me question that loyalty. The micro-transactions are out of control. Forza 4 had over 500 cars and 26 tracks, but 5 only has something like 10 tracks and 200 cars. That would be great if the game cost half as much, but it doesn't, it's still a full retail title. You can go online and pay an extra $50 to top up the car count with an "add on" to match previous installments, and I'm 99% sure that "add-on" tracks will also become available. All said and done, you'll be into this game for a couple of hundred dollars just to match the previous versions content. At first I wondered why the Nuburgring wasn't present, then I realized that it's probably the most sought after track in the game, and they realized that people will pay up for it after the fact. And for the people saying "it's only $60", it's not about the actual cash laid out, it's about the value behind what you're getting. The game has literally half the content of previous versions and is the same price. With all that being said, I still bought the game. I just hope I'm bored of it before I get the itch to buy some extras.
      Jarda
      • 1 Year Ago
      "Hey, let's not use YouTube player, let's create our own so it has no 100% fullscreen!"
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