Turn 10’s meticulously crafted car porn series has returned for its first outing on next-gen consoles, and it’s better than ever. This is without doubt the Xbox One’s finest visual offering, and whilst the racing sim still suffers from a lack of personality - more on that later - its new and returning features more than justify the series’ return to our disc drives.
Like its predecessor, you’ll be greeted in Forza 5 by the grizzled, grumpy and opinionated voice of one Jeremy Clarkson. The whole Top Gear cast is on hand again to give you some middle-aged commentary on what makes cars so fun, enjoyable and sexy. Before you get the chance to hear them prattle on though, you need to pick a car and compete in your first exhibition race - otherwise known as the tutorial.
We’ll just say it now, Forza not only looks fantastic, it feels fantastic. Every gear change you make - automatically or manually - can be felt in cockpit view, and doing sharp brakes around narrow corners is made extremely satisfying by the Xbox One controller’s rumble triggers. The responsive and immersive controls aren’t all though...
Presumably taking note of past criticism of how placid AI drivers were in previous entries, Turn 10 have reintroduced the brilliant Drivatar system. Once you’ve participated in your first handful of races, the Drivatar system will upload a digital interpretation of your driving skills to the cloud, where other players will have the pleasure of racing against you in their career mode. The system appears to work excellently, making the pseudo AI much more aggressive and unpredictable. Gone are the days where, once you reached pole position in a race, it was effectively over.
The career mode itself has been improved too. There’s a crazy amount of options to choose from. You’re presented with eight categories to pick from, which range from hatchback tourneys to the blistering speed of supercar races. These are all further split into other categories, taking the form of modern, vintage or middle - which define the age of the cars you wish to enter.
Despite the choice though, career mode can suffer from the same repetitiveness as previous entries. Thankfully new, special events are peppered all throughout the career which spice things up. One of these has us racing Top Gear’s Stig around the famous track from the TV show. We’re even assured that the only reason we’re able to beat the white-clad driver is because he’s only a digital version of the real thing.
So career mode has been spruced up, what about multiplayer? From what we could discern from our limited time with the online modes, it seems to be just as good as before. You can easily find a race with any performance motor by using quick match, which will group you with players in possession of similar cars. On top of this, paint jobs, decals and custom builds are all still available to buy from other players across the globe - so you can pimp your ride without spending hours in the customisation menus.
Not only is this a good idea, but we would recommend it. Forza revels in offering its fans the opportunity to tinker with every single aspect of a car, and if you’re new to the series, all the options can be very overwhelming. Everything from tyre pressure to brake adjustments can be tweaked, but whilst Turn 10 have clearly put a lot of effort into offering unparalleled customisation, none of it really feels necessary, only serving to frustrate more casual players who can’t get to grips with all the numbers and percentages.
On top of this, Forza 5 still seems to lack any discernible heart. The clinical feel from its predecessors has diminished, but it still lingers like a bad cold, taunting anyone that invests heavily into the game.
Regardless of the above though, Forza 5 is still the definitive version of the series, and whilst its customisation options may sometimes feel unnecessary, there’s no denying that the most important aspect - driving - feels absolutely top-notch. Helped further by the attractive visuals, great multiplayer component and enticing soundtrack, Forza 5 is an excellent launch lineup title for the Xbox One that just falls short of greatness.