Forza Motorsport 6 Review
Words: Ian Dransfield
It’s a bit of a bizarre one, first turning on Forza Motorsport 6 and being confronted by one of the most pretentious, twerpish introductory sequences we’ve ever seen. It sets the stall out from the very beginning: this is a game that values cars and the racing of said cars (and some other vehicles) much more highly than anything else in the entire history of humanity. Cars are important. Cars matter more than you could ever imagine. Cars speak to you. Cars. CARS.
The thing is, Forza 6 is so very bloody good we’re almost able to overlook this astonishingly po-faced take on the act of flinging superpowered hunks of metal around closed-off bits of road (and specially-built bits of track). Almost, but not quite. It’s hard to ignore the bit where the game literally compares racing a car to going to war. But even with that caveat firmly in place, there’s no doubt about it: Forza 6 is the racing game for Xbox One.
At the console’s launch, we were met with the functional, but utterly launch-gamey Forza Motorsport 5. It was good, but it felt lacking in many ways: a limited selection of vehicles, fewer tracks than ever before, a huge reliance on tokens – and the microtransactions that came with them… It just wasn’t as great as we wanted, but more importantly, it wasn’t as brilliant as we knew Turn 10 was capable of producing. It was a bit rushed, a bit cynical, a bit unlike the Forzas from generations past. Thankfully, everyone involved in the decision-making process has listened when it comes to Forza Motorsport 6 – so wipe those brows, there’s very little to worry about here.
Once you’ve moved beyond that woeful introductory sequence and the irritating videos (and soulless voiceover) that riddle the game, the meat of Forza 6 presents itself. It all centres around a career mode divided into five distinct types of racing, or ‘Stories of Motorsport’. Said stories comprise of Super Street, Sport Icons, Grand Touring, Professional Racing and Ultimate Motorsport, with each taking in six different classes of vehicle.
You’ll start out blasting around tracks in compact coupés or hot hatches, moving on up through American muscle cars, SUVs, supercars, Sport GTs, touring cars, Formula E speedsters and on to frankly ludicrous super-vehicles that would probably take off and fly to the moon were it not for their impressively scientific downforce-producing flaps. With a selection of cars dating back to the dawn of the car as a personal transit tool, there’s sure to be something in there even for the most drive-by-night of petrolheads. Or you can just stick with the Dodge Viper, because it’s the best car in every driving game released since 1998.
While all of the cars on offer are visually up to Xbox One spec, complete with detailed cockpit views and full damage modelling (which can be purely cosmetic or not, as you choose), this isn’t just a parade of good looks. Turn 10 has made very sure the cars handle just as they do in real life, so your approach to a race in the aforementioned Viper will be vastly different to that when you’re pootling around in a Ford Focus, which again will differ from when you’re tearing it up in a specced-up Honda NSX. Thankfully, all of this is scalable depending on your ability, so even those of you out there who don’t consider yourselves king or queen of the road will be accommodated for – braking, steering, racing line, damage: it can all be switched on or off to varying degrees, helping or hindering as the case may be.
Another way in which Turn 10 has made sure the visual quality matches the actual impact of a feature is in both night racing and racing in the rain. The former might not seem like much – we’ve had racing in the darktimes for as long as we’ve had racing games. But there’s a real difference to be felt when hurtling around a track at 150mph with nothing but your own lights illuminating the thin strip of track in front of you. It’s an exhilarating sense of tunnel vision; claustrophobic in a way, but ultimately a very rewarding feeling once you’ve come out the other end in the lead.
Then, the rain. We laughed – we really did – when Turn 10 spent so much time talking up the benefits of puddles in its pre-release Forza 6 presentations. But we hold up our hands and accept the team was right to push this to the top of the features list: rain in Forza 6 is a revelation. Not only does it have a serious impact on acceleration, braking and handling of the vehicles, requiring a modified strategy to take on those wet races, but it has puddles. Oh, the puddles. Crafted with realistic track placement and physics properties, these wet bastards are capable of throwing you off your line, forcing one or more wheels to lose traction, slowing you down a jot and just generally messing up your (race) day. You have to seriously take these splashy pools into account when racing in the wet, and it adds a dimension to Forza 6 that we’ve never seen before in the series – or in any other driving game, for that matter. Puddles, eh? Who expected that?
Elsewhere in Forza Motorsport 6 you’ll see the usual array of features: single races; online modes to battle your friends, enemies and randoms in; the ability to test drive the game’s vehicles for a laugh; livery and under-the-hood customisation to make each car truly your own. It’s what you’d expect and it’s all great, but there’s more too: leagues offer you the chance to play through set, timed community events against anyone else who signs up. Once the time period is up, a winner is declared and prizes are doled out. Rivals allows you to take on time trials under different circumstances, related to players of similar skill levels and friends – take on Laguna Seca in a set car with set specs, for example.
Then there are the showcase events, unlocked as you play through career mode. There are ten categories and dozens of races within, each pitting you against a certain challenge – beat Top Gear’s Stig in a one-on-one race, tackle super-long endurance races, or live through the ‘moments in motorsport’ – the birth of grand prix racing, maybe, or a chance to mess about in vintage experimental prototypes. While you are required to play through Stories of Motorsport to unlock these showcases, they’re well worth it: exciting, focused and a great companion to the broader, less-themed career mode.
Forza 6 also introduces prize spins and ‘mod’ cards, and we can already hear you groaning. But don’t worry: there are no microtransactions in this game, even though both of these features look perfect for gouging more money out of players. Instead, prize spins are offered every time you level up or complete a class in career mode, and the prizes offered are… well, pretty damn good. It’s a bit cheeky to win a million credits when you hit level three, but at the same time it’s nice not to have to pay 69p for it. Mods are also easy to unlock, but they’re a bit out of place here – cards that modify performance and rules for bonuses (plus 9% grip, maybe) and ‘dares’ (e.g. play with simulation damage for a 10% boost to earned credits). They work, and you don’t have to fork out real money for them… but they don’t fit.
It’s not a dealbreaker, mind. In fact, Forza Motorsport 6 encounters zero dealbreakers. There are irritations – the game’s off-putting attitude, the weird inclusion of mods, the speed at which your career goes from nothing to supercars – but there’s nothing that stops us from recommending the game to every Xbox One owner. Unless you really, truly, pathologically hate cars – in which case, you might want to steer clear. Everyone else: go wild.