A fun, if slightly repetitive racer with some of the best force feedback we've ever experienced
Be sure to read our full Xbox One hardware review for and in-depth look at the system and its features
The original Forza Motorsport added some much needed racing simulation to the original Xbox, which until that point only had the drift-heavy Project Gotham to appease car fans. It also put Microsoft’s console head to head with Sony’s PS2 in the eyes of many racing purists, which had the phenomenally successful Gran Turismo. Things have changed for the latest round of the console wars, with Sony’s PS4 lacking an exclusive racing game and Forza Motorsport 5 leading the charge for the Xbox One.
Developer Turn 10 has a passion for racing, which becomes instantly apparent the moment you start your first race. Engine notes are spot on, with subtle differences between straight six and V6 engines, tyre squeal accurately portrays losing grip and the cars themselves are modelled with incredible precision, reacting convincingly when shunted and crumpling on impact.
Such staunch attention to detail transfers into the handling model too, meaning each car behaves realistically on every type of surface, losing traction on gravel and gaining it again as you reach the tarmac. Forza has always tended towards oversteer and this fifth iteration is no different, letting you flick out the back end with barely any effort but recover in time to put the power down when exiting a corner. It brings a smile to your face every time, particularly as you can actually feel each car lose grip or the brakes lock up when entering a corner too quickly.
Assists like this braking line indicator can be switched off for a greater sense of simulation
This is all thanks to the Xbox One controller. The force feedback impulse triggers give a sense of feedback unlike anything we’ve experienced before, with the left stiffening up if you brake too hard and the right twitching as you reach the top of the rev range. It’s expertly implemented here and sets the bar high for future racing games on Microsoft’s console. In fact it transforms them so drastically that if you aren’t looking to invest in a racing wheel, the Xbox One should be your go-to console to get your racing fix.
The races themselves are less predictable than in other driving games, as the AI cars use data captured from other Forza players to add a more human element. The game monitors your driving style and uploads it to Microsoft’s servers, letting your digital self race other players when you’re doing other things to earn in-game credits. This does create a problem, however; whereas computer controlled drivers (and real racers) would brake to avoid collisions, few players do the same when there’s no danger of having to pay for the damage. This makes every overtake and corner a tricky one, as you could get side-swiped or shunted into the crash barrier. Forza’s rewind system makes a return, so you can correct mistakes, but your race purse gets reduced with every use.
Light reflects convincingly off the dashboard, although it’s just as distracting here as it is in real life
Once you leave the track to take a breather, you can pay closer attention to the cars themselves. The amount of detail Turn 10 has captured is simply staggering, with fully modelled interiors, mesh panels and carbon fibre weaves that accurately reflect light in the voyeuristic Forzavista mode. You can walk around each one, open the doors and take a seat behind the wheel – it’s the closest most can get to actually sitting in some of the most expensive cars in the world.