A fun, if slightly repetitive racer with some of the best force feedback we've ever experienced
Amazingly for a game with over 200 cars to choose from, we were still left wanting for more. The reason is a lack of circuit variety. After the first hour, when you’re done marvelling at the setting sun over the Bernese Alps and the photorealistic Silverstone paddock, you’ve raced every track several times. New additions like Barthurst and Spa are welcome, but they come at the cost of classics like Suzuka and the Nurburgring, long-standing series favourites that were deemed too lacking in detail to make the jump to the new console generation. Unless Turn 10 rescans and digitises the missing tracks as DLC, the grand total of 14 circuits available today is almost half the number seen in Forza 4. The career mode is a simple succession of 10 race championships, which can be tackled in any order as long as you have an eligible car in your garage. With no kind of dynamic weather or daylight system to shake things up, repetition quickly sets in.
Forzavista lets you inside every car in the game – we just wish you could press all the buttons
There are other grumbles too. Completing a race series increases your bank balance, but unlike previous games it doesn’t award you with any new cars. Everything must be bought, and although nothing is off limits right from the off, the only way to jump straight into the more challenging events is to grind out the lesser championships or use real-world cash to buy a new ride. Players were vocal with their criticisms, to the extent that prices were halved for a promotional weekend, but the system remains in place. That’s right, micro-transactions aren’t just for PC games any more – if you don’t have the in-game cash for that supercharger or transmission upgrade, you can pay a few pounds to buy it and save yourself some racing.
The soaring orchestral soundtrack felt a little out of place at times too, particularly when we were ragging a Mini Cooper around the Top Gear test track. Turn 10 has teamed up with the BBC not only to create a digital version of the most iconic racetrack on Sunday evening telly, but to enlist the vocal musings of Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond. Every time you jump into a new race series, one of the three chirps up with some witty commentary on the eligible cars. It will bring a smile to your face if you love Top Gear, but anyone that isn’t a fan will quickly get frustrated with the unstoppable videos.
Forza 5 feels like the series has taken two steps back for every step forward. The controller force feedback is absolutely unparalleled and the game looks sublime running in 1080p at a full 60fps, but the lack of circuit variety and heavy focus on micro-transactions are disappointing. We get the sense that given more time the developer could have delivered, but had to make cuts in order to reach Microsoft’s launch date. It’s still an enjoyable game, but it isn’t the must-have the Xbox One sorely needs.