Forza Motorsport 7 (Review) – Hits Pole Position

Forza Motorsport 7 is here.

This month I waited patiently for the September 29 release of the Ultimate Edition of Turn 10’s latest racer (Standard and Deluxe Editions out October 3rd). Yesterday I finally had a chance to play one of my most anticipated games for 2017.

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The Drivers Cup – multi tiered and you get to pick what type of racing you want to do, including an Open Cup, where you can choose any car you own.

For those of you who don’t intend on reading the whole review the short version is that Forza Motorsport 7 is by far the best Motorsport game yet. The plethora of customisation, options, cars and tracks is just incredible. There is a proper career mode now that actually is completely addictive, and there is a lot more motivation to earn credits, buy more cars and listen and feel them on the track.

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Each series or race will add points to your Championship score. Once you hit the required limit you’ll unlock the next championship.

If you like the excellent Forza Horizon 3 then be aware, this is primarily track based racing. You’ll still get to do some showcase events (optional) where you can knock over bowling pins, try and pass slower cars in a much faster car before the lap runs out (as per earlier Forza Motorsport games) and many more. But the main focus is on the 30 locations with over 200 different variation of track. Forza fan favourites: Maple Valley, Suzuka and Mugello make a return, plus a new fictional track set in Dubai. It seems you get plenty of environmental variety during the single player career mode too, with rain, night / day and clear skies all playing a part.

But if you like racing, then this will really impress. I’m playing this game on the Xbox One S and it runs at a rock solid 60fps at 1080p. Turn 10 really know how to get the most out of the hardware. I’m sure I’m going to absolutely drool when I can play this in native 4K at 60fps on the Xbox One X. PC gamers will also be in for a massive treat, also pumping out 4K at 60fps.

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The cars looks great, particularly when you add another user’s created livery. My 1969 “Boss” Ford Mustang is an impressive beast.

Everything about Forza Motorsport 7 has improved over the previous versions. The dynamic music is really good and automatically fades out as the race starts. As already mentioned the graphics are incredible and same huge variation of the liveries remains. Car damage is still fantastic and is well realised. Little graphic improvements are also apparent, like cameras on dollies moving as you race past and helicopters flying overhead. Watching a jumbo jet land as you fly down a straight in Dubai is pretty damn cool too. This is the first Motorsport game that supports HDR, and does it make everything just look that much more life-like.

Where Turn 10 have really improved though is the sound. Cranking up my home theatre and listening to the rumbling roar of a V8 engine is just incredible. Hopping into a car, like the classic Alfa 1970 Montreal and hearing it’s V8 engine wind up in 4th gear is just amazing. Turn 10 have done an amazing job on improving how the cars sound.

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The Alfa Montreal is an amazing car. Note the game warns you when you try and upgrade beyond the specs required for a series. This means you won’t accidentally spend your hard earned cash buying an upgrade you can’t use.

Mods make a return but this time they are actually really useful. For example, mods are now used to try and remove an assist, which will result in extra credits for you. You can buy loot crates now too, which can include cars, driver suits and mods. Because you now have over 700 cars to drive, you’ll need every bit of extra cash. In terms of the RPG elements to this game, you also have a “Collector” rank on top of the usual driver rank. The “Collector” rank means you actually have to buy more cars, which gives you collector points and in turn unlocks higher ranks. This means you won’t necessarily be able to buy all the top tier cars from the beginning. I actually think this is a really good addition, because it gives you additional goals to go for.

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Collection level – the more cars you buy, the further your collection score increases – the better the rewards when you driver ranks up.

Speaking of the “Collector” rank, the further you go up in rank, the better the potential rewards when your driver levels up. The wheel spin has gone now and in place you get a chance to pick your reward. You can get a massive discount on a car (sometimes free), credits or a new driver suit (you can pick your gender). This is also excellent because it means you won’t just be collecting cars, but an appropriate look for the race too. For those who get the edition of the game that includes VIP membership just as a handy tip make sure you start the game, then fully close and restart. This will enable you to get your VIP rewards, including bonus crates. This is a known bug that will be patched very soon.

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Trusty cockpit view. Note the mirrors are fully realised and are very useful in tight races.

Thankfully you now have a new view for collecting and buying cars, and this can actually be done via the loading screens in the game. It is almost instantaneous too so if you want to buy a couple of cars while waiting for the next race to load, then go right ahead. It also allows you to change assists, your driver suit and even tune your car. This is by far once of the biggest UI improvements in the game. Now instead of just waiting patiently while the new race loads you can actually do some useful tinkering. It means that you barely notice the loading now. You can even change the assists mid race. It is attention to detail that simply helps make this one of the best Forza games ever.

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Up to 24 cars on track – very impressive considering it is running at 1080p (Xbox One S) and 60fps.

The game has a proper “Car Collection” menu now and if you want to buy cars quickly and easily you just have to use this option. This means no more waiting for (or skipping) the custom design screen – you can buy a stock car with a default colour and done. Then if you start using the car a lot you can always add a livery later.

As a driver you also have an additional view available. The “Driver” view sits you right up on the dash and provides a closer view of the road. This is a great view when paired with the indicator arrows that show you if a car is nearby. For those of you, like me, who prefer the standard Cockpit view – of course that is still there too. The HUD options are a lot more than previous Forza games too. The replays are excellent and more track cameras have been added.

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The new “Driver” view. You’ll not have to worry about mirrors or the wheel – just a good close look at the road.

So with everything there is to like I better spend a brief amount of time highlighting a couple of minor complaints. For sim racers there still seems to be no qualifying in the career mode. You tend to start in the middle of the pack as per previous Forza games. I know that part of the fun is fighting through the much improved AI but having a qualifying option would have been welcome. You can test drive the track prior to a race though, but being able to qualify would have been an excellent addition.

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When you level up as a driver, you have a choice of three prizes to pick now.

The dynamic weather and day / night cycle has definitely improved but I don’t feel it has true random environmental effects. The career mode does do a great job of keeping the environmental effects fun and varied though. Just like Forza Motorsport 6, only certain tracks allow rain and the night / day cycle. In Free Play mode for example you can tweak the rain to start / stop and everything in between but I hope they add a true random weather option. Project CARS had much better dynamic night / day and random weather. This is only really a small niggle though, because it looks absolutely incredible, with proper fog, lightning storms and other amazing conditions. When the rain starts too, you won’t get those giant puddles that caused you to aquaplane all the time in Forza Motorsport 6, so the physics and handling are much improved.

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It may not be randomised yet, but the weather is still dynamic and very impressive when it rolls in.

Due to getting the Ultimate Edition and playing it a few days prior to the official release I didn’t get a chance to try Multiplayer too much. It certainly looks like it has more bells and whistles though, and Leagues also makes a return. Interesting to note, you can’t create a private lobby on your own now but must have at least one friend join (makes sense). Those of you who like the Forzathon challenges in Forza Horizon 3, they are also coming to Forza Motorsport 7, as well as the Auction House. All of these options will go live in a couple of days with the main game release.

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The fog effects are incredible. Note even though in this screenshot the track has loaded, you have a multitude of options you can tinker with while the race loads.

If you like track based racing, and being able to drive a huge amount of cars, then this game is for you. It is extremely accessible, yet can be made more challenging as you start to remove those assists. I still think it is right up there as one of the best racing games this console generation. If you are into pure simulation then you might want to try the demo before you buy. Those gamers that are pure sim are more likely to play Project CARS 2, but I’m really glad we have a couple of really good choices for racing in 2017.

Forza Motorsport 7 is up there as being one of the best Forza games ever, while still being very accessible to all types of gamers. If you like racing, you’ll love this.

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Forzavista makes a return, both on the track and in the garage.

Reviewed on Xbox One S. 4K update coming when the Xbox One X is released November 7th.

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