I’ve been playing Forza Motorsport since its 3rd iteration. So I tend to view the series as both an exciting and a reassuringly familiar title that tries to get you as close to the reality of racing as possible, without killing you. And though Forza Motorsport 6 may look very familiar, it features some important changes and new additions.
Forza Motorsport 6 kicks off with a superb cut-scene introduction before putting you in the driving seat of the forthcoming 2017 Ford GT, where you get to experience the improved scenery and the excitement of competitive racing, first-hand, but within a more controlled environment. After that, though, it’s time to choose your first career car and get down to the business of earning points, buying cars, and making your way through the vast career that’s on offer. But this time round the career mode feels more like a journey, one that you want to take.
One of the immediate enhancements to Forza this time round is the obvious graphical improvement. You’ll notice that right from the start. But Turn 10 has also bolstered the impressive line-up of cars by adding more of them, 460 in total. And each car can be viewed in exquisite detail via Forzavista: the game’s bespoke showroom. Here, each and every car can be opened, examined and started. Don’t like the colour? Simple. Change it.
Career mode is expansive but simpler this time round. It’s far more linear, providing a steady progression through the various ‘volumes’ in the game. Each volume is broken down into a number of different series, each one offering slices of competitive progression in ‘hot hatches’, saloons, coupes, or sports cars. The earlier volumes are geared towards breaking you in to the nuances of competitive racing, without overwhelming you. But that doesn’t mean victory is assured. The latter volumes, however, are firmly aimed at hardcore racing, in dedicated racing cars.
Additional improvements include the impressive and game-changing weather system and night racing, where a single, overconfident encounter with a puddle can send you reeling from 1st to 16th. Forza 6 also features up to 24 car slots for both career and online multiplayer, which results in some truly competitive play. And adding wet weather and night racing pushes each driver to their limit, both in terms of skill and patience. That said, there have been occasions when a puddle or two have proved to be helpful. In one race, I was running wide on a bend, losing speed and momentum in the process. So I decided to take the bend with one front wheel in the puddle. The result was a helpful reduction in speed at just the right moment and a slight change in direction. It was like changing down a gear. But obviously this doesn’t work for every puddle or every corner.
Like Forza 5, Drivatar’s are back, providing you with more realistic opponents in career races, and also bumping up your credits when you’re offline. Reassuringly, though, they’re not immune to the effects of aquaplaning.
I get the impression that Turn 10 wanted to gel all of the good things from previous iterations together, while injecting plenty of new features to bolster the experience. The cars aren’t as twitchy as they were in Forza 5, and they’ve been wonderfully re-created into sublime digital versions of their fire-spitting cousins. Just take a look at the cars at night if you don’t believe me, and how the light is reflected from each shiny shell of perfection.
Multiplayer is — for me– where the main fun is at, though. Get 24 players together, on a wet and varied track, using high-end racing cars and the result is both fantastically enjoyable chaos and a real test of driving ability. But you can take things slow at first if you’re new to Forza. Introductory races are available and more competitive ones are waiting for you when you feel ready. It’s well balanced.
Additionally, the backdrops have also undergone a makeover. The racing stands and surrounding scenery at each location now feel vibrant and alive, instead of static backdrops that people might ignore. And it all adds to the experience. This is the one iteration of Forza where I felt as though the experience of venturing into each car is on par with the desire to progress as a driver. It’s become a story, a journey, without superfluous narrative elements or excessive voice overs.
There are one or two slight issues, such as not being able to jump around within the career mode as freely as in previous Forza games, or being able to view the cars within a bespoke manufacturer’s showroom. But the latter is just down a personal taste and the former is still helpful to those old and new to Forza. Neither of which really hamper or detract from it’s purpose as a racer.
The end result is something that’s engaging, balanced and comfortingly familiar, like a faithful and friendly dog. Except this dog drinks petrol, chews rubber, and sounds like a 5.3 litre V12 when it barks.