Review: Forza Motorsport 7 is a distractingly beautiful masterpiece

Forza Motorsport 7 is the best looking racing game ever created, bar none. That might sound like a bold statement, but as soon as you get into your first...

Forza Motorsport 7 is the best looking racing game ever created, bar none. That might sound like a bold statement, but as soon as you get into your first race, you’ll start to understand why that’s not an overstatement. As you play through your career, you’ll experience more tracks, more weather conditions and more of the 700+ cars in the game, all of which look gorgeous. The game is an Xbox Play Anywhere title, which means you buy it once and you can play it on Xbox or PC. Through the review, I spent time on both platforms and my progression synced flawlessly.

Graphics

Its been 2 years since Forza Motorsport 6 and the graphical differences between the two titles, let alone other games out this year, is absolutely phenomenal. Turn 10 Studios have some produced some kind of magic in visual quality here. Let me start by saying I played on a GTX1080 with settings on Ultra.

Of course this year we get serious 4K gaming in Forza, running at 60fps, but so do many games, its less about the pixel count and frame rate and a lot more about what’s in each one of those frames. DX12 is partly responsible in delivering new visual effects and rendering techniques, but there’s moments where you’ll get distracted by how the amazingly detailed environments are and how the light hits and reflects from the roads and vehicles.

Something I absolutely love in the settings menu, is that Forza 7 is fairly unique, in that it allows you set the resolution regardless of what your currently connected display is capable of. This means you can set the resolution to 4K (3840×2160) even while running on 1080p displays. In an ideal world, we’d have 4K displays in every room of the house, but chances are, you’ll still have some HD displays around. By providing them with the best source material, you’ll be amazed at how good a 1080p gaming experience can look. This feature isn’t often found in games, which often cap you at 1080 when connected to a 1080 display, despite your GPU being capable of much more.

Moving to gaming on a 4K display, this is where you get to appreciate how good a solid 4K gaming experience can be. Creating amazingly detailed 3D models of the environments and cars is one thing, but rendering that to the screen can’t take hours, it has to be done 60 times a second. Add in the draw distances, the lighting, shadows, transparency, reflections, dirt, rain, damage and you’ve got a serious compute problem on your hands. Frankly, its amazing this is possible, but despite how gorgeous everything it is, gameplay is buttery smooth in 4K. Does the frame rate ever drop below 60fps? Yes it did, during replays of specific environments, but the lowest if ever dropped to, was 52fps, still very, very acceptable.

Honestly its hard to describe in words how good this game is. When you race in cockpit view, you’ll see the detail in the fabrics in the dash, the steering wheel and the driver’s gloves. In the external views, you’ll see silky smooth reflections that dynamically respond to the ever changing world around you.

Gameplay

Forza racing spans a wide variety of racing formats, including everything from ATVs, road cars (sedans and SUVs), GTs, trucks, utes, hypercars, prototypes and even Formula E and Formula 1. This diversity in cars and categories means it keeps the career mode interesting and provides plenty of opportunity for leagues (coming soon) to use the game as a platform for multiplayer racing. Ultimately it means you’ll come back for more racing more often, adding to the value for money if you buy this game.

In terms of the racing itself, exciting wheel to wheel racing relies on you matching the grid difficulty and aggression settings correct. Winning is fun, but you want a challenge. If you win a few races by a decent margin, the game quickly identifies you could do with better competition and suggests you increase the difficulty level.

In career mode, you work through different Cups. Each Cup contains a set of races (usually 4 or 5) you can use to earn credits to unlock the next. Cups also contain special events like police car bowling around the Top Gear track. These special events are a great bit of fun before returning to the serious racing. Races also give exposure to day/night and dry/wet racing to keep you on your toes.

Forza 7 once again returns the local split-screen mode. This is a very welcome addition as many games are leaving this feature out. While we are gaming online more than ever before, there’s nothing better than going head to head with a mate on the same console or PC.

Unfortunately there is no specific time trial mode which seems like a big omission. While Free Play lets you set the opponents to 0 so you have the track to yourself, its not as simple as having a time trial mode where you choose the car and the track and get after it. Given its the Bathurst 1000 weekend in Australia, we want to go head-to-head with friends and worldwide leaderboards.

Prize crates and mods

While most of the game focuses on giving you a realistic driving experience, loot crates and mods are a simply gaming addition. Crates can be earned through racing achievements or purchased with credits. Inside these crates are randomised prizes including race suits, cars, credits and mods. There are 3 slots available for Mods as you race. These restrict racing in terms of the camera available, the weather conditions, or set racing challenges, like achieving X number of great overtakes or finishing in a top position. If you succeed with the Mods in place, you’ll increase the earning from the race, allowing you to buy more cars.

 

Controller support

Forza has one of the longest lists in terms of support for wheel and pedal sets and I spent most of the time racing on the Logitech G920 on PC. I did experience some issues unique issues specifically with Forza7, not seen in F1 2017, Project Cars 2, WRC7, where the wheel would loose its force feedback and require a physical disconnection and reconnection to return it. This hopefully can be fixed in a future update. Despite that, racing with a wheel and pedals setup is highly recommend for Forza, allowing more precise inputs and a much more realistic racing experience.

The other option is to use an Xbox controller and the game offers plenty of options for how realistic (difficult) you want the steering to be.

Issues

There’s an issue with the Bathurst track that I never seen in a game before. On PC, I found it first in a replay, but then even during a Free Play race, where the track, as in the road surface would become see-through. This is a massive glitch and needs to be fixed. Thankfully this was rare, which meant I have been able to race dozens of laps without issue. I’m running a GTX1080 in the Lenovo Y710 Cube, this stuff should just work.

Tracks are updated and generally reflect updates at the actual circuits around the globe. Something that’s not accurate is the return of the tyres in the Esses at Mount Panorama. Its clear these are to prevent people from cutting the track, but there’s already digital detection points that prevent that.

Replays. Turn 10.. we need to talk. Every other modern racing game allows you to speed up replays to get to the exciting bit. Even in the 7th edition of Forza, we’re still forced to press the skip forward button, wait for the replay to load and then resume the replay. Of course it jumps forward by an arbitrary time, meaning you’re likely to need multiple skips to get close, the likely jump too far, its honestly just a mess that’s unusually clumsy in a pretty polished game.

Ansel. Nvidia Ansel support would have been a no-brainer for such a beautiful game. Ansel is an in-game, high-resolution image and even panorama exporter. This is such a shame and we can only hope the developers work on implementing it. After using it with WRC7 recently, its absolutely amazing and sure, keep the native photo made of Forza, but please add Ansel suport.

Pit stops are pretty much a joke in Forza 7. You pull into the pits to have the car automatically taken over. Instead of navigating to your appropriate pit bay and seeing the mechanics switch out your tyres and refuel, you just drive through the pits with the speed limiter on and get an overlay to show how many positions you’re loosing. This is a real disappointment, particularly when its an area of focus for competitor racing titles.

Price and Availability

Forza Motorsport 7 is available now, released on Tuesday, 3rd October 2017. Available on Xbox One and PC, the game will be available on Xbox One X to play in 4K when Microsoft’s updated console arrives.

The game comes in Standard Edition ($79), Deluxe Edition ($119.95), Ultimate Edition ($139.95). If you’re going all-in on Forza, the Ultimate edition includes the Car Pass which gets you access to future vehicle DLC.

For $79.00 this game is insane value when you consider the engineering resources required to build a game of this quality. The number of tracks, game modes, and 700+ cars to race with, you won’t find better.

Overall

It seems every time the development team sit down to work on the next title, they set themselves an incredibly high benchmark to meet, then exceed it. Forza Motorsport 7 delivers in spades and I can highly recommend it to anyone who likes, loves or even thinks about racing.

This game will sell consoles (specifically the Xbox One X) as its visuals are better than any other. Its the best looking racing game available bar none and given the number of new racing titles that arrived in 2017, that’s an impressive accolade.

As good as the game is, its not without its flaws and we’ve already seen the first post-release update arrive to address some of the feedback from users. My advice is to continue to submit feedback as Turn 10 Studios are one of the best teams at listening to their avid fans.

While I poured plenty of hours into this game during the review, its one I’ll be spending hundreds more hours in after the review. Forza Motorsport 7 an absolute success.

 

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Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.