Review: Xbox 360: Forza 4

Think about all of those 8,460 bolts it takes to make just one car run on the road and then think about a racing simulator that could reflect that exact engineering vision but with crisp and easy to navigate menus. Take an options system that’s capable of filtering difficulties for maximum accessibility include the considerable growth from a widespread community and merge them all together. You have the world of Forza 4.

Forza 4’s instantly crisp impressions touch the vehicles too and will have your engine roaring for a good long dose of racing simulation action. The edges of vehicles look slightly smoother compared to F3 but keep those recognisable details and features which always finished off Forza’s cars making them look so damn good! The most exotic vehicles drive even more beautifully and you can take them onto some of the most famous (and infamous) roads you can imagine experiencing. Forza offers this and more to its gamers as its smart and smooth layout takes you right into this world of speed and beauty without any hiccups.

Forza 4 begins with a proper petrol head intro with Jeremy Clarkson providing the voice over for gritty clips of some beautiful cars belting it round multiple tracks It then shows you the power Forza has when it brings a sparkly new virtual Ferrari up close to the screen for you to get a bit steamy over. Soon after that you’ll get your first chance to experience that smooth feel to the driving with a quick lap round a circuit before you choose your first vehicle and get stuck into the majority of the game. When you first stick your foot down you can feel the grip of the tires as they grab the track, you can really feel this coming through into your hands. Then there’s the entourage of sounds that accompany you round the track, the revving engine tones and collisions being particularly enjoyable. Forza’s soundtrack isn’t too outrageous either, which leaves more of these sounds to be picked up during game play and when all of these little delights come together you have one of Forza’s characteristics, and that’s outstanding quality as standard.

Forza has always had a great talent for showcasing its in-game vehicles (it even has its own showcase mode in AutoVista) and when you pick your first car you’ll notice this attention to detail and the amazing lighting effects that go with them. When you start World Tour mode the vehicles for the first races are already optimised – you can learn about that later in the game. You’ll start with the lower tier cars and work your way up either buying them from dealers with hard earned cash or with Microsoft Points, you can also earn them as rewards for completing certain requirements through-out the game. Forza’s lighting effects can make even the smallest hatchback look like a Mini Cooper, even watching your opponents pass you is actually enjoyable. The lower tier cars are good fun to practice with but they’re a little tail happy and will flick and spin if you push way too hard round corners. There’s an option to tinker with the difficulty so you can hammer the brakes and corners if you wish but when you add these aids they will cost you experience and credits as punishment for your shortcomings.

In World Tour mode you’ll start in a division and within that divisions they are a certain amount of races to complete to get to the next set of races. This is all World Tour mode essentially is but you have a huge amount of tracks, vehicles and objectives to complete within it and it’s a great way of earning extra cars and other such goodies quickly. World Tour mode is Forza’s base, its foundations, and from this point you’ll get lost in Forza for a good few hours as it can quickly become a deceptively captivating experience. Forza has a great selection of vehicles to compliment all of its circuits too, there’s over 500 vehicles from manufacturers like Volkswagen, Toyota, Ferrari and more. It does lack some more serious exotic cars, with Porche is conspicuous by its absence, but Forza has more than enough to compensate.

You can paint, tune and generally tinker with you purchased vehicles in the Cars menu, these features help keep you looking like a boss on the track and help you create a near perfect racing balance and load-out for your four-wheeled friend. If you like to fiddle around under the bonnet or want to take your vehicle into another higher (or lower) tier you can upgrade the parts and change the performance of the vehicle in this menu tab. You can adjust the tyre pressure, gear ratios, wheel alignment and more while there are lots of parts and manufacturers for the more advanced drivers to get choosy over. You can even change the colour of your rims too or even tint your windows! There is an instant option for gamers who find this a little unsatisfying or too difficult with the A.I. building you a better set-up depending on what tier you want. Forza offers you some cool stuff to mess about with in-between races and you can and up with some amazing results if you go all out on your chosen vehicle!

To unlock extra items you’ll have to get winning races and improve your driver level and your current chosen manufacturers affinity level. You improve these levels by racing on a higher difficulty, not using the rewind system which makes a return from Forza 3, and taking no damage to gain extra credits. This experience system will unlock most of what you need or want during your game time and gives you something else to aim for while your collecting your cars and defeating every racer who fancies trying it on. If you want to capture and relive these moments when you overcome your rivals you can save your replays at the end of the race and then view them at your own leisure – maybe even take a nice photo to show your mum. For online gamers you can upload your favourite photos or replays to the Storefront.

The circuit list is impressive with many recognisable names surfacing and as always the Nürburgring circuit steps-up to offer some of the best driving to be had in the game. World Tour mode’s different classes make certain tracks a pleasure to drive every time and can be used to create some ferocious competition online as well. Forza’s Xbox live features means your times can be uploaded to the leaderboards and you can receive recommendations in the Message Centre menu. These recommendations offer you a specific challenge where you’ll need to beat your friends or online rivals times for certain locked rewards.

When navigating anything Forza 4 always keeps you informed; sets of information like Circuit locations and reward types appear neatly on your screen, organised in rows, sometimes within boxes helping to give Forza 4 a more laid back appearance. It is much easier to navigate the menus this time around and is kinder on the eyes; no blinding white menu just cool gray shades with a crisp linear design.

There’s a healthy selection of race types to choose from online or off which gives most players a chance to win or improve their driver level. Challenge Events consist of events like World Championships and Autocross events; World Championships will require you to compete through a whole day of gritty racing in two heats. There’s the Multi-Class races where two different classes of vehicle are placed on the track together but with a distinct margin between them, a race type which makes a return from the previous title. Finally there’s the Top Gear Bowling Events which frankly strike me as being a little half arsed at best. These events provide a small challenge if you want to spar it out and beat your friends’ times.

Event list mode and Rivals mode are available just underneath the World Tour mode and smartly round up all of the available events and records for you to view in a easy to use system where you can explore other information and driving aspects. Events lists lets you browse all of the races easily in a neat grid organised by class and race conditions; you can also select races here to complete separately from World Tour mode so gamers have a quicker way to get into the action with all experience and rewards still given.

AutoVista isn’t incredibly useful but a nice feature to have anyway. With AutoVista you can explore every inch of your chosen vehicle and interact with various parts too, you can move around it and open doors to climb inside. When you get inside the vehicle you’ll be able to see the great amounts of detail Turn 10 have added to the cars, you can also see this detailing when you’re driving in the cockpit view which adds a touch more class to Forza 4. The attention to detail is staggering as Forza seems to improve on this every time, with the developers adding little touches to bring the series up to speed without destroying the structure within the Forza series.

Forza 4’s online world always seems to have something going on within its walls and the multiplayer lay-out is similar to World Tour with the section tabs being laid out down the left side. Amongst other things here, you can read the news – do it every day and you’ll receive a free complimentary random credit bonus from Turn 10. Races are normally set up without any problems and you’d be surprised at the quality of sportsmanship found in the Forza community (do watch out for the odd hot head though) and you can create a car club if you want to get involved further. If you are the founder of the club you have control over who gets into your club, who’s in charge when you’re gone and create the clubs identity, this can provide groups or clans with an ideal set up to create rivalry online with other clubs. There are online Leaderboards to climb as well as an Auction House where you can bid on cars or sell a few of yours. Forza 4’s online hub caters to a lot of people and does a great job structuring its game for its community. Storefront

Forza 4 is a pretty impressive game all round as it can offer so much for so little effort but if its not appreciated for what it is (a damn good driving simulator) it will leave you behind and lose your attention. However if you look past its slightly cold exterior Forza can offer you streams of activity thanks to its excellent Xbox Live integrated features, all of which work superbly well. I’m starting to wonder if the Forza series will ever truly have a bad title, it wont falter on the technical side of itself anytime soon and will be around for a while yet.

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