Forza Motorsport has been leading the racing genre thanks to its pristine presentation, consistent visual fidelity, and realistic driving simulation.
While some titles might not be on part with others, most of the series’ games have demonstrated and backed Forza’s pedigree in the domain. Is Forza Motorsports 7 a leader, or does it fail to innovate in the domain? There is a little of both, sadly.
“When you are fitted in a racing car and you race to win, second or third place is not enough.” – Ayrton Senna
Forza Motorsport 7 starts off a little like Pokemon games – I am not even kidding. You are introduced to the game, the visuals, and then suddenly, “Are you a boy or a girl?” You are prompted to select your gender and have the option to slightly modify your appearance. From that point on, it is obvious, there will be a lot of focus on driver avatars. While this becomes significant later, the focus on cars come back when you start racing.
There Are Two Kind of Forza Players
Forza Motorsport 7 is like the rest of the series, a racing simulator first and an arcade racing game second. The game puts you from the get-go under a load of assist modules and what not. Everything is almost automated. For example, the brake assist slows down the car for you. Also, damage, fuel consumption, and tire usage are mainly aesthetic.
These are, in my opinion, the arcade settings for noobs, lazy drivers, or those that simply want to run and gun the game as fast as possible. Before a race starts, go in the options and remove all assists and switch the game to full simulation. Let’s see how hard it is to finish first now!
Regardless of the level at which you are playing the game at, and by level, I mean simulation or arcade-ish, the game comes with an array of customization options. The most important ones are the ones you do on your cars. For example, in addition to purchasing engine parts, tires, rims and other useful car components, you can fine tune certain mechanics.
You can go as far as tuning the tire pressures, the tire alignments, springs, the anti-roll bars, the ride height, the downforce, the braking force and the differential. Note that changes may affect the car’s acceleration, braking distance, handling, and more. Only in Forza, and with time and patience, can you make a C Class vehicle run side by side a Super Car.
It’s All About the Driver
Forza has a load array of customization options and although it doesn’t sound like much, the combinations are infinite. As a driver, do you prefer original settings, or do you like to tinker with tuning and make your car your own? Also, Forza Motorsport 7 has new features that get you a lot more involved. In addition to the MODS, a series of ‘cards’ that you can use to gain extra experience and game credit if you complete the requirements, you unlock treasure chests as well. All the loot in the game can either provide you with those MOD cards, free car unlocks, car parts, or a customization piece for your avatar driver.
From the moment you start the game, you are asked to customize your driver and that follows you during the entire game. It is only aesthetic, but some people like it. Personally, I find it to be a completely useless option for a racing game, especially considering that cars do all the talking. Instead of focusing on that aspect, a lot more effort should have put into customizing vehicles.
As a driver, you have experience points following you around. The more you gain, the higher your rank. There are many ways to increase it, and even shortcuts (MOD cards). As you level up, you are asked to choose between a few options. For example, one time I leveled up, I was asked to choose between a load of cash, a car unlock, or a MOD card.
Gaining experience as a driver is one thing. As a racer, in Forza, your goal is to cross the finish line as a top racer in various categories. In this title, there are six series: Seeker, Breakout, Evolution, Domination, Masters, and Forza. As you progress, races become a lot more difficult and challenging, but the rewards are higher. Within series, there are various championships, many of which have specific rules and regulations – you can only drive C Class cars is a good example, or you can only drive Audi. These challenges you to explore your driving horizons and test out new cars from various models and categories.
Finish enough races in a series to unlock the next one after that, and ultimately make your way to the top.
A Smart AI
For the past few titles now, Forza has introduced to their racing games the Drivatar, a smart AI system that represents your friends’ racing style as much as possible. Although some of your friends in your Xbox list don’t have the game or have never played, it doesn’t prevent the Drivatar from taking on their names.
On higher difficulty levels, the Drivatar drives a lot more like actual racers; some become a lot more aggressive and others a lot more technical. The game becomes that much more challenging, especially when you play it the way it is supposed to be played, in full simulation mode.
Is Forza Motorsport 7 Just Another Racing Game?
At the point where we currently are, racing games have very little space for improvement and innovation. Of course, Forza Motorsport 7 delivers revolutionary visuals, but in terms of ‘what’s new?’ that is pretty much it. Granting players extra customization options is fun, but for a game that focuses on championship races, avatar customization is not something to be considered as useful.
The game really shines with its visuals, car collection, and full simulation mode where you really get to feel like a professional driver. Even then, most of the features have been featured an introduced in past titles of the series, so there isn’t anything new. Loot crates and MODS are also fun to use and make the game a little more interesting. Seems like every genre out there is trying to find a way to get loot crates in their game. For me, this addition shows what direction Forza is taking and although it is a profitable one, it fails to cater to the true fans of the series.