By Leo Stevenson
If you’d asked me before E3 if Forza 5 was a game I was looking forward to, I would have flat-out said no. racing sims are really not my thing. At all. I love to have a bash at arcade racers, kart racers, futuristic racers -- a la F-Zero -- but sims? No thanks.
They’re too hard, take too much work to get the hang of, require too much of a time investment to unlock decent vehicles and seem to do everything they can to deter non car lovers from ever playing them. At E3 I got to play one track in Forza 5. Whilst it was still difficult, there were a bunch of options to help me out and it looked so incredible that I actually had a lot of fun. Crazy right?
You may be able to gather from my sentiments regarding Forza 5 that I haven’t played previous instalments. Knowing it was a simulation game I was expecting something fairly similar to Gran Turismo 3 (the last racing sim I played) and in my untrained, less than knowledgeable experience that’s basically what I got. At first. Then I discovered the drive assist options. Essentially, by enabling turn and brake assist options I could turn the game into an arcade racer. Well almost. It was still much more difficult than any actual arcade racer, but it made controlling a high powered super-car doable. It made me actually feel like I was in control of a powerful machine rather than struggling around every corner, spinning out and getting frustrated.
Aside from feeling like I was in control of some of the world’s most exotic cars, my eyeballs felt as though they were staring at the real thing thanks to the gorgeous detail afforded by the power of the Xbox One. Every vehicle is recreated in painstaking and loving detail. Light reflects realistically off the body and glass. Reflections are rendered in real time and for the first time I’ve seen look like real reflections. The paint work has been rendered in a way to give it an orange peel effect. Zooming in on the body of the car reveals miniscule details that all help to create a hyper-realistic whole. In motion, everything looks even more gorgeous. The one track that was available was set in Prague and took me through a scenic journey through the gothic city. Buildings, vegetation, crowds and water all looked incredible. I found myself slowing down and stopping just to get a better look at my surroundings. A truly incredible feat for a game that’s all about going fast.
As I said in the beginning, I’m not much of a fan of cars or racing sims, but Forza 5 actually made me a little giddy with excitement. It was a combination of the incredible graphics and the swathe of options which strive to make the game fun and inclusive for everyone, no matter their skill level. Judging a game based on one track is an impossible task and it remains to be seen whether or not Forza 5 is truly next-gen, but so far, so good.
Forza 5 will be exclusive to Xbox One and will be available at launch in November.