Review: Forza Motorsport 6
Why do we race?
That’s the question asked as you load up Forza Motorsport 6 for the first time, accentuated by a camera focusing on the curves of an Audi R8 GT racer. For some, it’s an escape from reality; a chance to drive faster than the 60KM/H most of our roads are set at. For others, it’s the appreciation of driving and speed. There are others still who follow racing lines in the pursuit of the fastest lap time, while another group enjoy drifting around corners, only ever feeling in control when their eyes would swear they’re out of it.
The answers to that one simple question are as varied as the locations and vehicles we race in, but with so many different driving games now available, is Forza Motorsport 6 the one to answer it?
Interestingly (however not surprisingly), the game begins in a similar fashion to Forza Horizon 2 — you’re shown the cover car, a 2017 Ford GT, as it arrives on the coast of Rio. Fortunately, Forza 6 remains true to itself and you’re straight into a circuit race along the coastlines of Brazil. Immediately, you’re re-introduced to one of the greatest elements of the FM franchise: its beauty. As you speed past favelas, Rio’s CBD and the South Atlantic Ocean, you’re presented with one of the greatest soundtracks possible: the GT’s 600hp twin-turbo V6 engine.
In Forza Motorsport 6 the racing assists are the standard fare we’ve come to expect from the franchise. There’s enough familiarity in the career mode too, mixed in with a few differences to make it seem new enough. Career mode is split into five categories that Turn 10 has labelled the ‘Series of Motorsport’. These range from Super Street to Ultimate Motorsport, and will see you jumping in all kinds of vehicles from the Mazda RX7 (my starter vehicle of course) to LeMans prototypes and open-wheel Formula racers. Each series is made up of three championships which dictate the tracks and conditions you’ll race on, however the player can pick the events (which determine the vehicles you’ll race with).
Breaking up these career races are showcase events, groups of one-off races that either focus on a particular challenge or theme. These can range from ‘Moments in Motorsports’ to ‘The Race Driver Experience’ and see you re-creating famous moments in racing history such as the Ferrari and Ford rivalry at LeMans, to experiencing the thrill of being the race car driver behind the wheel of an IndyCar at Indianapolis. At the same time, these also include the rather mundane (and as far as I’m concerned, unnecessary) events of knocking down bowling pins or the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving tests.
As was the case with Forza Motorsport 5, each career series, championship and showcase event is introduced by a different host from either Top Gear UK or US. Most notable is the occasional voice-over from an unnamed male that has clearly taken the place of the now-fired Jeremy Clarkson. Damn cold cuts!
Amongst all this familiarity there are some noticeable and impressive additions to Forza Motorsport 6; most significant are rain and night-time racing. Not only will the rain impair visibility and make cornering and braking more difficult, but the introduction of large puddles of water throughout track also bring the risk of hydroplaning into the mix – as I discovered shortly into my first wet race at Sebring where my RX7 careened into the concrete barriers moments into the event. Dodging these puddles almost seems as comical as dodging oil spills in Mario Kart at times, but there’s a real fear as you approach one at speed that you’ll lose control, forcing you to deviate from the racing line. This is made even trickier with Turn 10 introducing fog as well, sometimes leaving you approaching corners blind just hoping you’ve slowed down enough and turned in at the right moment.
Night racing also adds its own set of challenges but it’s the beauty of the tracks and atmosphere that caught my attention most. There’s certainly an added difficulty in tackling courses in the dark, where your headlights illuminate corners, braking markers and track lines as you approach them, but it was something else racing on LeMans in my BMW M4 with the grandstands and Ferris wheel shining as I approached the first corner at 150KM/H.
Mods are another new addition to Forza 6, which are cards you can either earn or purchase that enhance your racing experience. Mods are broken into three kinds – boost, crew and dare. As the name suggests, boost mods improve your race by allowing you to earn extra credits, gain a starting position or increase performance, but can only be used once. Crew mods provides enhancements to your race by improving features like handling and have either a general effect and/or track-specific bonuses (e.g. 6% extra grip on Laguna Seca). Dare mods are similar to skulls in Halo in that they’ll increase the difficulty by forcing certain conditions like cockpit camera with no HUD for additional credits. Both crew and dare mods allow for infinite number of uses, and you can assign one of each type for each event.
The last noticeable addition to the game, and perhaps my most favourite, is the inclusion (finally) of a practice option before each career race. I found it a lot easier to be competitive against the AI and my racing much smoother, knowing the braking points and understanding how my car would react to corners and camber. This is particularly important because it’s otherwise hard to familiarise yourself to your car the game lacks a qualifying mode, each race is only a few laps long and you change cars each six races or so. Turn 10 has also included a Test Drive option from the main menu, yet sadly applies only to cars you own. To test drive vehicles before you purchase them you still need to set-up a free race event (which seems like a massive over-sight).
As we’ve come to expect, Forza Motorsport 6 both looks and drives great. There’s a noticeable lack of white lines present along edges (something which spoilt Project CARS for me) and everything is vibrant and nicely polished in typical Forza fashion. Cars have a nice weight to them and the physics are very pick-up and play, although with more assists off you’ll really notice the impact of sloppy and aggressive driving as wheel spin ruins your flow and quick steering corrections might result in an unrecoverable spin-out.
All this makes for a great racing experience, although it’s the devil in the detail that make Forza Motorsport 6 so much more and which puts it a cut above the rest. I mentioned the nuances you notice in wet and night driving, but that just touches the surface. It’s the elements above the racing that you notice – the fog in the distance, the leaves blowing on the track ahead, smoke bellowing from stalls and stands along the track and helicopters and hot-air balloons in the sky that elevate Forza beyond your typical ‘track racer’. It’s the cackle of a German muscle car or the whir of a Japanese rotor, the screech of your tyres and the elements above that make this game a treat to experience.
Project CARS might offer the best race-driver experience to date, but there’s little doubt in my mind that Forza Motorsport 6 provides the most comprehensive racing experience on not just the Xbox One, but consoles, this generation. There’s an improvement to the variety of the cars and tracks featured here, and Turn 10 has even included a re-creation of some of the most iconic vehicles from ‘The Fast & The Furious’ franchise as DLC, including the Mitsubishi Eclipse from the first film and the Nissan Skyline from the second (SO. MUCH. WIN.) Gamers will also be happy to know that there are no micro-transactions, although DLC cars (at least at this stage) will require in-game credits to buy. Non-racing fans can certainly appreciate the beauty behind this game, but for those racing and Forza fans, they won’t be disappointed. Forza Motorsport 6 is a true return to form.
Forza Motorsport 6 was reviewed using a promotional code on Xbox One, as provided by the publisher.
Review: Forza Motorsport 6