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Are you ready for Forza 4?

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Thu, Oct 6, 2011

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

Forza Motorsport 4

By Eric Dorman Earlier this week, Christmas came early. That is, an advance copy of Forza Motorsport 4 arrived for review. Having played (and replayed several times over) the last Forza game, I am well aware that many of the better cars in the game are locked until you install the second disk. I wasted no time and had the disk immediately ready so I could install it straight away. The game starts out with a rather dramatic car-related monologue by Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson, speaking over cool cut scenes showing off the game's awesome graphics. Before you can even navigate any of the menus, the player is introduced to the game and its controls, graphics, game-play style, etc. You're put into a race driving a Ferrari 458 Italia through a mountain racetrack. I personally didn't enjoy this race at all because there's no way to skip it, and it forces you to drive with every single driving aid on (I'll cover what these are later). I would have just preferred to skip it, but it does make a good introduction to how the game works for anyone who hasn't played Forza before.


Once past this race, I’m able to select my first car and start working on the career mode. If you own Forza 3, you have an option to import data from it and you get to carry over some of your cars. Fewer transfer than I like, but I’m happy my favorite car, the Audi R8, is transferred. As I’m setting everything up, I notice all the menus flow better than the old game, and respond quicker. The career progresses similarly to the other Forza games, in that you work your way up the classes, progressively driving faster and faster cars. When you begin the career, you're started off racing in low class races with slow cars of the F and E, then you win or buy better cars, or you can upgrade your current car to put it in a higher class. The upgrade system is the same as the last game. You can buy engine, suspension, wheel, and aerodynamic upgrades. You can also tune all your parts so you get the maximum level of customization. You can adjust everything, including tire pressure, differential lock, suspension, braking force, downforce, and gear ratios. Luckily, if you import higher level cars from Forza 3, you can still use them. Unlike in Forza 3, where you’re committed to a series of races and have to use the same class of car for each one, in Forza 4, each event is a single race at a specific track, and there are choices between multiple events at each track—so you can use whatever car you're most comfortable with.


They also added a couple of new interesting events. The canyon chases are winding mountain roads on which you chase an opponent, all the while having to avoid the slower traffic that shares the road (which gives you a good idea of why this would be stupid to do any place other than in game). I personally spend half of my initial races crashing into traffic and walls, trying to catch the impossibly fast opponent. The second new event is called bowling, and it takes place on the Top Gear test track (from the famous car show). Basically, you drive a car around their whole track, trying to knock down a certain number of pins, while maintaining a certain speed. This sounds simpler than it is, as I found myself getting frustrated that I was taking three to four attempts to pass these “races”. Overall, however, I like the new event. It provides a nice break from the normal races. When you examine the game play itself, it doesn't disappoint. The driving physics are among the most realistic ever. Every factor seems to be present—from the inertia change and body roll when accidentally turning too sharply, to slight lift at high speeds (which, in turn, causes massive instability in some of the lower class cars). If you play with all the aids off, this becomes quite a challenge—but one worth undertaking because the feel of the game is far superior when you turn off the assists.


The driver aids include ABS, Stability Control, Traction Control, Steering aid, Braking aid, Braking line, and Steering line. The last four make the game very easy, but you're not really playing—you're basically just pressing the gas and steering a little. The computer does the rest for you. The ABS, Stability and Traction Controls can be kept on, and the game still presents a reasonable challenge when they are. However, if you are looking for the best gaming experience, I suggest turning them all off. The flashback feature from Forza 3 is present in 4. For those who never played the last one, the flashback is a cool feature. If you make a mistake, you press the flashback button and your race is rewound to a point. You can press it again to rewind further, so you can go back to before you made a mistake. The flashback in this game is different from the old one. In Forza 3, you pressed the button, and it just flashed immediately back to the point it saved from. In Forza 4, you actually see the race backwards. So if you're using it because you hit the brakes too late and went off on a corner, you can judge where a better braking point is. Your turns are also rated by the game. When you finish a corner, a small bar on the left of the screen shows how well you turned, rated from 1 to 4 out of 4. It does the same for passing, drafting, and drifting. The graphics of the game are simply phenomenal. The cars themselves seem almost be real, except no car in real life is ever as clean or shiny as the ones in the game. The background panoramas are almost better looking in than real life. I was driving into a sunset in one race and almost felt mesmerized by its beauty. That is, until I got annoyed at the fact that I couldn't see the track in front of me. The engine sounds are even better than they were in Forza 3. You almost feel as if you really are inside the car you are driving. My personal favorite is driving the Lexus LF-A through the tunnels on a certain course. This is probably as close as I will get to doing so, so it's good enough for me.


I have only two issues with the game: When you're playing career mode, you level up your cars and your driver level by winning races. When you raise your driver level, you win a car for leveling up, and it gives you a set of 2 to 5 cars to choose from. What I don't like is that the game doesn't let you see the stats of the cars you are picking from; it only shows you the drive wheels. So you're basically picking cars by drive wheels and looks. My second issue is that they changed around the controls (Y is now flashback, Right bumper is now look backwards, and the Back button is now change view, whereas before, Y was look back, Back was flashback, and Bumper was change view) which isn't exactly hard to get used to, but there was nothing wrong with the old controls. I can't see why they changed them. This game definitely lives up to all the hype that's been going around the internet ever since it was announced. It is fun, challenging, intricate, and beautiful. It can keep you entertained for hours on end, and really gives you an inside look into what it's like being a real racing driver (Of course, without the risk of crashing and dying, painful G-forces, and considerable mental and physical exhaustion.) Editor’s Note: Mark Dorman contributed to this article.


VITAL STATISTICS Name of product: Forza Motorsport 4 Price (MSRP): $59.99 Manufacturer: Turn 10 Studios Contents: 2 Disks Platform: xbox 360 Game Type: Racing Simulator Source: Advance copy from manufacturer To purchase from Amazon, click here.

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