Rewind the clock ten years. It was 2005: Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana, Pope John Paul II delivered his last words of wisdom, the final (so we thought) Star Wars film was released, Christian Bale appeared as Batman for the first time, MG Rover finally went into receivership, Ford unveiled the most popular Mustang shape of its time and, most importantly, Microsoft released their followup to the Xbox with the Xbox 360. That should help put into perspective how long ago 2005 was, but to make it even more evident, it has also been ten years since Microsoft and Turn 10 Studios teamed up to release their first installment of Forza Motorsport. I still remember the day I picked up my copy of the original Forza Motorsport. It was out of this world compared to every other car game on the shelves, and I have been a die-hard fan ever since.
Fast forward ten years and here we have the latest version of the award winning franchise: Forza Motorsport 6 (FM6). Just like when you go car shopping, the raw statistics of the game present some very enticing snippets of what is to come:
- 26 world famous destinations (more than ANY other Forza Motorsport to date, including Forza 4 which had plenty of downloadable tracks after its release)
- 460 fully detailed (both inside and out) cars, with the promise of 45 extra downloadable ones to bring the tally to 505 (more than any racing game to be released on the current console generation)
- The introduction of night and wet weather racing (while nothing new to the genre, is said to be more realistic than ever)
- Native 1080p running at a gorgeous 60fps (smoother and prettier than ever before)
- 70+hr career, split screen, and 24 player online multiplayer (yes, you read that correctly – 24 PLAYER ONLINE)
But all of these pieces of information are redundant if the game doesn’t deliver them on a five-star platter of precision. So the question begs: does it?
In short, yes. In a more descriptive answer, HELL YES! I have sunk around 30+ hours in so far, so I am not going off just a few measly races and a couple of cars purchased. I have 3.5mil credits and a garage of 50+, so believe me when I say that I have really put this game to the test. As most would know, I am car obsessed and this passion fuels the majority of my life (it is why I started Downshiftaus in the first place, after all), so for something to grab my attention like this game has, it must be good.
The first thing you will notice is just how refined and user friendly the game has become. In the past it was hindered by some very steep learning curves (even within the menu systems) but that has long gone. Once you pick your first car, you instantly start learning all the basics by choosing your AI difficulty and assists (ABS, traction, damage, etc). After a few races you start to level up and notice one of newest inclusions in the Forza Motorsport franchise: the ‘Spin to Win’ system that was first introduced in Forza Horizon 2. This is a very welcome inclusion as it brings so much more excitement each time you level up, as well as easier financial progression through the game.
The next new element, one that hasn’t featured in any previous Forza game to date, is called Mods. Mods is very similar to the perks system found in the Call of Duty series and provides the the ability to add bonuses to your repertoire when racing. There are three different Mod types: Boost, Dare and Crew. Boosts are only usable once and give you benefits like credit increases (in-game currency), faster level ups, or invulnerability for the first lap of a race. Dares are much harder, have unlimited uses, and make you risk for your reward – they include no HUD, helmet-cam only, -10% braking, or added weight. Crew Mods give you added grip or power overall, or specifically on certain tracks depending on what you choose. All of these add up to large credit gains for completion. While straying slightly from the die-hard simulator feel that Forza has always gone for, I love the idea and it brings a new form of strategy to the game.
In terms of big brand inclusions, Top Gear is once again on board providing narratives in certain sections. The slight difference is that Top Gear is no longer a thing, so there is no Jeremy Clarkson and both Richard Hammond and James May are referred to as ‘Automotive Journalists’ rather than the ‘Top Gear Hosts’ they were once called in FM5.
Another inclusion from Forza Horizon 2 transfer is ‘Showcases’, however unlike the arcade style of Forza Horizon where you race planes, trains and automobiles (let’s see if anyone picks up on that reference!), you get an inside look into motorsport history, legends, slalom courses, iconic cars and many more. It feels like Turn 10 directly targeted the car-obsessed with this section as the cars on offer are astounding and the races are brilliant.
The guys at Turn 10 have really nailed it with the car selection for FM6. Instead of 1000+ cars like some games, they have picked cult status cars that people will actually want to drive. The list has stayed relatively similar to previous iterations of the franchise, with a few new exceptions including the 2015 Mustang GT, Mazda ND MX5, 2016 Ford GT, Ferrari California T, the 2015 Audi range, Alfa Romeo 4C, Mk7 Golf R, 2015 Corvette Z06, Camaro Z/28, Dodge Challenger Hellcat and many others. There are a few additional older cars that are now included in the mix which were all fan requests from the previous games, including the BAC Mono, the 80s GT5 Ford Capri Turbos, ’86 ED Civic hatch, Lamborghini Jalpa, ’77 Maserati Ghibli, Mazda RX3, MG Metro 6R4 and again, many more.
Forza Motorsport was always half about the cars and half about the modifications, so how does the tuning system fair in the latest version? Much the same really, which is the only disappointing factor in the game since it hasn’t really changed since FM2, which I’m assuming is probably a case of the old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset. As a side note – my personal favourite addition to the modifications is that the entire catalog of HRE Wheels has been introduced in the tuning system. Very cool!
In the current console generation, graphics and visuals are of huge importance. With almost everyone having access to HDMI and 1080P TVs, the race to be the best looking video game is on more than ever. FM6 really is on another level in terms of visuals and tiny details. All of the cars look amazing in the showroom and on the track, and have incredibly detailed interiors that get to the point of being distracting in some of the long races. One of Forza’s highlights is the ‘Vista’ mode which lets you navigate around a car, opening its doors, boot and bonnet to have a closer look. You really notice the finer details here, such as the supercharger on the 2013 Shelby GT500 when you pop the bonnet, or the fancy passenger dash in the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, or the crazy suspension components on the BAC Mono.
Whatever you choose, you can not fault the details even slightly. This becomes more evident when you start to modify your car with wheels, paint, vinyl and body kits. It even goes as far as 1″-4″ ride height and camber adjustments that are clearly visible in the outside view. It is these ridiculously minute details that assist in placing FM6 well above and beyond the competition.
One of the most hyped parts of FM6 was the introduction of wet weather racing. Many racing games have attempted wet weather before, the only slightly decent one being 2008s Project Gotham Racing 4 (closely followed by the recent Need For Speed series). The first time it starts raining in FM6 you will be distracted with how pretty and detailed it is, but within minutes you will be more concerned with your car being stuck in the sand trap, possibly upside down. The puddles make you aquaplane badly, the road is like ice, FWDs understeer, RWDs oversteer, and AWDs do a bit of both. It is extremely hard and raises the bar for difficulty drastically, but it is beyond amazing to see games having come this far. The realism of how the rain affects your handling is mind blowing and I tip my hat to the Turn 10 team for including it.
Overall, FM6 is hands down the best (accessible) racing game on the market. Turn 10 have consistently proven themselves time and time again, and this is no exception. With an amazing selection of cars, in-depth tuning and modifying, fun side games, lengthy hours of gameplay and stunning visuals, it really is THE racing game to own in 2015. Question: what racing game lets you buy a Nissan 180SX, swap an RB26 into it, tune it up to 600+hp with whatever modifications you desire, put some Enkei RPF1s under the guards, throw on an iNGS+1 body kit and then go fry tires on Bathurst, LeMans or the Nurburgring? Let me answer that for you: Forza Motorsport 6, and Forza Motorsport 6 only!