Forza Motorsport 7 put to the test - the egg-laying woolen milk body
Why am I telling you this? Because I am the prime example of the successful " Forza experiment " that the series has been selling for 12 years now: Forza Motorsport wants to inspire beginners with racing culture, tickle enthusiasts for weeks with exciting challenges and even simulation drivers with various tuning options and Sim Options provide a slightly more accessible alternative to their hardcore Sims .
The test shows: Forza 7 actually does very, very much right. But there are a few rough edges that you have to talk about. For example the loot boxes .
In career mode, the heart of the single player , a lot has changed compared to earlier. In Forza 6 you basically completed dozen of championships, each consisting of four to six races, and worked your way up from clunky small car classes to rocket-fast prototypes. In the long run, these "Stories of Motorsport" played out rather tough, because you worked your way in extremely small steps over the same routes.
From the main menu, you could loosen up the flow of the game through showcase events, in which you competed against The Stig from "Top Gear" or replayed the legendary Les Mans duel of 1966 between Ferrari and Ford. However, these excursions did not help you in your career.
Instead, Forza 7 packs all of these showcases and championships into a single overarching career mode made up of six major championships. Each championship in turn includes around ten to 15 events. I decide for myself which of them I want to tackle - a certain minimum number is necessary in order to unlock the next championship and to work your way up to the end of the campaign for almost 25 hours (those who are concerned with all events are busy longer)
This is how diversity works
The second championship includes a one-hour endurance race with 23 laps - but I'll shorten the list here and get to the point: At first glance, the career may look more compact than its predecessor, but in truth it plays so much more dynamically , more varied and therefore better.
The fact that you stay motivated at all times is also due to the myriad of unlock carrots that Forza 7 holds in front of your nose.
At the beginning of Forza 7, you basically start with nothing but your racing driver avatar - and see 700 cars waiting to be unlocked. The countless spiral of rewards and upgrades have made Forza Motorsport a beginner-friendly alternative to puristic sim racers like Project Cars 2, because every step here is rewarded with some kind of progress. You collect money, move up the level, unlock new vehicle classes and complete your collection.
Forza 7 also expands this with its own driver avatar (the drivatar): Over the course of my career, I can individualize my virtual racing driver with all sorts of stylish outfits. You get new cars and goodies with every level up, which I in turn work on with successful races. You can of course also buy carts in the classic overview - or you can shorten the whole process with loot boxes.
These lucky bags contain vehicles, outfits and mods (small handicaps that can be selected for additional cash before each race) - all items can only be purchased through in-game currency at the time of this test and are quite affordable. However, future real money shops could be hidden behind the menu items »Marketplace« and »Auction House«, which are currently still grayed out. Either way, you can already earn everything in Forza 7 with enough diligence.
How is it driving?
That's a good thing, because real money auctions would only have distracted the focus from the essentials: Forza Motorsport 7 is an excellent racing game. Before each race you can put together your own level of difficulty - Sim fans switch off all driving aids such as ABS, ideal line and rewind function.
Forza is not a simulation, but a very demanding taster lesson in the upscale racer class. Beginners, however, set up the whole thing as witty arcade fun. But no matter what you choose: It's a lot of fun to heat through the curves.
The innumerable vehicle classes all drive themselves differently: A 1969 Dodge Charger roars like a blast furnace, a Subaru BRZ FE drives absolutely calmly on dry roads, but slides out of the curve in puddles at lightning speed.
The age-old Brabham BT24 Formula 1 racer jams its exposed tires dangerously quickly in other cars - and the GT Corvette C7.R rattles down the track at such speeds that you lose all sense of speed in endurance racing at some point.
In addition, each car can be tuned and, for example, parts can be exchanged or the properties of various fine mechanics can be changed - alternatively, as in the predecessor, you can download pre-made tunings from other online players .
And if you still don't have enough to do, you can jump into multiplayer : Forza will be offering 7 Quickmatches in various vehicle classes for the release. During my test races, the connection remained stable on both Xbox One and PC with the exception of a few jerky rivals. After the release, extensive leagues are to be introduced for long-term multiplayer efforts.
Sufficient variety of routes?
The 32 routes (with various variations) also offer enough variety to push the gigantic vehicle fleet to its limits. However, I would have liked more newcomers. 26 courses are already known from their predecessors - and fictitious routes in the Swiss Alps, for example, have been showing since Forza 5 how fun even invented courses can be.
The few new additions to Forza 7 are all extremely successful: Dubai is a shining example here - gladly more of them. Anyone who values a variety of courses is still in better hands this year at Project Cars 2.
Those who are familiar with the predecessors will express this criticism. Those who celebrate their entry into the series with Forza 7 can look forward to many of the most famous slopes in the world. In addition to the successful driving mechanics, the fact that the races remain exciting is due to two factors: the AI and the weather.
Cloudy to rainy
The new feature first: Forza 7 introduces dynamic weather and time courses. You can start a race in the dry and have to fight your way through a storm on the last lap. Sounds like a trifle, but it makes for extremely exciting games, even if you've already left your opponents behind.
Sure, here too Project Cars 2 with its seasons, blizzards and multi-weather systems is ahead of the curve, but regardless of that, the Forza courses in Part 7 are more varied than ever.
After all, every raindrop affects the course of the route - sometimes puddles only form after a lap of light rain, which then surprise you at the worst possible moment. The AI never misses such opportunities.
With drivatars against rubber band
But that doesn't mean that they don't challenge you. At the highest levels of hardness you are practically forced to deal with the sim settings and tunings in order to win a few races. Compared to the rubber band AI, the drivatar system has the advantage that good racing skills are really rewarded because you fight for a permanent lead.
However, it also has the disadvantage that, in principle, in the first three corners of the race you can decide whether you will even get a chance of first place. The opponent's AI meticulously adheres to the ideal line - if you drown in the first corner, you no longer reach the top on high levels of difficulty, even with perfect driving. That may be more realistic than with Need for Speed, but also less dramatic .
Prints in the soundtrack
Speaking of advantages and disadvantages: Finally, I want to go into a high and a low light of the presentation. The bad thing first: The menu, soundtrack and all the trappings of the game were much more impressive in the predecessor.
Forza 6 presented itself in its design as a perfectly shaped love letter to motorsport culture , set to music by the »Top Gear« presenters, with an epic soundtrack, impressive cutscenes and an all-round successful style. And a good deal of auto-pathos.
Forza 7 is pulling back on all fronts. In principle, the soundtrack is only noticeable as menu elevator music (although you can theoretically import your own playlist via an additional app or activate the doodling in the races), the cutscenes consist of animated slideshows. But at least: The menu is much more organized and easier to understand .
As soon as the race has loaded, many doubts about the presentation vanish in no time: Forza 7 is really impressive, even on the old Xbox One without HDR. Forza Horizon 3 keeps its nose ahead precisely because of its impressive open world, but Motorsport 7 really doesn't have to put its light under a bushel. If you drive on the PC with a 4K screen and maximum settings , you will experience wonderful highlights in the right lighting mood.
The vehicle models are particularly impressive - but the game has to put up with slight deductions in terms of the surroundings. The level of detail of grandstands and landscapes cannot quite keep up with Project Cars 2 on average. Still: Forza 6 was a feast for the eyes, Forza 7 glazed a layer of sugar on top.
Frugal technology, even in 4K
The strong technology also contributes to this. The full version of Forza 7 is technically even more sophisticated than the recently released demo: The stuttering in the menu has almost disappeared and the frame rate is no longer limited to a maximum of 60 fps.
The performance is already good at the release, so that despite maximum details and eight-fold MSAA anti-aliasing, no high-end graphics card is necessary for 4K and smooth gameplay. We already measure over 60 fps in 2160p with a GTX 1070 or RX Vega 56. A GTX 970 is sufficient for gaming in Full HD, and an RX 580 is required for WQHD. The all-clear is also given for old computers : Thanks to the extensive graphics menu, Forza 7 can be adjusted as desired to increase the frame rate.
Ultimately, Forza Motorsport 7 is one of the best racing games of its kind. Of course, those who want to experience a real simulation will have to switch to titles like Project Cars 2, which is running a strong program this year. And when it comes to extravagance and entertainment, the open-world fun Forza Horizon 3 offers more. But as a link between simulation, amateur driving fun, graphics festival and racing variety, Forza Motorsport 7 is simply a colossus of a racing game. The 700 cars alone are a new reference.