Forza Motorsport Review – A Reboot Worthy of Its Own Name

He's going the distance, he's going for speed.
Forza Motorsport Review
Image Source: Xbox Game Studios

Forza Motorsport on Xbox Series S

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As far as racing simulation goes, Forza has been a name synonymous with the genre since the first Forza Motorsport in 2005. As time has gone on, those titles have transitioned from only the Motorsport titles and into the Horizon as well, but after a 6 year gap between the previous racing sim with Forza Motorsport 7, 2023’s Forza Motorsport had some pretty big tires to fill and did so with finesse.

I’ve fallen off from playing racing titles in recent years, mainly because they can tend to feel repetitive after a while of playing. Forza Horizon is a different story because there’s a lot more freedom in the environment, so those have been the titles that I’ve focused on despite having started out playing the Motorsport games. However, the new Forza Motorsport is an entirely different story. From the moment I finished the first race, I could tell that I was playing something at the cutting edge of what’s possible, and couldn’t take my mind off of it.

A Masterclass in Racing Graphics

forza motorsport civic in the showroom
Image Source: Xbox Game Studios via Twinfinite

Pick a frame, any frame – I promise it’ll make a great photograph. Forza Motorsport is actually the eighth entry in the Motorsport series, but serves as a reboot for the franchise and therefore has omitted a numeral after the title. Technology has improved significantly since the Forza that I had been introduced to with Forza Motorsport 4, and this reflects brilliantly in the shine of both the gameplay and the cars themselves.

Cars are not something that this game is short on in any way, and that’s no surprise. With over 500 cars available to drive at launch and more being added through DLC, there’s a plethora of vehicles to choose from to find just the right fit for your style both on and off the track. Forza Motorsport brings all of these cars to life through some of the most striking visuals using the Forza Tech engine, making them feel more realistic than ever before. Every car in the game is presented and displayed with astounding fidelity, just the way that the designers would have wanted.

Not only just the cars themselves, but your driver looks crisp as they’re hopping the fence to get to the car or standing atop the podium celebrating their victory – not to mention the sweet suits that you get to choose from. The scenery looks great as you can see it flying by your windows – only improved further by flipping the toggle in the settings to Visuals instead of Performance. The interior and hands on the wheel aren’t the most photo-real part of the game, but frankly I spent much more time looking at the weather than the radio.

Forza Motorsport Rain Driving graphics
Image Source: Xbox Game Studios via Twinfinite

The simulation of the weather itself becomes an opponent as well as all the other cars on the track, and it feels more natural than anything I’ve ever experienced outside of driving a real car. As I make my way around turns while racing in the late afternoon, I find myself squinting to see through the glare on my windshield. When it’s raining in-game, I take it slower around turns and ease up on the gas because I know what happens in the real world when you fly through a wet turn. The focus on the environment makes the game more immersive than I had anticipated it could be, while not being comically slippery when you drive through a puddle.

The game feels so immersive right off the line that I find myself swaying back and forth in my seat as if I’m on the track myself. I’ve never fully enjoyed trying to race on a controller because things always felt a bit inaccurate, but Forza Motorsport feels smooth and controlled. That being said, every time I played, I found myself longing to play with a steering wheel because I was already moving so much, but the game plays incredibly on the Series S and in the controller format.

Intense & Meaningful Career Mode

forza motorsport career mode cups tours series
Image Source: Xbox Game Studios via Twinfinite

I really did forget just how much I love cars until playing the new Forza Motorsport, and that’s exactly what the developers intended. The game works hard to make you feel the cars that you’re driving, focusing on the sound and how the performance translates to your controller. Something about the precision and power behind these machines makes them feel tangible through the screen, and Turn 10 masterfully showed them another level of respect.

Having the ability to fine-tune your driving assists is incredibly useful and allowed me get into the game and focus on my driving in a way I hadn’t anticipated. It allowed me to ease myself into the mechanics and learn where my limits are, rather than the game throwing me in the deep end and telling me to swim. Each series you can choose from will get you fiendishly acquainted to the car you decide to drive, but teaches you something a little different every time, consistently helping you improve.

For the players who are coming from having only played Forza Horizon games in the past: be ready for a challenge. Forza Motorsport is a shockingly accurate simulation of what it would be like to race these vehicles, while Horizon is more focused around the spirit of the race and exploration of an open world. Motorsport is all about the heart and soul of driving, leaving you with assists like ABS or steering correction to make it more accessible. At its core, Motorsport wants to test you and show you what racing is all about.

That test is where I was on the fence about how I would feel about the game overall. I wasn’t sure how much I was going to struggle as I played, both between learning the tracks, the way the cars felt and racing against opponents – I didn’t want to be frustrated while playing a game that’s supposed to be making me fall in love with cars. Being able to choose that challenge for myself through the difficulty, assists and starting position allows me to enjoy the process much more than if I were feeling like I wasn’t improving at all.

forza motorsport honda civic race replay wide
Image Source: Xbox Game Studios via Twinfinite

The mechanic of choosing your starting position is easily one of my favorite features in the game because it makes me consider many of the things that I’d have previously overlooked. How easy is it to pass during the turns on this track? Is the road wet? What tires could give me the edge here? You’re incentivized to push yourself harder because your performance directly correlates to your rewards, but the more of a challenge you set for yourself, the higher of a reward you’ll earn for success.

On top of that, you’ve got to play through the practice laps prior to beginning the start of your races, which almost gives you no choice but to improve. Honestly, it gets a bit tiring after you’ve driven that same track in multiple tours, so there are some cases where It would be nice to skip the practice. However, I can’t say that I don’t improve on those practice laps because I start to learn the tracks as I went and grew familiar with the turns, as well as the little ways to shave precious milliseconds off of my segment times. It’s rewarding, but not without a challenge. Luckily, I don’t feel like I’m being punished to get there.

Customization Is Not Only Simple, but Enjoyable

forza motorsport upgrade shop customization
Image Source: Xbox Game Studios via Twinfinite

I’ve always understood the Motorsport franchise to be in-depth with how you can tune your cars to your exact preferences, and once again, Forza Motorsport blew my expectations out of the water. While it offers you an almost-overwhelming amount of customizable options, you’re introduced to them in a way that’s digestible and organic. You have to earn certain upgrades before you can tune various aspects of the car, but you can tune anything from the tire pressure to the downforces to the gearing.

The game explains to you what certain features and aspects are intended for so that you don’t just go and start changing your car for the worse. You’re made to actually play through the races to get a feel for why each feature is there, and as you improve as a driver, you’ll start figuring out what to change in order to scale up your performance. If you’re not a car-minded individual and just want to upgrade your car’s performance, you can choose to have the game give you Quick Upgrades so that you aren’t being forced to learn more than you anticipated.

Racing Competitively Gets a New Twist

While it is unfortunate that Forza Motorsport won’t be launching with split-screen multiplayer, the flexibility of the Free Play mode and the authenticity of the new Featured Multiplayer races made it up to me with clever game design and refined mechanics. I will miss getting to race with the person next to me and feeling that energy in the same room, but I can also understand how much of an effort that would have been to implement into a game as advanced as Forza Motorsport already is. The modes that are in the game are still plenty to keep me entertained.

forza motorsport featured multiplayer
Image Source: Xbox Game Studios via Twinfinite

The Featured Multiplayer mode is a really fascinating new way to structure a public online race. The events are set to take place at a given time, and anytime before then you’re allowed to join for practice. This gives you the chance to learn the track and improve your time on the course before you race qualifying laps that place you in the starting grid based on how you perform. Once the timer hits zero, everyone who’s qualified get pulled into the event and you race it out.

When you’re playing Featured Multiplayer, you can choose from a few different events between the Special Events and the Open Events, which will vary in the different car classes or race tracks. You can focus on a specific series just like you can in the career mode, or you can bounce around to some of the different series if you want to mix up your style and broaden your driving experience.

I certainly felt an extra consequence when I played this mode, like I was actually about to compete in an event that I’d been training tirelessly for. At the end of it, it feels like that’s what Forza Motorsport is all about. I want to learn because I want to improve and I know that I can, as long as I’m willing to put in the work and take the occasional lumps in the process.

If you’re looking to play with friends but don’t feel like timing your hangout with a Featured Multiplayer race, you can always create a private race with just you and those you invite. These allow you to build your race from scratch with whatever parameters you desire, without having to worry about any random players coming in to crash your fun, literally.

Rivals Mode Helps You Hone Your Technique in Peace

forza motorsport rival mode features events
Image Source: Xbox Game Studios via Twinfinite

That drive to improve carries through to the main career mode as well as the Rivals mode. Sometimes I’m not looking to drive bumper to bumper and get penalties for every mistake I make. I want to just run the track and try different cars in different conditions. While Free Play is great for that if you aren’t focused on your times and have something specific in mind, the Rivals mode is more of a playground filled with presets.

You can choose Time Attacks for each of the car classes, and there are rotating featured Rivals events that’ll feature different tracks and cars each time. It’s a much more casual way to enjoy the game, while still scratching that competitive itch with a leaderboard for you to climb your way up. As you race against ghosts and beat them, you can continue working your way through opponents to gauge how you’re doing.

Redefining Their Own Definition

Racing games certainly aren’t everybody’s thing, and that’s perfectly fine. Especially when those games are hyper-realistic representations of reality, there’s certainly going to be a challenge there than isn’t for everyone. On the other hand, there’s something irresistible about that feeling of accomplishment as you see your times start to get faster and faster that I think there could be something here for everyone.

Forza Motorsport feels like it reinvented a genre of gaming that I didn’t think could be changed much further. It added creative new ways to compete online while still holding true to the very core of what Forza is in the first place: cars. This game plays like it could get anyone to love cars if they open their hearts to the challenge and get behind the wheel (or controller). Not only that, but the game’s presence on Game Pass makes it accessible to more people who might potentially uncover a love for cars that they never knew existed.

Where so many games make me feel like I’m left wanting, Forza Motorsport left me feeling excited for the future. Sure, they’ll continue to add cars, tracks and races to this existing title, but seeing where we are now compared to where I thought was the top was nearly a decade ago leaves me feeling hopeful that as technology continues to press forward, Forza Motorsport will always be right there pushing it.

5
Forza Motorsport
I really did forget just how much I love cars until playing the new Forza Motorsport, and that's exactly what the developers intended. The game works hard to make you feel the cars that you're driving, focusing on the sound and how the performance translates to your controller. Something about the precision and power behind these machines makes them feel tangible through the screen, and Turn 10 masterfully showed them another level of respect.
Pros
  • High graphical quality makes for stunning gameplay visuals.
  • Immersive racing simulation is more realistic and fun than ever before.
  • Featured Multiplayer keeps online racing interesting.
  • In-depth vehicle customization allows you to take full ownership of your cars and racing style.
Cons
  • No split-screen multiplayer for couch gaming.
  • Repeating practice laps can get tedious after extended play time.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review. Reviewed on Xbox Series X/S PC.
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Author
Nick Rivera
Nick Rivera graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2021 studying Digital Media and started as a Freelance Writer with Twinfinite in early 2023. Nick plays anything from Halo to Stardew Valley to Peggle, but is a sucker for a magnetic story.