To merely call Forza Motorsport 4 (pronounced Fort-za) a “car racing game” would be an entirely myopic way of describing one of the most important racing simulators available today. Sure, it tosses a barrage of cars at you, ranging from European supercars, American muscle and Japanese tuners, and mostly requires you to ‘race’ to advance. However, the beauty is in the details.
Since their inception, Forza games have always been more about the journey rather than the destination. Winning a race is hardly the point. Sometimes, it’s more about enjoying an iconic racing track like Germany’s Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit or driving alongside the Mediterranean sea on Italy’s Amalfi coast. It’s also how you win a race.
You could take the easy way by choosing automatic transmission, ABS (antilock braking system), traction control and whatnot. Or you could switch off all car assists and race with a set of wheels as you would in real life. If that’s not enough, you could tweak every aspect of the vehicle, be it the tire pressure or suspension (just to name a few).
FM4 places you in the world of real competitive racing and gives you a chance to experience what it is like to drive a 2011 Mercedes SLS AMG or a 1969 Dodge Charger, all from the confines of your home. Keep playing and you’ll be able to point out the better bits of a BMW M5 or criticise a Lamborghini Gallardo’s tough handling.
Unfortunately or fortunately, the best bit about the game is that it doesn’t steer away much from its predecessor. Forza 3 was so impressive, that it seems the developers, Turn 10 Studios, had a hard time improving on it.
Yes, FM4 has better visuals; cars are stunningly well-rendered down to the gear shift, and racing tracks don’t look too different in real life. However, the list of new tracks is unimpressive — there are only four new circuits including the Hockenheimring and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Worse is that the downright fun New York circuit has been left out.
The car repository is exhaustive, with over 500 vehicles from 80 manufacturers, but one glaring omission is Porsche. Apparently, EA Games, which sublicenses the vehicles to Forza, refused to compromise.
If you’re a fan of BBC’s motor show, Top Gear, you’ll love the fact that its presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, has been roped in as the game’s narrator. In AutoVista mode, Clarkson, with his trademark humour, talks nineteen to the dozen about 24 dream machines.
Additionally, electronic musician Lance Hayes returns to score the soundtrack of FM4. However, the ambient electronic music doesn’t match the Aphex Twin-like levels he reached in FM3. Here, the in-race music verges on cacophony, and in most cases, we suggest turning it off entirely to enjoy how each car sounds.
There are new multiplayer modes too, and Kinect support that allows for controller-free racing. We intend to do a follow-up piece for multiplayer racing over Xbox Live so watch this space.