October 22, 2011
The first thing you'll notice about Forza 4 is that it's beautiful in almost every way. The racetracks and the scenery surrounding them look almost real, which is amazing because people felt the same about Forza 3 and they've raised the bar even more. The cars themselves all look incredible and the damage system is realistic and really cool from a visual perspective. The cockpit is the one place where I feel Turn 10 could put a little more effort; however it's easy to appreciate that it might've been a hardware limitation due to needing to render the entire racetrack as well as the cars and the inner view. However it's a shame that some of the cockpits are a little bare, especially when looking over at the passenger side to check the mirror.
The driving, which is the most important element by far, is top notch. There are a multitude of options and settings that allow all users to feel comfortable with the game regardless of gaming ability or driving experience. The range is quite extensive; on easy it's as if the game is basically driving for you. but with the hardest difficulty however, it basically fully simulates the complexity of driving. So you'll go from the game slowing you down to needing correct shifting in order to gain that tiny millisecond advantage that can pay off later on in the race. The other major benefit is that it is possible to customize all the different sliders and options within the difficulty menu to make it fit your driving style as much as possible.
One major change from Forza 3 is that cars no longer level up with you. Instead you gain "affinity" with their manufacturer. This system seems a little broken however, because it the affinity that was gained came too quickly, and made the cost of upgrading various cars to different classes far cheaper then it probably should've been. This has the added upside of allowing more money to spend on buying new cars, however it still feels like there should've been more of a challenge when it came to upgrading cars.
While the game does look great, the lack of new racetracks might be somewhat disappointing to long time fans who have already worn out the majority of the tracks from their time with Forza 3. Despite this though, new race types such as multi-class racing might make it more enjoyable for Forza 3 veterans because both offline and online there is the option to participate in races where players take place in races on the same track at the same time but with different classes of car. This option is quite exciting because while actively racing with your own class, you have to be aware of all the other types of cars that are out there, and be able to avoid them. The other downside is the lack of weather options and the lack of racing at night. While these types of events aren't for everyone, it would've been nice for them to have accommodated the hardcore fans that wanted these features.
Features outside of racing are where Forza 4 continues to impress and blow the competition out of the water. The World Tour mode is presented by Jeremy Clarkson and the depth of presentation when it comes to all the features of the cars, as well as the different racetracks are incredible and will definitely make non car people somewhat excited by what they are seeing. Turn 10 also made a point of getting the Top Gear track in there this time, for all those fans of motorsport on the TV.
The number of vinyl shapes has been increased from Forza 3, which should give the people who want to paint incredible cars an easier time with it, and perhaps allow them to make even more amazing looking creations. In short, if you want a motorsport game that has social interaction at its core, then Forza 4 is the way to go.
Forza 4 isn't about creating a new experience, it's about improving the already incredible Forza 3 experience while still allowing those who have never played a driving game, let alone a Forza game, to feel comfortable. The beauty of the game combined with the depth of features and options for players should keep even the least mechanically inclined and car interested people engaged for quite some time. It's just a shame they couldn't have added more tracks and tested out the new affinity system more thoroughly.