Forza Motorsport 7

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One
Genre: Racing
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Turn 10 Studios
Release Date: Oct. 3, 2017


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PC Review - 'Forza Motorsport 7'

by Cody Medellin on Oct. 2, 2017 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Experience the danger and beauty of competitive racing at its limits with the most comprehensive automotive game ever made.

Buy Forza Motorsport 7

For Xbox owners with even a slight interest in racing, the Forza Motorsport series remains one of the more trusted series. Every entry in the main series has been representative of a solid racing experience, and the series has become a leader in the field. It even spawned a spin-off series that was equally lauded and, in the eyes of some, better than the main series.

Thanks to the Xbox Play Anywhere program, PC players on Windows 10 also get a crack at the series, but things haven't gone too smoothly thus far. The PC-exclusive Forza Motorsport 6: Apex was a free-to-play game that showed off how good the games can be on the PC, but you needed to have powerful hardware to run it well. Forza Horizon 3 ran at a much higher frame rate, but a number of issues contributed to a rocky launch, and some of those issues are still being present today. To that end, Forza Motorsport 7 is an effort to push out a more polished product on the PC from the get-go.

For those only familiar with the Horizon portion of the series, Forza 7 bills itself as a more serious racing game. The roster hovers around 700 cars (not including the launch day DLC), and all can be fine-tuned to the smallest detail, such as any custom paint or vinyl job from an ever-growing community-made list. Players can race in any of the included 30 tracks, and they can choose from several configurations, including short and full circuits. Gamers can customize other elements, like weather conditions, laps, and up to 23 other opponents either from specific car classes or the whole car spectrum.

Many of the signature components of the series are also present. Players can still rewind to retry a section and correct mistakes, and unlimited uses are at your disposal. Gamers can race with as many assists as they want, like automatic braking and steering control. Returning from previous game are mods, which are consumable cards that grant bonuses in exchange for having certain restrictions or meeting specific goals, like being forced to drive with the dashboard camera only or getting a reward if you come in at or higher than fifth place. Then there are the drivatars, which are computer-controlled representations of real players and their driving habits. Unless you have a bunch of friends who are expert drivers, expect to collide with them quite often.

There's not much that can be said for the racing itself outside of the fact that it remains just as solid and enjoyable as ever, and anyone jump in and play or customize to their heart's content. The series has constantly strived for improvement instead of slight feature modifications, and that still rings true. For example, of the 700 included vehicles, a number of them are of the off-road variety, which is nice but an odd choice when you realize the game doesn't provide any off-road tracks. Truck racing also makes an appearance, and while the inclusion is more of a novelty since using standard racing tactics almost always leads to a round of bumper cars, it's still welcome.

Another addition in Forza 7 is racers, and they're more cosmetic than functional. You can choose either a male or female character and provide him or her with a racing outfit. There are a ton of racing outfits to unlock, from one commemorating prior games in the series to a tuxedo. You can only see your driver fully before and after races, so appearance doesn't mean too much. It's comforting to see an actual driver in the seat as opposed to nothing at all.

Changes to the overall economy may be divisive for some people. There's no longer a manufacturer loyalty XP system, but the driver XP system is intact. Leveling up is easy because any race, no matter the mode, guarantees a healthy amount of XP. Leveling up no longer gains a spin on a wheel to randomly get a prize. Instead, you have a choice of three things: cash, an outfit, or a hefty car discount. This is a better method of rewarding players, and hopefully, it'll stick around for the next iteration in the series.

Replacing the manufacturer loyalty level is a tiered level for all cars in general. All of the cars are now divided into five different tiers. You initially have access to the first tier, which has some good cars, but you'll need to buy cars from your current tier in order to reach the next tier. Any free cars from DLC or cars earned by leveling up still count toward tier graduation, so progression occurs at a decent pace.

It's an odd approach to what was a straightforward way of obtaining new vehicles. In a way, the system is beneficial, since it forces you to explore the bounty of available cars instead of sticking with a subset of cars from the beginning to the end. On the other hand, it feels wasteful to burn cash on cars you have no interest in to unlock a tier for the car you do want and then have to grind to get the cash for that vehicle.

Then again, that grinding gets worse when you throw loot boxes into the mix. Like many other games nowadays, Forza 7 allows you to buy loot boxes in the hopes that you'll get more mods, racing outfits, badges for your racing card, or cards. Boxes have an assigned rarity level, and so do the items, so you know what to expect but can be surprised now and again. That surprise makes it tempting to blow your hard-earned coins on a loot box, and that is amplified by the fact that some cars can only be obtained in this way. While this mechanic may be an annoyance for some, it doesn't ask you to use real money to participate. So far, there's no option to buy money, so players who love the loot box mechanic have to grind out coins instead of pulling out a wallet.

The game features a number of offline and online modes, including Free Race and special events where you're given restrictions on what you're racing. It's disappointing to see some modes — e.g., Forzathon's timed events, online leagues, and the auction house — locked away with a "Coming Soon" banner, but hopefully they'll be unlocked soon. The online performance has been steadily improving as more people have come on from their Ultimate Edition early purchases. The focus is on the Forza Driver's Cup, a more cohesive campaign that has players trying to win all seven championship cups from several series that have their own events. The breadth of choices in the championship races is interesting enough to keep the mode fresh, but some could use some work on payouts. For example, one event has you racing for 23 consecutive laps, but the payout is paltry compared to a standard sedan event.

If you're familiar with the series, you'll notice a few things are missing in this iteration. Forzavista is still here, and you can look at the engines and interiors of cars, but there's no vocal track to provide a brief history of the car or trivia. There are no more bonuses for adjusting your assists, so anyone choosing to make the game harder for themselves is getting the same payout as someone with all of the assists turned on. Thus, the only other way to get bonuses is if you're using a special Forza-themed car or if you bump up the drivatar's difficulty level.

In a way, the arrival of Forza 7 on the PC heralds the return of the general racing sim on the platform. When you look at some of the big guns of the genre on the PC, almost all of the titles aim for a specific racing experience. Assetto Corsa and iRacing have the hardcore racing simulation all tied up. The Crew and the more recent Need for Speed titles go for an open-world narrative. The Project Cars series is all about a focus on motorsport rules, and the Dirt series aims for rally racing in both hardcore and casual forms. The last time the PC got anything like this, it was with Grid Autosport a few years back, so it's great to see this series come to the PC.

When compared to the Xbox One iteration, the PC version has a number of advantages. Though the game is meant as a showcase for the upcoming Xbox One X, the PC version gets the 4K resolution and textures now. The various graphical options already make the game look sharper than the Xbox One version, but the increased resolutions, even when downscaling, make the title look best in class. Ultrawide monitor support is in, as is the ability to use a myriad of steering wheels.

That said, the game is missing split-screen play. With local multiplayer becoming a thing in the PC space, it seems perplexing that the console version would have it while a normally more powerful PC is missing the option. What people will notice is the lack of overall stability in a few key areas. No matter how powerful your hardware may be, you will encounter some brief bouts of micro-stutter in some races. There isn't a constant barrage of this stutter, and some people may not notice it at all, but once you see it, you won't stop noticing it. The frequent crashes are more pressing. We've gotten one crash while saving the game where the saving wheel spun indefinitely, but almost all of them occurred when transitioning out of a race and to the main menu. There, the game crashed back to the desktop, and while progress was saved most of the time, one of the crashes lost a race's worth of progress. That's something that needs to be addressed in a patch very soon.

Graphically, the game is a knockout. Micro-stutters aside, the frame rate hits 60 very consistently with some mid-range hardware if you plan to run the game at 1080p in ultra settings. Get some better hardware, and you can even push 4K ultra with no sweat, so there's a variety of rigs that achieve the balance between great looks and solid frame rate. The cars look fantastic, whether you're in Forzavista mode admiring all of the details or when they're in motion and you can see the various scratches and cracked glass from collisions with others. This is especially true if you're riding in either dashboard or driver cam, as you can see the car shake around if you drive at high enough speeds, so you experience the perfect feeling of driving way too fast for your own good.

The same attention to detail goes for the environments, especially when the dynamic weather system kicks in. The gradual formation of puddles as a track goes from gray to a thunderstorm in a few laps is a sight to behold, as is seeing the sun slowly creep down while driving during the last minutes of darkness. Colors from the confetti that shoots out when passing certain checkpoints in some stages stands out nicely, as do the little things, like the sand blowing across the track in Dubai or the leaves falling in Maple Valley. In short, Forza 7 earns its reputation as a beautiful-looking racing game.

On the sound front, the game is much more subdued. The effects are the highlight, as the engine sounds for every car are distinct to the point where real gearheads can guess what you're driving by sound alone and be right most of the time. The music, however, has gone back to the aesthetic of the first game, where there's nothing but instrumental rock in the soundtrack. It doesn't come off as loud as before, and while it works fine, you're looking at the Horizon series if you want your licensed music fix.

Forza Motorsport 7 on the PC has what it takes to be called one of the best and most welcoming racers of the past few years. Aside from being one of the best-looking games on the platform, it plays like a dream due to a myriad of control options, while the freedom afforded by its gameplay options ensures that people of any racing skill level will be able to jump in and do well. However, its lack of stability puts it behind the console version and can make playing it on the PC frustrating if you aren't prepared to restart the game constantly. Despite the score given, which would be one full point higher if stability were fixed, players really wait for a patch unless they're impatient.

Score: 8.0/10

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