Hot on the heels of Gamescom, we had another chance to play Microsoft’s premier racing game on Xbox One X and PC, this time getting a more in depth and slightly less hurried look at the game. So close to the full release of the game, Turn 10 let us loose on an effectively final version of the game, to explore and play as we saw fit for 30-odd minutes.
Naturally, it was getting a sneak peak at the start of the career that drew our attention, to see how the game introduces itself to players. The answer is that it sticks you right into the heart of the action. This might be the start of your career, but you’re not lumbered with pootling around in a little Nissan Micra, instead you’re treated to a brief tour of the career’s possibilities, putting you in the shoes of three fictional champions racing the final race of the previous season. Amusingly for me, the lady’s voice over the top of this sounds like the same voice actress that tells you that Objective Apple and Butter have been taken in Battlefield 1.
There’s Michael Mueller hopping into the new 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS for the finale of the Exotic GT Cup around the sweeping, high speed Dubai Invitational street circuit, before you get behind the big wheel of a big Mercedes racing truck in Maria Rossi’s racing boots at Mugello, finishing things off with Ukyo Takagi with a Nissan’s Motul Autech GT-R at a tumultuous and wet Suzuka.
Again, Suzuka was another dramatic showcase of the game’s truly impressive weather effects, as the race started in the wet before gradually drying out towards the end. It’s a Hollywood interpretation of weather, of course, with lightning strikes not far away from the track, but it’s quite incredible as the race unfolds, from the way the scenery reflects in the dynamically generated puddles on track, to the way that even the grassy run off areas become waterlogged and change over time. We’d have to put them side by side, but Forza 7 might actually be the first game to surpass Driveclub in this regard, down to the way water droplets stream up the windscreen as you race. It’s a showcase of the Xbox One X’s graphical prowess as well, rendered in full 4K and with HDR enabled.
These three brief races really shows the sheer variety that the game’s 700-odd vehicles can offer to players, and this is seen as you venture into the first of the six championships – Seeker, Breakout, Evolution, Domination, Masters and Forza. Right off the bat, there’s a good selection of different multi-race events to take part in, but you obviously need to have the right car to drive. I went for a classic 1987 Porsche 911 all in black and diving into the Rise of the Supercar event in the Seeker Championship, going up against all manner of different supercars, both new and old.
Playing on a controller, there’s a great feel to the vehicles, from the rear wheel drive of the 911s to the heft and weight of the racing truck, however that’s only all true if you turn down some of the many assists that can smother Forza as a racing game. You can keep your ABS and traction control on, both of which regularly feature in modern race cars to channel the ferocious power that they hold in a manageable way, and I’m even perfectly happy to keep the racing line turned on through corners, using them as a quicker and easier way to learn where I want my braking point to be than looking for my own markers in the track scenery. However, assisted braking and steering take things too far, and the few moments that I spent with the Porsche and the default “easy” assists left me feeling like I was steering a ferry instead of trying to tame a supercar.
Forza Motorsport 7’s career is an intriguing one. Sim racers seem to be heading toward more and more realistic interpretations of motorsports, taking you through various racing series and disciplines, and while that’s also true of Forza 7, they’re blending this sensibility with the more classic collectathon-oriented sim racers from half a decade ago. What Forza’s career has over its rivals is how it also adds a kind of story to these races. You’ll see Mueller, Rossi and Takagi appearing in your races throughout, fostering these rivalries and battles with them and others through each event and championship.
Starting today, you’ll be able to try this out yourself. Microsoft have released a demo for Xbox One and Windows 10, featuring a trio of events and different cars to try out, not to mention letting you push the game’s engine and graphics as far as they can go on PC.