The Forza franchise has traditionally been associated with the celebration of motorsports and the passion for automobiles. By consistently delivering a complete package featuring a large variety of enticing cars from different eras faithfully represented on screen through impressive visuals, immersive environments, a fine selection of locations at which to race, gripping gameplay, as well as its own signature style of physics and controls, Turn 10 Studio’s Forza Motorsport has established itself not only as a racing game, but also as a franchise which naturally appeals to every car enthusiast, both casual and hardcore. Building off the series’ success, Forza Motorsport 6 ambitiously seeks to take its familiar formula to even higher levels and bring us the greatest Forza experience yet. Despite some nagging flaws, Turn 10’s second effort on the Xbox One can definitely be considered a success.
From the moment you first turn on the game, you’re introduced to the controls and eased into play by means of an introductory race in which you drive a couple of laps around Rio, one of Forza’s fictional street circuits, in a 2017 Ford GT supercar. Afterwards, it’s time to choose your first car from a selection of several starter vehicles and begin the career mode named Stories of Motorsport. This mode is structured into five volumes, each with its own distinct theme which provides a clue as to the racing disciplines that will be available for selection over three series of races, totaling fifteen series that you will need to progress through in order to complete the experience. However, seeing as though it is possible to race in each series multiple times, using all the different disciplines provided in its respective volume, completionists looking to truly explore everything Forza 6 has to offer and try every discipline and series combination will be in for a long journey. The only gripe here is that races are not customizable; there is no option to change the number of laps and no option to have a qualifying session to determine your grid position. Some races can definitely feel a bit too short, with very little time to reach a podium position — which you must do in every race in order to progress to the next one — thus forcing you to drive more aggressively than you otherwise would. This holds especially true on narrower tracks, where there aren’t as many overtaking opportunities. Moreover, Series of Motorsports could have a little more depth to it, but the introduction of longer races and/or qualifying sessions would certainly be a bigger priority.
In addition to the Series of Motorsport mode, a second single-player experience is also on offer. Showcases is a mode in which you may compete in numerous one-off races and events organized in ten different categories, which include Race Driver Experience and Top Gear Showcase. In between career races, you may decide to partake in an endurance race, challenge yourself to overtake as many cars as possible within the time limit in a passing challenge, take a car out on an autocross track, knock down some bowling pins in a BMW M4 or challenge the Stig’s virtual counterpart. Thus, Showcases provides a change of pace from Stories of Motorsport’s neat career structure and keeps the game from getting monotonous. It’s a clever and well implemented idea.
Having a lengthy multi-tiered career mode and a wide variety of showcase races would be for naught if they were not accompanied by a sufficiently large car list as well as a varied roster of locations and courses. Forza 6 does not disappoint on this front, as the game features hundreds of cars spanning across different eras and classes, dozens of tracks and 24 different locations, of which 21 are from the real world and three are fantasy. On a side note, you may also drive on Top Gear’s famous courses.
On the subject of race courses, the environments are gorgeous, a treat which comes at no expense of performance. From the scenic mountains of Rio making up the backdrop of its winding streets to barbecue smoke billowing at Watkins Glen, the developers have ensured that the amount of detail put into the trackside environment adds to the immersion and draws you even further into the game, despite the fact you will almost always be racing at speeds too fast to really allow for any sightseeing. As for the tracks themselves, they are consistently accurate and should satisfy even the most demanding racers as they tackle the challenging elevation changes of Bathurst or the daunting technical sections of the famous Nürburgring Nordschleife in any of the game’s 460 cars.
The cars in Forza 6 are all modeled in meticulous detail, right down to the exquisite interiors and dashboards, where even climate control knobs, CD players, buttons on steering wheels and other assorted accessories are visible, in addition to faithfully represented gauges and dials, bringing to the screen a level of detail and immersion which gives you an extra reason to use the cockpit view while driving. As for the exteriors, they are also impeccably detailed and interact with the environments quite nicely. Turn 10 has done a fantastic job with the lighting and reflections, and racing at night and in the rain could hardly look much better on this platform.
Night races in Forza 6 look beautiful and realistic as trackside lighting or the cars’ own headlights brighten the tarmac ahead and illuminate surroundings, producing delightful reflections. It is not long before you’re introduced to the thrills of night racing in the career mode, and you will get to enjoy the first of such races within the first few events. The same will happen with rainy races, which are also done quite well. As the rain falls, droplets accumulate on the windshield and realistically trace right or left depending on the momentum of the car before being cleared away by the wipers, providing an additional layer of visual realism. Racing in the rain in Forza 6 is definitely visually appealing, but you won’t have much time to admire the weather effects considering the higher degree of difficulty associated with this type of race; it will definitely keep you on your toes and demand your concentration. Not only is your grip considerably lower due to the wet tarmac, but you also have to deal with puddles on the track that can cause your car to hydroplane if you are not careful. Although puddles are static and are always at the same locations in every race, they can ruin a perfectly good race in a heartbeat and thus they introduce a certain amount of strategy to the game, since you may need to change your lines through corners in order to avoid them, or otherwise manage the throttle to avoid hydroplaning and spinning out or wrecking your car.
Thankfully, the controls are the typical Forza fare, which means they don’t require any complicated adjustments and should feel comfortable to almost everybody right from the get go. Steering, accelerating and braking all feel intuitive and responsive on the Xbox One controller, with the only caveat being that inexperienced players might find the steering to be a little twitchy and overly sensitive at first, but a minimal amount of practice is all it should take for anyone to forget about the controls and focus on the action instead. With 24 cars on the track, there is always a great deal of action going on with nary a single drop in the frame rate, an impressive technological feat indeed, especially when you consider that the Xbox One version of Project CARS was plagued with frame rate issues prior to being patched multiple times.
The AI within Forza 6 is powered by the Drivatar system, meaning that each AI driver is actually supposed to be a virtual representation of a real human, thus the name “Drivatar”. The more players race, the more their Drivatars learn about their driving habits and replicate them on the track, making for more organic competitors that better mimic human behavior. This is both good and bad. On the plus side, races are certainly varied and unpredictable; on the flipside, however, they can be too unpredictable, as well as messy. Drivatars sometimes behave less like professional race drivers and more like drunken Sunday drivers who have no business on a race course, wrecking and making ridiculous mistakes a little too frequently for a game that is supposed to be about organized racing. Furthermore, Turn 10 still hasn’t figured out how to program Drivatars to be on their best behavior while racing. As it stands, you can definitely expect to see plenty of Turn 1 carnage and be rammed by the AI at times. Nevertheless, they can be smart, and they do provide good racing for the most part, especially once the field is spread out. In fact, racing against Drivatars is never anywhere near as bad as racing against actual humans in public lobbies, so it can at least be said that they are better than the very humans they are supposed to be representing.
Speaking of multiplayer, the servers are quite stable and the netcode is solid, so it is possible to partake in good, smooth racing even against players from other parts of the world. There is a good variety of multiplayer events and modes in which to compete and Turn 10 is constantly keeping this part of the game fresh by introducing new events and bolstering the online community. You might want to steer clear from public races, though, and instead opt to participate in private events, where griefing and discourteous driving are frowned upon. Alternatively, you may also race against rival ghost cars in the Rivals mode and try to set a better lap time than your opponent, or compete in the Ghost League, a self-explanatory league in which every car is a ghost, making contact a non-issue.
All of the above would be entirely futile if the game weren’t built on a decent physics engine, and this is another area in which Turn 10 presents a solid effort. Forza 6’s physics are firmly rooted in “simcade” terrain — meaning it is no hardcore racing sim such as rFactor 2 or Stock Car Extreme, but is reasonably realistic nonetheless, in the sense the laws of physics are generally respected and cars behave similarly to real cars, as opposed to arcade titles which feature absurd driving physics such as Ridge Racer or Burnout — and it truly shines as a simcade game. Cars within the game are extremely fun to drive and handle very well, being neither floaty nor drifty. Additionally, each car handles different and can be tuned and upgraded according to your preferences.
On the tuning front, you may create, save, share and download different setups, which encompass adjustments to the tire pressures, gearing, alignment, anti-roll bars, springs, damping, downforce, brake pressure and balance, and the differential. As far as upgrades are concerned, they are all here, including the drivetrain, aspiration and engine swaps that were also available in previous games. Customization options are also back, giving you the ability to customize your vehicle by purchasing and installing parts such as bumpers or wings. You may also create your own livery, but if you are not the artistic type, fear not, as you may download liveries made by the community for each individual car that you own.
Rounding off the package, Turn 10 introduces a new optional feature called Mods, the premise of which is to add modifiers and stipulations to a given event, that either reward you with more credits or experience, or make it easier for you to win a race. For instance, there are Mods that provide you with extra grip or power, allowing you to challenge for first place with greater ease or dominate more handily. Conversely, you may find Mods that make the game more challenging, such as by forcing you to use the Simulation steering setting in exchange for a bigger reward at the end of the race.
In closing, Forza Motorsport 6 accomplishes what it set out to do, which is to bring us the greatest Forza experience yet. This game can be easily recommended not only to those who like racing games, but also to those who have even the most passing interest in cars and motorsports. This is a game where it is possible to fully concentrate in an intense battle against a full field of cars at Silverstone, only to unwind, explore and gaze at every lovingly detailed inch of your car in Forzavista afterwards. This is a game where you’re expected to prove your race craft in a heavy downpour at Sebring, but are also allowed to goof off and knock down some bowling pins on the Top Gear track or race against the Stig, taking advantage of Turn 10’s partnership with the Top Gear brand. Forza Motorsport 6 is a game for every car enthusiast. It is a top notch racing game and it doubles as highly seductive car porn. The only drawbacks are the absence of longer races — only available in Showcases in the form of endurance racing events — and AI that falls short of being perfect; the latter being a forgivable flaw, considering no racing game to date has boasted perfect AI.
Overall Score: 8.5/10