Whenever a new console finds it’s way onto shelves it’s traditionally accompanied by an authentic racing title, the seemingly unwritten rule has been perpetuated for generations now. The reason for their persistent reappearance is in reality rather simple, it’s easy to show off new hardware’s graphical capabilities by rendering ever more realistic interpretations of the cars we see on the road every day and, the more exotic ones we wish were parked on our drives. In addition to providing photo realistic realisations of a recognisable point of reference driving games are remarkably popular and, on Xbox none are more so than the coveted exclusive Forza series.
A quick word with one of the Microsoft representatives overseeing the event where we demoed Forza confirmed this, when asking which game was the most popular of those on offer without hesitation they responded “Forza 5″. So popular was the sole station playing Forza 5 that sessions were limited to a mere single lap of the infamously tricky Laguna Seca track (damn you corkscrew!) in order to make sure everyone could have a go. With only a few minutes clocked in game it makes impressions tricky, regardless our short lived affair with Forza 5 very much lived up to the evident anticipation.
As expected visuals are beautiful, car’s look great and the additional power developers Turn 10 have to play with in the Xbox One has benefited the lighting greatly as reflections elegantly bounce off cars immediately amplifying their splendour. In genre tradition tracks look rather unremarkable but, they don’t detract from the overall graphical prowess. Winning the race against our three competent AI competitors wasn’t as clean cut as it could’ve been, a few spirited panicked shoves towards the end of the lap were required to ensure delicious victory. These exchanges painfully scratched the paintwork off the stunning sports car that was pristine not two minutes ago. The damage looked so authentic that car fans might even wince at the realistic battle scars adorning their dream vehicles.
Turn 10 have always made Forza a joy to play with tight responsive driving mechanics whilst implementing forgiving features so less advanced players can enjoy themselves, a tradition that naturally continues here. They’re the standard options like turning off traction control for experts who feel confident in their abilities – not always the best idea as the player before myself found out when they turned it off and immediately spun out, much to the reps enjoyment. Further concessions have been added so that beginners can really get to grips with proceedings, there’s the option to put in racing lines that advise players when to break or let up on the throttle, one option even has the Forza press the breaks automatically so beginners can just focus on steering.
It’s hardly a revelation to say that Forza feels like a brilliant racing game but, what does improve the title is actually a new feature of the new Xbox game-pad – the proudly touted impulse triggers. Whilst the other demo’s didn’t implement the feature Forza did, to wonderful effect with an improvement that feels natural; not shoehorned in. Actually describing the rumble and impulse triggers is a difficult task it’s something that’s best experienced in person – what makes it so difficult is how alien the feeling is. The impulse triggers affect the way the vibration responds to action on screen in a more accurate way than ever before – for example slamming on the breaks in a hard turn sends a wave of rumble shooting from the front of the remote to the back. It’s effectively a small change but it adds a deeply interesting extra level of feedback.
Forza 5 presents itself as the bog standard compulsory racing offering ready to be released alongside the Xbox One come launch day but, with the few minutes we spent playing it feels like it’s shaping up to be so much more. It wouldn’t be excessive to say Forza 5 will probably be Xbox One’s stand out launch title, it shows off the graphical potential of the system like all good launch racers do – everything looks gorgeous. It steadfastly supports series tradition of sublime racing mechanics paired with an impressive array of features that make playing simple enough for total novices to appreciate it. What’s more it’s the only title that makes good use of those marvellous impulse triggers. This is the one to watch.
If you missed any of our hands on impressions with the Xbox One hardware or games you can find them on the links below.