Forza continues to be part of Microsoft’s dwindling core of exclusives and while fun, it’s beginning to lose its grip as sequels blend together.
A dramatic opening monologue begins Forza Motorsport 6, presenting the question of, “Why do we race?” It doesn’t have an answer, but does draw absurd metaphors for bullying and romance.
Forza is not done either. Motor journalists pad load screens with their haughty speeches, one correlating early race competitors to the likes of combat veterans.
No Forza. No.
Microsoft needs their simulation racing counterpoint more than consumers need six Forzas.
Forza may finally love cars too much, and it must. Drive Club and Gran Turismo now linger on rival hardware. Microsoft needs their simulation racing counterpoint more than consumers need six Forzas.
Other sports may linger yearly, but there is something to be said for the value of exclusives, particularly from a console maker who serves Halo, Gears of War, and Forza on repeat. Microsoft left the breadth of their uniquely Western software to die on the original Xbox.
Realistic Racing Game Seeks Colorful Personality
This series remains pleasant though. There is a sense of color and comfort which Gran Turismo is willing to discard. If Sony’s series is the die-hard flight simulator of car games, than Forza is their more welcoming training program, complete with dramatized music.
Nothing changes in Forza 6. It’s an accessible jaunt through a world of expensive – even grandiose – motorized privilege where dollars are measured in horsepower than rather bank accounts. Earn credits, unlock, progress through disciplines, and decipher how the simulation has changed. Chances are it hasn’t to anyone less than fanatical number watchers.
If anything, Forza has pushed itself away from the sim, bulking up with added “mods” which are neither logical nor welcome. Arbitrarily adding a random boost for bonus grip feels false against Forza’s contrasting nine screens of live driving information, available with a d-pad tap. The system of unwrapping digital mod packs is either desperation for the new or a siphon for microtransactions to be added later.
Maybe the question is not, “Why do we race?” so much as, “Why do we need Forza 6?” Microsoft would appreciate numbers as justification. All publishers do, so arbitrarily, there are 450 some cars, 26 locales, 24-player online competitions, unlimited custom community designs, all in 1080p with splendid rain effects. Hooray. Oh, and ungainly named Drivatars – those snippets of data pulled from other people’s sessions to build virtual opponents – which continue to prove how cruel your friends are behind digital wheels. How Drivatars function without servers will be interesting to preservationists.
Forza risks losing a battle because it has been marked as a needed holiday tentpole and nothing more.
In contrast, the spin-off series, Horizon, carries a nascent, generous atmosphere and an overall idealist peek at car culture. There’s an energy. While stuffy, it’s never as redundant as the core series has become, droning between sectioned off races (split between five sets to make a “career”), buying new, tweaking, and waiting for a sequel. Gran Turismo, hoity toity as it appears, at least catches a flash of identity. Without some form of backing – whether that becomes a thin narrative or other connective showcase – Forza risks losing a battle because it has been marked as a needed holiday tentpole and nothing more.
Still, it’s fun winding around tracks layered with this too-sharp-for-reality reality. The cars look better that way.