Like a lot of people excited for Forza Motorsport 7 (Xbox One, Xbox One Deluxe Edition, Xbox One Ultimate Edition, PC), I’m only really interested in playing this racing game’s career mode. It is for my fellow solitary drivers that I present this assessment of Forza Motorsport 7 as a single-player game.
Like previous installments, Forza Motorsport 7 has you driving cars, trucks, and other motor vehicles on real race tracks and closed city street courses. But what sets this series apart from other racing games — well, most of them, anyway — is that it features optional assists for the braking, steering, traction, and stability. Based on how they’re set, this can handle like Gran Turismo-like simulation, a Need For Speed Payback-esque arcade racer, or something in-between. You can even turn on a driving line that’ll show you where to go, or hit the rewind button when you go the wrong way. Which is handy, given how twisty some tracks can be.
Forza Motorsport 7 also has the same great sense of speed as its predecessors, which really makes you feel like you’re going a hundred miles an hour whether you prefer the cockpit view, the chase camera, or the hood ornament’s perspective. But the game’s multiple viewpoints aren’t its only options. This not only allows you to tweak multiple aspects of your engine, drivetrain, and other parts — including, yes, the tire pressure — but it also lets you customize your rides with hundreds of colors, gradations, color patterns, and decals, which you can apply to all or part of your car.
For those who prefer to go it alone, the centerpiece of Forza Motorsport 7 is “The Forza Driver’s Cut,” a series of race events that has boasts a good mix of vehicles and event types. In just the first series, for instance, you not only get to drive muscle cars, super cars, hatchbacks, trucks, race cars both modern and vintage, and an off-road buggy in multi-lap events on paved courses, but also a rally car in a one-on-one race against professional rally driver Ken Block, a “Chase” event in which you have one lap to go from last to first, and a chance to knock down large bowling pins with a limo.
As for what Forza Motorsport 7 adds to its career mode — aside from the new cars, tracks, and events that every racing game sequel adds, of course — the biggest is an improved structure. “The Forza Driver’s Cut” consists of six series, each with ten or more events. To unlock the next series, you have complete multiple events in the previous one, though you don’t have to beat them all. To unlock the second, for instance, I only had to complete five of the ten in the first, and even then I only placed in the top three for four of them.
As a result, “The Forza Driver’s Cut” in Forza Motorsport 7 can be as varied or as homogeneous as you like. Well, to a point; if you don’t enjoy multi-lap races, you’re basically screwed. You can even go back and play earlier events even after you’ve unlocked the next series.
Forza Motorsport 7 also carries over the dynamic weather system from Forza Horizon 3, one that doesn’t just determine whether a race is held on a sunny or rainy day, but how sunny or rainy as well. It can even change mid-race, though not dramatically. Overcast days can become rainy ones, but three lap races that start when it’s nice out don’t end in a thunderstorm. Though it does seem to have a penchant for overcast days.
Last, but least significantly, Forza Motorsport 7 now lets you chose the gender and outfit of your driver. You can even make them look like a mummy, a ninja, or someone enjoying a spa day, complete with a fluffy bathrobe and lime slices on your eyes. Sadly, these outfits are merely cosmetic, and don’t impact your performance. Dressing for a spa day, for example, doesn’t make your driver more relaxed.
Thanks to its intuitive controls, twisty tracks, and real sense of speed, Forza Motorsport 7 is as much fun as, well, Forza Motorsport 6, Forza Horizon 3, and so on. And just as good looking (more so if you have a 4K TV or monitor).
But it also, sadly, has some of the same problems. And a few new ones.
For starters, Forza Motorsport 7 sometimes feels a bit too familiar. While it has a large collection of tracks, many are ones we’ve already raced in Forza Motorsport 6 and Forza Motorsport 5. Granted, it would weird if they didn’t include such courses as Laguna Seca or Daytona, but that doesn’t make this feels any less like déjà vu.
There’s also a new leveling up system in Forza Motorsport 7 for your car collection. The more cars you own, the higher your rank, and you can only buy certain cars if your rank is high enough. The problem being that this sometimes prevents you from entering certain events. For instance, until you have a car collection rank of 4, you can’t buy any of the 1960s Grand Prix race cars needed for that event in the first series, something I didn’t have even after completing numerous events. (The irony being that I ended up winning a ’69 Lotus Type 49 during the second series, which I was then able to use in this race.)
Forza Motorsport 7 also has a problem so common these days that I now just cut and paste this complaint into any relevant game reviews: some of the text is too small. If you sit at a reasonable distance from your TV — y’know, like your mama told you to — you’ll have trouble reading the menus, some of the stats when you’re looking at cars in the store, and aspects of the heads-up display.
But the biggest problem with Forza Motorsport 7 is that its load times are really long, especially right before a race. Which is, admittedly, something that may (and probably will) be patched at some point, but until it is, having to wait so long for a race to load will be tiresome.
Though it also doesn’t help that, once a race is loaded, you can’t pause the game while it’s counting down to start. Which isn’t a big deal…until the pizza guy picks that exact moment to arrive at your door.
Even with these problems, though, Forza Motorsport 7 is still a great racing game, a solid entry in this series, and, as a result, one of the better games of the year. Especially since the aforementioned “problems” are really just minor annoyances, and nothing that will diminish how much fun you’ll have with this in any significant way. Which is why I’m one of the people who’s excited that I got to play it, all on my own.