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Today the first reviews for Forza Motorsport 5 began to roll out across the Internet. Thus far the racing game is the best reviewed launch title for the Xbox One with a Metacritic average of 82.
The positive reviews shouldn't be a huge shock. This is the fifth Forza game developed by Turn 10 Studios. Every installment of Forza has been received well by critics so why should another Forza, powered by a more powerful console, be any different?
Critics seem to agree that Forza 5 is an excellent showcase for Xbox One's capabilities. The cars and tracks both look gorgeous. The realistic physics and the haptic feedback from the Xbox One controller's triggers combine for a very smooth and immersive driving experience. Early reviews also heaped praise on the Drivatar system, which generates A.I. opponents named after your friends that behave according to their individual driving styles.
Why, then, is the game saddled with a Metacritic score about 10 points lower than any of the other Forza games? Metacritic is far from scientific but that's still a significant drop. Many reviewers complained about how "slim" Forza 5 is compared to its predecessors. Expect fewer cars, tracks and features than you had in Forza 4. It seems to be the usual problem plaguing the first next-gen installments of existing franchises: the developers have put so much time into revamping the game for new hardware that they simply don't have enough time to include all the goodies that the series offered at the end of the previous generation of consoles. The pressure on Turn 10 to get the game out the door in time for Xbox One's launch probably didn't help.
Still, next-gen growing pains don't explain the story completely. According to the reviews, the game has extensive microtransactions and downloadable content. You could have access to as much content as Forza 4 has in time, but it'll cost you. In spite of this, though, it seems like most reviewers enjoyed their time with the game.
Excerpts from a few reviews are below. We've included a mixture of positive and negative write-ups to help give you a well-rounded impression.
GamesBeat - "At this point, for me, every turn in Forza is a story. I’ve raced against these Drivatars for the last 15 hours, and we’ve moved past trash talk into pure loathing. When I see one of the drivers take a sharp corner, I know that he leaves the outside open, and I can usually take him. When it works, it is a great feeling. When it doesn’t … well, that’s what the rewind button is for."
USGamer - "Of course, race time continues to wow, but this time your attention is piqued by stone-cobbled streets, leaves being blown into the air as you drive past, and hot air balloons taking off in the distance. While racing, much of the visual impact is lost, but moments like being blinded by the sun, or catching the reflection of the car’s interior on the windshield remind you of the difference between this and the previous generation of consoles."
Metro - "There is, as you have probably already guessed, a mountain of downloadable content already planned, including paid-for extra car packs each month for the next year. But much worse than that new cars have to be unlocked with in-game credits, which take a long time to earn in any volume. But never fear for as you’ve probably already also guessed microtransactions allow you to pay for extra credits – or increase the rate at which you earn them."
Destructoid - "Forza 5's driving feels better than ever. While Turn 10's unending work toward driving realism is to be credited, a nod also has to go to the Xbox One controller. The new trigger buttons are game changers with their smooth throw and dampened end strike. Their movement is so nice that it's really easy to feel completely tuned into the game's acceleration and braking. The haptic feedback motors inside these triggers let you feel when your tires or slipping, or when you're overdoing it on the gas pedal. I've never felt more connected to the virtual road."
InsideGamingDaily - "The drivatar system is less noticeable. The idea is interesting—supposedly the game learns how you drive, and will then tailor an AI character around those behaviors and seed him into other people’s games. If your “drivatar” wins credits in those races, you get a sack of money the next time you log in to play. It’s oddly reminiscent of Dragon’s Dogma’s pawn system, but in practice I didn’t see a noticeable difference between these drivatars and normal racing AI. Sure, the drivatars would occasionally botch a turn, but so does traditional AI. It’s possible this system will gain more personality as more people play and salt the earth with diverse behavior, but right now I’m unimpressed."
Edge - "Forza 5 is a launch game with all the spectacle and disappointment we’ve come to expect from launch games. While the handling is still magic and the content on offer is substantial in a way, Forza 5 is best seen as a foundation for what Forza 6 will be in a couple of years. By comparison, this launch-day sampler will seem awfully limited, far from the hoped-for victory lap impossible on prior hardware. After all, it seems limited by comparison with Forza 4 now."
If you've read any other reviews or have some opinions of your own, let us know in the comments below.