It's all about speed and control. Speed is that vital ingredient to racing games that has us coming back for more. Just how fast can we go and stay in control? Maintaining control of the car, holding a fragile grip on the road just long enough to hold the line around that corner is all that matters. Speed and control make every corner a fight, a neck-and-neck paint-trading tussle between you and your fear of flying off the track or braking too soon and losing ground on the chase and that all-important speed. Forza 6 nails speed and control.
There's a sweet spot to be found in Forza 6, where you're challenged just enough by the AI and the driving aids are tuned to ensure every race is an exhilarating adrenaline rush. That's not to say the AI difficulty options are completely reliable though. Sometimes you'll go from winning multiple tight races in a row only to find the next one has the two lead cars are so far in front of you, you'll think you're in first until you notice the 3/24 indicator in the corner.
For the most part though, the difficulty evens out and with so many settings, there really is something for all players. Usually in racing games, rubber-banding in the AI means you always have a chance of catching up. Forza 6 says pish to this, although it's happy to keep a racer or two right behind you, even letting them magically catch up over half a lap if you shunt them into the gravel and tyres.
It's all part of the plan though. After all, plodding around in first place unchallenged for three-quarters of a race isn't fun. The aggressive AI is obsessed with hunting you down, and isn't afraid to tap you into a spin mid-corner. To be fair, they're only getting me back for using them as barriers on the first turn in every racing game ever.
For when things do go wrong, essential rewinds save the day. While unlimited, they are a little odd. They rewind in uninterruptable chunks. The first one is almost always never far enough; I would need another rewind to get to the point where I should have started breaking. This second rewind is obscenely far back though, often dumping me in the middle of another corner altogether. A manual stopping point would have been an ideal fix here.
Overall, I'm a huge fan of rewinds. They're an encouragement to test your skills to the limit. I've had so much fun experimenting with late braking points and I'm not ashamed to say I often screw up the same corner with multiple rewinds for one attempt as I become obsessed with nailing that perfect hot line through. Infinite rewinds indulge this obsession. They've made me a better driver whilst letting me storm into corners ridiculously fast with increasingly desperate measures to chase down the race leader.
Vehicle handling across the range of cars is superb and a large part of that is down to the Xbox One controller. As a new Xbox One owner, I've fallen head over heels for Microsoft's pad, which is a perfect match for racing games thanks to the grip texture on the analogues, and those incredible triggers. The vibration feedback that erupts independently through each side of the controller, and from within the triggers themselves, pulls you into the game like nothing else out there.
Vibrations permeate everything in races. There's a gear change lurch, trackside rumble-strips when you stray to the side and violent juddering during hard-braking when tires lock and shake as the car's weight rips through your hands from behind. There may be an Elite controller on the way, but this one is mind-blowingly good already.
The tracks themselves are a mix of familiar, official professional race tracks and unique circuits through accurately modelled cities like Rio and Prague. While some tracks will be familiar, the aggressive AI and superb handling ensure they feel like a new challenge. Hell, I even look forward to playing Laguna Seca and its infamous 'corkscrew' after fearing it for years in other games.
Rain events are terrifying tests of skill and endurance. It's not just the loss of grip that you have to deal with, puddles are a huge threat. We've had aquaplaning in games for a while, but Forza's puddles are deep and treacherous traps accurately modelled on where they appear on real tracks. Driving through them has a noticeable effect on your speed and if just one side goes through, they're capable of dragging your car to one side, off the track or even into a spin. The optional on-screen racing line doesn't account for this, and you'll have to find new lines to beat wet versions of tracks and it's this new kind of challenge (not to mention the graphics and controls) that makes Forza 6 a keeper.
The game's campaign mode takes you through various categories of cars, building you up with faster classes as you go. You shouldn't worry about buying the expensive cars though, as every time you level up, you get a random prize, which is usually a wad of credits, or a free car. You can unlock some real monsters via blind luck. When I was given a brand new LaFerrari is felt like a cheat mode rocket compared to the Impreza I'd been using beforehand.
The campaign is made up of multi-race tournaments, where some cars wear out their welcome and this isn't helped by the alarmingly high lap count for some events. Personally, I think races should be a three lap maximum and last about five minutes, anything longer and I can lose interest in the same corners over and over. On the plus side, there are lots of tracks in the game, considerably more than Forza 5. There are many more cars too and you'll be glad to hear that DLC micro-transactions aren't an issue this time either.
Online races are split into different speed categories and will require you to buy some upgrades for your vehicles. Factory settings simply won't compete in the online arena, so it's probably best you build up your garage with some tuned up motors before heading online.
Races are smooth affairs, with minimal lag during 24-player events. Apparently it is possible to have an exclusive driving game work at launch. Your biggest problem, as with most racing games, is other people. Collisions aren't punished at all in Forza 6, so expect to get spun out on corners most of the time. Even if you pass someone clean, with an honest approach, I generally found they'll just smash into you at the next corner.
A beginner's mode turns collisions off, essentially turning every vehicle into a ghost. These races are great fun, as results are based much more on skill than blind luck or whoever manages to get away from the pack on the first corner. Sadly the motors in this mode are all a little slow and you'll get bored soon. Having a no-collision mode for the full range of vehicles would have been great. If you can stomach the mass cheating in regular modes, you'll have fun tearing around the tracks online, but there's plenty of game offline to get your teeth stuck into.
- Incredible sense of speed
- Xbox One controller is a perfect match for handling
- So many tracks and cars
- Events often go on too long
- No penalty system for online cheats
- Rewind system is a little clunky
The Short Version: Say hello to Forza 6, this generation's finest racer. Turn 10's racer certainly has the looks, but it's the raw speed and intuitive handling that make the occasionally over-long races thrilling from start to finish.
Platform: Xbox One
Developer: Turn 10 Studios