re·demp·tion (rĭ-dĕmp′shən) > n. The act of redeeming or atoning for a fault or mistake, or the state of being redeemed.
The road to redemption can be a powerful thing in the world of gaming, humbling everyone from the egotistical player to developers who’ve comfortably reached critical acclaim. And in the case of Turn 10 Studios their wake coincided with the release of Forza Motorsport 5 and the inauguration of the Xbox One – where expectations and allegedly hectic timing didn’t do the fifth iteration any favors. Many people, including myself were left with mixed emotions.
I pondered all of this as my Lamborghini Urus approached the final ‘s’ curve in the Mount Panorama Circuit. It was daybreak as the unabashedly Italian SUV ate up the track with unparalleled intensity, unlike what I’d probably never be able to enjoy in real life. There was nothing subtle about driving a carbon fiber hyper-SUV against the likes of production sports cars and family sleepers, it was ludicrous but fulfilling all the same as anything went during this dream race.
Forza Motorsport 6 is the game we rightfully deserved almost two years ago, and bringing the series back from a hurried mediocrity.
The majority of changes are notable improvements, as the introduction plops you in the upcoming Ford GT and showcases how you’ll be playing the single player mode. The structure is organized by way of ‘story of motorsport’, a campaign that spans across five levels portrayed as volumes to get you acquainted to the various tracks and the disciplines of classes needed to drive. Essentially portraying each difficulty as a journey of accomplishment starting with meager beginnings of hot hatchback offerings, world rallying, to prestigious Le Mans racing events.
Beyond that, it’s really up to you to decide how you approach your career as each volume contains a numbers of series that can be played with varying combinations. Want to hoon the amateur stage in an all-wheel drive competition? Go ahead. Have an urge to tear through circuits at night in an executive sedan or supercharged pickup truck? You can do exactly that. The outward approach doesn’t feel constrained and the rewards can be plentiful, although at its core the progression remains straightforward to keep things moving forward; with the impending monotony occasionally broken up by various challenges with one-make races and going head-to-head with the Stig of Top Gear infamy.
Accessibility has always been a shining light in the series and Forza 6 is no different. Yes, it’s a simulator with mechanics that handle nicely whether you’re playing with a standard controller or Logitech driving wheel, but remains inviting when you eventually graduate from the hand holding fundamentals – just keep in mind that most of the assists are enabled by default. Like previous entries you could breeze through the game but only stand to gain when you eventually turn things up a notch, as testing your driving skills offers more incentives. The experience is further amplified as CPU-controlled opponents utilize a unique Drivatar system which replicates the driving habits of other online users, witht behavior that can immediately change from docile into aggressive opponents who are damn-near impossible to overtake. A dynamic that actually works both ways, for better or worse.
The new Mod system sits somewhere in between, enabling a wealth of modifiers for a chance to earn more credits and XP by achieving certain objectives or accepting handicaps. A cool incentive for novices in the grind but somewhat half-baked in execution. Admittedly, it was often forgotten as my later career yielded more rewards without jumping through these hoops, luckily Turn 10 was smart enough to not include them during online multiplayer and consequently turn matches into a perk-abusive Call of Duty affair — except with cars.
For a game that prides itself on being a definitive love letter to racing culture, it’s been long overdue that time and environment play a role to astonishing effect. The dreary weather convincingly depict individual droplets of water being streaked off the windshield and numerous standing pools forming on the ground, the rainfall isn’t just aesthetically impressive but introduces hydroplaning that will drag you right off the road with complete loss of steering. This is probably the most tactful addition as it requires knowledge of wider driving lines, critical workarounds for impetuous tactics, and will have players constantly on edge when a sharp apex is imminent.
Night and intermediary dawn events are also thoughtful in execution, but to a lesser degree, many of the challenges involve navigating in the dark with only red taillights acting as decipherable beacons of what’s ahead. Corners suddenly emerge from pitch blacks and taxing to the senses, all of which provides much needed depth and realism. However, each course variation is a static snapshot unlike real time occurrences such as clouds breaking up relentless downpour and proper transitions between dawn and dusk are nonexistent here, something Polyphony Digital has already tackled long ago.
Those elements are only a piece of the presentation as Turn 10 learned from their previous mistakes and gave the masses 26 available tracks and over 460 cars that should satisfy every type of enthusiast, from baby-boomer muscle, late 20th century modern classics, to the advanced contemporaries of now. It might not incorporate the encyclopedia-like range of vehicles seen in Gran Turismo, but quality versus quantity is evident and gloriously rendered in the ForzaVista mode where you can ogle at the exterior and interior details of each car. This attention extends to the voice talents as Richard Hammond and James May lead us through the game along with a few other racing personalities, although Jeremy Clarkson remains sorely missed here due to his embittered ‘fracas’.
The carryover tuning, online multiplayer, and the tremendously obtuse decal design features remain good, if not noticeably linear in nature. Aside from adding or removing hurdles in the assist setting or by way of the Mods, the task of claiming one of the top three positions in order to pass is fairly dated at its core. Seasoned players can easily maintain this goal since you start in center of the grid every time, in that respect you really can’t lose since you merely have to start that race over again; It’s just a bit too dull if you were expecting more variables that come with a potentially turbulent career.
But for the less cynical, Forza Motorsport 6 is perfect for the person who’s either grown up playing with Hot Wheels, actively frequents Jalopnik to denounce any car that doesn’t have a manual transmission, of finds excitement in the thought of finally owning that sweet little MX-5 Miata for track day, bro. There are faults, but nearly all of them can be forgiven for the amount of quality and abundance of superior finesse made for an overtly gratifying experience – more than worth another chance of atonement from the prior title.