This is possibly the last great Live game to be released for the original Xbox. Touted as a GT4 killer it plays a really good game yet is full of flaws…but for all that I can’t put it down and is one of the best console racing games online…ever.

First the usual stuff – graphics and sound are great. 30 frames per second though which has never bothered me but some folk find it unplayable. Surround sound is also well used. Considering the amount of options in the game the user interface and menu’s are very well constructed and more easily navigated than GT4 – they were awful.

The main selling point has been Forza’s online capabilities and your ability to tune your car like GT4 and also customise your car to make it look like whatever you want. Then you can sell your car to other users. These features alone are also being emphasized by the 360 developers – customise the software and machine to your hearts content and go to ‘The Marketplace’ to buy further skins, parts etc but that’s for another post.

Previous racers have always been marred by lag – thankfully Forza is excellent online. Fast lag free racing with up to 8 players. Toca 2 made similar claims but get close to anyone and the cars would judder making it difficult to play…not so with Forza. A massive amount of tracks are available and a huge amount of cars make for a game with a long shelf-life. Biggest choice is the parts you add to your car and then how you configure them. Everything from brake balance to anti-role bars, downforce to gear ratio’s can be tweaked. This means that everyone can be racing with the same car except set-up exactly for them and to suit the course. This kind of customisation is superb and brings a sense of ‘ownership’ to the cars. To add to that feeling you can ‘skin’ your car. Not just change the colour but add up to 100 layers onto each side of the car including top, front and rear. I find it to time consuming but others have created stunning cars already as seen below and at the Forza Player Customization Site.
forza_custom

While I’m loving the game and the aspects described above there are still some niggles which really should have been ironed out before launch. There are driving aids in the game which although I don’t use I can understand why people use them. However I would have liked to have locked a game room to using no aids at all. At the very least I would like to see who has what enabled. I can do neither. One of the aids also makes you noticably faster no matter how much skill you have although it takes away some of the challenge. The scoreboards are also ‘broke’. You can tell what cars were used but you can’t see how they were tuned or what aids were on and it would have been nice to break scoreboards down into class (there are a variety of classes in the game so that different cars can be matched with each other). I can’t easily lock a room down to friends only, I can’t kick and block others and if I want to customise my car with new parts I need to leave the lobby, buy the bits, tune the car then rejoin. Bah. For a game that is one of the best console driving sims both off-line and online these restrictions are annoying and surprising. It also means that I’ll be playing the game mostly with friends rather than using opti-match to find new challenges.

Well worth buying and will be played for a few months at least but I can’t help but feel that a bit more polish on the online front end would have paid dividends. It’s also a look-ahead at the world Xbox 360 wants us to play in – it’s going to be expensive.