By Ben L.
They say that rain is what makes or breaks a racing driver.
On the Sebring International Raceway where a heavy downpour was deemed fine weather to race in, I found myself in a constant battle against the slippery road and dangerous wet patches that would send my Volkswagen Golf R skidding out of the track. Eventually after two challenging laps, I crossed the finish line in third place, but not without using countless rewind options to correct my amateur mistakes.
Wet weather makes its debut in the Forza Motorsport series, and from this final chapter of the demo it is clear that Turn 10 Studios is not passing it off as just a feature to showcase Forza 6‘s graphical prowess. Rather, gamers will have to exercise extreme caution while racing and perhaps have to tune their cars before the race specifically to improve grip, especially while cornering. Going through puddles at too high a speed would result in aquaplaning, and no amount of braking could stop the car from leaving the track. At best you would end up on the grass and out of position; at worst, you would fly straight into the wall.
Playing the race in cockpit view mode intensified the driving experience, as the dull roaring noise from splashes made by the car while entering puddles sounded very authentic. Rain falling on the windscreen also hinders visibility for a brief second before the water droplets spread upwards, like they would in real life.
Unlike its wilder cousin Horizon 2, the wet weather is simply punishing and there is no way you can slide around corners without any form of consequence. But that’s Forza Motorsport for you – the closest a gamer can get to a racing simulator and I’m very pleased that the developers have put in so much effort to make driving in the rain as lifelike as possible. A dynamic weather system that changes during the race itself, like in Horizon 2, would make the game even more challenging as race positions could be affected by unexpected weather conditions, and gamers who take the time to master proper racing techniques would be hugely rewarded. But given that this was not seen in the demo itself, I suspect it would not be included in the full game as well. It’s a minor gripe that does not overshadow the fact that Turn 10 has probably developed the best weather system for a racing game.
The last Forza Motorsport game that I owned was FM4 for the Xbox 360; I skipped FM5 after reading the negative bits about the trimmed and underwhelming content. This year’s FM6 may very well be a massive apology to fans of the series with its promise of 25 tracks and more than 450 cars at launch. But it seems that one letdown from its predecessor still remains – the soundtrack. I remember playing a demo of FM5 and having been used to the sweet licensed soundtrack in FM4 that featured electronic beats by artists like Alex Metric and Ian Livingstone, I was instantly struck by the overly dramatic orchestral music that seems more suited for your generic action movie. I’m driving a supercar, not a bus with a ticking time bomb!
Hence I’m disappointed to report that the same genre of music is carried over to the new Forza demo, though I’m still holding out hope that the soundtrack would return to the greatness of FM3 and FM4 in the full game and that the current music was included to make the game feel familiar to those who had already played FM5.
One distinct improvement from the previous games is the A.I, which behaves much more intelligently and human-like thanks to the Drivatar technology that captures the driving styles of online players and inserts them in your single-player world – a feature also found in Horizon 2. One major flaw in the franchise’s single-player has been how A.I drivers seem to be driving perfectly all the time, never leaving the racing line and always cornering at perfect speeds. In FM6 however, drivatars are prone to making mistakes and this was evident in Sebring where cars would brake too late in the rain and skid out of the track, though curiously they would not make the same mistake twice if you used the rewind option.
Considerable effort has also gone into making each circuit feel more alive. Waves crash along the coastal track of Sao Paulo, while helicopters hover above Lime Rock Park – small details that make you feel part of the world you’re racing in.
From the demo, Forza 6 looks and feels like the proper Xbox One-exclusive racing game that will give Sony’s Gran Turismo a run for its money. A proper review is in order when I get my hands on the full game, and in the meantime racing fans should be relieved to know that this is the racing game they should be looking forward to playing on the Xbox.
Forza Motorsport 6 comes out on Sept 15.