Reviews// Forza Motorsport 4

Posted 6 Oct 2011 10:33 by
Interfaces like this (e.g. Microsoft Office Assistant) can be annoying. Feelings-of-homicide-inducingly so! But Forza 4 avoids this by constantly having the default button do the right thing. If you attempt enter a race with a car that can't compete, rather than let you fail miserably and then realise you need to upgrade, the game tells you before you enter the race that you are driving a (comparatively) puny banger, and offers to make the necessary upgrades for you.

Of course, there are hundreds of thousands of Forza diehards who will eschew such assistance. For them, all of the tinkering and tuning is still available. This is good news, given that this brigade of hardcore Forza fans will presumably be playing with the difficulty cranked up to maximum, at which levels finely tweaking your camber and toe-in can make the difference between podium and Podunk.

But Forza 4 does not force you to dive head first in to the bewildering world of race tuning. Even the complete Forza novice  can pick up the controller and begin racing.

At first, with all the assists (full driving line, assisted braking, automatic gears, auto-tuning) turned on, it's almost as if the game does the work for you. This is fine, it lets you find your feet as you explore the huge range of tracks and cars available on the two discs.

However, once you begin to play the game in earnest, you'll realise that you can only progress so far with the frankly nannying Brake Assist turned on, so you'll take that off. Later you'll drop ABS. Finally, you'll realise that only by using a manual transmission setting can you hope to compete in the higher levels of racing. After that, you'll be tempted to begin monkeying with your drive ratios to avoid being left behind by the exotica on the La Sarthe back straight or the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Before you know it, you've been tempted up the difficulty curve. This for me was GT5's biggest failing.

Beautiful Curve
Of course, how hard the AI competition races is, to some extent, down to you. It is adaptive, so the better you perform, the better the AI competition races. This means that in the early stages, you'll see AI cars making mistakes, stacking it in corners and braking too hard and too early for bends. As soon as you begin to improve, however, the AI will too. The difficulty curve is beautifully judged.

As you improve, your player level does too. Right the way up to 150! Each time it does, you'll be given a choice of a selection of prize cars - the cars you choose determines, to an extent, the events you can race in. There are plenty of open events, which any car of the right class can enter - but there are also many single make, or specific class events, restricted to certain body shape or country of origin models.
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