Forza MotorsportXbox Series X/S, PC ¦ racing sim
When Forza Horizon 5 was released in November, 2021, it was greeted by a fair few players ready to get behind the wheel, with 10 million players jumping on at launch. This number would double, as the word got out just how good a racer it was. So much so it was even voted IGN’s Game of the Year, which was made even more impressive by the fact that it was the first racing game ever to win the title.
So racing games were finally back on the Xbox.
The pressure was on then for its sister title Motorsport, with mighty tires to fill.
Of course the two games have two very different approaches to racing, with Horizon a more open world, arcade style game, and Motorsport having a more sim approach, turning more into the side of realism.
It is a game that features fast cars on fast circuits, where often it’s more about your overall performance over positioning.
The career mode is the biggest chunk of the game and there’s a lot of meat on it. You start with a gentle introduction section, just an insight as to what you’re letting yourself in for, before the main event.
You then have a myriad of events to enter, after you’ve purchased a required vehicle that is to race through it. But before you can start racing, you have to drive some practice laps. Always. These average at around 3 laps before you can be allowed to take part in the race itself. Of course getting to know the course is always advantageous, but boy is it dull.
It’s at this point that you can change various elements of the game, which can affect the game’s overall difficulty. There are various sliders that you can move to increase or decrease your chances, as well as choose various rule sets to play by. These are all well and good but it would have been so much easier to go old school and just have level of difficulties to choose from, you know the type of thing, easy, medium hard. Tried and tested. Because being bogged down with so many variations doesn’t really work for us.
That said, we do like the idea of a prediction of where you will finish depending on which position you take on the grid. Although it was all rather woolly overall, and more to do with pot luck more than anything else.
And then it’s time to hit the road.
So it’s a given that this is a more technical approach to racing, but it doesn’t mean it has to be devoid of any kind of personality whatsoever, which is sadly the case. It is a clinical experience, which many might find appealing, but we struggled to actually enjoy playing it.
For instance, as is often the case, you drive for a team, but there’s very little evidence of that. You have a team member speak to you, but it’s no more than telling you that you’re on your last lap. And that is pretty much it. Something we enjoyed by playing the recent Grid, for instance, is that there was a lot of dialogue coming from your team. Not only was this useful, but it also made you feel part of something. Unfortunately there’s something intrinsically dull about this game.
It also doesn’t help that the AI felt off. We made various tweaks here and there, after being advised to do so because it wasn’t very challenging, but after a number of different tours, and levelling up our driver to somewhere in the thirties, at no point during any race were we ever overtaken. Not once. Ever. Now this may come across as somewhat arrogant on our part, but trust us, we consider ourselves fairly average in racing games, but not once did a car overtake us. In one race we started at the back of the grid, and worked our way through the pack, past every car, until we got to the front. And not one car challenged us. Now that doesn’t seem right for a so-called sim-racing game.
And once we hit the front, the game just felt like another practice race, doing laps until it was finally over.
For a change of pace we noticed on the home page it declared “jump into multiplayer!”, so we decided to give it a try. Now whoever it was that wrote “jump” clearly isn’t aware of what the word means, because there is no jumping. There is practicing, obviously, and then there is qualifying, and then you “jump” into the race itself. When the clock has run down and it’s available, that is. It’s nothing but faff, and a lot of hanging around before you even get close to a race. And when you finally do get to race, chances are it’s full of the usual idiots that should never be let out in public on their own. We found too many playing as if it was a destruction derby, clearly frustrated at not being able to play the game properly. The game states there are penalties for people who play this way, but that doesn’t seemingly affect your race or where you finish, so it feels as if you’re getting punished too for following the rules.
So if you were expecting a similar driving experience overall to that of Forza Horizon 5, this ain’t it.
The cars look the good, the courses look good, the trees look – well bad, actually, as they don’t move ever, and look like those trees alongside model trains – and some of the weather effects are impressive, particularly the rain. Even the handling of the cars was agreeable. But we can’t say at any point did we enjoy it.
If you like driving around and around circuits, where there is no sense of fun whatsoever, then this may well be the racing game for you. Just most definitely not for us.