By Matt Wood
The revs rise on 24 Australian V8 Supercars on a very, very wet day in Sebring, FL. The lights go out and everyone is struggling for traction on Sebring’s concrete surface. I move from drivers left across the back of a Nissan towards the pit wall as I’ve gotten a ripper start. Almost immediately as I get within two feet of the wall I’ve hit a very large puddle, which pitches the car into the concrete wall that separates pit lane from the racing surface. Welcome to Forza Motorsport 6.
Turn 10’s sixth installment of their legendary Forza Motorsport series is their second go on Microsoft’s Xbox One platform, and it is head an shoulders above 2013’s Forza Motorsport 5. Featuring 26 environments to race in and over 450 cars as of launch, there’s a car and track combination that will easily suit anyone that picks up the game.
Much like Matt Kistler, I prefer my racing games to be chock full of full-blown racing cars, and Forza 6 certainly doesn’t disappoint. On the racing car front, you’ve got 1930’s Grand Prix racers, all the way up to modern LMP1 machinery. Sprinkled throughout are Formula 1 racers from the 1967 season(it’s like GPL on a modern console!), Group 5 cars, Group C prototypes, modern day touring cars from Australia and the United Kingdom, and nearly the full range of current GTE cars. Oh, the street cars aren’t bad either.
This is an American developer and it shows in the amount of IMSA content the game includes. You’ve got every GTLM car that contested the 2014 Tudor United Sportscar Championship(bar the Porsche due to EA holding the rights to the manufacture…expect a Porsche pack later down the line that will include the 991 RSR and probably the 919 LMP1 car), the Lola-Mazda B12/80 from the Prototype class, a GTD class Audi R8 in Flying Lizard colors, and a few of the cars represented in the Blancpain Lamborghini Super Trofeo series. Track wise, again, you’ve got nearly every track IMSA’s top series competes at. The only ones missing are Detroit, Mosport, and VIR.
Onto the tracks, which as I said before, Forza doesn’t disappoint. There’s 26 environments, up a whopping 12 from the previous installation, and there is a track for every racing fan to love. New to the series is my home track, Connecticut’s Lime Rock Park, the first time it’s been featured in a console gaming title, which makes me extremely excited. Other new circuits to the series include Watkins Glen, Circuit of the Americas, Daytona International Speedway, Brands Hatch, Monza, and a fictional Rio de Janiero street circuit. Tracks returning to the series, after an absence in Forza 5 are as follows. Sonoma Raceway, Road America, Nürburgring, and Hockenheim. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of most fantasy tracks, and the same can be said for those included in Forza 6, which are the Bernese Alps, Prague, and Rio environments. I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to fantasy tracks and feel like they should be built as realistically as possible, including runoff and barrier type/placement. Forza’s fantasy tracks suffer from really awkward barrier placement which will cause some unintended pile-ups from a single car catching a barrier wrong and going across the track, blocking it.
A massive improvement from previous Forza Motorsport titles comes in the form of the removal of the “sticky grass” and “slidey pavement,” as I’ve referred to them. In previous Forza Motorsport releases, if there were portions on the track where the development team felt like one could cut the corner and pick up a time advantage, your car would be slowed almost immediately to a 5mph crawl. This led to some major issues if say, you put two wheels onto the grass on the corners at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Your car would immediately hook and grab onto the sticky grass and it would stop your car in its tracks, at which point anyone running behind you would immediately pile into you at terminal velocity. This would ruin everyone’s races due to no faults of their own. Slidey pavement was similar, and usually placed on the outside of corners past the ripple strips. You’d track out and then you’d immediately be on a surface with the same grip as greased dog snot.
Another big improvement over past titles is the inclusion of actual tire barriers in place of hard walls in their respective locations on track. Before, any wall you hit, regardless of what it looked like was like hitting a concrete barrier, and really damaged your car mechanically. Now, most of those have been replaced with tire barriers, which you now have to hit at a very high velocity to damage mechanical bits on your vehicle. Most are the standard tires wrapped in conveyor belt, but some are just free standing tires that will go flying everywhere when you impact them, which is pretty awesome.
Graphically, the game is absolutely beautiful. It blurs the line between virtual and reality on many occasions, especially when the adverse weather comes into play. Cars will get dirty and covered in rubber as a race progresses, and you’ll leave big, beautiful clouds of smoke if you prefer your driving to be of the sideways variety. Newly introduced to the series are night and wet environments. While not all circuits are available in night and wet configurations, those that are look absolutely stunning. From brake rotor glow and exhaust flames during the night, to the high clouds of spray and water droplets that form on the windows and cars during wet races.
Speaking of the wet tracks, for those that are available in the wet, Turn 10 went to the circuits they selected and used what they saw to put all the puddles in their correct places. Now, it’s not a dynamic weather setup. When you’re in a wet race, it’s always going to be raining, and the puddles are always going to be in the same location and same depth. That said, running events in the wet is equal parts incredible and absolutely terrifying. The grass becomes slick and you’re going for a ride if you get two tires off, and your car is lose traction and skate across large puddles. Of which there are quite a few. Especially the lake at the base of Paddock Hill Bend on Brands Hatch.
From a physics standpoint, the game feels quite a lot like Forza Motorsport 5, just with a bit more grip in the tires. Where 5 felt like you were always driving on a super greasy track regardless of conditions, 6 makes you feel a bit more planted.
The game really can be picked up an played by anyone, from a person brand new to racing games, to seasoned veterans of the sim-racing genre. Turn 10 does this with a large amount of driving aids that can be turned off and on to your content. They range from zero, to an assist heavy amount where you can keep the throttle absolutely pinned for a whole lap, the only other input you’ll need to do is steer the vehicle.
Turn 10 has also added a bonus package in the form of “mod packs,” which I think are absolutely silly and have no place in a racing sim whatsoever. They’re used like trading cards that you can use to alter your starting position, grip levels, and credits/xp payouts. Like I said, I personally think they’re silly, some may like them. To each their own.
The Forza series of games has always been about customization and tune-ability, and the sixth installment continues this trend. Most of the street cars can have everything changed about them, from engine and drivetrain, to chassis, tire, and aero modifications. Also, in the slightly more ridiculous side of thing, most cars can have multiple different engines swapped in(a 5.7l V8 and a twin-turbo 2.6l I6 are the most common ones), drivetrains swapped(turning your front-wheel drive car into a rear-wheel or all-wheel drive car, for example), and power adders, er, added. One of my personal favorites is the fact you can put the Mazda 26B 4-rotor into the Skyactiv Mazda P2 car.
Overall, Forza 6 is a fantastic game, and if you’re a fan of auto racing in any form, you should do yourself a favor and pick up a copy if you already haven’t. Turn 10 usually ads a pack of downloadable content every month in the for of a seven car DLC pack, which goes for about $8 per pack and usually has some truly awesome, or ridiculous vehicles included(the first pack for example, included a Cadillac DTS stretch limo!). Forza has always been about enjoying cars and having a whole lot of fun, and Forza 6 doesn’t disappoint in the least in that aspect.