The ongoing arms race for more powerful gaming hardware has both driven and been driven by the push for ever more realistic graphics. That effort has passed a point of diminishing returns when it comes to people, mired in the uncanny valley with facial animations. As Microsoft’s reveal of Forza Motorsport 7 during its recent E3 press conference revealed, however, there is no such problem when it comes to cars.
Forza Motorsport 7, running at 60 frames per second and 4K resolution on an Xbox One X developer kit console, is the most impressively realistic game we’ve ever seen. It’s quite an accomplishment for developer Turn 10 Studios, for whom this is the tenth entry in the popular driving franchise (including the Horizon spinoffs).
COME FOR THE CARS, STAY FOR THE SCENERY
The cars themselves look virtually indistinguishable from their real world counterparts, glistening in the sun as they drift around corners (or, in our case, ping-ponging back and forth between the road barriers). The game will apparently include over 700 cars, including the new Porsche 911 GT2 RS, which was revealed to the world alongside the game during the press conference.
Gear heads will love the breadth and depth of cars on offer, getting as up close and personal with their favorite cars as is possible short of actually driving them in real life. Drivers can switch between perspectives at any time, including two views from behind the car, behind the wheel, on the dashboard, on the hood, and peeking out as if through the headlights.
It’s not just the cars that look beautiful, however. The beautiful environments often become distracting. During one of our races, menacing clouds boiled overhead at the start of the race, bursting forth with sheets of rain during the first lap. Droplets of water collected on the screen, and puddles organically formed across the track.
Our second race, in Dubai, was marked by stunning blue skies and skyscrapers in the distance, filtered through the shimmering haze of desert heat. Lots of racing games can capture the broad strokes of realism, but Forza Motorsport stands out for its extraordinary attention to details. This is especially apparent from the first-person perspective, as you can see how the sun refracts through drops of water, and how the windshield wipers rattle when you skid over a rough patch.
THE FORZA PHYSICS ENGINE CONTINUES TO IMPRESS
This is a game by racing nerds, for racing nerds
All this window dressing only matters because the underlying driving mechanics are, as always, solid, reflecting Turn 10’s years of refining the physics. The cars have a real sense of weight, and the gamepad controls felt incredibly smooth and responsive. Our AI opponents were smart, frequently forcing us off the optimal path through the track, which was helpfully highlighted by a line of glowing arrows (and optional feature for newbies, like us). We did not place particularly well in any of our races, but it definitely felt like we could have, had we been more strategic in our positioning.
As Microsoft gears up to release the Xbox One X this fall, curious gamers are on the lookout for games that will really justify the upgrade. While Forza Motorsport 7 might not be the breakout crowd-pleaser that will bring in the masses, Turn 10 Studios has a razor-sharp understanding of their audience. This is a game by racing nerds, for racing nerds, and when it arrives on Xbox One and Windows in October, the automotive faithful will likely be leading the charge to buy the new system for an unparalleled racing experience.