There are two requirements for enjoying the fourth installment of the racing video game “Forza Motorsport” (developed by Turn 10 Studios, a division of Microsoft Game Studios). First, you need an Xbox 360. Second, at least once in your life you’ve had to have looked at a car and uttered, “Sweeeeeeet.”
Meet those requirements, and Forza 4 will have something for you whether you’re a casual racer or a wily veteran.
Hop into the game’s virtual showroom, and hundreds of cars are immediately available. The game's Free Play mode doesn't require hours and hours of game time to unlock the hottest rides — a big win for the casual gamer.
Chances are, though, you’re not going to buy Forza 4 to race a Nissan Leaf. Exotics like the Ferrari 458 Italia, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, Lamborghini Murciélago, Audi R8 and more take full advantage of how real the game makes cars look and sound.
Even though I routinely test cars on real roads, I geek out on all types of racing games in my spare time, and Forza 4 emulates the real thing as close as any video game before. There is amazing attention to detail inside and outside the car, plus lifelike engine and exhaust noises that rumble through the stereo.
Driving controls are pretty straightforward. Steering, traction and stability systems plus antilock brakes can all be tuned for drivers who want full control over their ride. Each car has a different feel of heft and acceleration. One quirk of the game is that many of the cars are too tail-happy, where the rear end swings out in a corner or during braking, even front-wheel-drive ones. Novice players will want to keep driver assists active for a few races to avoid frustration.
After driving the wheels off of exotics in Free Play, a detailed career mode features upgradable cars and numerous styles of racing that help keep the boredom away. The test track from the BBC car show “Top Gear” is host to a bowling pin challenge where the goal is to run over as many pins as possible. A head-to-head duel has you and an opponent racing with slower-moving traffic; it’s as infuriating as getting around grandpa in the fast lane, but winning against a real opponent is more rewarding.
There are other features, too: hill-climb challenges, eye-catching replays, a camera feature during racing (all pictures here were taken in-game), drag racing and brand battles like Mustang vs. Camaro.
That makes Forza 4 a truly massive game, but it never overwhelms, which is why it wins.