Jeremy Clarkson’s opening monologue for “Forza Motorsport 4” explains that the car guy is an endangered species. Chased out of his natural habitat, cut down by laws and regulations, and ostracized from society at large due to his love of speed and adrenaline, he remarks that the only place left, the final frontier for this endangered species, is in the virtual world with “Forza 4.” The question then becomes if the virtual world can recreate the enjoyment of the physical one.
If you are judging by visuals alone, “Forza 4” comes close. Crisp, razor sharp resolution and detailing highlight the unique aspects of every car in the game. This differs from “Gran Turismo 5” since only a few “premier” cars got the high resolution treatment in that game. Also, there is the “Auto vista” feature. Here, you can take a painstaking look inside and outside of a variety of cars, taking in the minute details rendered in jaw-dropping detail.
Having a pretty face is one thing, but offering entertaining gameplay is a different matter entirely. Here, the “Forza” experience really starts to pull away from “GT5.” First off, you don’t need to be a car guy to enjoy the game. Game settings are adjustable from beginner to simulation levels so you can be comfortable in whichever level you fall under. Second, “Forza” doesn’t beat you over the head with technical bureaucracy. There are no license tests, long loading times, or a never-ending bog of petty races to get through before you get to the good stuff. Just hop in and drive.
Plus, you can drive whatever you want, wherever you want. Ferraris, Lamborghinis, muscle cars… nearly everything under the sun is available to you. You also don’t even need to race. You can take photos, create paint schemes, and participate in a multitude of other activities. Just like in the real world, you don’t necessarily need to be a speed freak to enjoy the hobby, but it does help.
When you do start driving, “Forza’s” fantastic physics engine really starts to shine through. Developer Turn 10 took simulating the cars so seriously, in fact, that they contacted Pirelli to be able use their tire simulation software for the game. This is the same equipment F1 teams use to develop their tires, so of course it is insanely accurate.