Forza Motorsport 6
The Nurburgring Nordschleife is many things to many people. For the locals, it’s a road – a 20-odd km toll road with banked corners, huge dips and bumps and best of all, no oncoming traffic. To racing drivers it’s the Green Hell that rewards their lightning reflexes and to carmakers it’s the ultimate testing ground. Now I’m no racing driver and nor am I part of any testing at the Ring. Yet I’m led to believe this is a really, really scary circuit as we approach the halfway point and onto Kesselchen – a fast and flowy climbing section with off-camber left handers and views of the dense forests as stunning as the bellowing noise of the RS4’s high-revving V8 that’s in front of me. It’s moments like these that make the Forza Motorsport 6 so good when it comes to hyper realistic racing sims.
Over the years, the Forza Motorsport series has evolved into a gaming platform that hits that sweet spot of augmenting the thrills and perils of track driving. In this sixth installment, the game is suitably bigger and better than ever, with over 450 road-going as well as race cars and a handful of brand new circuits. Here’s our take on the highs (and few lows) of the Forza Motorsport 6.
User interface and Menus
Those who have spent an awful lot of time playing Forza 4 or 5 would find the overall presentation and menus to be quite different. Though it would hardly matter because the overall UI is uniformly slick and the access to both ‘career mode’ and different racing series is incredibly easy. The intro sequences for the racing series are particularly interesting thanks to the witty voiceovers by ex-Top Gear duo James May and Richard Hammond.
Car models look sharp and nicely detailed under Forza’s virtual showroom called Forzavista wherein one can step in or have a walk around or even fiddle with buttons and dials of all the 450-plus cars.
Car and track list
From humble hot hatchbacks like the 1997 Honda Civic Type-R to single-seater Formula E race cars to go anywhere off-roaders (Read: Bowler EXR S), Forza 6 has the most diverse car line-up in the series history. This isn’t surprising given that the previous installment was heavily criticised for its limited line-up of non DLC cars and race tracks. Speaking of which, you now get eight entirely new locations including Brands Hatch, Circuit of the Americas and the lot. Interestingly, our favourites from the new lot happen to be the only two circuits that have returned from Forza Motorsport 4 i.e. Hockenheim ring and Sonoma Raceway.
The maiden race in Forza 6 is spent behind the wheel of Ford’s all-new GT and as a default set-up, all the driving aids including traction control, steering assist and racing line are turned on as you race against similarly powerful exotics. To be honest, it all seems far too easy as you make your way up the grid in a jiffy. However, post-race you are robbed off your loaner GT and instructed to pick up a relatively mainstream car with limited funds. Your first car, then, is more likely to be a Golf GTI than a GT-R.
At this point you have full control over the driving aids and you can really fiddle with the electronic nannies and make tiniest of suspension changes from alignment, springs, anti-roll bars and more. Like in the previous instalment, the cars feel more natural to driver inputs and behave aptly with most of the driving aids turned off. Now as one would expect, every feature carried over from Forza 5 has seen significant improvements and it includes both physics simulation and AI system. The AI system here is dubbed ‘Drivatar’ which is Forza’s attempt at making racing against opponents more realistic. Simply put, Drivatar gathers data from real players and learns their behavioural aspects on the track. These aspects include driving on the racing line, braking into the corners and accelerating out of the corners.
In theory it all sounds great but Drivatar is a tinge short of perfect when you’re out on the track and racing at various degrees of ‘difficulty’ setting. In my case, there were times when the lead car is in sight but by the next lap it’s so far into the distance it’s not even plausible, as I battled with the rest of the pack that’s evenly spread out and running similar pace.
Perhaps the biggest highlight of the improved physics is the addition of wet weather racing and more importantly, the standing water effect for which Turn 10 Studios apparently studied several race tracks to realistically place the puddles. Having played several wet races for hours, we can safely say that this effect is a little too gimmicky. Sure, the cars tend to go light and wiggle their tail as you hit the puddle but the effect here is amplified to the point that you are bound to spin out or run wide on sharp corners.
Visually, this game in a class of its own. Whereas Forza 5 lacked spirit and felt a bit bland when it came to on-track realism, the 6 is a lot livelier. You will find dust clouds across the far end of the tracks, incredibly well detailed locations (especially at night) and tyre physics that has been greatly improved too. While bits like real-time deformation is carried over, the game features a better smoke engine which definitely allows tyre smoke to linger for a longer time compared to Forza 5.
Realistic racing sim was Forza 5’s greatest strength and the same holds true of Forza Motorsport 6. It’s beautiful, extremely engaging and a much better proposition than its predecessor, thanks to more locations and a ton of cars. It’s not perfect though – the Drivatar AI still needs fine tuning and some of the newer features like the standing water effect can be toned down for the better. That being said, Forza Motorsport 6 is a massive step forward for realistic racing games and a conclusive return to form for the series.
Forza Motorsport 6
Platform: Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Developer: Turn 10 Studios
Available for Rs 3,499
Cover pictures by Kapil Angane
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