Forza Motorsport Review

Sim-Speeding: MotoIQ Reviews Forza Motosport 4

By Justin Banner

When Turn 10 Studios brought Forza Motorsport out in 2005, it was a refreshing change from not only Gran Turismo, but racing games in general. It was the first on the Microsoft XBOX to try and create a true Simulation-type console game and did so successfully. Every installment since then has not only tried to improve upon this, but has gained graphically as well, especially when the game was switched to the XBOX 360 system. Now, with Forza Motosport 4, there are new and improved features. Drag Racing has improved, car control is better, and Kinect has been added for a couple of new flares! Let's see how everything works!

Driving with a Controller and Car Feel

I have to say, trying to drive with a controller has always been difficult for me. I drive so much by feel it's sometimes difficult for me to steer around a corner right. The wonderful part about the XBOX 360 controller are the triggers that can be used for braking and acceleration. You can feed power and ease off the brakes just like you can in a real car. Turn 10 does try and make driving with a controller a little easier. What's really cool is, just as from Forza 3, you can select a button for the clutch. So, if you want, you can slip the clutch for the perfect drag start or clutch kick to keep a drift going in a low power car!

For me I wish the assists on steering were completely removed with the controller like they are reported to be removed with a steering wheel. Or maybe I just need to get a wheel.

Forza Motosport 4 Review

Car Handling

Car handling in Forza 4 is great, as the cars react as their real world counterparts would if setup right and hitting curbs. However, every car has the same base suspension tuning and that does not replicate their real world counterparts. With as many cars as there are in this game, it would be very time consuming and difficult to put all cars to their factory alignments. However, once you get the fully adjustable suspension, you can adjust the cars to reflect their factory settings or really dial in the perfect setup that we at MotoIQ are even showing you how to do!

I wish Turn 10, or any sim-style racing game, would allow for simple adjustments out of the box. Real world cars do, you can set toe and some camber, even some caster on some vehicles. Why not give the gamer the same factory allowable adjustments or just put adjustments within factory allowances?

Wold Tour Mode, Event Selection, and A.I.

Since I really wanted jump in and create the closest thing to my project car, I had to get some cash flow. The only way to do that is the career mode known as World Tour. World Tour is where you advance you career as a driver taking part in not only races, but challenges ranging from knocking down Bowling Pins on the Top Gear Track to Autocross on full courses.

If you are looking for a story line, don't. Forza is about racing and that's it. No characters, no forced cliches, no crap. You are racing because you enjoy it, you are building a car because that's what you want to do, you race in, where, and even when. World Tour is slightly structured, but even it still allows you to choose what vehicle you race in. You can also choose what race you drive in with Event Selection.

Forza Motorsport 4 Review
Driving a 1971 Skyline GT-R in an "Autocross".  More on that in a moment!

As you raise your driver level in racing, you also raise your affinity with manufacturers. I'm currently at level 10 career wise and level 6 with Nissan, so I've earned a few free cars and bonus cash and parts from Nissan are now free, I wish real life were like this!

Speaking of wishing for real life, the A.I. of Forza 3 are back, dreadfully. These guys race like insane crowds during Black Friday, pushing shoving, and really beating you around to win. However, they also make mistakes and this is where you can really take advantage. Or you could just build a really fast car and smoke them out of the gate! The '71 Skyline GT-R I use in C-Class racing would either beat the pants off them or, in the case of a North American C-Class race, I was facing classic muscle cars on the Sebring Club course I was pushed and shoved and was nowhere near as fast in a straight. However, the light weight of the Skyline allowed me to out brake them while they blew through the braking zone and stayed nimble as they would roll on their chassis.

Forza Motorsport 4 Review
This is my Class C 1971 Nissan Skyline GT-R. A great little car, but only if you don't need straight line speed.


Forza Motorsport 4 Review
I don't always use a Nissan, sometimes, the situation calls for a Camaro!
Forza Motorsport 4 Review
Yeah, I know, it's a Chevrolet in front of a BMW, how often does that actually happen?


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Tuesday, November 15, 2011 5:52 AM
I've never really liked Forza. Too unforgiving especially if you don't have a racing wheel. There's a point where you have to concede a little realism to make it fun to play. Also the adjustments are overdone. Where can anyone buy 486.4 lb/in springs? Is F1 even that anal about spring rates to go down to 1/10 of a pound?

I really miss the old Sega GT games. You could actually build a custom car from the ground up. Not a modified car, but a car with whatever engine, drive layout, or body style you wanted. Granted you could only pick from whatever they offered you, but this was back in 1999. There were hundreds of possible cars you could build then, think of what you could do with a modern platform now! Why isn't this a feature in newer racing games?
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 6:54 AM
You know what? I take it back. I just saw the trailer for the new Need For Speed and that's about as retarded as it gets. It's an awesome idea (a cross country racing game sounds super fun), and then they ruin it by putting in some loser character that nobody cares about. I apologize to Forza, at least they understand what a racing game is about.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 7:44 AM
IF you want true sim racing, you guys should try out Live for Speed and GT legends
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 8:04 AM
No mention of our MotoIQ DTA (Drunken Time Attack) from SEMA? That's probably for the best ;)
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 9:04 AM
@ 8695: I agree with your sentiment on realism. The game-physics were really good, but with a regular controller, it was too difficult to control higher-powered cars. The "novice" steering setting (or whatever the less realistic setting was called) should make it more driveable with a regular controller, and leave the advanced setting for people with wheels.

However, I will say that the ability to rotate, trail brake, etc, is better than every other sim game I've played, including Gran Turismo.

@ Colin: Justin wasn't there for the DKA, but I do think there is merit in the scientific results we've garnered from our study. Martin and I had fun venting frustration with a simulated police chase on the Nurbergring in the wee-hours after the G-ride had its early exit in the race at LVMS.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 9:14 AM
If cost isn't too much of a concern, when you get a wheel make sure you get the wheels with the force feedback pedals it greatly improves the experience even compared to the standard Xbox 360 wheel
Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 10:51 AM
The autocross mode sucks, IMHO. As for using a controller over a wheel, that's what I do, and I'm ranked pretty high in overall circuit time. I haven't bought a wheel, because if I'm going to spend $600, I'm going to spend it on my making my REAL car go faster.

And I have spent way, WAY too many hours in the paint/decal editor. Some of my custom liveries are for sale on my storefront, too. Gamertag: "Dusty Duster"
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 10:54 AM
What options are there for wheels? The only good wheels I've found for 360 are the Fanatecs, and I'm not about to drop the coin on one of those things without having one in my hand to play with first.
Jeff Naeyaert
Jeff Naeyaertlink
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 11:14 AM
Drunken Time Attack Data:

Track: Laguna Seca Car: Civic Type-R

(Ts = Lap Time Sober / Ti = Lap Time Intoxicated / BAC = Blood Alcohol Content)

Rockwood: Ts: 1:47.755 Ti: 1:52.009 BAC: .03
Martin: Ts: 1:58.468 Ti: 1:58.00 BAC: .14
Colin: Ts: 2:17.615 Ti: 2:12.00 BAC: .07
Jeff: Ts: 2:02.005 Ti: 2:17.30 BAC: .18
Kojima: Ts: 2:28.512 Ti: NA BAC: .13
Will: Ts: 1:49.459 Ti: 1:48.716 BAC .00 (designated driver)

Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 11:48 AM
@vehicular: That's the only wheel for the 360--the Fanatec.

And this is why I stick with the controller...
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 12:27 PM
I'll have to pick this up one of these days, I just feel bad that I've had BF3 for a couple weeks now and still only played it once. I prefer the online game play nowadays because I'm playing against people who have a higher chance of screwing up like me rather than 'robots'! Nice to see you guys are on the 360, although you two on the east coast would have to stay up late to hang with us Left Coasters.
Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 12:59 PM
Hey, if someone shoots me a PM telling me that there will definitely be a MotoIQ night on Forza 4, I would TOTALLY stay up late for that. (That's what Monster Energy Drink is made for.)

And everybody on MotoIQ should definitely send me a friend request on XBOX live. My gamertag is the same as my screen name here: "Dusty Duster"
OMG Its Weasel
OMG Its Weasellink
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 1:26 PM
iRacing and Live For Speed are much, much more of a simulation than anything on a console. If this happens to become a multi-story feature, I suggest doing those two next, then GT5. I also suggest you buy or borrow at least a wheel, if not an entire sim-racing rig with seat and all.

For grip simulation, iRacing has the pleasure of laser scanning all of the real-life racetracks it portrays in the game. Learning the little things about a track before you ever step foot on it for real is an amazing tool. The physics are pretty spot on. The iRacing Spec Miata race champions are all within a second or two of the corresponding tracks' real-life Spec Miata record. The formula cars are pretty close as well. One of the issues here is lack of certain simulated suspension damage so people can cut some corners way closer than in real life.

Live for speed is less real in the sense that the cars are not actual real cars (except the BMW formula cars and the upcoming VW Scirocco), but instead only based on real life cars but slightly changed simply to skirt licensing fees. The stock LFS games vehicle suspension spring, damper and anti-roll bar settings are totally adjustable, as is transmission gearing, brake pressure and F-R bias, steering angle, caster and ackerman, tire alignment settings and tire pressures, all the normal sim stuff. BUT: the Live for Speed drift community is responsible for modifications to the stock LFS game giving the cars better steering geometry, more horsepower and where you want the power in the powerband, what displacement, compression ratio and number of cylinders you want, what driveline orientation you want, NA or turbo and how quick or slow the turbo spools, transmission type (H, sequential or motorcycle gearbox) and how many gears you want, curb weight, engine weight, engine placement in the chassis, ballasts, fuel tank capacity (and LFS calculates fuel weight and factors in consumption as well) tire dynamics as well as wheel and tire size changes are possible now as well.
Also, LFS has a Formula SAE car and multiple real-world big-boy Formula cars too. There is a layout editor that you can setup autocross layouts in giant open parking lots AND on actual race courses to add some obstacles to drift around, an 8 lane drag, 6 or so road courses from less-than-a-mile long to over 5 miles of an infield with a 3 turn, 3 mile banked oval around it.

Sorry this is so long, but I probably spend an equal amount of time behind both my PC wheel and actual vehicle steering wheels so I'm pretty passionate about sim racing, as I feel its a great way to curb some of the over-the-top enthusiasm I've seen people driving with these days.

If you would like someone to talk with about LFS mods, shoot me a message. That goes for any of you.
Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 1:32 PM
I've already got the Gran Turismo 5 review written. It's only 3 words.

"This game sucks."

OMG Its Weasel
OMG Its Weasellink
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 1:54 PM
That's why I suggested LFS and iRacing before GT5. Even GT Legends is better than GT5.

Honestly, don't waste your time on a prettier, slower version of GT4.
Julian ITR
Julian ITRlink
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 3:44 PM
Try to reassign acceleration/brake to the right analog stick. You can accelerate/brake much more accurate with it, compared to the analog buttons. And you know when you are at 100%, and don't end up pressing buttons with all your might ;)
Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 4:04 PM
The right analog stick is used to look around so you can see where other cars are in relation to yours. Using it for gas/brake is a bad idea.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 4:50 PM
The only question I have and it's not been mentioned here at all but what about the game using the resources of the Xbox so much that it locks up?
In the previous game of ForzaIII there were many that experienced the red rings of death due to the game and I can attest to it also causing lockups in which I had to literally reboot the game.
And if you've ever played the Forza games have you ever noticed that it's really 'spooling' up when the game it at it's most intense?
Any comments to this?
I've still not gotten the ForzaIV as of yet but it's in my future. I'm still on the GT5 mindset and finally getting a wheel for the game has put me into another world that is more real than any controller could be.

Good write up as always and I look forward to ForzaIV.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 5:08 PM
great game to play and had a ton of fun. though banner came in and put down a money lap at laguna seca in the civic type R concept.
Dusty Duster
Dusty Dusterlink
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 5:18 PM
I have owned every Forza released on the XBOX 360 and have never experienced freezes or "red rings of death."
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 7:31 PM
Good review of Forza (You could teach Video Game reviews a thing or 2).

I'm shocked some of you guys hate GT5 that much, I my self find it more realistic than Forza but I find Forza on a whole more fun.

Dusty there were some issues but I haven't heard/experienced any for 4.

@ The guys wanting more options for steering wheels http://www.xcm.cc/f1_converter.htm
Wednesday, November 16, 2011 3:08 PM
@Dusty-you're one of the few that haven't.
I'm an original member of GTPlanet.net and there's some pretty unhappy people that have had issues with the game including myself although I've never had the 'death' happen.
I still enjoy the game though and actually more than GT5.
My only other complaint with the Forza series is the AI and how they constantly kick you off of the track and have no intelligence like on GT5.
Good review and can't wait to get my copy of it once the price settles a bit.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011 8:35 PM
Forza 4 is really cool. The worse part is the ai though. It's super aggressive and will sometimes go kamakaze on your ass. Like it will randomly change lanes on a long straight and run you into the wall or push you off the outside of a corner when the line is inside.

Finishing a race without a busted up car is pretty tough.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011 8:45 PM
BTW, the old school Esprit with the Lotus Carlton engine kicks much, much ass. ;)
Thursday, November 17, 2011 2:18 AM
Compared to forza 3, it looks like they fixed RWD car handling, added realistic new engine sounds, plus some minor tweaks. The real problems are still here, a major one being the IA. You just cant drive in traffic, and it always brake very hard and early when in front of you so it prevents from getting a nice line on every corner. And if you dare pass them before a straight, check your rear view mirror ... because 9 times out of 10, they will just use your boot to brake.

The thing that deserves forza is mostly ... microsoft licencing policy. LET ME USE A G27 wheel ON THAT GAMING RIG DAMN IT ยงยง

Fanatec setup is somewhat buggy, very expensive, looks ugly -sorry, i am not a porsche fan- and always is 6 months back order. Yes it is good, and the brake pedal upgrade is fantastic, but it just is not worth it. 600$ on a wheel and pedal setup ? No way.Add a seat and a frame to hold that together, and you are ahead of a grand.
That i s more than 3 full days on a track in my s13, no way i am spending that on a video game.
Friday, November 18, 2011 7:31 PM
After playing all of the Forza games with a controller I finally got a chance to play Forza 4 with a wheel, whatever one Microsoft offers. It was comparable to losing major motor functions and learning to play all over again. I would need to log some hours of practice with the wheel before I'd want to go online and compete.
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