Sunday 22 October 2017

Beautiful racer Forza 5 selects reverse gear a little too often

Review: Some of the Xbox One launch line-up exclusives - Forza Motorsport 5, Dead Rising 3, Ryse: Son of Rome

Forza Motorsport 5 for Xbox One
Forza Motorsport 5 for Xbox One
Dead Rising 3 for Xbox One
Ryse: Son of Rome for Xbox One
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Forza Motorsport 5
Xbox One
RATING: 8/10
AGE: 3+

IT’S got beauty, it’s got brains, it’s even got a bit of brawn. But Forza 5 flatters to deceive. While you’re busy admiring the gorgeous next-gen sheen of its muscly machines zipping around stunning locations, you may at first be intoxicated by its petrol-fuelled fumes.

As perhaps the definitive driving sim of the last generation, Forza 4 mated responsive (if maybe unrealistic) handling with a generously broad range of tracks and cars. But this holy trinity steps into the new generation with only the superior handling improved while the other two pillars go into reverse.

Forza 5 may have 200 cars and 14 tracks – but that compares poorly to 500 cars and 27 circuits in F4. The loss of spectacular locations such as Suzuka, Nurburgring and Montserrat is keenly felt.

Most likely, developer Turn 10 ran short of time to meet the launch deadline (it’s a common problem). Perhaps some tracks and motors will be restored in a free patch – certainly, paid DLC is on the way. But whatever the reason, the sheer breadth of driving experiences found in Forza 4 has been diluted in F5 and the finely tuned balance has gone astray.

Forza 5 remains a supremely enjoyable sim - until you hit the grind of endless repeats to earn enough cash for the better cars.

Like a lot of the Xbox One’s launch titles, the unseemly introduction of micro-transactions (pay-to-win, basically) leaves a bad taste. And don’t get me started on the unskippable cut-scenes featuring Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson.


Xbox One

RATING: 8/10

AGE: 18

THE original was known as much for its bonkers weapons and costumes as its shameless riffing on George Romero’s flick Dawn of the Dead, in which survivors of a zombie invasion take refuge in a shopping mall.

The game’s suffocating structure eased in DR2 and is thrown away completely in DR3 as the survival missions go open-world, letting you tackle the outbreak your own way.

Sheer force of undead numbers is the new threat as you criss-cross the city freely. DR3 loses the tense navigation of narrow mall corridors but gains unbridled gory mayhem where the kill count soars into the tens of thousands.

Helpfully, the game delights in giving you myriad absurd ways to maim the zombie hordes, from the ad-hoc weapon combos (eg, sword plus scythe, yum) to the crazy vehicular mash-ups (eg, steamroller plus motorbike) to the food mixtures (sushi plus vodka = fire-breathing somehow).

The gameplay comes a bit unstuck in battles with the occasional mini-bosses (psychopathic humans, basically), which prove that the controls aren’t subtle enough for such combat. And as funny as it is eviscerating a zombie with an improbable weapon, it does get tiring the umpteenth time hours later.


Ryse: Son of Rome

Xbox One

RATING: 6.5/10

AGE: 18

WHAT started life as a poster child for the Xbox 360’s Kinect camera (wave your hands around to mimick swordplay) has morphed into gamepad-controlled technical showcase for the Xbox One instead.

Such a muddled gestation never bodes well. Ryse no longer requires any Kinect input (thankfully) and its visually arresting scenery anoints it as the one to show off to mates envious of your new console.

But just don’t let them dwell too long because this historical epic (which plays fast and loose with its tale of a Roman centurion) soon shows itself to be a shallow brawler with little new to say after its opening levels.

There’s a modicum of strategy required but little more than good timing of your blows against a stream of dumb enemies. Occasional turret sequences and a slim multiplayer mode help break up the monotony.

But we expected a lot more from the respected creators of the Crysis series.


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