Top marks for brilliant driving simulation
If you were to go back in time with the sole intention of wowing the gamers of old with our shiny-next gen capabilities, then Forza Motorsport 5 would be the title to bring along with you.
Between the insane graphics, terrific physics engine and the credible, yet humorous, monologues from our favourite Top Gear trio, Forza is a brilliant demonstration of the giant leaps we have taken in the entertainment world since the days of Gran Turismo on the Playstation 1.
Featuring just over 200 cars, Forza 5 is several hundred cars shy of Forza 4's eventual count of well over 600. The important thing is that every car that did scrape into Forza 5 for launch deserves to be here. Iconic classics, from old-school European grand tourers to hulking US muscle and timeless Italian supercars to cult performance hatches and sedans.
Cutting-edge current models, from affordable modern rides to today's money-no-object hypercars. World-famous F1, GT, and touring cars and, for the first time, open-wheelers like the ludicrous Ariel Atom V8 all feature in the newest instalment to the brilliant series.
It's safe to say that the car models on this next-gen release are remarkable. The level of attention paid to even the most minute details is absolutely outstanding. Explore every inch and you'll find the cars modelled down to manufacturer stickers on the inner-edges of doors. The detail really is something else, from the speckled surface of a steering wheel in an enduring '90s hatchback to the staggering crispness of the tiny labels accompanying the multitude of switches in a Le Mans Prototype.
Tracks are equally impressive, with ultra-realistic lighting casting perfectly detailed shadows. Brake lights glow more realistically than ever. Flecks of rubber collect on the paintwork. Cosmetic damage doesn't really handle massive accidents but small scrapes and nudges are well-translated to your car's panels. You'll even see specks of different coloured paint from rubbing against opponents.As always, cars can be upgraded, tuned, and painted. The best tunes and designs will be curated and suggested to players online, but you can still manually search other players' designs for the content you're looking for.
The level of content in Forza 5 is astonishing, even when taking into account the slightly dulled-down free play mode, and the smaller catalogue of cars to choose from (admittedly, still massive, and without some of the crap cars you would never have bought in the first place). The Drivatar AI, for example, pits you against opponents that race according to the real-life driving behaviours of the Forza players they're based on. Racing is far more dynamic and unpredictable as a result, a category where Forza now triumphs over Gran Turismo hands-down.
Forza 5 is breathtakingly beautiful, and runs supremely smooth. The handling is just short of enchanting and is absolutely the finest example of a driving simulation we've seen so far. Top marks for a title that has made a triumphant debut on our shiny new Xbox One.