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4.5 out of 5 stars
Forza Motorsport 4 - Xbox 360
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196 of 218 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2011
Edition: Standard
Finally, the game is out. The third Forza this generation, better graphics, more cars, and better physics were promised in this iteration of Turn 10's Driving sim. Did they deliver?

Oh god yes.

This review will have a few sections, this table of contents will help.
(enter in ctrl +f dialog box to search)

**1** Game mechanics
--------Auction House
**2** Online
**3** Customization
**4** Difficulty & A.I.
**5** Sounds
**6** Cars
**7** Wrap Up

**1**Game Mechanics:

Great, they do occasionally look surreal, but the gloss textures are excellent, the drive by graphics are decent and the cars themselves are great. The lighting in this game is what really sells the realism, the cars interact with the environment and look like they are supposed to be there. Comparing this feature to the occasionally underwhelming tracks in GT5 and Forza 3 where sometimes the car was better animated than the track, the cars in Forza 4 look right in place on the pavement. Graphical hangups are nonexistent, and animations are fluid. In a word, Forza 4is beautiful.

Damage returns more or less exactly as Forza 3 had it. The car has prescripted crumple zones and damage is animated cosmetically if you set it, but also internally and performance robbing if you set it as well. The cosmetic damage leaves a lot to be desired, but with see-able damage on 500 + cars i can't complain. Though the damage is weak, it is better than it was in Forza 3. Bumpers and other components cave in and warp much more, and the damage zones are more plentiful allowing the damage to be more localized when hit. T-boning an opponent will leave a few dents in his doors along with much of the paint being stripped on the area hit. Its nothing like Dirt 3 or Grid's damage model though. Choosing to allow damage to performance is much more detrimental, hitting a wall can literally ruin your race, causing damage to the engine, transmission, gear box, brakes, suspension, driveshaft,and body will all cause power, handling, or aerodynamic performance damage. All of this causes lowering of top speed, shift times, braking distance, and a multitude of other issues. This is where Forza leaps into the big leagues as a sim, race clean, or don't finish 1st.

Forza is set up in a very simplistic manner, with a few main tabs to pick from that open to other tabs, the five main are Career, Community, AutoVista, Free Play, and Marketplace.

Career works here much differently than Forza 3, there is actually a completion of career, and its guided by the announcer. The longer you play, the higher you'll level, the more races you can participate in, and the more places you have access to race. You start as an amateur and progress to the big leagues. after about 1.5 hours I'm 1.2% Should give you a good idea at the length. (300+ events in event list)

In this tab, you can do all of the stuff you'd expect, buy sell cars, tune cars, upgrade cars, and see your stats.

Play online with people around the world here.
You can also make car clubs (like guilds for you Rpg people) to race with, check your rivals and leaderboards, and use the auction house and the storefront here.
For new players:

--------Auction house:
Exactly what it sounds like, a bidding place to purchase cars other players are selling. Usually you can turn good profit on nice cars here. Ironically you can usually save money buying here as well.

A player's place to sell their custom content like pictures, liveries, tunes, and custom vinyl work.

Kinect featured but usable with a controller, Autovista is a first person look at some of the coolest cars in the game, and probably the closest thing to sitting in a Ferrari 458 Italia as you'll ever get. With voice over and 100% view-ability of components of the car. Its awesome for any gear head who wants to see these exotics close up.

---Free Play:
Basically an arcade mode, go race where you want using a car. Use this mode to test drive cars you want to buy buy can't afford yet.

One of the best Xbox live integrations for DLC I've seen, actually shows you what you're buying and what it is. Nice addition for those inevitable car and track packs you might not like.

For the most important part of a racing experience, this has to be spot on. It is, this is the first time I've seen a competitor really give GT a run for its money in the physics dept. High powered cars behave uncontrollably and require a knowing and practiced touch around corners, while underpowered cars must be mastered in the corners as well, as their weak powered engines depend on cornering to get fast lap times. The cars behave predictably and correctly in almost every way, and each one handles differently. Tuning works the way it should, and is intuitive and speaks to both gearheads and newbs alike. Driving is also fully customizable, allowing the user to put as much or as little burden of sim on themselves as they wish. The more assists you take off, the more money you earn in career.

Forza does a great job as a simulator, but does fall flat in the rollover physics as one particular glaring flaw, as occasionally the car will just up and flip for no good reason if you hit a wall hard enough. Bit as often as you'll flip, I don't think this is enough to remove the game's physics engine realism.

**2** Online:

The multiplayer from 3 returns, but with one distinction. an extra gleaming gold tab on the find race tab. "User-Created Races" Basically, this is the room from forza 2 we missed so much, the ability to do whatever we want as a host. Sure we can't choose who the host is, but now options can be tweaked again. Thank you turn 10 for listening to us and giving us our player lobbies back. The best of forza 3's seek and play server usage combined with the option to play like forza 2. If this was holding you back, be scared no more.

**3** Customization:

Forza returns with its massive set of internal and external customization options, from engine swaps to body kits and spoilers, if you can do it in real life, you pretty much can do it here. Also comes with the best livery editor ever put in a racing game. over 1000 usable shape spots on most surfaces of your car means some awesome, detailed liveries, and some of the coolest things you've ever seen on a car. Your old stuff from Forza 3 is also importable to 4, downloaded a lot of custom vinyls? You won't lose them. Finally, a fully customizable and spectrumed paint creator is right there at your fingertips to paint your car any color you want. Forza has all of the tools for infinite possibilities for personalization, meaning no 2 users can easily make the same car. The best part? Upload your creations to your storefront to make money if they're good enough. If there is a market for your stuff, people will buy and you'll become known on the leaderboards as a tuner, creator, photographer or replay capturer. In addition, performing on the track will net you achievements and driving bonuses such as doing 20 perfect passes. Do these challenges and you unlock names and avatars for your forza playercard. Players can look at this and see what kind of driver you are or how far you've played in your career. All there for even more customization.

**4** Difficulty and A.I.

As a whole this game can can be really hard, but you have to set the difficulty to be hard yourself. So if you're really good, up your challenges and remove the assists for a challenging experience, or add some assists or lower the AI difficulty if you're having trouble. The game will reward better drivers with more cash and EXP though. So its in your best interest to try to get better to remove your training wheels.

The AI is okay, its could be better, but its got a lot more life than the likes of GT where cars pretty much never fall out of line or differentiate from the best line. Cars here will get spooked, screw up corners and avoid traffic and you, and also will take aggressive action to keep position on occasion. It depends on the driver, as each is different. (able to be looked up in the opponents tab in my profile)

**5** Sounds
Sounds are great, the soundtrack is good and upbeat and contains a good set of racing music, mostly as ambiance rather than sing along music, the menu music is nice, lower key music that's still just tense enough to not be annoying or grating on your ears.
Engines and ambient sounds are well done and modified depending on car stats and mods, as you upgrade turbos, intakes and exhausts and other components the exhaust notes and engine sounds change. Engines also sound different (ford v8 vs a chevy v8) I used a Corvette Z06 06' and a Mustang Shelby GT500 10' to test this. Both sound good, and have their distinctive roars, without being the same.

**6** Cars
over 500 with the install disc and more planned for November etc. Every type of racing archetype is there, Muscle cars (in abundance!) Tuners, exotics, trucks, SUV's, Nascar (stock car shells), GT1, 2, 3,and Prototype racers are available. There is something for anyone. The Performance Index or P.I. also makes a return, rating cars from the cream of the crap to the cream of the crop on a scale from 100 to 999 with the index being split into F, E, D, C, B, A, S, R3, R2, and R1. I'm Unsure if the X class makes a return. The class often determines whether or not your car qualifies for an event, if it does, often similar cars will be racing with you and races will be more challenging, if you overclass, or underclass for an event if it is allowed, the race will be much easier/harder respectably.

*side note* the average run of the mill car can be used in many, many events rather than just a few like in GT, often one car can be used in 10+ events stock and even more if customized to different specs or classes.

**7** Wrap up
Forza is a way better game in every way than 3 was, more races, more events, the return of public custom lobbies, as well as the usability of the server system like that of Forza 3, with ability to play with only friends in customizable private races as well. With solid driving physics, graphics, car selection, and sound, a better interface, and massive customizability, its hard not to make a recommendation to any racing fan, If you're unsure there is a free demo on X-Box Live, give it a whirl to test it out. Otherwise, its a lot of game for $60.

UPDATE 11/03/11:
Turn 10 has released some DLC:
The November Speed Pack, including these cars:
1957 Chevy Bel Air
1992 GMC Typhoon
2013 Ford Focus ST
2011 VW Scirocco R
2011 Audi RS3 Sportback
2012 Dodge Charger SRT8
2012 Aston Martin Virage
2012 Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4
2011 Ferrari #62 Risi Competizione F458 Italia
2011 Audi #2 Audi Sport Team Joest R15++ TDI

More thoughts: I missed this on my review, but, Porsche is not licensed in this game despite the cars being created for it. Also, the cars past R3 when tuned from normal cars become a MASSIVE challenge to drive without assists. I've got a RWD BMW M3 pushing 700 horses with the new M5 engine in it. and it MOVES, but its so hard to keep her under control. In short, despite its readily increasing and sometimes frustrating challenge, Forza remains playable and awesome. I do intend to give the DLC packs as addendum to this review. as I have done. Game on.

UPDATE 12/16/11:
More cars:
2011 Suzuki #1 Monster Sport SX4
2011 Mazda RX-8 R3
2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
1967 Chevrolet Chevelle SS-396
1977 Ford Escort RS1800
1981 Volkswagen Scirocco S
1986 Alfa Romeo Spider Quadrifoglio Verde
1988 Pontiac Fiero GT
2010 Maserati GranTurismo MC GT4
1957 Maserati 300 S

More updates: This game is stupendously long. Its actually so long, its hard to imagine myself getting the gold on all events simply because that's a 500 hour + undertaking. More updates to come. Man I love this game.

Update January:
1970 Alfa Romeo Montreal
2011 Audi RS5
1996 Chevrolet Impala SS
1986 Dodge Shelby Omni GLHS
2000 Fiat Coupe 20V Turbo
1973 Ford Pinto
2011 Honda #33 Level 5 Motorsports Lola
2012 Honda Civic Si Coupe
2011 Lamborghini #08 West Yokohama Gallardo LP560-4
2012 Pagani Huayra

Update February

2011 #2 Audi Sport North America R18 TDI
2011 Panoz #050 Panoz Racing Abruzzi
2010 Dodge Quinton "Rampage" Jackson Challenger SRT8
1991 Mazda #55 Team Mazdaspeed 787B
2011 Bentley Platinum Motorsports Continental GT
1986 #2 Audi Sport quattro S1
1992 Alfa Romeo 155 Q4
1995 Ford Mustang Cobra R
2011 Holden HSV GTS
2011 Volkswagen Polo GTI

Update March:

2011 Aston Martin V12 Zagato (Villa d'Este)
1971 Ferrari #2 Ferrari Automobili 312 P
2012 Ultima GTR
1969 Chevrolet Nova SS 396
2010 Renault Clio RS
1966 Ford Country Squire
1995 BMW 850CSi
2011 Wiesmann GT MF5
1969 Chevrolet Corvair Monza
1986 Alfa Romeo GTV-6

Update April:

2011 Mercedes-Benz #35 Black Falcon SLS AMG GT3
2011 Aston Martin #009 Aston Martin Racing AMR One
2012 Jaguar XKR-S
1995 BMW M5
2011 Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT S
1985 Mazda RX-7 GSL-SE
1972 Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3
1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible
1997 Volvo 850 R
2012 Scion tC

With that the season pass is done. Forza will have porches sometime in may, as a whole, the DLC have added 60 new cars, some awesome, some eh. But as a whole has added more to the community and the car packs are more than adequately worth the price. I'm still playing this game, and I'm only at a 47% completion rating. I can't justify this purchase enough. Thank you Turn 10, for this game, for something to do in the wee hours in the morning and above all for doing every car fanatic well. This game, is the best racing game I've ever purchased. Its long, expands over decades, and even has the golden years of racing highlighted. (60's) This game is for racing and car lovers, and can be played by anyone with the willingness to learn it. With that, its DLC set is done. See you again, post Porsche pack.
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60 of 71 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2011
Edition: Standard
If you're a fan of the Forza series, or of cars and/or car racing in general, chances are that you will love this game.

- Absolutely stunning graphics
- The Autovista mode is gorgeous, it really does look as good or better than real life at times
- Career mode is more engaging
- Choices for reward cars make the game feel more personal, more choices mean you can either stick to a certain brand/style or hoard everything possible
- Control is excellent and very responsive
- The assists have more choices, allowing you to cater the difficulty level from brand new beginner to hardcore simulation player
- Excellent variety of cars available, all are extremely detailed and a joy to look at
- The Top Gear inclusion is excellent and Jeremy Clark adds a lot of character to the game
- The Music score is good and very fitting for the game's theme

- No weather effects or night driving is a real shame
- More new tracks would've been great, only a handful of new ones added on
- No Porsches available due to the EA contract, really lame move from EA. The rights are said to expire later this year so hopefully that means Turn 10 can add them as DLC or what-not

Overall: This game is not only extremely enjoyable, but a work of art in terms of graphics and sounds. A must-have for car-fanatics and racing fans alike.

9.5/10 HIGHLY recommended.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2013
Edition: StandardVerified Purchase
After I had bought this game, I read a couple reviews stating that they were getting the Essentials Edition, not the standard edition, so I was a little worried when I opened the shipping box. But I received the full 2-disc game as I was supposed to, so I'm not sure what happened with the other people.

I have only played this for a few hours so far, but I am really liking it. It's like what Gran Turismo 5 on PS3 should have been. There may not be over 1,000 cars, but there are at least 500, and every single one of them is highly detailed with an interior view. Also, I like that you can drive any car on any track at any time in free play mode, although I will probably stick with career mode to get more sense of achievement. I also like the auto vista thing. It is more of a novelty, but it is pretty cool either way. The only reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is because I cannot use my old Logitech PC steering wheel with it, but that wheel worked perfectly in GT5.

PROS (vs Gran Turismo 5):
- At least 500 cars, all highly detailed
- Auto Vista with Jeremy Clarkson
- Top Gear test track available anytime
- Top Gear Bowling challenges
- Less race restrictions
- More realistic damage model
- More download cars available (I recommend the August Playseat Pack)
- I can drive a HUMMER on Nurburgring :D

CONS (vs Gran Turismo 5):
- No support for Logitech PC steering wheels (although driving with the controller is quite feasible)
- I like some of the music in GT5 better
- I have yet to see any dirt/snow tracks and rally events in Forza 4.
- No NASCAR challenge, at least not that I'm aware of.

So bottom line, I sold my PS3 so that I could buy an XBOX 360 and this game, so I expect a lot from it. And so far, it is delivering.
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42 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2012
Edition: StandardVerified Purchase
This review is not for the game, but for amazon(only related to this product).

When ever I need to buy something online, amazon is my first priority. There was/is no where mentioned that this product is an essentials edition, but they only send the essentials edition which does not have many cars. I do not like returning the stuff, cos I do not want the seller to bear the loss of shipping charges. May be the seller thought that I asked for essentials edition only. Amazon should have had separate links for different editions. You cannot sell essentials edition in the name of full game without mentioning it. PLEASE double check if you are going to buy a full game or just an essentials edition. SO DISAPPOINTED with Amazon.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2012
Edition: Standard
Graphics are excellent overall, but with a few nitpicks. The new IBL lighting engine makes cars looks a little too glossy and toylike when being showcased, but the general detail, authenticity, and interiors are awesome.

AI is pretty easy and, while getting more competitive throughout the career, never offers a stiff challenge if you're familiar with the franchise. New options like sim steering add a nice wrinkle though.

Car sounds are superb, but the environmental sfx like hitting wall are a bit strange, and the default setting for the miserable race music should be OFF. Menu music is servicable.

Menus themselves are nice and easy to navigate, despite something like a dozen potential layers.

Quantity, quality, and variety of cars is very good (let's say 4 out of 5). Very comprehensive & eclectic mix, though I could do with a few more "real world" performance & classic vehicles and a few less "boutique" marques like Wiesmann and a few others. DLC is hit or miss. When the packs are good, they're awesome, but there are several I saw no reason at all to purchase. Customization and painting possibilities are as broad as ever and the storefront is great.

Tracks are gorgeous and varied, though sadly one of my favorites is gone (Rallye de Positano full) in exchange for the beautiful Bernese Alps. It's quite a looker but only really fun in supercars, where Positano was a blast in runabout hatchbacks, sports cars, and vintage classics.

All said, it's really hard to go back to 3, even if it did have my favorite track and adjustable AI difficulty. The new graphics engine, more up-to-date cars, and improved controls are just too good to give up.
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26 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2011
Edition: Standard
With Forza Motorsport 4, the creators at Turn 10 Studios have come up with a beautifully designed fun to play new game that manages to surpass even the previous versions of Forza Motorsport. Motorsport 4 has a range of impressive features that put almost any other car racing or driving game to shame.

1) Car Selection: The range of cars that you can choose to drive on Forza Motorsport 4 is truly amazing. Over 75 different car manufacturers are represented and there are over 500 vehicles that you can choose from. Remarkably, each of these cars seems to perform a little bit differently. You can feel the sportiness of the Ferrari or the relative stability of a Ford. If you have played Forza Motorsport 3 you will receive gift cars according to the level that they achieved in Forza 3. This will make it possible for you to avoid using the relatively dull starter cars that are offered.

2) Production Values: The production values for this game are simply astounding. The track locations, including the Bernese Alps and the Amalfi Coast in Italy look beautiful and realistic. The effects (such as the sunset and the smoke) all look great. But Turn 10 Studios not only made improvement in the visuals (which are the most noticeable) but also in the sound track. Every thing ranging from engine noise to the sound of the tires is impressive. Remarkably all of these sounds seem to change as you make adjustments to your car. Damage to the car is more realistic and specific than it was in the predecessor game, Forza 3. Forza 4 shows dents to many different parts of the car (bumpers, sides, etc.) depending on where you hit them.

3) Game Play: Game play is fun and easy on Forza Motorsport 4. Players receive credits after each race according to their performance and can use these credits to purchase new vehicles or to enhance the cars they already have accumulated. Players also receive affinity points for specific car manufacturers. Thus after your reach different levels with specific brands you can receive part discounts and other benefits if you continue to drive with the same brand. This makes it pretty important to choose your vehicles carefully.

The game has a variety of different levels ranging from easy to professional. As you reach the higher levels it becomes more important to handle turns and other hard points with caution. As you reach the higher levels, you will also be allowed to participate in more different races and compete in different venues. There are also a variety of new Kinect features in this game. Players can steer without a controller by holding out their hands and pretending to have a steering wheel. The device can also monitor your face and shift your view depending where you look. This feature can be tricky to use, however.

The online feature of this game allows races of up to 16 people. It is possible to compete with other people from around the world and to form racing clubs with the game keeping track of rankings within the club.

On the whole, I would highly recommend this game. If you enjoy driving games this is the best racing simulation experience to date.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2011
Edition: StandardVerified Purchase
Forza 4 is one of the best examples I've ever seen of a game that literally anyone can play.

If you're someone who's never played a videogame before in your life? You can play it on rails with a Kinect sensor and just have some fun.

If you're someone who likes videogames, but only plays them casually, you can adjust the in-game driving aids and other difficulty options to make the game as much of a breeze or as challenging as you like, while maintaining a simple, arcadey control style and feel.

If you're a little more experienced and want more of a challenge, you can turn some of the driving aids off, while leaving others turned on.

If you're a hardcore gamer who wants the game to be as close to the real thing as possible but aren't a petrolhead/car enthusiast in real life, you can turn off most of them but leave the braking line on and so forth.

If you're a hardcore car afficionado, you can turn them all off and purchase a simulation racing wheel and pedals, use the Kinect's head tracking and run the game on a 3D TV (2D-3D upscale... no true native 3D support in this game, but on the right set it still looks amazing) for a true simulation experience that in my opinion successfully rivals and in some areas exceeds what GT5 offers you. (Though that's a fantastic sim, too.)

Bottom line: literally anyone can play this game, and Turn 10 (the developer) achieve this without "dumbing the game down" one iota. An example to be followed by other developers and publishers in my opinion.

The game is rewarding and shows it more frequently than GT5 does. This is much less of an RPG style grind, and much more of a fun, accessible game. The challenge to be found here lies where it should: in the actual driving and racing.

Online functionality is great overall. Little or no lag, instantaneous gifting of photos, replays, and cars to friends, a fully functioning online auction house, and the ability to create custom online AI hybrid races with humans and CPU controlled opponents are all great. With a larger time investment you can also upload videos to the Forza website and then download them to your PC for upload later to a site like YouTube.

Hundreds of cars, deeper tuning in most areas than GT5 had, an enormously robust livery customization system, and some of the best graphics I've ever seen round out the package and combine to make this one of gaming's premier driving sims and videogames in general.

The only real cons are the lack of night racing, the lack of weather (a big con in my book,) some longish load times, and the omission of some cars GT5 had (though I do feel that despite having fewer overall cars, F4 has more overall vehicle variety.) So there are still a lot of reasons to play GT5, especially if you prefer the JRPG-style grind that it's always been famous for, and actually like some of the limitations (such as only being able to gift a car once a day or painting cars only with unlocked "paint chips," etc. none of which F4 forces on you.)

But Forza 4 is a great, great game. I own both games and don't regret purchasing either of them.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2011
Edition: StandardVerified Purchase
I won't rehash what many others have said about the game, but have a few comments to add.

First, the best addition over Forza 3 is a source of great frustration. The "Rivals" feature is a great idea and absolutely addictive, but server problems badly plague this game (as of 12/28/11) and make this feature difficult and frustrating to use. In order to get to a Rivals race that you want to try you have to make it through some menus entailing several (unnecessary) server queries which offer you races against times set buy other players. These frequently time out and the game dumps you out to the top menu. If you do get to the race you want and manage to start it successfully (game must load ghost of other player which often fails), then you can complete the race but may run into server timeouts again when saving your time or trying to load the leaderboards to see how you stack up.

Since the Rivals feature is so frustrating to use and is often simply not working, I usually try it first but play offline when the problems occur. Offline the game is not much different than Forza 3. There is a new "professional" difficulty level, but even with most assists off this level is thus far not challenging for me (I'm usually a top 10% racer according to the leaderboards), at least in the lower classes. I'm told the race classes are harder. The "World Tour" career mode apparently takes a long time to increase the AI performance to this level, so is a waste of time to me.

Finally, I am playing this game with the Fanatec GT2 wheel. The feedback effect of Forza 4 with this wheel is not at all strong compared to what one gets from the Thrustamaster T500RS on the PS3 with Gran Turismo 5. With Forza 4 and the GT2 you can hit a bump which nearly flips the car but barely feel anything. With the T500RS this could rip the wheel out of your hand (i.e. is close to realistic). Apparently the newer Fanatec CSR Elite wheel is more comparable to the T500RS, but I'm not sure how much of this problem is the wheel and how much is the game.

If the Rivals feature worked reliably, I could give this game 5 stars. As it stands I can only give it 3, since the best feature barely works.
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19 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Edition: StandardVerified Purchase
I was supposed to have bought the Forza 4 full version. But instead when i open the package i sadly realized that i had received the essentials version which is very limited on features. please do not do this. Please properly advertise the items you are selling.

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 12, 2011
Edition: Standard
Forza Motorsport 4

Having maxed out my profile to level 50 in Forza 3, I was pleasantly surprised to see Forza 4 recognized this and gave me some goodies like free gift cars and 60,000 credits. It is far easier to earn free cars in Forza 4 than in 3, because each level gives you a choice of several cars but many of them are shoddy older vehicles (ahem, I meant classics or retro). It is also easier to earn credits through race bonuses or affinity bonuses. The manufacturer affinity is now no longer capped at level 5, but at level 5 you get 100% discounts on upgrades which means you can customize your cars without being charged. I always felt that it was unfair to spend that much money in Forza 3 to find out that your performance index went over the limit for that class.

The controls are amazingly intuitive. I did not tweak any of the settings for my controller, but the layout is a major concern. In Forza 3, I ran Layout 5 which uses "X" as the handbrake, and "A" as the rear view. For some unknown reason, Forza 4's Layout 5 is the same except "X" is now the rear view, and "A" is the hand brake. Needless to say I always accidentally use the handbrake when I want to look behind, or I look behind when I want to tap the handbrake. I find it idiotic for the developers to lock us into fixed controller configurations versus totally custom setups.

The very first race you start in the game forces you to use an unfamiliar controller setup with all of the driver assists enabled. I was not a happy camper as I tend to brake late and slide the rear. The AI difficulty is kind of weird. In the World Tour, the difficulty is progressive. So as you start off, the AI is fairly easy. As you progress, the AI starts to overpower you with shoddy cars or overpowers you in spec racing which makes no sense. It is not possible to adjust the difficulty in the World Tour, but it is possible in the regular events. This makes no sense whatsoever, but if Microsoft had anything to do with it, then it totally makes sense. Just like printing Outlook calendars where you can never have the previous month and next month in the corner of the calendar, or how all default "All-Day" events have 18 hour reminder times which can't be changed because it was made by Microsoft.

Speaking more about the AI difficulty, I found that Forza 4 and Forza 3 have the same levels of difficulty. I normally use Medium because I want to relax and have some fun. The Hard setting is hard because the AI just gets on your six and can overpower you if you open up a hole for them. In the Professional setting, I've given up because even in Spec series racing where everyone has the same car, the AI will actually overpower your car in the straights as if they had extra power from the engines. The AI makes mistakes in the Medium mode but sometimes they act strange and start to become ultra competitive. I'm just playing Forza 4 to learn the tracks and enjoy myself, not to become King of Forza 4.

Some of my other complaints include the lack of the Le Mans Bugatti circuit which was in Forza 3, which was a lot of fun and happens to be used in the MotoGP series. The Indianapolis Grand Prix circuit, also used in MotoGP, is found in Forza 4 but it is somehow run in reverse. I am not sure why that was done, because after playing MotoGP 09/10 for a year plus and watching the MotoGP races, I was used to it running in the anti-clockwise route.

Forza 4 has a similar feel to NFS Shift 2, especially with the race starting sequence. Forza 3 felt a bit different, more bland or sterile compared to Forza 4, which is seemingly more vibrant with its menus and Auto Vista feature. I really wish the player's engine doesn't rev in the starting sequence because it messes up the launch sequence. You want a continuous RPM, not a bouncing RPM. The speedometer and tachometer in Forza 4 is difficult to read because of the white/bright text and colors and actually fades out on the bright tracks. The framerate of the game actually slows down with the rear view mirror enabled! It clearly shows the limitations of the Xbox 360 GPU hardware.

Some new features in Forza 4 include the multi-class race, where you can have two different performance classes running on the same track (like S and D) which creates some interesting situations. The Top Gear bowling pins and soccer ball games are fun, but not that mandatory. The Top Gear test track was brutalized by the developers with the addition of fake barriers that don't exist in real life. I sat there and pondered why they would do that, and assumed it was because the game needs some type of definition for the course and to determine where you "get off the track". At least it is better than not having the Top Gear test track in the game!

One of the gripes I have is with realistic engine sounds. The GT500's supercharger is not very audible in Forza 4, and I recall it being somewhat audible in Forza 3. In real life, the familiar whine of the Eaton is very audible inside the cabin, let alone outside the car. The rich sound of the blower should be replicated for a better experience.

Another gripe I have is that most of the powerful cars are very difficult to drive using the controller. In Forza 3, I have no problems pushing the "A" cars to the limit with Traction Control and ABS shut off. This includes the Audi R8 V10 and Ferrari F430. In Forza 4, the "A" cars and beyond (S, R3, etc...) become extremely touchy with the throttle and brakes. I find myself easily locking up or not using enough brakes, or losing traction very quickly. Once I enabled Trac Ctrl and ABS, the cars became totally drivable and I was leaving the AI in the dust in the world tour. I find that it is hard to tell when the tires are at their point of adhesion with the game and Xbox controller. In real life, there are clues like the sudden relaxation of the steering feedback or sounds from the tires, or your butt meter tells you the car is yawing.

The Downloadable Content (DLC) for Forza 4 consists of extra cars so far. The November and December car packs are now available, and there is a modicum of decent cars with plenty of junky, ahem I mention retro classics, cars as well. The Ford Raptor, Pontiac Fiero, Chevrolet Chevelle, and Suzuki SX4 Pike's Peak race car are some of the more interesting cars, but note that after spending Microsoft Points on the DLC packs or cars, you must use in-game credits to buy the cars!

A Xbox Live Gold Membership is required to post videos, download gift cars, and buy/sell auction cars. Compounded with numerous bugs in the game that corrupt your save game files preventing you from saving replay movies, it gets on my nerves. I had a Gold membership last year when playing Forza 3, but I quickly realized that the Gold membership wasn't worth the price last year. Microsoft raised the price of the membership for this year and I didn't bother to renew it. So far the gift cars from Turn 10 aren't very good, and the DLC cars aren't enticing enough to convince me to shell out the coin for a Gold membership. I do have some free trial Gold membership codes, so I plan to do all the "shopping" at once on a free trial to avoid paying the exorbitant membership fee. It's just frustrating that a Gold membership is required to do all of these static things, I could understand Gold being required for online race sessions, but to download a gift car or to buy/sell auction cars? Outrageous.

Overall: 4/5 stars. Forza 4 is a lot like Forza 3, and shows the limitations of the Xbox 360 hardware. There are some nice new features, but again many frustrating aspects are back or are new and mainly related to AI difficulty and controller layout. It's a fun game for sure, and if you have not tried Forza 3, and you are a gearhead/petrolhead, you'll miss out if you don't try Forza 4. If you have played Forza 3, Forza 4 is worth the price of admission.
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