It certainly doesn't feel like it's been 10 years since Forza first entered the digital racing scene, but then again time does fly when you're having fun. To celebrate this momentous occasion, Microsoft and Turn 10 Studios are bringing us their sixth installment of the series, and European Car was able to get a firsthand look before it hit the floor at E3 in Los Angeles, Calif.
Turn 10 Creative Director, Dan Greenawalt, is enthusiastic about what developers were able to achieve for the latest installment, calling it the "most beautiful, the most technologically advanced, and the biggest" Forza to date.
The game features over 450 Forzavista cars, each allowing the player to take an in-depth look at everything from engine compartments to interiors of each car, while also being fully customizable. Vehicles included date back to pre-World War II, where developers painstakingly simulated the unique characteristics of cars made of wood and metal.
That classic machinery can take to the circuit in a new gameplay mode that allows for historical events to be brought back to life in an immersive experience. Iconic races, like the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans where Ford famously outnumbered and outpaced Ferrari, can be virtually recreated.
One new car that is a highlight for the game is the recently unveiled 2016 Ford GT, which honors the relationship between Ford and Forza since the very beginning.
"I remember being shown the (GT) and then being there when some Ford executives were first shown the car, and I realized I knew about the car even before some higher members of Ford," Greenawalt offers in regards to the close relationship and trust Ford and Forza share.
There are two additional new features to the series, rain and night racing. While this variance in driving environments has been around in competitor Gran Turismo since 2010 when the fifth installment of Sony's series launched, Forza 6 is taking the gameplay in these modes to another level to showcase the difficulty and art form of driving both scenarios.
I was given the opportunity to demo these two modes during the event Xbox held for the automotive press, which was the same demo featured at E3. The rain demo consisted of driving an Audi TT along a soaked Brands Hatch (one of the 10 new tracks out of 24 available) with a full 24-car field. The puddles are 3D modeled, allowing the player to adapt a keen eye in avoiding larger puddle formations. Should you hit one of these mini lakes on course, the car will realistically aquaplane, sending a clear message to your hands via controller that your wheels have left the tarmac.
This mode yielded my worst result, and the only non-podium position for me, as after the one-lap race I finished eighth after dipping my right tires into a rather large puddle near the track edge, pitching my car towards the right and into the concrete barrier. It was unlike any rain simulation I've encountered in sim racing, even including the latest Project CARS. It's a game changer that competitors are wise to invest time into for future iterations.
Night racing featured a Lamborghini Huracan at Road America. Typically in racing games, tracks still appear as if under a bright full moon, with sky and most track visible with or without headlights on. This game is the exception. Inside the cockpit of the Lamborghini, the vision was claustrophobic and frightening. I dreaded crashing into the wall lest I damage one of my two suddenly valuable headlights.
Two more modes were available to me, which set up a sort of Ford versus Ferrari comparison, although in completely different eras. While they both shared the same track, a gorgeous, vibrant city circuit set in Rio de Janiero, the cars were the new GT and a $35 million-plus Ferrari 250 GTO. Both modes showed off another two strengths this game has up its sleeve.
The game is visually stunning, operating at full-HD 1080p and 60 frames per second. The sound is typical of what Forza games have sounded like since the last iteration or two and is still the benchmark of what competitors like Gran Turismo need to aspire to - less "vacuum" sounding and more like the real thing, making up for half of the entertainment when driving the car.
At this point some of you may be thinking I'm Team Forza, but quite the contrary. I've been loyally playing GT since GT2; however, this may be the one game that steers me to its nemesis, and surely one to look out for when it releases later in 2015.