The first few hours of a Forza game are some of the purest in gaming. As a new racer, just starting your professional racing journey that will last for near-infinite miles, you bond with your first few cars, customize them, grow with them, and then retire your machine to your shiny fleet as you move onto the next class of vehicle. Even if you’re not a fanatic of rumbling hoods and drifting turns, there’s something about Forza that makes you a Car Person, even if it’s for the length of a play session. The game fetishizes racing and motor vehicles in such a beautiful and respectful way, you’ll look at cars on the street differently.
Now as the series enters its twelfth year, and as the big brother to the open-world Horizon series gets its best outing on the Xbox One after the disappointing launch title Forza 5 and the far more complete Forza 6, Microsoft’s Forza 7 is a showcase for the system. Like the previous iterations of the series, are like a benchmark for the technology of the time. Not only does this game run better than any previous entry in the series, always maintaining a smooth 60 frames per second, but the dynamic weather effects and day/night cycles show off and enhance what could be the best-looking racing game, or possibly the best-looking video game to date.
Even on the Xbox One, instead of the 4K-ready Xbox One X that this game is optimized for, Forza 7 looks stunning. Every platitude in the book applies here: Jaw-dropping, astonishing, incredible, unbelievable — all of these words can be used to describe the game. If my high-end PC visuals are in-line with what the Xbox One X will push out on 4K TVs, this is a game you’ll show off to guests to your home.
It’s this sugar-coated shell that protects the shortcomings of the game itself, which is, unfortunately, a grind. The rigid and formulaic upgrading of car classes so you can move onto the next series of races feels like a campaign that would be better suited in the early years of racing simulation games. It’s pretty much Gran Turismo but 2017. Ironically, there many instances when I was thinking to myself: “This is the racing game I’ve wanted to see for 20 years,” while not realizing at the time that the wish was coming from an immature gameplay perspective.