Forza Motorsport 5: Hands On, Assists Off – A Hardcore Perspective


By Nick de Bruyne on Thursday, October 10, 2013
"Oh, those wonderful triggers."

Forza Motorsport 5 has received a lot of buzz since its first unveiling as one of the upcoming Xbox One’s most important launch titles. We’ve seen promises of amazing visuals, stunning car models, clever SkyNet powered A.I and more.

Now, while the majority of gamers are taking a good look at what’s on the carbon-fibre-weaved surface of Forza’s next-gen instalment, hard-core Forza fans, petrol-heads and racer-junkies like me are more concerned with what’s happened where it matters most… under the hood.

Fresh out of a real track day at the Kyalami GP circuit a week prior, I got some hands-on time with Forza Motorsport 5 at rAge 2013 with our hands on, and all the assists off to determine how it stacks up to its predecessor as well as the real deal.

Race Prep

Forza5 (1)

So, after picking up the new Xbox One controller, ogling the pretty cars in the selection menu and loading up the track, I finally got to do something I’ve wanted to do since I first saw Forza 5… turn the assists off and see what it looks like when it doesn’t look like it’s being driven around the track by a robot.

For the sake of our test, I was able to get not one, but three laps of the Mazda Laguna Seca race circuit and to get the best feeling of the new physics system; I did all three laps in completely different kinds of cars.

I chose to drive the Ford Focus ST, known for its understeer in corners, the Mercedes 300SL which as a classic would give a good feel of a heavier, older rear wheel drive sports car and then finally, the Ferrari F12… agile, aerodynamic and loaded with enough horses for us to film a couple of epic spaghetti westerns. Best of all, I have access to this same track and these same cars (with the exception of the F12 which I swapped out for the 599 GTO) in Forza 4, which I then drove to compare with FM5 once I was back at my own setup.

What I’m going to try really hard to do in this article though is to not harp on about how incredible the new feedback-enabled triggers are on the Xbox One, and sing about the massive difference that they make to your driving experience by feeding extra information into your brain via your index fingers. I’m not going to do any of that, OK? OK.

Putting Rubber Down

forza5

While Forza has always leaned more to the side of a sim, it was always pretty well known that the cars, while close to their real-life counterparts, felt like they had just a bit more grip than they should have and even proved it when put it up against real life lap times and its rival GT5 in a brief test we did a while back. If you have ever been around a real track in a car that was fitted with semi-slicks rather than its standard road tires, you will know exactly what I mean.

On my first outing, I dove into the first left hander of Laguna Seca with the Focus, making sure that I got on the brakes light and early so as to not go flying off of the track with the large rAge crowd behind me watching (you need to show the crowds you’re a pro at times like this). So after making my way out of the sand trap that I was deeply and embarrassingly embedded into, I realised that we weren’t in Kansas anymore. Upon braking into the corner, my mind was temporarily stunned by the amount of information travelling up my fingers through the new Xbox One triggers, letting me know that I had just locked up my front wheels and was now tearing up a strip of the rubber attached to them. Honestly the amount of feedback I received from the trigg… ahem, sorry… let us carry on.

The new physics system feels significantly different to previous titles, that’s for certain. In the Focus it was now much more difficult to carry the right amount of speed through the bends to not understeer (fading outwards while cornering) into the corners but then also not suffer massive amounts of torque/under steer out of the bends when putting the power on. This was something that plagued early Forza games, especially during the earlier parts of the career modes, as the slower cars let you mostly flatten the accelerator pedal and just coast the car around most corners of the track without any real fear of losing it.

This subtle new balance is nothing short of a pure delight for true racer fans, because it means we have new levels of balance and finesse to perfect when lapping our favourite circuits. If you want to turn all of the assists off, then be prepared to put on your big-boy-pants and concentrate. Understeer is now a much bigger factor, thanks to the fact that in all of the cars, there was a much higher feeling and even visible amount of force on the cars that caused them to get unsettled while cornering. Again, if you have ever lapped a track in a real car as a driver or a passenger, you will know that you start really feeling the limits of a car when you realise that all four wheels are doing this light jiggle underneath you while under load. Finding the balance that keeps the car fast and settled is a big part of what makes lapping a car so enjoyable, and from what I felt in the demo the physics are able to deliver a much more satisfying and realistic feeling of force, weight, suspension load and that all too important feeling of rubber to the road, especially thanks to the feedback you get from the new Xbox trigger feedback. Oh, those wonderful triggers.

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  • ALKi1234

    You back Nick????

    • http://www.twitter.com/WobblyOnion Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

      No..he’s just doing a few guest posts for us…pretty much CAR THINGS.

    • Nick de Bruyne

      Yeah what Geoff said. Just filling that car lover gap that exists at LG here and there!

      • ALKi1234

        Iv’e been on this site for 4 years now and till today i still don’t know whether your PS or Xbox fanboy, that’s what i liked about u. Good to have u back!

  • Admiral Chief of Rivia

    …such a trigger slut you are ;)

  • Downloadable content John

    Man, I sure do love Forza

    • http://www.twitter.com/WobblyOnion Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

      Nope. People have bought PS’s just for GT.

      • Downloadable content John

        GT is good. (first PS game I bought) But it’s not quite Forza.

        • lans

          Forza is meh! Just not GT

          • Downloadable content John

            I get you, GT is great. I’ve owned and very much enjoyed every GT from the first one. I am a fan. Hell, I don’t even own an Xbox or a Forza game. But I played one Forza and man, was I surprised.

          • TiMsTeR1033

            Forza can customize look so nicely.

          • Matthew Holliday

            I was disappointed with the latest GTs
            Forza looks so much more exciting / entertaining.

            sure its supposed to be about the driving, but its also a game…

          • lans

            dude what the fuck is your problem you piece of @#!@#!@# stop using my name u #@!@!# for brains

        • Skyblue

          Played GT5 and Forza 3 & 4 extensively and I also prefer the Forza games. Also been a fan of GT since the first one on PS(one now?) and they have truly redefined and reinvigorated the driving genre but Forza has somehow managed to get whereas GT feels stale.

    • TiMsTeR1033

      So do I! Must play it more!

  • Spathi

    Excellent write-up!

    I also had a go, although only one lap, and I was very impressed. Triggers were nice, but unfortunately no matter how nice and how much feedback you get from them, it’s nowhere near what you get with a wheel…If only the XB1 would support the Logitech range of wheels, I would have major trouble passing up on the XB1 and Forza 5…

  • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

    Lol. Way to not write about the triggers man. Hehehe.

    But seriously good article. Had fun reading it :)

  • oVg

    Is this game On-line only?

    • TiMsTeR1033

      Think so!

      • Graeme Selvan

        No it can be played offline as far as I know

    • Downloadable content John

      Spirit dampened in 3…2…1….

    • Nick de Bruyne

      No. It just benefits from being online but can be completely played with no issues offline

      • oVg

        Glad to hear it :) because they were going on about not having enough time to write off-line car AI as Microsoft wanted the DRM in the beginning.
        Im sure the initial update will require the internet to work.
        Will wait and see.

        • DarthofZA

          I think you misunderstood their initial release. They weren’t saying that they aren’t going to be making online AI. The game is going to record the way you play, and then build an AI that imitates your racing style. Then when you go online, it will upload your AI to their servers and download other AIs built on other people similar to your skill level. Then each AI in the game when you’re playing Single player will be modeled after another AI person. This would bring a new level of AI where each car felt different, and slowly improved with your skill level. It is kinda the opposite of not having enough time to write off-line car AI, they were taking it to the next step.

          • oVg

            Cool. All sounds a bit SKYNET to me but I am sure it is for the better.

      • Downloadable content John

        Yess! Been missing some decend fresh racing games for so long now.

        Now, if only I can find more reasons to buy an Xbone.

  • Downloadable content John

    Whose idea was it to put a racing-game article up just minutes before ION?
    Us petrolheads deserve more time before our interests are pushed aside for the all-attracting ION.

  • ElimiNathan

    Very cool write up dude very informative thanks

    • Nick de Bruyne

      Awesome man, glad you liked it

  • BoodyBandit

    The hardcore rock Forza and GT with an FFB wheel

    • Nick de Bruyne

      I now wonder if they are going to incorporate the trigger feedback into racing pedals, it should translate really well if used in conjunction with the wheels feedback

      • JerkDaNERD7

        Well the code is there. Just hope some manufactures will take advantage of it.

  • Flops

    Forza, a little bit more mainsteam and arcade with each release, as told by Dan Greenwald.

    • JerkDaNERD7

      Oh really?! Ok, well fair enough. By the way…what was that? Oh why thank you. No, not me! I just happen to pass by and noticed…yes, yes. I know very much what this is, but well get off will ya.

      • Flops

        Guess you dont follow much gaming news?

        Dan Greenawalt was saying the same thing before FM4 launch and it seems true enough with its broken weight transfer, slinky suspension and steering aids that cant be turned off.

        • JerkDaNERD7

          Ok, very much. Thank you, see you. Oh look there, it’s Charlie. No it’s not, buggar off. Hey! That’s mine, no not a mine, MINE! Leggo me eggos and I’ll call Diego. Diego is a man?! oh…okay.

  • Kevyne Collins

    You sir have spoken my direct language. How the fuck did you know..? Like are we the same species? I like to call myself carpornosapian. I don’t even care about anything else on the Xbone. I would like to hug you and then race you. And then beat you/get beaten.

    This. This is it. Genesis. Carpornosapian’s united! Day One. I can’t wait.

  • happychappy

    This was going to be purchased somewhere down the line, but you just convinced me to make this a day one purchase! Good article, got me really excited! Forza ftw, Forza FOREVER!

  • lans

    It looks alright, but not enough of a graphics leap for me. Gran turismo 5 graphics still looks comparable compared to this title and the lighting in Forza 5 looks the same in all the pictures. Bit of a lukewarm vibe im getting. I’m playing a wait and see game here. Greenberg seems to be quiet so we will see If this game is worthy of being a semi arcade racing simulator. I’m happy that forza seems to be putting more emphasis in the driving model. Well done nick good coverage. ill give my impressions if I get some decent time with this game with a decent rig.
    But the lighting model is still woeful and generic

    • Zubayr Bhyat

      Most racers except for GT6 and GRID 2 had a crappy lighting model :P Racing has always been more about the gameplay and physics over graphical fidelity to me.

  • lans

    LISTEN U P@#!#@!#! of shit IMPOSTERS GET A 23$@#$#@$#@ thing of your own. Why can you not use your own !#@!@#!@#1 personal identity. To you get a hardon when you use my seize and desist, !#@!@##!@ I will find you, you little ass. Im watching you and I will make you pay!!!!! So please just be a good old sport and stop being an immature ass…Thank you for reading guy, Im glad we can put this to rest. You know jack #@! about racing games so why stress your poor brain omg. You bipolar narcissist crying for attention…GET OVER YOURSELF!!!!

    • Zubayr Bhyat

      Please say that again sir?

  • Anthony

    Ok good article I’m a French guy and I can tell you that many people in France doesn’t like the Xbox One just few haters I don’t know what is it in America, thank you for your complete article on Forza 5 and forgive me if my English is bad :)

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