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2o2p Game Review | Forza 5

Thu, 12/05/2013 - 15:43 — SarcasmoJones

There is a large, loose affiliation of gamers who meet each night, across several different online lobbies, to drive digitized representations of real life cars around digitized tracks all over the world. Some of the races are a casual affair for fun, some have a semblance of organization to them, and some have rule books the size of a small dictionary. Regardless of how many rules, laps, or players are involved in these races, they all center around one name: Forza.

The first Forza game released in 2005, on the original XBox, with a modest roster of 235 cars and a mix of real world and fantasy tracks. The fifth installment of the series (Horizon doesn’t count), the appropriately titled Forza 5, launched on November 22nd, in support of Microsoft’s third console: the inappropriately name XBox One. Fans of the Forza series have alternately supported and condemned changes that Turn 10 has made to the Forza series over the years, but the new Forza game may be the most controversial in franchise history. Did Greenawalt and crew go too far this time...or not far enough?


Promises Promises

Dan Greenawalt stood up on a stage at E3 2013, next to a McLaren P1, and told the gaming world about Drivatars. These digital clones of Forza players would learn their respective players’ driving habits and, through the power of cloud computing, theoretically reproduce avatars that possess both the skills and habits of the players who trained them.

See video

At E3, and the months that followed, Turn 10 talked about Drivatars, the new physics engine, paint, reflective surfaces, new tracks, and the “hundreds of cars” that would be present in Forza 5. We were promised a beautifully realistic Forza game with realistic avatars of the folks who are our racing friends. Turn 10 delivered on half of that promise: the cars in the game are the most beautifully rendered vehicles of any racing game on any console. The tracks were laser scanned and look exactly as they look on TV. This is quite possibly the closest to real life I have ever seen in a game. The new physics engine is supposed to be more realistic, and the cars certainly feel right on the track. I found that I lost a considerable amount of grip between Forza 4 and Forza 5, and I had to alter my tuning adjustments to make up for that loss of grip. It is much easier to lose control of a car in this game than in previous entries, especially bone-stock models on street tires. If you don’t know how to tune, now is a very good time to learn.

                                                                Cooter’s smiling because you’re about to crash.


“The end of A.I.” Did Drivatar deliver on simulations of real-life players, actively reproducing their driving habits through the magic of the cloud? No, it did not. What we got instead was lobotomized versions of ourselves aggressively smashing into our friends and stupidly braking on apexes. I actually witnessed Gizzie’s Drivatar brake on a fucking straight with no one in front of him and no corner in sight: Gizzie does not drive that way in a race...I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him apply his brake. He may not even be aware that they provide one in the game. 

A driver is so much more than cloud-based mathematical computations. I know which of my friends are going to stupidly run into the back of my car on a corner because they can’t seem to remember that muscle cars or luxury sedans need to brake earlier to make a turn than the exotic with full aero that they are driving. I know which friends brake late, who uses FWD, who is going to reciprocate if I bump them, who will make a mistake if I put the pressure on them, and who is going to drive off and not be seen again until the start of the next race. I received messages, both through XBL and Twitter, complaining about the aggressiveness of my Drivatar. I can be a bit assertive, but never to the point that someone felt obligated to message me to tell me I drive like a dick. So much for cloud computing: the Drivatars are not as accurate as advertised.


The Tracks

Turn 10 continued their long standing tradition of omitting tracks to make way for the newness. The game contains 14 tracks, at launch, and I hope that some of the omitted tracks make their way into the game at some point down the road. Tracks from previous games that made the Forza 5 cut are:

  • Bernese Alps: 6 configurations
  • Catalunya: 3 configurations
  • Indianapolis: 2 configurations
  • Laguna Seca: 1 configuration
  • Le Mans: 3 configurations
  • Road Atlanta: 2 configurations
  • Sebring: 3 configurations
  • Silverstone: 3 configurations
  • Top Gear: 7 configurations


The Bugatti circuit at Le Mans, introduced in Forza 3 only to not return in Forza 4, was added back to the track roster. Silverstone underwent some changes in track configuration and starting line placement, with only the National Circuit remaining nearly the same as before.

Australia’s Bathurst, with its crazy straights, elevation changes, and suicidal turns is probably the worst track in the world to race V8 Supercars, but why would that stop the Aussies? I feel fairly certain that a good portion of this track was the inspiration for the Blue Mountain track in the first Forza game. Players may want to resist the dual temptation of Mount Panorama’s two long straights and bring a car that can handle the wicked turns in the hills instead of a straight-line monster...but only if you’re interested in leaderboards or actually winning races.

See video

Hollywood loves Prague, with its crazy mix of Medieval and Renaissance architecture, arches, plazas, famous statues and bridges...lots of bridges. XXX and the first Mission Impossible were both, at least partially, shot in Prague. Forza 5’s Prague track reminds me of Positano with legs. Racers should expect a fair amount of bricks and cobblestones, cable car tracks, elevation changes while turning, and several sweeping turns. Bring a balanced car with good brakes and acceleration, and just enough grip to hold sweepers. Four configurations.

See video

Belgium’s Spa is one of the most player requested tracks in Forza history. Spa sports a good mix of long straights, elevation changes, chicanes, 90s, and sweepers, and starts with a very acute hard right at turn one. Acceleration and a fair amount of grip are required to keep it clean at Belgium’s Gran Prix track.

See video

Yas Marina in the United Arab Emirates was obviously designed with Formula racing in mind. Two nice, long straights with some very tight turns and wicked chicanes to break up the monotony of oval racing. When not driving a Formula car, bring something with a shitload of grip: the straights mean nothing if you’re blowing turns. Five configurations.

See video

The Test Track Airfield is set at an abandoned airport somewhere in the Mojave. The single track configuration is a very tight course that runs through hangars, a parking lot, and around the outside of buildings. This track combines the imminent danger of hitting a building with a light-post obstacle course...bring something grippy that you don’t mind smashing up.

See video

A great deal of the controversy surrounding Forza 5 centers around the tragic loss of tracks. Let’s have a moment of silence for the former Forza tracks that didn’t make it to the new game:

  • Pacific Shipyards
  • Tsukuba
  • Mugello
  • Sidewinder
  • Amalfi Coast
  • Positano
  • Rio De Janeiro
  • Tokyo
  • Blue Mountains
  • Fujimi Kaido
  • Sunset
  • Infineon
  • Sedona
  • New York
  • Odessa Test Track (Benchmark)
  • Ladera
  • Camino Viejo
  • Hockenheim
  • Alpine
  • Road America
  • Nordschleife
  • Nurburgring GP
  • Motegi
  • Iberian
  • Suzuka
  • Maple Valley



At launch, Forza 5 had 213 available cars for those who pre-ordered the Limited Edition. It included another ten if, unlike me, you’re the type who buys Day One DLC. Here’s the deal about that Day One car pack...most of the cars that are in it were already in other Forza games. Does Turn 10 seriously think that players are going to lay down ten bucks for fucking cars that they already had? What kind of dickhead publisher charges for downloadable content on the day the game comes out? EA, that’s who. If you’re following the insidious business model of one of the most hated companies in the world then you should probably brace yourself for some negative feedback.

The cars looks great, and there is very little fat on the roster. There are no shitty hybrids, no Pintos, no PT Cruisers, and very few dipshit daily drivers. What we are left with are the very best offerings from the respective manufacturers, and only Audi and BMW are seriously over-represented with different year models of the same car. We may be racing with fewer cars this time around, but we are also racing with better cars. However, once again, a new Forza game launches without a single Porsche in the game. Other glaring omissions include NASCAR-style stock cars, Bentley, Wiesmann, Morgan, DeTomaso, Devon, and many others. My favorite muscle car, the XXX GTO, is also a no show. Base models are also a thing of the past. If you want a Gallardo, you get the Superleggera. If you want a Veyron, the SS is your only choice.



The PI system was overhauled again. The new car classes are D, C, B, A, S, R, P, and X. D is the new F, A is the new S, S is for supercars and V8 Supercars, R is Hypercars and the GT equivalent, P is Indy and Formula car territory, and X is suicide prototype territory.



Rivals mode is about the same, with the exception of leaderboard integration. This is good news for hotlappers, who can now pick and choose their track and class and be rewarded with experience, affinity, and Forzabucks while testing tunes or chasing clean LB laps. Affinity no longer rewards players with discounts on upgrades, instead it increases monetary rewards incrementally as a percentage. The more affinity you have with a manufacturer, the greater the percentage boost on pay day.



Autovista makes an unwelcome return, but is now available for every car. Players are now able to prowl around inside, around, and under the hood of any car in their garage, without the superfluous Clarkson commentary. I don’t really give a shit about this feature. Why would Turn 10 devote developmental assets to this useless feature when they could have been laser scanning Nordschleife or a 67 GTO? Fucking ponderous.


Auction House

There isn’t one.



Also conspicuously absent from Forza 5. Players, however, are free to donate tunes and designs to the public, and maybe get paid if enough people like your work.


Car Clubs

Gone. Good thing you’re already in a clan and have folks to race with.

                                                                                       Do I look pleased?


Never in the history of online racing has multiplayer been such a pain in the ass. Players can only join a private match after accepting a party invite. Why do you have to be in a party to join a fucking race with friends? This was never a prerequisite in previous games. The lobbies themselves are still problematic. I was having audio issues at one point, but don’t know whether to point the finger at Turn 10 for the game or Microsoft for the console, so I’ll just flip both of them the bird. I also experienced lag and rubber banding in online lobbies...and there were only a couple of other guys in the room with me. Another race dropped a guy from the race, but replaced him with his Drivatar...while he was still in the party.

See video

The loss of the ability to cherry pick which of my friends’ races I wanted to join, and then join that race without the hassle of fishing for a fucking invite is the harshest blow of all. It’s far worse to me, personally, than the lack of cars or tracks. After the annoyance of having to ask for a party invite and race invitation, jacking around with the party settings once you’re there, I find out the the room does indeed include the friend I wanted to race with, but the guy who dropped me off his friends list is also there as is the guy I kicked off my list because he belches into his mic every thirty seconds. At this point I feel obligated to remain for a few races just because it felt like work getting there.

The inability to share designs and tunes with people on your friends list is the final unforgivable sin. The guys in 2Old4Forza are talking about setting up a spreadsheet to share tunes amongst the clan. A fucking spreadsheet! Are you fucking kidding me? Did I just go back in time to 1995? Why can’t we gift tunes? For a developer that claims to be community minded you’re working awfully hard to alienate the community. Oh, and while we’re on the subject of community, the hub of Forza Motorsports,, has the absolute shittiest and most argumentative fucking forum moderators of all time. Some mod named TG (testicle glutton?) Wormburner banned a 2o4f member until the year 2165...literally without explanation. If this is the hub of Turn 10’s racing community, then I am so fucking not impressed.


Final Verdict

Forza 5 is a beautiful racing game and an awesome single player experience, but the inept implementation of key features, the inclusion of unnecessary fluff, the loss of tracks and cars, multiplayer aggravation, and the complete and sudden disregard for the social side of the game left a very bad taste in my mouth. It feels unfinished or rushed. If I could go back, I would buy a used or deeply discounted copy of this game instead of forking over 80 bucks for the Day One LE. I’m disappointed, but playing anyway. Finish your fucking game, Turn 10.

Nightfall's picture

Wasn't Forza 1 released in 2005?  I don't think the original Xbox existed in 1995?

Nice review, Jones.  It does seem like we're all doing a lot of single player now.  Sad.  I miss racing with everyone.

SarcasmoJones's picture

yeah, 2005 is correct. I fixed it...thanks Fjosh.

AcidSnow's picture

I put ~180hrs into Forza 3.  I remember playng the Demo of it before it released, I was horrible at the game, but after playing that one demo level for 4 straight hours (of dedication); I was finally not totally sucking balls with all the assists off.

I don't know if I was burnt out on Forza by the time 4 came out or what, but I only played Forza 4 for ~10hrs before I stopped.  ...Well now that I think about it I remember I stopped playing Forza 3 probably 6 months before 4 was released, so when the game came out I was rusty and awful at it.  And since I'm somewhat stubbern,I wasn't willing to play it with any assists, so I just stopped.

Forza is the only racing game (other than Project Gotham Racing) that I've sunk hundreds of hours into...  But I think I'll be waiting for a price drop on the One, and also wait for Forza 6.

Decent review...although I seem to recall the members of 2O4F bragging on the site about trolling and instigating the not sure that comment really belong.  You also didn't mention the gifting on the F1 cars and the 1/2 price sell that T10 initiated to make up for "misinterpretation" of what VIP gave or didn't give the owners of LCE Forza.  The game for what we have is amazing...there are features that were left out for inexplicable reasons....hopefully those features and tracks return soon.

SarcasmoJones's picture

Thanks Clay. The LCE/VIP guys already have their copies and have no need of a review so recent events designed to assuage VIPs probably aren't relevant for someone waiting for a review to decide whether or not they want to buy the game. But you are correct: Turn 10 has made an effort to make things right with the community and I think that's great, but it doesn't affect the review. On your other point, if Wormburner hadn't banned Parcells, with no explanation, until he reaches the merry old age of 194, then I feel sure that wouldn't have had to deal with a 2o4f troll party at their doorstep. The Forza site has been on the decline since Forza 3, and since Turn 10 considers this site to be the hub of the Forza experience, the quality and moderation style of the site must be taken into consideration in a Forza game review. I'll understand if you disagree.

No, I agree with all you have said...and in saying that here's to hoping they continue to make changes and upgrades to make the game more community friendly and that we will all see someday the culmination of what this game COULD be....they are so close yet so far away.

SarcasmoJones's picture

Now there's a concept I can get behind! +1 for Clay.

Oh yeah, don't bump draft me down the straights......LOL

SarcasmoJones's picture

I have put over 1800 hours in both Forza 3 and Forza 4...and I still use ABS and TCS. The guys in the clan claim that lap times improve with all assists off but it's never helped me and I'm not interested in conforming to someone else's badge of honor no assists credo. If turning a few assists on help you, then I see no problem with's just a game. Don't let that stop you from enjoying Forza.

Parcells2's picture

Been waiting with anticipation how you'd approach this review Jonesy. Sounds about right, well done as always.

btw - I think Gizzie only brakes for weekend races? 

gizziegod's picture

brakes we don need no stinkin brakes 11

Sherb's picture

That's what trees are for!  79

DEEP_NNN's picture

Yup, this is what happens when some much loved features of a much loved game get dropped or fucked up. You're feeling how many fans have felt when Halo dropped Clans, dropped film rendering, dropped campaign films, dropped proximity chat and added death dealing ordnance from the sky.

All is not lost, yet. There may still be a great game waiting for you in FORZA 5. You may just have to set your sights, differently.

I feel for your plight.

CProRacing's picture

GT6 Bro ;)

GT did the same thing when GT3 came out. I'm going to hold out as long as I can on GT6. I pretty much decided that I was never going back once I started playing Forza. They just need to fix some of the bullshit that was mentioned in the review.

SoulTerror's picture

Good review. I'm hoping to pick this game up before Christmas. I've owned all the others (except for Horizon.)

Sherb's picture

Thanks for the review Jones.  I feel better about my decision to hold off on the XBone & FM5.  I can use that money to put into the Mustang & Corrado.  :D


.....or maybe a new wheel for the PC.

ChunkySoup's picture

The very first message i sent over the XBOX One was to a buddy of mine who was playing Forza. His Drivatar was in my race and at the end of the race this is the message I sent : "Your Drivatar is an asshole"

I likened it to him being a general asshole on the track but after a number of hours I have come to realize that these Drivatars are worse than some of the worst real life drivers I have encountered. Braking on a straight is just the beginning.  I have seen them come to almost a complete stop before turning or have a perfect line through the corner and brake for no F-ing reason other than to let me slam into their ass ends. Maybe they get off on that...I don't know but I do know it pisses me off.

That being said, the one thing that has pissed me off since the original Forza game is this. No matter how many f-ing races I win why do I have to keep starting the races at the back. Your skill and win/place percentage should count towards your placement in the next race as you progress through each series. I can see starting off the series at the back but if I win I should be bumped up from 14th to 12th. You could argue it would be less of a challenge but there should be some on track reward for kicking ass, taking names and managing to dodge all the dumb ass drivatars as they pile into each other on Turn 1.

SoulTerror's picture

Wasn't it in FM2 or 3 that if you had a quick enough care you would start in the front or middle? Been so long.

SarcasmoJones's picture

In FM3 you started in front once you had finished career mode...that ended in FM4.

ChunkySoup's picture

That would explain why I never saw it...I don't have the patience/fortitude/time to play some of the longer races as you get towards the end. I have never actually finished a career in any of the Forza games.  Yeah...I suck...I know

Snuphy's picture

The starting grid for most career races in FM2 is based on PI, highest in the front, lowest in the rear.  So depending on car selection and upgrades installed you can influence where in the grid you start.

SoulTerror's picture

Thats what I thought.

SarcasmoJones's picture

Multiplayer lobbies give the owner several options for setting up the starting grid, but single player grid order has changed over the years.

Oldschool 2o4f's picture

Pre-ordered the LCE, it's still sitting on my desk, taunting me...

Needless to say, since the game/console released I've found it easier to resist parting with the $500.00 for the console. I hem and fuss that maybe I'll just sell the LCE and wait, but I'm pretty sure I'll get the damn thing and play it, just not going to sacrifice anything to gather the coinage for it.

I thought it would kill me not to have it at launch, but I'm still alive and Forza 4 isn't mysteriously broken, it still works and I can live with that, for a while.

The disturbing optimist in me hopes they patch the lobby/party thing but the historian in me realizes Hell may well freeze over first. Or Forza 6 might apologetically remedy some of the bullshit unattended to at launch.

So here I sit, and Forza 5, up on the shelf, stares at me...

Sherb's picture

Yeah, I probably would've picked it up if I already had the console.  But this would be the only reason for me to buy the console.....and from what I've been gathering from people, it's not good enough for me to justify the expense.  If something comes up that I end up buying a console, I'll probably pick it up...but it's on hold for me at the moment.

Fortunately I've got GT6 to tide me over on the console side of things.  I'm really glad they decided to release it on PS3 instead of PS4.  I'm really not in the mood (or position) to purchase a new gen console at the moment.  We'll see how things shake out, I'll probably end up with one or the other in the next year or so...but no rush for me.  After my last computer build and the conversion to triple monitors (that don't require 3 systems & 3 copies of the game), I'm pretty well camped out over there.  Between PC racing sims (rFactor, rFactor2) and Guild Wars 2, I don't have much excess time for gaming...even GT6 or FM4.  I do need to throw in FM4 though, it's been a while.  

CarterDavidov's picture

No Nurbergring, Road America, Sunset or Fujimi? What the hell were they smoking down there? By the sounds of thing, I'll be staying with Forza 4 for a while. Of course this will also allow me to keep playing with my Pintos and other dipshit daily drivers.

Ammodawg's picture

It was nice when they made the money spent for VIP worth something.  I was pretty well pissed to buy the day one LE and find that well you have access to the cars but you need to save up credits to get them.  

I think the silence from T10 is also a huge disaster.   They came out and did the VIP gifts and half off sale the one weekend and that was it.  Nothing since on the feedback they are getting and what they may have planned for the future. 

HadOne2Many's picture

Damn Sarcasmo...are you in my fucking head?  Great job putting to words the fellings so many of us are having.

budman24's picture

Great review.  I hate the drivitars for all the reasons above me that were stated.  Is there still a 2o2p group that does multi-player.  I'm a noob at forza but I have a blast playing it and i'm a clean matter what my drivitar does :)

SarcasmoJones's picture

Yeah, check out the 2old2forza forum...we're playing Forza and Gran Turismo every night.

SnappyDee's picture

Good review Jones. You've hit the nail on the head.

The graphics in the game are beautiful. The physics are very good. Still familiar in a way, but different and challenging.  However, T10 went in the wrong direction with every other aspect of this game. They cut players off from each other, left a ton of content out and then implemented a horrendous microtransaction scheme. I'll leave it at that because as many of my fellow 2O4F members know - I could go on for some time.  I still play FM5 but almost always alone. It shouldn't be that way.


Zero7159's picture

I agree with Snappy.  This is an outstanding review.  Jones objectively covered every aspect of the game.  Best review I have read about Forza 5.

Now, if he would stop embarrassing me with his obscenely fast, clean laptimes, I would very much appreciate it.  angry

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