Thanks to Xbox for the code, cheers folks!

Prize Crates

Normally I'd talk about this right at the end of the review, but no, this has to be mentioned right here and now. At the start, because honestly, the trend of microtransactions/season passes with limp-dick content and blasted Loot Crates has got to be squarely punched in the metaphorical jaw before you're paying three-times the cost of a game in the first place.

The ESRB recently ruled that Loot Crates and so forth are not gambling, because you're always guaranteed a prize.

Forza 7 has Prize Crates and from my experience, as well as reading various sources where folks have actually tested the crate system to near destruction. Well, it isn't balanced yet and you get some right rubbish compared to winning those shiny new cars.

Prize Crates lock content behind a random system, and thanks to this page, we know what tiers of crates and loot you get are available. Along with the cost for each tier of crate.

Prize Crate Info

A Lucky Car Crate is going to cost you 300,000 CR. As of the time of this writing there's a few ways to boost CR, you know, up the Driveatar difficulty and... no wait, that's it. Oh and the VIP Pass, but Turn 10 made changes to that at the time of this writing, so you only get your credit boost for a few measly races until it's gone for good.

VIP Pass... limited only CR boost?

Now before I move on to the review, I have to say that Turn 10 stepped up here and recently announced they're going to make things return to the way they were in previous Forza games. Still, it was a pretty dumb thing to do out of the gate.

So, what does 300,000 hard earned CR get you?

Cars, Driver Gear, Mods and Badges. We'll talk about Mods later on. You also get a 'chance' for a Legendary Car.

At the moment there's no way to buy CR with real cash, but Turn 10 have said they're looking to add in Tokens again. Now this is where the slippery slope kicks in bigtime. Because you pay for the game, you pay for the VIP Pass, Car Pass, Air-to-Breathe Pass and you're then stung for a 'chance' to get the Legendary Car by buying CR with hard-earned cash?

I'll be keeping my eye on this one. But thanks to the Prize Crate system I really can't say this is fun addition to the game, someone has to say it and I'll be the one to do it. I'll stick to buying cars with CR and missing out on the Legendary stuff, mods, gear and so on locked away behind a VR random paywall.

Enough of that, on with the review, because it's not all DOOMboxes and GLOOMboxes.

Forza Motorsport 7

Seven Forza games later and this is the first time I've actually 'really' thought: This one pushes the boundaries of what the Forza series is all about. You can own sporty cars, priced astronomically, take them around your favourite real-world tracks and all without the danger of ending up as a twisted metal wreck without a single ice-cream van in sight. There's a staggering number of cars, with makes like Nissan, Mazda, Mercedes and so on. Toyota and Lexus have pulled their production cars from racing games, so that leaves a gap in the roster for people who're fond of those models. Fortunately Turn 10 have managed to get Porsche into the mix and there's quite a good selection for the avid collector.

Forza 7 has taken the pomp and circumstance, the Clarkson narratives and ostentatious nature of motorsport from previous games and removed all that. This is a racing game, that has gone back to brass tacks (barring the loot boxes) and given fans more of what they wanted. Actual racing. Less blah-blah Horsepower POWER narration, and more: These are the cars, these are the tracks, these are the disciplines you can play with and now go and race.

I've always wanted to just race in these things.

To Race, or Not to Race?

The answer is to race, of course. You can do just that in the career mode, this time around it's called the Forza Driver's Cup, just so you remember that you're playing Forza OK? There's six championships in this game, with a huge array of competitions spread across those championships. You're given complete freedom of choice here too, you can be flexible, you can compete with the types of cars you're most familiar with. Opening races let you play with Forza 7's variety in terms of vehicles and playlists, head right for the cup, or spend some more time grinding CR and just getting used to the way the tracks and cars handle. Why not go out of your comfort zone and hit up a car and race you're not used to?

There's a lot to cover in terms of cars and courses, so I'm just going to say: there's enough variety for the Forza fans and then some. Remember as well, this is all about the pedal to the metal racing this time around, not so much the wow-look-motorsport glitz and glamour of previous games. If you want those great cars, be prepared to grind out the CR for them until t10 fixes the VIP pass and changes up the way Prize Crates work though.

Races can be modified, but this brings me to the Mods side of the game. One-shot, or x-number of race mods that change things up. There used to be a time when things like this were called options, they'd be enabled off a menu and you didn't need to pump CR into a loot box to get the chance to attain one. At least Driveatars difficulty counts for CR boosts...

Driveatars

They're back, and they've been tuned. It might not seem like it, but Forza games need to be out for a few weeks before the game pulls in enough data to start to place your friends and other players styles into your game. Then you start to see the Driveatar AI is actually pretty good, with styles from your friend's play style brought into your game. Mine are a bunch of rear-ending lunatics who like to crash and thrash to the front of the pack.

So, just like their real-life counterparts then!

Driveatar AI is still pretty much an experiment and I'm not sure it could ever replace a really well-made, fine-tuned, programmed AI in the long run. But what we have does do the job and it gets better and better the more info it can pull from the various races. I'd say in a few more weeks the Driveatar AI will have quite a lot of data and be running a lot better in terms of how the AI reacts.

Gameplay

If you've played previous Forza titles then you'll know exactly what to expect. Handling feels as responsive on a pad as it has always done, perhaps a little better in 7 and there's a lot of new tricks you'll need to learn since this game has a few extra things to spice up the mix. Rivals is back too, the asynchronous online mode where you try and beat other player's lap times. Online's back, and there's a lot of Driveatar-like players out there, they seem to have magnets on their car bonnets, magnets that like to attach themselves to other player's cars in a relentless display of car-related carnage.

Turn 10 probably didn't create the game to be Destruction Derby, but go online and you'll find out that's what it has evolved into for the most part.

Private Matches offer a way to play with friends, just as long as you can get a decent enough number of buddies together to make 24 players if you want a really good race.

Zombie and Tag aren't here in the launch version, which is kind of a shame.

You can play a bunch of great races though, across 122 detailed, authentic track configurations across the lovely 32 locations the game has to offer.

What really changes things up this time around is the dynamic weather system, which changes races suddenly and quite dramatically. As in Project Cars 2 before it, Forza 7's take on this system is great. There are 16 variations of inclement weather. You can get summer drizzle, bright boiling hot blinding sun, vicious torrential rain storms with looming thunderclouds and much more besides roll in on any race that you're doing. If you want too, you can set these weather conditions in a single race, so you can tailor things to how you want.

A heavy storm at night against a bunch of determined highly skilled opponents is something else, something quite breathtaking.

Difficulty

You have a bunch of adjustable options here too, lots to play with. Accessible to veteran players and new players alike, this is one of Forza 7's key features and something that's always pulled it apart from the rest of the racing sim genre games, ala: Project Cars 2. Forza 7 feels immediately accessible, friendly almost and inviting. Mod cards help change things, boost rewards, but they're tied into the Prize Crate system and I am not fond of paying CR for this kind of thing in the long run.

Gorgeous Drive

I can't stress just how pretty Forza 7 is. It is one of the prettiest games I've seen in a while in the racing genre, probably above that of Project Cars 2 if you put it all together. Now this was on the Xbox One, so I can't imagine what this game will look like on Xbox One X when that rolls out and even in 1080p super-sampled with the 4k pack downloaded, I reckon it will look stunning.

It's smooth too, even on the One, a beautiful buttery-smooth game that combines an incredible attention to detail with a glorious aesthetic to deliver one of the most stunning racing game experiences in terms of graphics.

Not Quite There Yet

The Prize Crate system is the downer here, it ruins what could have been a perfect game. It doesn't put the game in the bargain bin of course, or detract from the actual game itself, but it's a nasty sour taste that doesn't really fit with Forza. Of course, this is just my opinion and you can take it, or leave it as you desire. It's not as mode rich as Forza 6 at launch but there's time for additional modes and the like post-launch, as well as tweaks and the changes coming to the VIP pass.

Modes [email protected], Tag, perhaps even a DD mode for those bloody magnet players could well see the light of day.

In the end though it is pure racing fun at heart, stripped of the useless tat and dazzle of the previous games - left for people to do the one thing they bought it for. The sound of the cars, the look, the feel, the thrill of the race and of course to ollect badass rides and drive them at breakneck speeds in places they might never visit.

Worth it?

I'd say so!