It’s official, the Forza Motorsport franchise is back with with its first title on Xbox Series X and S! Arriving three years after the beginning of the ninth generation of consoles, you could be forgiven for thinking Turn 10 Studios had taken this time to polish the final product to a perfect sheen, delivering the greatest possible racing experience to players who have waited six years since the most recent entry. You’d be wrong unfortunately, as 2023’s Forza Motorsport is unbelievably bland.
I played hundreds of hours of the indomitable Forza Motorsport 7, and it became evident early on with the newly rebooted series that they have deprived it of the ‘8’ as that would invite players to expect a better experience than they had with 7. I’ve played around 10 hours of the new Motorsport and it comes nowhere close to replicating the quality of 7. In all honesty, a copy pasted port of its predecessor to current consoles would have been more welcome, as every aspect of ‘not Motorsport 8’ leaves a very bitter taste.
The main thrust of my issue is that the road racing tracks have been stripped out, so we no longer have Bernese Alps, Prague, Long Beach, Rio de Janeiro or Dubai to tear around in our favourite cars. The attempt made to rectify this drastic issue is the introduction of new to the franchise circuit tracks, but to be blunt, these come nowhere close to matching the quality of what we have lost. All the classic circuits are still here, except Monza, and promises have been made for new tracks to be patched in later. As it stands, the launch line-up of race locations leaves a lot to be desired.
The game itself somehow manages to be padded despite traditionally being solely a racing sim. Gone are the days of being able to buy a car, kit it out with all the gear you want and take to the track. Now you have to start using it with no upgrades at all, and all races are preceded with a ‘practice’ session to get to know the car and track, while completing timed objectives. It’s as tedious and terribly implemented as it sounds; double the gameplay but half the fun.
These practice events can be skipped if you wish, but it is only by completing them that you earn points which are used to upgrade your vehicles. That’s right, in order to get to the racing in this racing game, you first have to grit your teeth and get through a patronising and tedious time filler to make your car more fun to drive. I’m genuinely astounded.
Usually I liked to take my own photos in game for these reviews, but as all the ones I took look as dull as the game feels to play, I’ve opted instead to use developer provided images instead. Graphically I feel like Motorsport 7 looked more realistic, where this game has instead gone for a strange blend of realism and vibrancy. Picking one and sticking to it would have been the better play here, instead of a mash-up angling towards the best of both. I downloaded the optional 34 gigabyte texture pack while installing the game and am in no rush to see what it looks like without this included.
It’s not lost on me why Turn 10 made the decision for the visible timer during races to only display your best lap times in that event, and not the total time you have spent. If I had been able to see how much time I was sinking into not enjoying the game I would definitely have packed in trying to like it sooner.
On to the few positives with Forza Motorsport ‘not 8’, I approve of how the most expensive car in the game only costs 450,000 credits. This amount of money can be earned in just a couple of hours of gameplay, even on the lower difficulty scale which nets you less money at the end of each event than if you race against tougher opponents. This choice is dampened somewhat through the fact you’ll have to run practice laps for any car you buy to get it to a standard you want, but at least the grinding for in-game money won’t feel as arduous as the interminable practice laps will.
I also commend the overall sound design as each car I used sound significantly different to one other, and the way the cars interact with the track is particularly satisfying with tyre screeches and gravel crunching. Despite it not being encouraged by the game, the sound of metal on metal as I ram or am rammed by other racers also feels crisp and rewarding, despite definitely not being the latter of the two.
Overall, Forza Motorsport at launch is painfully underwhelming. I purchased my Xbox Series X purely for the Forza Horizon and Motorsport franchises, and while Horizon 5 has been the most fun open world racing game I have ever played, 2023’s Motorsport is more reminiscent of 2013’s Motorsport 5, all style and no substance.
I sincerely hope some fun can be patched in with new tracks and cars down the line, but for now unless you have Xbox Game Pass or feel like you have to play it to justify buying an entire console, I cannot recommend Motorsport at all. It works in theory so I can’t kick it in the gut for performance, but if you like to have fun in your video games I recommend digging out an Xbox One X and just sticking to Motorsport 7. I score ‘not 8’
5 / 10
Written and edited by Alexx.