Massive in scope, Forza doesn't just want to beat its Xbox platform rivals from the start, but also wants to scream past Gran Turismo on the final straight to take the chequered flag before spraying champers in Polyphony Digital's face. So how does it fare?
First you'll have to select your region - European, Yank or Japanese. Then they chuck you 23,000 credits and you get to buy a car and start thrashing the opposition.
Instantly noticeable is that you're not restricted to crappy cars early on.
This illustrates something that pervades Forza's design from the bottom up. Partly because Forza wants you online and racing as quickly as possible, and partly because Microsoft wants EVERYONE with an Xbox to buy this; it's the most accessible driving 'sim' ever made.
To reward the skilled, each difficulty setting has an associated percentage multiplier that affects the credits earned in each race.
Customisation of your car is split into three areas. And everything is certainly impressive... but unless you're a practicing Kwick Fit Fitter you're unlikely to get much out of this section.
When you finally get out on the track, there are a number of different types of race. You'll race sections of racetracks, entire tracks, compete in a series of races over mini-championships or in the magnificent point-to-point races. The tracks are supremely modelled and you really feel differences in surfaces.
The real tracks are excellent - including the finest depiction of Nurburgring we've seen in any game.
Sadly, glamour is lacking throughout when it comes to Forza. Considering the fact that Motorsport is where the chicks and the glitz goes, the presentation is crushingly dull. Even searching for cars becomes a tedious exercise when using a database.
You'll also find that it's not the career mode that draws you into Forza, but your own determination. The reward system gives you access to tracks, cars and credit early and we found we had a huge stable of cars with 10% of the game complete.
Additionally - and let's be clear about this - excluding the cone-riddled autocross section, there are only 15 environments, with around 27 different tracks.
As GT4 weighs in with 50+ tracks, Forza comes across as having that 'first time out' inexperience.
Aside from customisation and what should be excellent Live capabilities, where Forza easily outshines Sony's franchise is on point-to-point races.
Where GT4 took rallying and ground the fun out of it, Forza has created 10 series' of magnificent point-to-point races.
These are road races where eight noisy, thoroughly beefed-up machines hurtle down the sides of mountains like The Italian Job except in genuine sports cars.
Here Forza excels, marrying its unquestionably impressive sim to truly thrilling and beautiful environments.
So, Forza is a great driving game but hasn't quite found its feet. We reckon it'll be a major hit online. Yet as a single-player game, success in AI, well-modeled tracks and customisation options are undermined by flat presentation, an uninspiring career mode and too few circuits.
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