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Forza Motorsport 7 Early Review Impressions

Lucky number 7.

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After spending seven hours with the retail version of Forza Motorsport 7, Turn 10 Studios’ latest appears to offer something for every kind of driving enthusiast. Yes, you could say the same thing about the last couple installments, but at least Forza 7 effectively pitches the power of choice without being preachy about it, particularly in its single player mode, the Forza Driver’s Cup. While this campaign kicks off with a mandatory trio of races in various vehicle types and environments, you’re subsequently offered many routes to victory thereafter. By the time I cleared the first three of the six chapters, I stuck to my favorite types of cars, namely Japanese and European sports cars. I was also reintroduced to riveting passing challenges and the novelty of bowling with cars. All the while, open-wheel and muscle car competitions tempted me to veer outside my comfort zone. This swath of variety made playing for seven hours straight feel like a breeze.

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Forza 7 maintains the series' silky smooth framerate and the granular depth in which you can customize the controls to suit your driving style. My current handling preferences favor tire traction and I was pleased how closely many of my cars in Forza 7 felt like equivalents from Driveclub--another favorite racer of mine. And it was comforting to get back on familiar tracks like Brands Hatch and Laguna Seca. Yet, it wasn’t until I returned to Prague--about three hours into my playthrough--that I felt wholly reunited with Forza. I’ve driven across the track’s two bridges countless times in the last two Motorsports games, and the scenic blend of gothic and baroque architecture never gets old. The improved lighting effects--in conjunction with the weather and time-of-day diversity--made the latest version of this Czech city particularly striking. I especially loved how the sun reflected the leather steering wheel and dashboard of my Alfa Romeo Montreal on the windshield, not to mention seeing light bounce off of my fancy driving gloves as I was making my turns.

Even if you aren't a racing sim purist, Forza 7 accommodates your desire to drive thanks to numerous accessibility settings. It goes well beyond enabling ABS and turning on the guiding line. Undoing any on-course mistake with Rewind helps in ensure wins, though I prefer the Codemasters approach of limiting the amount of times you can do this in a race. There’s also no penalty for dangerous driving and cutting corners. Clearly, Turn 10 is leaving it to you to set your own definition of fair play. An aside, it was amusing that the game credited me for my excellent cornering skills while not recognizing that I sideswiped one or two other cars.

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I also spent considerable time trying out the Mod cards, consumables that you can apply to any cup race for an added challenge. Depending on the card, you gain bonus XP for skillful driving, placing well, and turning off select assists. Some of these Mods added a modicum of increased stakes and competitive tension while also offering incentives for novices to experiment with deactivated assists and possibly take off select training wheels for good.

These cards are unlocked as part of this game’s loot crates. Based on the first dozen crates I’ve earned and opened, Forza 7’s form of blind box collectable items offer a balanced mix of cosmetic and practical items. The seemingly countless driver outfits you can amass didn’t appeal to me as something worth collecting. The cars obtained through crates, on the other hand, are more valuable, even those I ultimately sell, because I don’t need more than three muscle cars or Formula E racers.

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As I continue my playthrough into this weekend, I’m looking forward to dividing my attention between completing the Forza Driver’s Cup and finally participating in online races, when those who bought the Ultimate Edition version can start playing on September 29. While the once innovative friends-as-AI Drivatar competition remains engaging, it doesn’t compare to the unpredictability of real players. I’m also hoping that the car model loading times in the garage improves at launch for the Xbox One, as currently, there are two-second wait times when I quickly scroll through cars. Yet this is a mild annoyance compared to the sad reminder that Turn 10 was not able to secure production model Toyotas for Forza 7. While this manufacturer isn’t linked to the series to the degree it’s associated with Gran Turismo, it was disappointing to be limited to a modest selection of Toyotas not named Celica or MR2.

Taking the bad with the good, Turn 10 took full advantage of its recently renewed licensing deal with Porsche by making at least two dozen of the German manufacturer's cars available for purchase in-game. Before I finish Forza 7, I intend to buy the much publicized 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS and put it through its paces.

Check back next week when I'll have posted both my review and a video review of Forza Motorsport 7. Along with my final verdict of Forza Driver's Cup and online multiplayer, I'm hoping four currently locked sections--Forzathon timed events, Leagues, Auction House, and Marketplace--will be accessible soon.

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