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Forza Motorsport 5 Review

  • First Released Nov 22, 2013
  • Reviewed Nov 20, 2013
  • XONE

Weekend at Bernese Alps.

Mount Panorama is a treacherous circuit, but at the crest of its dizzying 174-meter climb is a view of the Australian countryside so gorgeous that for a few fleeting moments all that exists is you and the howl of a roaring engine. Moments like this are what make Forza Motorsport 5 so special. This is a game that expertly captures the bond between car and driver, improving on a world-class racing simulation with just as much human touch as technical wizardry.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in Forza 5's redesigned career mode, where the hosts of Top Gear serve as entertaining guides through all manner of automotive styles and eras. It's a format made up of dozens of mini-campaigns, each focused on a specific class of vehicle, ranging from vintage touring legends to hot hatches to modern hypercars. It's a much more a la carte approach than previous Forza games: each series is unlocked from the start, lasting between one and two hours each. You're given the freedom to progress through these themed categories in any order you wish, the only limit to what you drive next being the number of credits in your virtual bank account.

With this approach comes the freedom to navigate your own pathway through the history of motorsport, but with an overarching progression of credits and RPG-style leveling that encourages you to continually poke through Forza 5's eclectic selection of vehicles. It's a career mode made even better by an expanded Top Gear partnership that takes the form of narrated voice-overs preceding each series. Whether they're playfully mocking the third generation of Ford Mustangs or recounting the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda during the 1976 Formula One season, Clarkson, Hammond, and May shine as automotive historians. Their entertaining yet informative prologues lend both context and humor to every category of car you choose to spend time with.

The 1971 Elan Sprint has its charms, but the 2013 E21 is the standout Lotus in Forza 5.
The 1971 Elan Sprint has its charms, but the 2013 E21 is the standout Lotus in Forza 5.

That same flair for personality can be seen in the new drivatar AI system. The idea is that each car you compete against throughout your career is modeled after a real player's driving habits, a sort of cloud-based doppelganger meant to reflect how aggressive a person is in the pack or how well they can negotiate the trickiest of chicanes. Exactly how accurate these portraits are is up for debate, but the system does succeed in filling each 16-car grid with distinct personalities, drivers whose tendencies you can never take for granted. Their mistakes are far less predictable than the vanilla AI of previous games--especially when you reduce their penchant for aggression by climbing the ladder of eight difficulty settings--making those moments you capitalize on their errors that much more rewarding. There are odd AI hiccups here and there, like when they side-swipe you in the straights for no apparent reason, but such goofs are rare and nothing that a quick tap of the rewind button can't solve.

This is a game that expertly captures the bond between car and driver, improving on a world-class racing simulation with just as much human touch as technical wizardry

All of this amounts to a career mode that feels more lively and personable than anything Forza has done in the past. There are faults, though. A sense of repetition can creep in thanks to a track list roughly half the size of that found in Forza 4, already a game that carried a profound sense of environmental deja vu. But those tracks that did make the cut have received the full next-gen treatment. Classics like Laguna Seca and Silverstone are significant improvements over their prior iterations in terms of both look and feel, bristling with race day atmosphere and up-to-date tweaks to track layouts. And then there are the new circuits: the sloping forest hills of Spa-Francorchamps, the classical European streets of Prague, and the demanding ascent of Mount Panorama. These excellent additions don't remove the sting from the modest track count, but they do serve as wonderful complements to the stable of well-updated classics.

Easier to forgive is Forza 5's reduced car count. While smaller overall, this is the broadest assortment of vehicles the series has ever seen, highlighted by the introduction of open-wheel Formula One and IndyCars. Piloting a 750-horsepower Lotus E21 mere inches above the asphalt is an experience every bit as exhilarating as it is terrifying, making you feel as though any switch on that cockpit could send you rocketing into outer space. But whether you're cruising around in a Ford Focus or a McLaren P1, every car in the game's catalog looks absolutely remarkable--both in their pristine showroom forms as well as those post-race close-ups where flecks of grime litter the exterior and scratches adorn the disc brakes.

Indeed, Forza 5 has hardly forgotten its roots as a racing sim known for its staggering dedication to realism. Improved tire physics give you a better sense of your car's shifting weight as you barrel through sloped corners, while a clever implementation of the Xbox One trigger rumble delivers valuable haptic feedback about your current traction and stability levels. But as with previous games, Forza 5 is only as demanding as you want it to be. A generous collection of driving assists allows you to settle into your own personal comfort zone on the track, with rewards for ratcheting up the difficulty and penalties for overusing the rewind function.

But a steadfast dedication to racing physics is only part of the story. Forza 5 is a game brimming with audiovisual flourishes, little touches that elevate the driving experience just as much as the underlying science. The way sunlight comes flooding through your windshield as you race across the Prague circuit's cobblestone bridge, or the excellent orchestral soundtrack that makes each race feel like the climax of a James Bond movie--Forza 5 is an absolutely beautiful game full of immersive detail. And nowhere is that more visible than in the remarkable cockpit views, where intricate stitch work and high-resolution textures serve as rich palettes for the game's drastically improved lighting effects. Even the Dolby cassette deck on a '92 Golf GTi is a thing of beauty.

Forza 5 goes out of its way to ensure that every feature carried over from previous games has seen meaningful improvements. The Autovista mode that debuted in Forza 4 (renamed Forzavista here) has expanded from a handful of cars to the game's entire roster, making it easy to lose time ogling your latest purchase from every conceivable angle. Rivals mode remains an exciting means of challenging your friends' best lap times, but now it has been fully integrated into the career mode so that you're automatically presented with a new lap time to beat even as you're racing your way toward your next extravagant supercar. Even the livery editor has been expanded with new vinyls and surface materials, giving you the opportunity to defy all that is holy by designing a wood-grain Ferrari 458 Italia, or a Lexus LFA made entirely of brushed copper.

Unfortunately, I had limited access to Forza 5's multiplayer in the game's prerelease review state, with only the option to choose between a pair of hoppers for A- and S-class cars respectively. But my time competing against other players revealed a stable networking environment (thanks in some part to the game's dedicated servers, no doubt) and a lovely matchmaking system that lets you tinker around in any mode you please while it searches for an acceptable match.

All of this combined makes Forza Motorsport 5 an outstanding improvement to an already excellent racing franchise. It's far more than just a great racing sim, or a gorgeous showcase for the types of feats the Xbox One hardware is capable of. This is a game built on the romantic thrill of motorsport in all its forms, and that love for its subject matter is all but impossible to resist.

Back To Top
The Good
Open-wheel cars are a terrifying delight to drive
A generous and flexible career mode
Expanded Top Gear partnership adds humor and context
Visually staggering presentation
The Bad
Far fewer tracks and cars than Forza 4
Drivatar AI can get overly aggressive
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Shaun McInnis learned to drive using his mother's Ford Aerostar minivan and has been compensating for it with racing video games ever since. His driver level currently stands at 48 and counting, having played mostly on the highly skilled drivatar difficulty level.
1391 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for monks99

TRUCE ON CONSOLE WARS!!!! I Just bought a PS4, XBOX ONE...I love them both!!! PLEASE friend request me miggity106 (same user name for both consoles). I play HALO, DESTINY, COD, FORZA HORIZON 2, FORZA 5, DARK SOULS, TITANFALL, MADDEN 15, NBA 2K15 etc. Thank You!

Avatar image for xboxonekb24

Forza 5 Is Just Plain Great And Beautiful. I Just Copped The 2013 Bentley GT Coupe, Along With The 2014 Vette Stingray. I Don't Care What Anybody Says Forza Is The Best Game On XBOX One Or At Least In The Top Selection Of Games. There Could Be More Tracks To Race On But The Graphics And Visuals Are Second To None. If We Could Rip CD's Or Have Our Own Music The Game Would Be Even Better. Can Only Imagine What Forza 6 Will Be Like.

Avatar image for ixx_smoke_xxi

This game is no simulation. It's a silly video game. It is obvious that these programmers have never drove a car around ANY track at all. Let's see... For starters, the high end cars, especially indy, f1,prototypes, etc are designed to corner at high speeds OVER the curbs. They do not lose any control and try to spin out while riding over them. And as for the rest of the cars, they really don't either. That mechanic is a joke. Also driving onto the grass will NOT suck your car off the road. The traction is on the pavement. You can turn lightly back onto the surface very easily. Also, when you rear-end another vehicle, your car does not spin out so violently. That's just dumb. Maybe the car you hit would, but not yours. Then there is the steering, wow what a joke. For example, my cars steering box allows me to turn from all the way right to all the way left with a half turn of the wheel. (90 degrees to either side) In the game it is way to sluggish. If my stick is pegged to the right, my wheels should be too. No delay. Okay, maybe if the car is still stock, but not after I've upgraded it. C'mon! If only I could work with these guys and test the driving mechanics during development, they would have themselves a great racing simulation. I won't even go into the BS car packs and lack of tracks. This game has potential, but it's still a long ways off from being a sim. And I'm sorry for my previous post as my son hit my phone and accidentally posted prior to me finishing. Lol

Avatar image for Cozm1kaos

@ixx_smoke_xxi Actually my friend you are wrong.

Avatar image for guilionakyy

@ixx_smoke_xxi You know you can delete your previously unfinished comment right? Mrs Real Deal Speed Racer... =D

Avatar image for ixx_smoke_xxi

This game is no simulation. It's a silly video game. Let's see... For starters, the high end cars, especially indy, f1,prototypes,

Avatar image for nega224

Great, but not next-gen game.)

Avatar image for TRC187

Forza has lost its appeal to me by the relentless attack on our wallets. To purposely leave out tracks, cars & other content for the purpose of planned DLC is straight maddening. Forza 4 was bad enough, but with Forza 5 its being taken to a whole different level. The Ring, really? A track that's pretty much a necessity in any racing sim, and has been in every previous Forza? To exclude it is like buying a Ferrari with one of its cylinders missing. I bought every DLC pack for Forza 4, and it was a complete waste. Then with Forza Horizon they turned around and wanted you to pay for these exact same cars in their DAY ONE DLC packs, I understand its a completely different game, its just the principle of it. I started losing faith in T10 with FH, and now its completely gone with Forza 5. XBOne lost another gamer here. I waited on my purchase to see Forza 5 before buying a new system. With how incredibly greedy MS is, and apparently now T10, I'm done. I will be buying a PS4 now.

Avatar image for geopan

Yes! That's a fair and objective review... I wonder why you bothered to rate it with a 9, and spent so much intellectual effort to justify your doing so. You should have given a 10 and for the article, a simple "The best racing game on consoles ever" would have sufficed.

Avatar image for gaanjaa81

it does ''look'' great sure, but in reality its a really pretty shit racing sim, examples = races are far to short, no qualifying or practice sessions, no endurance races, no use or need of pitstops, damage on sim is a joke, assists are a joke, tire wear is a joke, stupidly low ammount of tracks, the top gear events are stupid , forget multiplayer online unless you want to be rammed every corner and to top it off there is sooooo sooo soooo much dlc its ridiculous. But yeah, i suppose its ok for a quick 5-10min session or something =/

Avatar image for jayjay444

I'm going to be honest just before I bought this game I was expecting disappointment the only reason I bought it is because my mates were telling me how good it was and i'm a huge Forza fan but after hearing about the lack of content I was disappointed and hesitant on buying the game.

However when I bought the game I was stunned, driving is responsive, everything is richly detailed easily the best looking racing game iv'e ever played, physics are great, the new driveatar is the best AI iv'e ever raced against on a any game to date.

Everything from the career mode with the top gear cast talking to trying for hours and hours trying to beat your friends best lap times the game is amazing, okay I understand the lack of content compared to Forza 4 but the graphics and driveatar alone are worth the buy the devs put so much effort into this game and if you haven't played it you would think they haven't because of the lack of content but even with the lack of content iv'e racked over 100 hours+ into this game and i haven't even touched the MP yet this game is worth every penny and the reviewer is spot on with this score.

Avatar image for Deniss99

It's a nice game. Too much to pay for additionally and not so much content in the box. I don't think it should be rated higher than 7. Def. a lot of potential for the future of series with these kind of visuals. Although after playing NFS rivals I have a feeling that FORZA's world is a bit flat.

Avatar image for stevothegaymer

downgraded visuals

Avatar image for themc_7

is the Formula 1 part of a DLC or is it in the main, shipped game?

Avatar image for bigmess209

@themc_7 you can buy some f1 cars with in game credits without buying dlc

Avatar image for no-scope-AK47

A 9 for a racing game with less than half the content of the previous game and is missing the auction house. No mention of wheel support and clearly states that the game became repetitive due to only 14 tracks. Also states that almost no time was spent on the multiplayer either. No mention of the tracks being incomplete for example Laguna Seca's famous red apex markers are MISSING !!

No mention of the cost vs value to play this game. A x1 cost 600 easy plus live gold and the game then add a wheel and your looking at over 800 bucks. So basically this review states that the presentation was so great that everything else can be ignored.

I don't know about anybody else but this review was bullshit. Must be nice to work here. Do no work, have no facts. Post scores, get paid with no oversight. If this game is a 9 then the next game should be a perfect 10 after all there is no place to go but up.

Avatar image for themc_7

@no-scope-AK47 the price of the game is $60. How much the system and peripherals cost has nothing to do with the review of THE GAME. Obviously you wouldn't buy this if you didn't already have an X1 and buying a wheel is your choice. You can't get made at the game's score if you bitch about the cost of other things. This is what you sound like, "The game costs $150/month, because I have to pay the electricity bill if I want to play it."

Avatar image for hardcore69er

what the hell do the prices have to do with anything? it's a review for the game. it isn't meant to justify any prices. games are $60 whether it's awful or great.

why are you on a forza 5 review for Xbox one complaining about price if you don't even own the system

Avatar image for Maslowo

I shouldn't have to point this out. However, when you place well in races you earn credits. Those credits can be used for cars and upgrades, without the need to purchase tokens from MS.

I know this to be true, because after a few hours of racing I was able to purchase the Audi LMP1 race car!

Avatar image for Ahiru-San

@Maslowo I didn't even notice the microtransactions in the game… I got rich by simply going for the challenges/timed achievements last month…. and I didn't even finish the 1st event completely.. just kept playing until I got the achievements… and boom, plenty of money and leveled up like mad...

Avatar image for themc_7

@Ahiru-San @Maslowo yeah I don't know what everyone is bitching about. play the game, and don't buy tokens if you don't want to. They really aren't necessary.

Avatar image for bigmess209

@themc_7 @Ahiru-San @Maslowo and if you've played forza 4 or forza horizon you get free credits when you sign in to the site. i got 3million for playing forza horizon. Bought a lot of cars.

Avatar image for kastir

I'm a little worried by the reviews on this. Notably, I don't seem to be able to read anything but the most glowing reviews Gamespot received. There's 7 people rated this 1 star. I'd like to hear what they wrote, but I can't seem to find the link. Is Gamespot taking money for this?

Played it for a while, feeling very Meh. Don't get me wrong, it has plus points. Jez C introductions is a brilliant addition. It is absolutely beautiful to look at, some nice features (I've not played a racing game in a while, since early Gran Tourismo/Project Gotham days, so instant rewind to correct mistakes is new to me) but there's also a lot wrong with it. To be honest, it doesn't feel finished. There are no config options to set controller sensitivity, or anything else for that matter - so if you don't own a steering wheel, you're never going to recover a skid as the wheel turns way too slowly. No way to skip the excessively padded out intros and extros to each race. Yes, I know I scratched up my left side in the race. I do that practically every race. It's not like this is my actual car, though, where I would want to spend a minute and a half looking over the damage and mentally calculating what it'll cost me.

Has Gamespot sold out, do you think? Or am I reading too much into this?

Avatar image for kariyanine

@kastir No, they haven't "sold out" as you say and you are reading too much into this. Not liking some of the design choices is a fair criticism but that doesn't indicate that it is unfinished in any way. And those intro/outro segments are just kind of how Forza is.

Avatar image for kastir

@kariyanine@kastirCool. As specified, I've not played a Forza before, so the intro/outro were new to me.

But the main question, if they've "sold out" - there's a link "See all 53 player reviews". I wanted to read them, see if other people had any comments on things like the steering sensitivity, or perhaps some things that I haven't reached yet that would make it worth investing more time in the game. But click it, and it shows me two 10/10 reviews only, nothing more. Can you tell me how to view any of the other 51 reviews? Reviews are the main reason I come here, both the featured and community perspectives.

Avatar image for semipsycotic

@kastir Way i understand it, there are 53 ratings so far. The only written reviews are 10's, so those are the only ones you can read. The others are just done using that sliding scale over there.

Avatar image for proletaryus

Anyway I'll pick it up when they release the "Ultimate" (meaning "macro transaction" free) edition in a year.

Avatar image for proletaryus

How to create a masterpiece and throw it in the drain charging "macro"transactions. Well done! If II were the developer I would feel like suddenly finding out my precious cherished-through-the-years daughter has become a prostitute.

Avatar image for pupp3t_mast3r

Convenient that the review leaves out the fact that the game has an in game cash shop. Since when did it become acceptable to charge full price for a game and then tack on micro transactions?

Avatar image for slotheater

@pupp3t_mast3r a while ago...

Avatar image for taker254isback

It looks great , def 60fps 1080p ,but it doesn't look that "NEXT= GEN" to me. At least not as "NEXT-GEN" as NBA2K14 does on the PS4...IMO

Avatar image for deathstream


I think the cars in Forza 5 look much more next-gen than the cars in NBA2K14.

Avatar image for DAMSOG

Haven't come to grips with the new physics model yet, can't seem to get the cars to grip the way I like....lucky I have a paltry track list to practice on....C'mon, next gen with a handful of tracks? No Nurburgring? I smell a big fist full of DLC on the horizon.....aren't these games on the new consoles supposed to be a step up from the previous iteration? Sure it looks shiny but the lack of content is confusing.

Avatar image for kariyanine

@DAMSOG welcome to most launch games ever.

Avatar image for DAMSOG


Avatar image for electrichobo99

I am a little confused about this one, the tv commercials claim that Forza 5 is only possible on xbox one, if they mean that it's only possible because it is an xbox exclusive, then yes, I would agree that it's only possible on xbox one, but if they are implying that the xbox one is the only system powerful enough to support forza 5, then I believe that to be false advertising. By all indications, a high powered PC or even the PS4, should be able to run Forza 5. If the PS4 can run some games in native 1080p while the xbox runs them in upscaled 720p, then how is the PS4 incapable of running a beautiful looking game like Forza? I was under the impression that as similar as the two new consoles are, the PS4 has a slight hardware advantage over the xbox, I suppose I'll have to sell my PS4 to obtain the touted vastly superior xbox, if a game looking as good as Forza isn't possible on what I thought was a powerful PS4, then I'd better get a console where graphics like that are possible. I didn't know the xbox was the most powerful console based on everything I've read, but based on that commercial, it appears I was mistaken.

Avatar image for kariyanine

@electrichobo99 you aren't serious right? Please tell me you aren't really serious with this nonsense.

Avatar image for Drejeck

Forza has always been an exclusive. Not all games are upscaled 720p, only those with an awful engine. The new consoles are similar only in GPU and CPU family, kernels and APIs are different, memory controller and internal logics are different. I don't think all the numbers PS4 sports above XONE will be so determining or appreciable. Those are synthetic benchmarks, if your into PC hardware you know that doesn't matter at all. At the end of the day what matters more than having fun? I have a 4000 euros gaming rig, I got a used 360 to play FM4 and I got yesterday a Wii to play Just Dance 2014. Fun is not measured in graphics prowess and FLOPS, it only makes ignorants talk to start consolle wars.
Example: No Crysis lasted over 6 hours campaign, once finished I abandoned it, Half-Life 2 lasted 5 hours and I finished it twenty times maybe both on PC and Xbox. Borderlands 2: 60 hours of gameplay with no DLC the first run and I have almost the same played time as Skyrim and Counter-Strike.
Back in the days of PSX I had Tekken 3 which counted more than 25,000 played games in total, no wonder I've done some tournaments :D

Avatar image for kevinseandooley

No Nurburgring and yet this got a nine out of ten?

Avatar image for VeeArSick

@kevinseandooley Its coming.

Avatar image for MAGIC-KINECT

@kevinseandooley @VeeArSick Yup only $19.99 and your 1st born child.

Avatar image for Nintendo_ltd

BMW 3 series present?

Avatar image for VeeArSick

@Nintendo_ltd Yes, E92, E30, E36 and E46.

Avatar image for Flav333

I wel buy a box one for this game

Avatar image for ScreamDream

@VeeArSick Are you still being an idiot? You called me a troll and I lost all credibility when I told you cars are selling for $50. You are being a jackass again.

Avatar image for VeeArSick

@ScreamDream I'd like to know where you proved me wrong. The cars don't cost $, they're free. Play the game, you'll see.

Avatar image for ScreamDream

@Gixzr Enjoy your grinding. Unlike other Forza's you don't get cars for rewards and you have to grind on less tracks. The game was made to pay for cars.

Avatar image for Gixzr

@ScreamDream @VeeArSick INSANE- will it stop....idk as long as (we) keep paying for dlc's etc... i think not - you know?

Avatar image for Gixzr

@VeeArSick @Gixzr I can see that - thing is consoles for me are/were great at plug-in & play vs. pc (which i am mostly) downloading upgrading patching & molding to my preference. Meaning, I can see paying +$100 for a custom "Full Game". Cutting out tracks for some *New* options is 1 step fwd - 1 step back. so it's cool -

Avatar image for VeeArSick

@Gixzr Yeah, I mean there are improvements and drawbacks to FM5 for sure. Overall though, I think it's a really good game.

Forza Motorsport 5 More Info

  • First Released Nov 22, 2013
    • Xbox One
    Forza Motorsport 5 is a racing game for the Xbox One from developer Turn 10 that was revealed at the Xbox: A New Generation Revealed event.
    Average Rating198 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Forza Motorsport 5
    Developed by:
    Turn 10
    Published by:
    Microsoft Game Studios
    Simulation, Driving/Racing
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Comic Mischief