As the proud owner of a 1995 Nissan Pathfinder in dire need of a new manifold, I feel unqualified to say much more about Forza Motorsport 4 than the reviewers seem quite taken with it.
You will not find the 95 Nissan Pathfinder on Forza 4's expansive roster of high-performance machines. What you will find is a passion for driving so powerful that just getting within five feet of the game makes me hang my head in shame. This is a game for the car enthusiast's car enthusiast, the sort of fellow so enamoured by these machines that he doesn't even pause long enough to point out that "car enthusiast's car enthusiast" makes absolutely no sense.
I may not get them, but I feel them. And the assembled game reviewers get them as well, and by all indications feel they should get Forza Motorsports 4.
Circuit-based racing games are repetitive by nature, but the deja vu you experience when playing Forza Motorsport 4 is especially pervasive — at least if you're familiar with its superb predecessor. You can't help noticing that the majority of the cars and tracks in Forza 4 also appeared in Forza 3. They look noticeably better now, which is no mean feat in itself, but early in your new racing career you could still be forgiven for wondering if developer Turn 10's latest offering might more appropriately have been titled Forza 3.5. Thankfully, that feeling dissipates as new features and improvements reveal themselves, and ultimately there's no doubt that this is a worthy sequel to one of the best racing games in recent memory.
Forza Motorsport 4 has some of the most rewarding and satisfying driving seen in the genre, yet it doesn't have to be a game that solely revolves around fiddling with your ABS and TCS. Dedicated petrolheads can switch all the driving assists off and play on a difficulty level that recommends real-life driving experience as well as a steering wheel peripheral, or just spend dozens of hours painting or tuning their vehicles, and some players will be more than happy to invest their time in producing and uploading photos and videos. It's a swiss army knife for car culture.
The bread and butter of racing simulations is the career mode, and FM4 spices up its "World Tour" mode with a number of different events. Instead of dictating the events themselves, FM4 picks a location and you're allowed participate in any event of your choice that has a race located at that track. The events themselves are fortunately more than just endless lapping. King of the Mountain is a touge-style event where you race a single opponent down a mountain road while weaving through much slower traffic. Having to give up your racing line to zig-zag around some F-rank microcar is a lot harder than it seems.
This is truly thrilling stuff. The audio design is quite literally mind-blowing (if turned up loud enough) and deserves surround sound treatment, although you'll want to mute that awful drum and bass soundtrack as soon as possible. The car handling and physics have been drastically overhauled; making Forza 3 feel tame by comparison. Do yourself a favour and configure the handling to the new "Simulation" setting, changing the experience from a mere racing game to a battle of nerves between man and machine. Forza's use of haptic feedback remains peerless: you can feel every gear change or tyre rumbling over the apex. The synergy between controller and car is so satisfying, it makes you wonder why you would ever give it up for Kinect.
Forza Motorsport 4's online mode has received the biggest shake-up, considerably improving on its predecessor's rather average efforts. Rivals mode, which is similar to Need For Speed's Autolog, sees friends compete in challenges and races for the best scores and times. If bested, players will receive a message next time they login. If none of your friends own the game, the computer will find rivals for you to compete against, giving players an added incentive and challenge every time they compete. And although leaderboards remain in all of their glory, constantly having a rival score to beat eliminates the feeling that you're lost among the thousands of players competing for the best time.
Turn 10 already had a fantastic racer with Forza 3, but they somehow managed to add more even features and polish to this sequel, and the end result is a game that seems to have covered every base perfectly. They've also managed to add something else that you'll never see as a bullet point on a box: personality. Forza 4 is so much more lively, and it shows so much more character than its predecessor. The game practically shines with signature touches that show that the developers truly loved making it. I'm sure that's probably why I love playing it so much. I'm sure you will, too. And again, Forza Motorsport 4 is the king of racers.
It's enough to make me want to buy the game and be confused for a few hours.