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Critical Reception: Turn 10's Forza Motorsport 4

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Turn 10's racing sim sequel Forza Motorsport 4, which reviewers describe as "a game that seems to have covered every base perfectly."
This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Turn 10's racing sim sequel Forza Motorsport 4, which reviewers describe as "a game that seems to have covered every base perfectly." Forza Motorsport 4 currently earns a score of 92 out of 100 at Metacritic.com. Destructoid's Dale North rates Forza Motorsport 4 at 10 out of 10. "Turn 10 had their work cut out for them with Forza Motorsport 4," he begins. "If they wanted to keep up with the competition, it had to be bigger, look better and offer a lot more." "What made Forza 3 great is all still here, but Turn 10 has made some big changes under the hood for Forza 4," North praises. "Their automotive wonderland has a new look, a new graphics engine, a new interface, new cars, new AI, locales, and functionality. [...] And that would have been enough, but they didn't stop there. They kept going until no one would question that Forza 4 is the best racing sim out there." The career mode in particular boasts an array of improvements. "In Forza Motorsport 3, tour events were pre-determined, laid out on a calendar that players made a linear progression," North explains. "That has been ditched for Forza 4's World Tour mode. In it you'll zip across the globe [...], moving from one world-famous raceway to another as you progress through the ranks and cups. It's a bit more glamorous, and definitely less generic." In addition: "[Top Gear has] also created race events that are a bit more lighthearted and entertaining than their GT5 counterparts," North states. "I am addicted to mowing over car-sized bowling pins in a quest for the highest score and lowest time. I also suspect that playing car soccer online will be a popular event." "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," North summarizes. "They've also managed to add something else that you'll never see as a bulletpoint 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." Martin Robinson at Eurogamer scores Forza 4 at 9 out of 10. "Turn 10's has typically been a slightly cold passion," he writes. "Contrasted to Polyphony's wild-eyed, crazy love that resulted in the flawed genius of Gran Turismo 5, there's always been a cold glint to Forza. As it's methodically worked towards creating a driving experience that's comprehensive, it's often failed to embrace the emotion its subjects can inspire." Robinson continues: "There are times when that stony glare returns in Forza Motorsport 4, but there are many, many others when it feels as if Turn 10 has learnt to love a little, where it has softened its approach and brought a little tenderness to a formula that the developer has whittled towards something approaching perfection." This new approach can been seen in many aspects. "It's there to be seen up front in the new visuals that remove the flatter edges of previous Forzas," Robinson notes. "It's an added character that even finds its way to some of the more austere backdrops. The Nordschleife, long established as the yardstick of the serious racing game, has arguably never looked better, here permanently overcast and with a melancholy fog hugging the trees that line its 12.9 miles." "It's got a little more personality to the touch, too. Forza 3 marked a step away from the sterility of the first two games, seeing a taste for oversteer that's developed and further refined here," Robinson says. "Indeed, Forza 4 is often so eager to kick the rear end out that it can feel more akin to Project Gotham than any of its more serious-minded competition." Additionally: "There's further character, too, in the online, which takes Forza 3's extensive feature set and pushes it that little further, makes it that little smarter thus sending it several leagues ahead of its competition. The community mode that sits at the heart of Forza is trimmed around the edges, the auction house and storefronts returning to ensure that there'll be a bustling automotive bazaar here for as long as players wish to support it." "The series' steely heart has softened, revealing a game that's as exhaustive as it is exhilarating and that's now been infused with a little extra passion," Robinson writes. "Forza has always been a series to admire, but now it's a little easier to fall in love with it too." Giant Bomb's Jeff Gerstmann gives Forza Motorsport 4 4 out of 5 stars. "Some new features have slid into place around its periphery, but this is still the same accessible, configurable, and wonderful driving game that it was in 2009," he begins. "The quality and depth offered is practically indisputable -- but if you left Forza 3 feeling like you've had your fill, Forza 4's new additions probably aren't going to be enough to make it all feel fresh and exciting." Gerstmann finds that Forza 4's multiplayer options are diverse. "Forza 4 has an additional Rivals mode, which is a leaderboard-and-ghost focused option that lets you load in the replays of your friends," he explains. "The events, some of which will rotate on a monthly basis, span a lot of different race styles, like simple lap times on empty tracks, full-on races, driving on tracks littered with slow-moving traffic, drift events that score you based on how awesome your drifting is, and so on." Gerstmann continues: "Online, you can get up to 16 players into a lobby and roll through a ton of different options to configure events to your liking. The basic race types are available, but you can also go custom and create your own weird variants with different types of scoring, team settings, and the like. You can lock out specific car classes or even force everyone in your lobby to use a specific camera setting. And if you're anticipating troublemakers, you can even disable on-track collisions, making the game more of a group time trial than a traditional race." Kinect support is unimpressive, however. "You don't have any control over your acceleration or braking when playing with Kinect -- all you do is steer," he notes. "As you might imagine, that isn't fun for very long, though perhaps very young children might get a kick out of it. You can use the Kinect camera along with a controller or racing wheel by enabling head tracking. This tilts your view as you move your head from side to side, which feels like a pretty superfluous addition." "It's still a beautiful game and it's probably the world's best driving simulator, at least for consoles, but a lot of Forza 4's changes feel incremental at best," Gerstmann concludes. "The game includes many of the same tracks found in previous installments, and I found myself getting a very 'annual sports game update' vibe off of it. "With that in mind, it seems like the game's most die-hard fans and people who didn't play the previous Forza will get the most out of Forza 4. It's easy to see that Forza 4 is a great game, but after playing hours of Forza 3 back when it was fresh, it was hard for me to get as much out of Forza 4's largely similar offering."

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