Although you can’t drive an Abarth in the USA yet, you can drive one in Forza 4 on the Xbox 360. If you’re a fan of racing games, then you should be familiar with the Forza Motorsport series. It is the Xbox equivalent of Gran Turismo and the most recent game in the series was released earlier this year. I can safely say that Forza 4 is the best driving game… in the world!
Compared to GT5, Forza 4 is just plain more fun. There are (weak) arguments to be made that the track selection is better in GT5, or even that some of the cars are better modeled, but in every other facet of racing, Forza does a better job. In retrospect, GT5 really seems to restrict you at every point in the game. You can only race some cars on certain tracks. You can only buy some cars at certain times. Forza doesn’t do that. Really, any kind of racing in the game will earn money and experience to buy more cars. Unlike GT5, there’s very little grinding for credits, as the game practically throws them at you.
That’s not to say that Forza 4 is easy, or will get old fast, because there is almost unlimited re-playability. Career mode is seemingly endless. After achieving driver level 49 and dropping over 30 hours into the game, I’m still only 5% through the career, and the career is only one of four major game modes! In addition to the single player career, which offers hundreds of races against very comepetitve AI, there is also a quasi-multiplayer top score mode called Rivals, there’s the full on live multiplayer mode, and I would consider the painting/livery editor to be an entire game in itself.
One of the best parts about Forza is that it never punishes you. Even if you come in dead last, you still get a fair amount of credits for your time. The more times you try, the more credits you earn. Career mode definitely isn’t the only or even best place to earn credits. Rivals mode, which doesn’t require an Xbox Live Gold account, ranks you against your friends and everyone else playing the game. Can’t beat their time after four tries? The game still rewards you for those laps. But if you do beat them, the “bounty” is very lucrative and goes up as you face better opponents.
Multiplayer allows up to 16 racers at a time and every kind of mode from serious to silly, like soccer. They’ve also added car clubs, which removes the need to create a massive friends list of players you like to play with. Similar to clans in other online games, being in a car club attaches an acronym to your name and allows you to easily share cars and designs, quickly invite players to multiplayer races, and compete for rival rankings against each other.
The last section of the game is the livery editor. People spend hours upon hours in the vinyl creation screens, creating some of the most amazing pieces of art that you would be surprised to see come out of Photoshop, much less the slightly cumbersome editor in Forza. Turn 10 hasn’t made very many updates to the livery editor, but that hasn’t stopped designers from cranking out amazing designs already available for download. Between the designs, tunes, and complete car auctions, the online community in Forza 4 should be very active for a long time.
As for the Fiat 500, it is in the game as the European spec Abarth. You’re allowed to choose all of the different stock color schemes, or attempt to paint it any color you want. If you played Forza 3 at all, the game rewards you with at least the 500 Abarth Esseesse to start the game, and will give you more than 10 cars depending on how far you advanced. If this is your first Forza game, you can simply buy it after earning just 33k in credits (it won’t take long).
The car is beautfully and completely modeled and drives just like you’d expect it to. With a few upgrades, you can of course make it almost identical to the US specs. Or if you’re feeling brave, you can swap in some massive engine upgrades for something much more powerful. As always, you’re able to buy upgrades for just about every piece of the car, from the tires, to the exhaust, to some body kit pieces. Even the transmission can be swapped to turn the front wheel drive Abarth into an all wheel drive launching machine!
The in-game “player card”, which shows up on your profile whenever someone buys a car from you, races your ghost in Rivals, or faces off in multiplayer, can be customized with your own badge and title. There are hundreds of choices, from manufacturer logos, to country flags and more. You can even set your title to “Fiat Fan” or “Abarth Fan” and choose their logo as your badge. Really, customization is king in Forza 4, which means no two players will have the exact same experience in the game. The amount of options truly is staggering. With Turn 10 is planning to release a car pack a month, the game should stay fresh for as long as it takes them to make Forza 5.
As you can tell, I’m a huge fan of the Forza series. I’ve played every version, but this is the first time I paid for the Limited Collectors Edition. While the cost may seem high, if you factor in all the DLC it comes with, you’re actually saving money if you’re planning to buy those cars anyway. It also comes with a nicely made booklet with facts and images of the supercars and hypercars available to play in the game. It also comes with Forza and Top Gear vinyl window stickers, if you’re in to creating a livery for your actual car.
This is also the first time I’ve wanted to splurge on a racing wheel. I went with the Microsoft racing wheel, which is hard to find new, but I think worth the price. If you can find one on eBay or Craigslist for under $150, definitely jump on it. The next closest alternative in terms of quality will cost you $500 for the set of wheel and pedals. Even with just the Microsoft wheel, it makes the game seem completely new, in a very good way. Definitely the best gaming peripheral I’ve ever purchased.