Forza Motorsport 5: the Digital Foundry verdict
On balance, Turn 10's first effort on Xbox One is impressive for what it sets out to achieve in its 1080p60 presentation, but the raised resolution proves to be something of a Pandora's Box. As ever, the studio's exceptional car detailing steals the show in its authenticity, now bolstered by the materials texturing that sits well with the increased pixel-count. However, it's around this that Forza 5's shortcomings become apparent; now we see the lacklustre texture filtering, the pixellated foliage, and even the cut-out spectator sprite-work that line the road-sides. The game's improved lighting effects and motion blur go some way to obscure such issues during the core racing experience, but in tandem with the halved track and car count, it does seem to suggest a developer pressed to release an end product to a brutal launch window schedule.
It's also disappointing that, despite the supreme full HD presentation, Forza 5 offers anti-aliasing that delivers little to no effect on foliage or cars. Stair-stepping can be rough in spots, especially in cockpit view, and given the processing muscle-power needed to push out this resolution, it makes for a surprising contrast with a more thoroughly treated - if performance limited - 900p game like Ryse.
With that being said, much of this only considers the surface experience, and we're pleased to find Forza 5's handling model continues to impress in its next-gen form. By building on well-forged relationships with like the likes of Pirelli, from whom test data continues to be sourced and entered into the game engine, Turn 10's work continues to improve a simulation that few besides Polyphony Digital are ready to match in the console scene. At its core, the racing mechanics remain fun and satisfying with a controller in hand, even if the gloss over the top can underwhelm.
In review, while the bedrock racing experience is as solid as ever, this can be seen as a stepping stone towards a final product that has yet to arrive; a work in progress if you like. Even compared to the build seen at E3 just a few months ago, differences in bloom, optimised LOD streaming and the remixing of each circuit's surrounding décor are apparent. But in its current form, although Forza 5 falls short in terms of overall polish, it sets a precedent for next-gen racing simulations by virtue of simply planting the flag in the soil first.