Originally introduced in Forza 3, the rewind feature is still the most controversial driving assist. The first half of the game is fairly easy anyway, but with rewind on it becomes impossible to lose. There’s no limit to how many times you can use it to undo your mistakes, nor how far you can rewind, and there’s no penalty for using it. It’s either available and you lose out on a percentage of credits and XP, or it’s not and you don't. It would be better if rewinds were limited or drastically affected post-race rewards, we think.
Knowing a rewind is available at any time reduces the tension felt in races and the pride of winning with a perfect run. You can always turn it off to negate that threat but it seems a shame it has to be all or nothing; it's like having a game that fluctuates between permadeath and God Mode. Forza 4 even actively encourages this divide, prompting a rewind after even insignificant collisions.
For many players the career mode will simply be a practice ground before testing skills against human opponents, and for obvious reasons rewind can’t be used online. The pressure this adds to online races is, by comparison, huge and anyone who normally relies on rewind for victory will quickly come unstuck.
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User-hosted public lobbies mean players can start their own games and choose the type of race they want across a huge number of criteria including: the track, number of opponents, type of cars and restrictions, and more. Up to 16 people can race together and so far we’ve experienced very little slowdown, have never been kicked from a lobby and have never had to wait more than a couple of minutes to start racing.
Similar to EA’s Autolog feature a semi-online mode called Rivals is also available. In Rivals mode events, you’re automatically assigned a rival whose time you’ve got to better while racing alongside their ghost. If you win, you'll move above them on the leaderboard, earn credits, and then be automatically assigned a new one. If your rival is one of your Xbox Live friends, they’ll receive a message challenging them to beat you.
The last mode to talk about and one of Forza 4’s big selling points for car enthusiasts is the Autovista mode. This lets you perv on sexy cars rendered in amazing detail and really is just one for the car geeks. You can walk around looking at them from every angle, open the doors and get in, or – our personal favourite – explode them. The car doesn’t blow up; instead it opens every door, the boot and bonnet all at once. Not quite as good as a proper explosion, but still pretty fun.
The Making of Forza 4 trailer
An optional Clarkson voiceover describing each car is also available, if that’s your kind of thing.
Graphically, Autovista mode is stunning and even borders on photorealism. During races the cars don’t look quite as lovely, but what’s impressive is the overall smoothness. Turn 10 claim it runs at a steady 60fps and it's a claim we don't doubt - though how they’ve managed to get this kind of performance from the aging 360 is a mystery, but they should certainly be applauded.
So, Forza 4 has great controls, interesting opponents, well-implemented online and semi-online modes, super smooth graphics, and can be customised to suit each player perfectly. The engines sound meaty and real - if your sub-woofer is good enough - and it even uses the Kinect in an effective, unobtrusive way (to navigate menus and explore cars in Autovista). Our only major criticisms are the omissions of dynamic weather and night racing, and that unfortunate introduction from Jeremy Clarkson.
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