Racing online has always been a source of heated frustration in almost any game I care to think of, with most drivers seeing other cars as metal cornering devices. It’s heartening then that in order to set official times in certain race types, the player must complete a ‘clean’ lap where in that lap the player did not leave the track, strike another vehicle or draft behind an opponent. It’s a small-step towards the excellent safety-related progression of iRacing and one that I hope is more fully integrated than just as a criteria for official fastest laps (say, credit fines for repeatedly hitting other vehicles in an online race).

Forza 4‘s online play is built around a comprehensive array of leaderboards. Every track, game mode, vehicle and challenge has a leaderboard and this is the meat to the singleplayer’s potatoes. Brilliantly, rather than just present a list of times and send you back to your garage, every leaderboard has a quick launch function. As long as you have the right car set up in your garage you can challenge for position easily, allowing your focus to be on fun rather than hunting through interminable menus. This in itself is very clever of Turn 10, but perhaps the most exciting part of Forza’s online play is the Car Club. Allowing players to band together under a common tag, club play gives drivers the chance to race in any discipline, with their score feeding back into the ladder placement of the Club.

With the leaderboards encompassing race types at a club level there is a real opportunity here to develop a lasting committment from the player and allow the more competitive of clubs to make their tag known at an international level. Certainly my inclination to race and contribute to the club is more powerful for the fact that I won’t need to organise a time to be online – I can just jump in and see how my club is faring instantly, as well as compete with the times of my friends. You have the option to share cars with your clubmates through the garage, however with credits and cars so easy to come by it’s unlikely this will be useful for anything other than to try out a new vinyl set-up or drift car.

Forza 4 is the Bugatti Veyron of racing games, and offers the most complete racing experience in modern times. Turn 10 have placed an enormous selection of beautifully detailed cars and circuits in the hands of the player and allowed a fantastic number of combinations through which to experience them. The sophisticated vehicle handling is a triumph and delivers a driving experience that is second only to the real thing, and the sights and sounds of each race more than make up for the less than stellar AI. While the Top Gear drawcard isn’t played as smartly as it could have been, Clarkson’s waffle and the integration of at least some Top Gear elements bring an authenticity and authority to the game that act as a cohesive, thematic force against what could have been an overwhelming amount of content. The staggering complexity and accessibility of the online leaderboards will satisfy every competitive desire and the new Car Club feature guarantees that everyone can achieve a result in their own fashion. By pulling together so many disparate types of racing and successfully unifying them, Turn 10 have engineered a whole new standard for the genre.

Here’s The Rundown:

+ Beautiful

+ Exceptional gameplay

+ Top Gear Integration

+ It’s like Pokemon for car collectors

- No silly Top Gear challenges

- The soundtrack

- Opponent AI

Learn more about the RipTen scoring system and what this score means. Visit our review scoring page.

Forza Motorsport 4 was developed by Turn10 and published by Microsoft.  It was released on October 11th, 2011 exclusively for the Xbox 360 for $59.99 USD.  A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purposes of review.  Murray is still playing it, stop pestering him to do anything else.  That means you Bohemia Interactive!!