Review: Forza Street stains a pedigree series with an awful spin-off title

April 16, 2019
Forza Street

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Reviewed on PC

The Forza name is usually one that is held in high regard. After the decline of Gran Turismo and the shocking console performance of Project Cars, Forza Motorsport and its spin-off Forza Horizon have raised the bar as the pedigree of racing games. This is not the case with Forza Street. Forza Street is easily the worst game in the Forza series, one that drags down the high bar the series has earned over the years.

In Forza Street, it’s difficult to describe what you’re doing as racing. There are certainly races taken place, there are definitely cars moving along a circuit track, but it’s more like an awful virtual version of Scalextric. Here, you’re only given the power to brake, accelerate and use boost. This might seem like enough to make a compelling racing game – there are plenty of mobile games that do – but Forza Street doesn’t even leave you free to use these controls. The control you have over races is essentially a stripped-down quick time event.

The lack of control you have is best shown by being taken through the proceedings of a race. It all starts with the launch, where you’re allowed to accelerate and rev your car in order to hit power bands which will give you the best boost, so long as you don’t overshoot. This is the most demanding gameplay you’ll see. After that, you’re tasked with the intensity of holding down the accelerate button until you reach a corner. There you’ll let go at the generously marked points on the ground to get perfect braking, and then, whilst the car steers itself around the bend, you’ll wait for it to reach the other side in order for you to press the accelerator again at the marked right time so you can drive off.

It feels more like mockery when braking zones are so prominently telegraphed on the ground. However, that’s all there is to Forza Street.

This happens three times in a race. Every race follows the same formula: launch, three corners, end. So needless to say, the gameplay quickly gets repetitive as you’ll be doing exactly the same thing in every race. To keep things interesting, there is a boost function that charges up that you may use at any time – so long as its charged – and whilst this might seem to bring in some strategy, the best plan of action always seems to use it whenever it’s charged unless you’re just about to go into a braking zone. Since it seems to have the same effect wherever you use it, there is no reason not to use it whenever you can do, so it just becomes another button you have to push when it flashes at you, rather than one with any meaningful choice behind it.

Not only is the Forza named defaced through the simplistic gameplay that stretches the mere definition of what is a racing game, but it’s also dragged through the mud by the predatory business practices of mobile games. Forza Street seems to pull out every trick in the book: energy timers for near enough doing anything as you progress through events, countless different loot boxes to get different car types, a myriad of tokens to buy loot boxes that are designed to leave you on odd intervals so you seem closer than you are and are more tempted to continue, two different primary currencies, and of course there’s also a store to buy these currencies with the traditional best value pack coming in at £79.99.

This is what you get when you boot up the game. It’s not even subtle.

While it is clear that Forza Street is designed to be a mobile game, that does not immediately cast the game into the pits of hell, as there are plenty of mobile games that show it can be a good platform for racing. Games such as Asphalt 9: Legends and Real Racing 3 give you far more control over the action as you are able to actually race the cars how you want to. In these games, you use the phone as a motion controller to steer around the track which not only gives you control but connects you to the game to immerse you in their worlds. In Forza Street, however, the mobile device was used as a constraint, stripping out the ability to steer entirely which leaves it feeling hollow in comparison and a mere shadow of what a racing game on mobile can be.

I’m happy to say that Forza Street at least looks good, for the most part, which is a good thing as its basically just an interactive cutscene. The nighttime setting is nicely decorated with lots of modern light installations, and the models for the cars are all high quality and glossy as though they just rolled out of a showroom. There are even fireworks that go off when you go around the corners to give the gameplay that little bit of flare and make it more exciting(!) Unfortunately, however, Forza Street’s camera system, ruins all of this.

A cinematic camera is no bad thing, even in traditional racing games such as the main Forza series of the Grand Turismo games, a cinematic camera can make every moment and corner feel dynamic and intense. Those camera modes seem to have been carefully designed however as they’ll cut after a pan or a corner. The camera in Forza Street, however, seems to thrive on chaos, cutting without explanation or motive to try and make an incredibly dull game of holding down one button seem more exciting. Beyond just being annoying however, this game became one of few to make me feel physically sick whilst playing – which I have only experienced before when I first played a VR game – as the action was constantly jumping about, being impossible to follow the blurry inconsistent mess of the night setting mixed with moments of neon brightness.

Forza Street is a poor showing for racing games, even for mobile racing games, which Forza Street is aimed at being. Whilst the models and level design are a well-made high point, they are the only such high point within the game as the rest is a sea of microtransactions, simplistic quick time event gameplay and shoddy camera work which ruins the entire experience. Forza Street is best avoided unless you’re really craving some late night braking and accelerating around three corners.

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