The popular Xbox racing series is back with a vengeance – Forza Motorsport 7 is a masterstroke of its genre. 

While most have probably spent the better part of the last year hooning around our own backyard in Forza Horizon 3, it’s time now to return to the structured racing of the Forza Motorsport series.

Forza Motorsport 7 launches today for Xbox One and Windows 10, and is the best entry into the franchise yet. With over 700 cars and more than 30 environments to race them on, there’s something for everyone in FM7, and hours upon hours of fun to be had.

When you first boot up FM7, you’re thrown into the campaign as three different drivers that are part of three different disciplines – a good way to ease you into what to expect from the different aspects of racing. You take to the track in a Porsche 911 GT2 RS, a racing truck, and a GTR. The varied tracks and the weather conditions give you a fair idea of what to expect from the rest of Forza Motorsport 7‘s campaign, as well as the diversity of the vehicles available – of which there is genuinely no shortage.

You will undoubtedly have seen the huge car lists that were announced for FM7 before it even released, but it’s something else rifling through the car collections and seeing them in front of you. Everything from trusty old Toranas and Sandmans to high-end Lambos and Mercedes have been included, and it’s going to be in your best interests to collect ’em all. Buying, earning, or winning cars all ramps up your collector tier, which when high enough grants you access to faster and more impressive vehicles. FM7 boasts the largest collection of Ferraris, Porsches, and Lamborghinis in a racing game, but it’s worth mentioning that there aren’t any Toyota street cars available due to licensing problems (it’s okay, though, because they still have Subaru BRZs).

Once you’re done stressing over how long it’s going to take you to fill your garage with expensive automobiles, you’ll want to make a start on the extensive campaign. It’s split into six cups – Seeker, Breakout, Evolution, Domination, Masters, and the Forza Drivers Cup. You’ll have to meet a points quota in each cup before you can progress to the next one. It’s not all just races, though; in the first cup alone, there’s Limo Bowling – knocking over bowling pins in a limousine, an Audi speed challenge similar to those Red Bull races before the Aus GP, and a Ken Block race. Of course, there are your standard race events as well, but it’s nice to shake things up every now and again.  You can pick either a male or female Drivatar (avatar), and give them a nice little unique touch with a bunch of different outfits.

Right – the racing. FM7 caters for every branch of racer, from the casuals to the die-hards, with a ton of different assists to play around with to suit how you drive. You can change the braking, the drive line, even the steering to suit how you want to play, and how realistic or challenging you want the races to be. You’ll also notice that if you’re playing on an easier difficulty and chopping everyone else then the AI will suggest you ramp up the difficulty – also vice-versa if you’re having a hard time of it.

Once you’ve selected the car and track you want to tackle, you’ll get a kind of pre-game lobby, where you can change your Drivatar kit, alter settings, and even add mods. Mods in FM7 are a kind of mini challenge system, in the simplest terms. You can get them from prize crates (which you can earn or buy with credits you’ve racked up from wins), and they serve to boost the exp or credits you get from races. There are some that will give you a boost just by equipping them, but others will have you fulfil certain criteria – for example, finish in the top three in a race, or take a certain number of corners well in a given race. Some mods are single-use, and some you’ll get to hold onto for a bit longer. They’re really handy if you need to rack up a heap of credits in only a few races.

Competing in races will earn you experience and credits. Experience goes towards your Drivatar level – levelling up will grant you with a reward of your choice of Drivatar gear, a new car (either free or heavily discounted), or a chest full of credits. In our opinion, credits are usually the best way to go, unless you see a sexy car you’ve had your eye on for a while. In all honesty there’s no ‘right’ way to do things. Credits, of course, can be used to purchase vehicles for your collection, or prize crates full of mods and cars.

We really don’t need to tell you how impeccable Forza Motorsport 7 looks. The cars are detailed down to the last caliper, and the tracks look just as impressive. The foliage is especially a stand out – whether or not you’re paying attention to it. The track lighting and effects of things like fireworks and confetti cannons are also dangerously distracting. You’ll truly feel as though you’ve just done a lap of a proper motorsport circuit once you take to the tracks in this game. It’s astounding, and the 4K and HDR is unparalleled in appearance. Ultra high-definition is the only way to play. Pay close attention, too, to the damage on cars when you make contact; it looks even better in hi-def.

One shortcoming of note is the load times on the maps. They’re not awful, but at times you are sitting there for a few minutes waiting for a track to load. It gives you a chance to go through and change all your settings and chuck a few mods on, but once you’ve done that you’ve just have to sit and look at how hot your Drivatar is. When the track first boots up you’ll also get commentary; whether it’s from your crew captain AI friend or a special guest; from celebrity to manufacturer team members, there’s always something new to be said – a nice touch. To be honest, if a few extra seconds spent on a load screen is my sole complaint playing this game, Turn 10 have done something right. Forza Motorsport 7 is worth every cent.

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi