Forza Street Review | Quick Time Racing

Over the past few days, I've been racing around in Forza Horizon 4 on the Xbox One. The game is absolutely beautiful and the racing mechanics are fun and just difficult enough to be engaging. So when I heard that Forza also had a mobile game, and that it had achievements, my interest was peaked. Forza Street, however, is the anthesis of all the things I love about Forza Horizon 4.

In Forza Street, you play as a rookie who is new to the street racing scene and you must race against other street racers to prove your worth and move up the totem pole. The story unfolds across 4 episodes with sub-parts requiring you to race with one or two of the car types in the game: Street, Super, Muscle, or Sports. Each part contains 6 events and each event includes multiple races and prizes to be won. The story setup is not this game's weakest link and a racing game doesn't really need a bigger storyline in order to be interesting. For example, in Forza Horizon 4 you play a similar rookie in the Horizon festival and must race to qualify for the roster. Where Forza Street falls apart are in the two other important facets of gaming: gameplay and visuals.

The gameplay of Forza Street is very simple. The right side of the screen is gas, and you hold it down as the cars race down a linear path that you have no control over. As you approach a turn, a yellow and red bar appears on the ground and your one and only real challenge in the game is to try to time it to get a perfect gas and perfect break in the yellow bars before and after the red section of the turn. The left side of the screen has a double nitrous bar that you press to get a short boost. The best way to describe the gameplay of Forza Street is by comparing it to a quick time event: limited player input during a predetermined path. The gameplay is so boring though, that they have an "auto race" option where if your car is 20 or more PIs (performance index) above the one you are supposed to race, then it just gives you the win automatically. This was nice as I was racing through Episode 1 to unlock "The Enigma" achievement, but the relief I felt when I didn't have to complete a race shows the lack of interest I had in the actual gameplay.

Much like Asphalt 9: Legends, Forza Sreet also utilizes an energy counter. Moving from one blip on the gameplay board to another burns one energy. And you can surely buy some more energy in the in-app store or just wait for the energy to refill every few minutes. However, the game overloads you with free energy refills early on and I never faced an empty tank as I raced my through Episode 1.

The visuals of Forza Street are not the worst by any means, and comparing it to Horizon 4 would be as productive as comparing apples to wiper fluid, so I won't do that. But what makes Forza Street difficult to look at is the constant angle switches. The camera jumps from a wide shot from the left to looking backward over your tail light to looking from the front of the car to a ground shot and then to another wide, repeatedly and constantly and completely outside of your control. It jumps so much it's almost hard to watch at times. It only stays on one angle for an extended period of time when you go around corners and have to time the screen taps. This fast-paced editing may look cool at first glance but it makes for a frustrating driving experience. When driving, sometimes the opponent's car would pass me during an obscure close-up, and only when the game cut to a rear view of my car where I would normally see the other racer would I realize something was wrong. Then in the next shot, when it cut back to a wide, I'd see that the other car was now extremely far ahead of me, and despite having similar PI and the car only taking the lead for a few seconds the race would be a throwaway with no possible way to recover. Sure, this poor design choice did work to my advantage a few times, where I'd have just passed a car, and then all of a sudden I'm miles ahead, but I'd rather just have it stay at one angle and lets the race playout as it should. It's clear that the cuts are used to keep you engaged, taking inspiration from any of the numerous Micheal Bay films, but when all you are doing is pressing your finger on the gas and maybe hitting the nitro once or twice, it only took me out of the game.

Then there's the handful of random bugs that I came across during my time with the game. The first bug happens at the start of a race where you have to keep the needle in the green to get a "perfect gas." Multiple times I'd have my needle-pointed perfectly in the green only to have the game say "too much gas" or "good gas" and then give me a rougher start that would sometime lead to a loss in the race. Additionally, Sri, who also played the game for achievements, reported the inverse effect, saying that he would often be in the red at the start of the race and launch into the lead with no punishment for a bad start. The next, and most widely discussed, bug, has to do with achievements. While I would recommend downloading this game to get a couple quick additions to the gamerscore, I wouldn't bother keeping it installed for the 7 days required for the "Committed" achievement, because more often than not, it won't pop. There have been lots of people, Sri included, complaining on forums that while they opened the game for more than 7 consecutive days, the achievement will often stay stuck at an arbitrary percentage and never unlock. So if you are an achievement hunter, I'd just get the couple at the start and uninstall it to clear up space.

Overall Forza Street can be a fun absent-minded game to play for a few achievements, but it isn't the type of game that you'll be dying to play for hours on end unless you're in the mood to just mindlessly tap the screen and watch repetitive cinematics of a car driving down a road. And though the story is nothing to complain about, the gameplay is too uninvolved to create any anticipation or desire to keep playing.

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