Forza Street is Turn 10’s first foray into mobile development. They’ve been developing Forza games for almost two decades, and the series lives (and dies) at their hands. Through ups and downs, the Forza name has become synonymous with high-quality racing games. The mobile market is also an ever-expanding thing, and big developers on both console and PC are looking to take their IPs to mobile platforms. That said, indie mobile developers are still releasing great games; there’s no lack of competition on the platform. So, with Forza seeing it’s first mobile release, does it live up to the high bar set by prior games? Well… it’s safe to say this a low point for the series.
Hit the Streets
Forza Street makes a stellar first impression. Well-done original character art accompanied by the option to choose between one of three beautifully modeled starter cars is the way I want to get thrown into a racing game. Upon getting into the first race, it’s clear the environments received as much attention to detail as the cars did. The high detail of the environments is accompanied by engaging particle effects and stellar lighting. Fireworks go off when taking perfect turns, bright flames burst from the back of vehicles when nitro is engaged. Forza Street has a strong visual identity. It’s a shame this visual splendor is attached to a hollow, repetitive gameplay experience.
Hit the Brakes
The tutorial was an omen I didn’t expect. Forza Street explains the somewhat rhythmic core gameplay of letting go of the gas pedal and hitting the gas when coming out of the turn to maintain speed. Then, nitro gets introduced as a mechanic that gives a speed boost at critical points. As it turns out, that’s the whole game. Those two mechanics are all the input the player has. I was some variety to be gradually introduced, but it slowly sunk in that the entire game was already in front of me. There was no point while playing Forza Street that I was able to turn my vehicle. Seriously.
The key to making a good game is replayability. Creating rewards for the player’s progress is a good step toward this goal, but a solid foundation in the form of gameplay is required to make a game worth sticking with. There’s a lot of game here, but the process of playing is flat-out boring. Forza Street’s foundation is inherently flawed. How can a team put so much time into a game’s presentation, only for the gameplay itself to be insufferably bland and boring after minutes? To add insult to injury, all of the tracks, despite differences in layout, play exactly the same due to the simplistic nature of the limited mechanics. While the visuals make a good impression, seeing the same thing over and over again gets old fast. Gameplay feels more like a rhythm game than a racing game, but Forza Street only knows how to play one chord.
One feature that’s a hallmark of the Forza series is notably omitted in Forza Street: customization. Yes, there’s a wide variety of vehicles that the player will get access to over the course of the game. However, none of those vehicles can be customized, not even the paint color. Visual customization and performance tuning are a huge part of the Forza formula, and their replacement in the form of meager stat boosts is unwelcome at best. “Tuning Kits” replace actual tuning, and just give a boost to the one stat that differentiates cars, rather than the methodical trade off of, for example, getting more speed in exchange for worse handling. Personalization is nonexistent here, and it makes this game Forza in name only.
There are a good many limitations when trying to put a game on mobile. However, that isn’t an excuse that Forza Street can hide behind. It just feels lazy. All style, no substance. I can outline this fact with one sentence: I can’t turn in a racing game. The game isn’t bad, per se; it’s just painfully mediocre. When there’s Microsoft money and franchise hype behind a game, it’s honestly staggering that Forza Street is such a failure. Seeing a Forza game settle for mediocrity rather than strive for excellence is a sobering reminder that name-brand recognition means nothing.
Is it Hardcore?
Forza Street is a game that takes Microsoft’s flagship racing franchise and drags it through the mud. It does the bare minimum rather than pushing itself to be something more than a repetitive, uninspired slog.