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Forza Motorsport 7 hands-on — 4K racing is fast and immersive

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Forza Motorsport 7 is just a couple of weeks away from its launch, and fans of the billion-dollar racing franchise are looking forward to playing the series in 4K for the very first time.

The title debuts on October 3 on the Xbox One and Windows 10, with crossplay enabled between the platforms. The deluxe edition will be out on September 29, and Microsoft showed me a final version of the game on an Xbox One X at a preview event. It may not be a shooter or a big role-playing game, but it’s probably the best thing that Microsoft can show off as it launches its Xbox One X console on November 7.

The first thing I noticed was the visuals. On a 32-inch Samsung TV, the game ran at 60 frames per second on a native 4K resolution with high dynamic range (HDR) effects.

The drivers are fully simulated now, and you can see them in the animations or through the glass, and outside the cars as well. You can choose Master Chief’s body armor or a tuxedo for your racing gear, and you can see what your character looks like alongside the car in the driver’s garage. There are 300 items to adorn your character, and it adds to the realism of the game. There are shaders, or cool effects, that make the fabric seem real.

Above: A look at the inside of a realistic car in Forza Motorsport 7.

Image Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft created 30 driving environments with all sorts of weather conditions to show off the graphics, such as the high contrast between light and shadows during sunsets. During rain, the cars have a shiny sheen as the light hits the water dripping off the cars. The sound of the engines and the sway of the cars around corners is cool. The whole effect is spectacular and immersive.

The gameplay is familiar. I picked up a controller and started driving as if I already knew how to do it, following the dotted guide lines as well as I could. I hit a couple of walls as I turned corners, and then I remembered to use my brakes. I had to bump cars out of the way as the tried to pass me. Still, I finished in 11th place in my first race on a desert track.

That wasn’t such a great performance. In the second race, developer Turn 10 Studios made a joke. I drove a giant semi big-rig, and did a great job shoving the other trucks out of the way as I rounded corners. I finished second in that game, and that showed it was pretty easy to get back in the swing.

I played a third race in the rain, and it showed off just about everything the console could do. The rain hit my windshield and water pooled on the track. Water spots lingered and reflected the light. The sky was dark and the headlights were on. It was tough driving, but manageable. It felt like the physics were right, as the car seemed to slide around the corners in the rain.

It reminded me that you have to be a little nuts to get behind the wheel in a race track in the pouring rain. But it sure looks pretty.

Forza gives you more than 700 cars to choose from, including the largest collection of Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Porsches available in any racing game. You can customize those cars with mods and assists.

You can race in the Forza cup and win as many as 200 ribbons. It will feel like there are more than 30 tracks since the race conditions are always different, as you can play at night or day or during storms or sunny weather.

Above: Forza Motorsport 7 has more than 700 cars.

Image Credit: Microsoft

The ForzaTech engine includes the Drivatar artificial intelligence, which shows you human-like opponents when you are racing offline. The game includes some new cars, including McLaren P1, Ferrari La Ferrari, Ford GT, and Lamborghini Centenario.

So much of racing is showing off what you got. And with Forza Motorsport 7, gamers will have a title that they can use to show off their new Xbox One X game console, their snazzy 4K TV, or their high-end gaming rig.

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