Forza Motorsports 4 revs up the action

Similar to a successful car franchise that puts out a new edition each year that looks and drives the same but has a few new features, so goes Forza Motorsport 4.

Hard to believe this is a screenshot: the graphics on Forza Motorsports 4 are deceivingly real.

Hard to believe this is a screenshot: the graphics on Forza Motorsports 4 are deceivingly real.

Forza Motorsport 4

Platform: Xbox 360

Genre: Racing; Publisher: Microsoft

ESRB Rating: E for Everyone

Grade: 4 stars

Similar to a successful car franchise that puts out a new edition each year that looks and drives the same but has a few new features, so goes Forza Motorsport 4.

Fear not, drivers, this isn’t lipstick on a pig. These tweaks take the fantastic Forza 3 game to an even more impressive level of gameplay.

The game’s thrust is fairly simple: Race, earn money, buy some new rides and race them some more.

Don’t let the minimalism of that statement steer you away from this game, however. There is depth throughout Forza 4, from its accessibility for newcomers to new modes of online play.

First-time players get the chance to adjust all the sliders that aid in keeping your ride firmly gripping the pavement, while more experienced vets will surely unleash their drifting expertise.

I found the best action is online, where the available game modes are built for more competitive and thrilling races. The highlights are Rivals mode (races against ghost cars of other players) and multi-class races (two or three different races competing at the same time on the same track) that keep the replay value high.

If there is a true disappointment, it’s the lack of new racing circuits. The five new additions are nice, but that doesn’t cut it when compared to other racing titles that push the number higher. Forza 4 also lacks some varying driving conditions, which is a shame because races at night or in pelting rainstorms could break up the monotony.

For fans, the two-year wait for this new Forza title must have been rough, but they will be roundly rewarded with a game that rarely hits the skids.

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Genre: Action; Publisher: Namco Bandai Games

ESRB Rating: T for Teen

Grade: 2 stars

The makers of Assault Horizon have taken my favorite aerial combat franchise and made it into a Michael Bay film. And I don’t like it.

Years of narratives built around the stresses of being a fighter pilot and the struggles of nations going to war, rebuilding and expanding through aerial domination have given way to game that is all about explosions, and not nearly enough about tense dogfights.

Oh, sure, Assault Horizon has a new “dogfight” mode that is one of the game’s selling points. Trigger this mode on, and the camera angles are more cinematic, the explosions fill the screen and symphonies signal your epic triumph for the 10 seconds before another dogfight begins.

The dogfights are cheapened this way. It doesn’t take long for this new mode to wear out its welcome, but playing without it makes the missions a total bore.

The game does attempt to mix things up by leaving the cockpit of nimble fighter jets and instead doing battle in a helicopter or lumbering bomber.

The chopper missions are better executed, but they’re still too easy — like the rest of the game. Some online modes at least allow you to test your skills against human competitors. The AI is lackluster otherwise.

It’s a shame that, after stellar releases like The Belkan War and Fires of Liberation, gamers are now forced to play a game that is all about big cinematic explosions with blaringly loud music and little substance or plot.

Follow Chris Campbell at twitter.com/campbler or email him at game_on_games(at)mac.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A GoFundMe campaign to support a Stettler couple following a fire has raised more than $3,000. (Contributed photo)
Family pet dies in Stettler fire

GoFundMe page has raised more than $3K so far

Canada's Alexis Lafreniere celebrates after defeating Russia 4-3 in the gold medal game at the World Junior Hockey Championships, Sunday, January 5, 2020 in Ostrava, Czech Republic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
As Alberta’s COVID-19 cases rise, so does tension over world junior championship

Alberta’s spike in COVID-19 infections and the virus’s infiltration of Canada’s team… Continue reading

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said growing COVID-19 case numbers continue to be a concern in the province. (Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta announces 1,077 new COVID-19 cases Thursday

There are currently 14,052 active cases in the province

Carolina De La Torre, right, owner of Arepas Ranch in Calgary, poses for a photo with her husband in this undated handout photo. The Venezuelan woman who believes she was used as part of Jason Kenney's argument not to lockdown restaurants in the province remembers her encounter with the premier as a lot less dramatic than he suggested. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Carolina De La Torre *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘No crying’: Venezuelan refugee Kenney cited says interaction was less dramatic

EDMONTON — The Venezuelan woman who believes she was used as part… Continue reading

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani waves to the crowd in a public gathering at the city of Yazd, some 410 miles (680 kilometers) southeast of the capital Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. Iran has discovered a new oil field in the country’s south with over 50 billion barrels of crude oil, Rouhani said Sunday, a find that could boost the country’s proven reserves by a third as it struggles to sell energy abroad over U.S. sanctions. (Office of the Iranian Presidency via AP)
Iran nuclear scientist assassinated

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An Iranian scientist that… Continue reading

skip2
Rimbey Christian School students experience the joy of giving

Grades three and four students raised $2,000 for Somalian children

kkk
Opinion: We’re weary of the wait for COVID vaccine

It’s official: vaccines are the new toilet paper. Justin Trudeau appears to… Continue reading

Actor Johnny Flynn portrays David Bowie in the film "Stardust" in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Elevation Pictures *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Stardust’ is a Bowie pic without his music but that was always the plan: director

TORONTO — Gabriel Range’s controversial David Bowie drama “Stardust” has angered fans… Continue reading

Canadian figure skating champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir come to Penticton Oct. 6 with the Rock the Rink tour. This will be the pair’s last tour as they have announced they are retiring from the world of competitive figure skating. (Contributed)
Ice-dancers Moir and Virtue among 114 Order of Canada inductees

OTTAWA — Champion ice-dancers Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue are among 114… Continue reading

Mahomes vs. Brady spices up Thanksgiving holiday week

Mahomes vs. Brady spices up Thanksgiving holiday week

Cowboys miss chance for NFC East lead with another home loss

Cowboys miss chance for NFC East lead with another home loss

Arsenal, Leicester, Hoffenheim advance in Europa League

Arsenal, Leicester, Hoffenheim advance in Europa League

Keegan Messing performs during the Men's Short program at the 2020 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Mississauga, Ont., Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. If the world figure skating championships do go ahead in a bubble in March in Sweden, there is a good chance Canada won't be there. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Canada might not compete at world figure skating championships – if they happen

Canada might not compete at world figure skating championships - if they happen

Most Read