Review: Forza Street

Forza Street for Android Review by Philip Orona

In the mobile world, there are 3 types of games, ports of console games adapted for mobile, fully fleshed out original games, or free games that make the money from within. The first 2 are usually purchased with a 1 time fee.  The free games typically adopt the “freemium” model that gives you a half baked game experience with time gated play, premium features and modes locked behind a paywall and/or pay to advance in the form of up rated gear or premium in-game currency combined with never ending grind quests. Codemasters have ported some of their racing games such as Formula 1 and Grid Autosport to mobile with a purchase price for a full featured game and they were well worth the price of entry. Electronic Arts has a few freemium ports of Need for Speed. In the increasingly crowded field of mobile racers, Microsoft has also chosen to push the freemium model with their mobile release of Forza Street. Available for IOS and Android, this game was originally released in 2019 under the name “Miami Street” for Windows 10 by the developer Electric Square. Seeing how Microsoft has slowly become a company of monthly subscriptions to it’s software offerings like so many of the others (Adobe i’m looking at you), Microsoft must have felt that this would be a great game to rebrand an already finished product and collect some of that sweet pay-to-win mobile money. 

Forza Street’s story is simple, become king of the streets. The game starts, you come in as a newbie in the world of Forza street and its televised events. You are helped along by a friend who introduces you to the scene and its antagonists. You are given a couple of cars to start off and then you must compete in events to acquire more. To get more cars you have to get tokens from completing objectives or winning events. While you get money from events, you can’t use that to buy cars, or modifications. Your tokens get you a shot to get a car from a roulette wheel in a category of modern muscle, classic muscle, street modern, street classic, sports modern, sports classic, super modern and super classic. A good mix of categories but lets stress here, there is enough freemium gambling mechanics to make Jim Sterling have a fit. If you pull a car you already own from the gambling wheel, it adds additional performance to the car you already have so it’s not a complete loss. 

Forza Street loves to remind you that they are running “A sale” on resources and car tokens for real world money. If you have spent any amount of time playing mobile games, it’s easy to see that this is a common place practice. The developer has to make money somehow and I understand that. I just wish you had more control of the car collection and their modifications. This is something that Real Racing 3 does very well despite being a freemium type racing game. 

Once you get past the barrage of “BUY THIS!” notifications and make your way to a racing event, you will find a very simplistic and easy to approach game. Similarly to Nitro Nation, you don’t get full control of the car in a race. Rather you get 2 buttons, gas and nitro. To brake, simply let off the gas. This does present some issues. If your finger manages to slip off the gas or your finger isn’t completely on center and  rolls off of the gas icon, your car doesn’t coast, it is braking.  There isn’t much track variation but that doesn’t matter much since your control is so limited. At the beginning of a race, you have to measure your throttle for a good or perfect launch and once you are off, you hold the gas and it’s a drag race to the first corner. Each corner has a colored indicator of when you should brake and then gas as you exit the corner. Nail the entry and exit at the right time and you get the perfect corner which can help put some distance on your rival or help you catch up if your car is slower in the straights. Flub the corners though and it will slow you down, even cause you go off course and crash. Most of the races early on have 3 corners\turns to get through and then it’s a drag race to the finish line. Your car’s performance is based on its Performance Index (PI). Each car has a base PI and that can be increased through tuning packs and part modifications. Just before each race begins, you can actually choose 1 of 3 PI points of your rival car. Think of it as easy, normal and hard. The harder you make your race, the greater the rewards.  

The graphics are near Playstation 2 quality. The modification screen reminds me of the Need for Speed series, more specifically, Underground. In a race, the camera angles vary and there are quite a few nice environmental touches like fireworks and neon city lighting. This is a game that is focusing on looking good and it manages to do that with its simplified control scheme. There are a few jagged lines but they are hard to notice during the action. It would suffice to say, it’s competitive for the mobile segment. Also the music is certainly Need for Speed Underground techno groovy. It had me bobbing my head while playing. The car engine audio is very well done. The cars do not sound generic and exhaust notes do not drone. 

Since this is a freemium game, the experience can be summed up as race, modify, wash, rinse and repeat. It’s an easy to play time waster that looks great and has less filling. You press through each event map, collect rewards, move on to the next event and each map has multiple paths that are designed to keep you coming back. While I applaud the effort to bring Forza to mobile, I am a little disappointed in it’s execution. This game, like Nitro Nation, splits the difference between the completely uninvolved car card collecting experience of Top Drives and the very involved, full control freemium experience of Real Racing. It’s not a bad game, certainly it’s something different but it’s hard to recommend over Nitro Nation unless you really want to add more turns to your race and take away shifting manually.  For now, I will be sticking to Top Drives and Rebel Racing for my quick hit car racing fix and If I really want to play a full fledged non-freemium racing game that’s not on a console, I still have Grid Autosport and installed. 

Pros: 
Great looks
Good soundtrack

Cons:
Little control of your car collection
Repetitive tracks
Can’t use in game money to buy mods or cars

Recommended Alternatives: Nitro Nation, Real Racing 3, Need for Speed: No Limits, Rebel Racing

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