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Making Tracks: Forza Motorsport / 9th of September 2016

There were around twenty unique environments found within Forza Motorsport 6, yet over the years we have seen many more, tracks of great beauty and complexity that have yet to make the jump from our last to current gen consoles. Yet with Forza Motorsport 7 surely set to be unveiled at next year’s E3 with the game then set to release on Xbox One, Windows 10 and Project Scorpio at the tail end of 2017, there really couldn’t be a better time to look back at some of the best courses ever seen in Forza Motorsport games. After all, I’m can’t be the only one that misses them, so, should these particular highlights be brought back for the next instalment in the series? Of course!
Sunset Peninsula

Perhaps not the best example of a track that ought to be reinstated into the Forza series, after all, it does appear to have been little more than a fictitious track wholly inspired by Daytona with its tri-oval outer loop and winding in-field sections. The outside loop features corners with high inclines to facilitate speed, but don’t let its apparent simplicity fool you, if you hit these corners wide of the racing line you should be prepared to drop a lot of speed, sacrificing your chances of nailing down a top notch lap time. Still, with its full, club and speedway variations, not to mention a Florida setting well suited to the new rain and night racing scenarios and you’ve got a track that should feel well at home in a brand new Forza Motorsport game.
Ladera Test Track

The Ladera Test Track first appeared in Forza Motorsport 3 as part of a much larger racing environment within a mountainous region of Spain (I’ll come to the rest later), it is another fictitious course, but one that has been expertly designed to push both drivers and vehicles to the absolute limit. With a length of only 1.2 miles that takes in just seven corners in total, Ladera’s tight chicanes and lengthy curves allow players to properly set-up and assess their vehicle’s performance, which, along with its gorgeous setting, makes it an ideal choice to be reinstated into the series’ list of environments.
Twin Ring Motegi

A real world track built in 1997 by Honda, Twin Ring Motegi is, as the name suggests, a course comprised of two parts, with Speedway and road tracks which are roughly 1.5 miles and 3 miles in length respectively. The speedway is actually the only course of its type in Japan and features low banked corners, the oval layout of the course means that two of the four are much tighter and require a greater level of care and attention from racers. The road course is a bit stop-start in its design, with straights leading into tight hairpin turns and back again. The two courses combine to form a course greater than the sum of its parts, and the facility as a whole actually features a second, short road course (North Short Course) and a diminutive dirt track, though neither of these have been seen in a Forza game thus far.
Tsukuba

Sticking with real world courses found in Japan, Tsukuba used to be a mainstay of the Forza roster, and quite frankly, it probably ought to be yet still. It is a very short track, coming in at just over 1.2 miles and featuring little in the way of variation, so it is perhaps understandable why Turn 10 seem reticent to add it in to the current line-up, but with its mixture of long curves and straights, it does make for a more than welcome change of scenery and for that reason alone, I feel it’s worth bringing back again.
Fujimi Kaido

A fictional track set in Japan this time, Fujimi Kaido is at once a drifter’s paradise and an absolute nightmare to drive, it also adds around fifteen track variations to the mix, most of which are point to point sections taken from within the circuit itself. Point to point is something that I would love to see more of in Forza, so it would certainly make sense to me to have it added back in, especially as it’s a superb location for one on one racing – perfect now should the current single player structure carry over into the next game. What’s more, the scenery of the region in question could look pretty spectacular, especially seeing that Forza 7 will surely be a launch title for Microsoft’s Project Scorpio, and given its relative lack of straights, not to mention an array of ludicrously tights turns, it really does provide a change of pace from the regular circuits, making it ideal for inclusion.
Maple Valley

A track that was revived in Forza 3 after debuting in the inaugural release on the first Xbox console back in 2005, Maple Valley has managed to endure as a fan favourite for a couple of reasons; firstly, as a beauty spot idolised by the game’s photographers and secondly as a rather interesting, high speed raceway. There’s a flow to the track that is seldom seem elsewhere which makes the course incredibly gratifying to race on, whilst its mixture of tight turns, gentle curves and steep elevation changes ensure that it’s not quite as simplistic as it might first appear. With all of these elements, not to mention its potential as a haven for drifters, Maple Valley is now overdue for a return to the fold, and who, quite frankly could argue with that?
Amalfi Coast

Along a vast stretch of Italy’s southern coast, the sea meets the sky to form a seemingly endless blue expanse, and tucked away within that, is the small village of Positano which the American author Joh Steinbeck once described as a “dream place that isn’t quite real when you’re there,” in an essay for Harper’s Bazaar, before adding that it “becomes beckoningly real after you have gone”. The locale’s beauty is reason enough for inclusion in Forza 7 frankly, yet there’s much more to it than that as host of the Rally di Positano, a racing environment with some ten different track layouts available. The track itself, I should add, is a work of fiction, but as with the likes of the Bernese Alps and Prague, Turn 10 have an incredible knack for creating original race courses, but this one is rather unlike any of the others. With a main course layout of around 7.5 miles, Rally di Positano presents a challenge to drivers somewhat akin to the much lauded Nurburgring, by tasking them with maintaining a high level of concentration over an extended period of time, this being vital if players hope to come away from the course’s heady mixture of winding bends, tight chicanes and numerous surface and elevation changes unscathed. It also allows for a great deal of variation in course layout, from circuits to point to point races, Positano really does have it all.
Suzuka

One of my biggest complaints about Forza 6 is the selection of environments that it contains, with a heavy bias towards US based locales, though some of these, such as Watkins Glen and Lime Rock are most welcome additions to the series, yet I can’t help but feel slightly hypocritical when here I am suggesting yet another Japanese track gets implemented in Forza 7, yet here I am. The 3.6-mile-long mainstay host of the Japanese Grand Prix is a favourite among F1 drivers for a reason; it’s provides a sensational blend of high speed straights and tight, technical corners to create an absolutely magnificent whole. This is all thanks to Honda yet again who developed the course as a test track before it was revised to host F1, with a new chicane having been implemented to slow down the drivers as they made their way back towards the start/finish line. It is a course that provides a challenge to race engineers, asking that their racers be given enough downforce to tackle the tricky corners, yet not too much, or time will be lost along the course’s many high speed straights and gentle bends. Suzuka is the complete package, so with its stark elevation changes and spectacular scenery - thanks to the Amusement Park Motopia that resides within the complex - you’d surely have to be mental to not want it back in the game. Right?
Camino Viejo de Monsterrat (inc. Iberian International Circuit)

I vaguely recall playing Forza Motorsport 3 for the first time when the demo first appeared on Xbox Live, now whilst the second game had won me over with just how good it felt to play, its successor swept me off of my feet with the astonishing level of graphical fidelity that its developer had managed to achieve in the two years since. Now, technically, this massive area could have been split into three distinct areas, as it is, but I felt that might just qualify as overkill, hence why I’ve bundled Camino Viejo and the Iberian International Circuit together here, but regardless of how one puts forward the case for this magnificent area, there is only one thing really needs to be said; Camino Viejo de Monsterrrat must return to the Forza Motorsport series.

In terms of track layouts, the Iberian International Circuit offers six different layouts on its own, whilst Camino Viejo, the road course offers up eight in total including two versions of its Extreme Circuit, so there’s enough here to keep players occupied for quite some time, but it’s the setting that really steals the show. Set somewhere to the east of Barcelona in the beautiful Catalan region, players race amid a backdrop of vast walls of weather-beaten grey rocks, aged structures and gorgeous blue skies, not to mention an epic valley that stretches way off into the distance. The courses are free flowing, speedy yet technical, the Extreme versions in particular are massive 4.3 mile routes full of surface and elevation changes, sweeping curves and tight turns. In short, it’s spectacular.
Mugello

Mugello is a personal favourite of mine, located in the beautiful Italian region of Tuscany, just a few miles north of Florence – it is an area of Italian countryside blessed with lush green fields and valleys broken up by the flow of the Arno river. Of course, none of this really serves to champion the course’s cause, unlike Camino Viejo, the area that one sees around the course isn’t particularly spectacular, but the course itself is quite frankly majestic.

Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello is a 3.2 mile race course owned by Ferrari and used by their Scuderia division for Formula 1 testing, which should be proof enough of its calibre. It’s a fairly high speed course, with the lengthy straight that houses the start/finish line clocking in over a kilometre in length, though this then merges with the sweeping opening corner of San Donato, the slowest corner on the course to present drivers with their first test. The track flows through a series of long bends to hit its highest point before seeing a massive descent down into Materassi at which point the track opens up into a series of long sweeping turns and tricky elevation changes that see drivers reach the lowest point on the track when they plough through the two famous Arrabiatta corners. Other highlights include the hairpin bend, Correntaio, and Bucine, the longest corner on the track, a slow sweep around down onto the mammoth straight that brings us back to the start/finish line. Fantastico!
So, what are your favourite courses in Forza Motorsport? How about Blue Mountains Raceway, Alpine Ring, Pacific Shipyards or Tokyo Circuit from the first Forza Motorsport? If I’ve missed out your highlights, let us know!
James Paton
 
 
 
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