“I can smell the microtransactions from here,” states a commenter replying to a recent trailer for the new mobile title Forza Street posted on the official Xbox YouTube account. In a move decidedly unrepresentative of Microsoft’s typical behavior, they’ve seen fit to bring their oft-lauded Forza series to PC and mobile devices with the franchise’s newest entry. The caveat is, of course, that this transition has left the game riddled with so-called recurring payment options and features little to no gameplay.
Loot boxes and premium currencies abound in Forza Street, itself quite literally nothing more than a shabby reskin of 2018’s Microsoft-backed Miami Street. Seriously, almost nothing, save for the title, has been changed here, and the bare-bones gameplay, underdeveloped characters, and money-grubbing mentality hasn’t been altered in the slightest from the original incarnation.
The Forza series doesn’t really seem like something that would translate all that well to mobile. Sure, there have been successful racing games on phones and tablets, most notably Gameloft’s Asphalt series and a few entertaining Need for Speed approximations circa the early 2010’s, but appreciable motorsports experiences are, perhaps unsurprisingly, few and far between on the Play Store. Rather than develop an ambitious, worthwhile open-world racing experience which would have been one-of-a-kind in the mobile space, Microsoft totally phoned it in and hoped to print off some easy money with this lazy paint job of an experience.
Paradoxically, as of this moment, it’s not even available on anything other than PC. While it is free—nobody in their right mind would pay for this—it’s undoubtedly a horrible attempt at shoehorning some basic keyboard and mouse controls into a title obviously geared toward touchscreens. Those who don’t have anything else to play may find this to be a semi-decent time sink, but there’s so little input required that Forza Street very nearly plays itself. Simply hold down the buttons and release them at the appropriate moments, and the player is more or less guaranteed to win every single race. What’s more, players trailing behind their AI rivals will find themselves miraculously rubber-banding past the competition toward the finish line.
The bottom line is that this is a racing game in which players can’t even steer their vehicles. It provides a beyond on-rails experience, which almost feels akin to the experience of using Maggie Simpson’s fake steering wheel shown in the show’s opening sequence. Designed with the express purpose of selling players 3D models of actual cars, Forza Street is, in its current state, insulting.
At the very least, the game is deserving of some praise in terms of its visuals… or, it would be, were this actually a mobile game. On PC, this might have looked impressive in 2010, and the environments are so stale and repetitive that they worsen the already bland gameplay experience. If the game makes it to mobile unchanged, then this will definitely be a looker on Android and iPhone, but that remains to be seen.
Forza fans will definitely want to steer clear of this auto atrocity, and that pun was very much intended. While it would be unfair to expect anything particularly groundbreaking to appear on the App Store, this is the sort of bottom-of-the-barrel design that makes gaming as a whole worse in the eyes of casual players. There aren’t really any particularly redeeming qualities here, and this unfortunate iteration is likely to be all but forgotten in the coming months.