The open-world racing genre has long been dominated by Forza Horizon, but The Crew Motorfest is finally providing some worthy competition. While Forza Horizon 5 felt like a drop off with a lack of new ideas, Motorfest brings fresh energy to the genre and has been an absolute blast to play.
One of the major improvements in Motorfest is the change in location. Instead of the sprawling USA maps featured in previous entries, Motorfest takes us to the beautiful Hawaiian island of Oahu. The map is still larger than anything in Forza Horizon, but it remains manageable and avoids the tedium of driving around vast expanses.
The driving physics in Motorfest have also been greatly improved. The new handling model strikes a balance between Forza Horizon and Need for Speed, with a grippy, connected, yet playful feel. Drifts and nitrous boosts add to the sense of speed and excitement as you compete in events. Developer Ivory Tower deserves praise for their dedication to improving the driving mechanics.
Progression in Motorfest is reminiscent of Forza Horizon, with plenty of objectives popping up as you complete races, missions, and explore the island. The game's “Playlist” system adds focus and variety. Each playlist is a collection of events tied to a specific theme and includes different event types. One standout playlist is the “Vintage Garage,” which takes players on a historical tour with unique race types and postcard-like directions.
However, one downside of Motorfest is its economy. While many playlists provide cars for temporary use, the game is stingy with allowing players to keep and collect vehicles. The in-game currency earned isn't enough to make meaningful progress, and the option to top up with real money feels like a push for additional purchases.
Visually, Motorfest is stunning, with a colorful and gorgeous open-world playground. The game runs smoothly on Xbox Series X, with a 60 frames-per-second mode providing a more immersive racing experience. Traffic density and NPC activity could be improved to make the world feel more alive.
The animation work in Motorfest is commendable, particularly in the exterior and cockpit views. Cockpit driving feels incredibly immersive, with full 360-degree wheel rotation. This is a significant step up from the previous game and even surpasses anything in the Forza Horizon series.
While Motorfest includes boats and planes like its predecessor, these elements still feel somewhat undercooked. The game shines in road and dirt racing, and the extensive vehicle list offers plenty of dream cars for enthusiasts to enjoy.
In conclusion, The Crew Motorfest is a surprising and deserving competitor to Forza Horizon. It brings new ideas, improved driving physics, engaging progression, and a stunning open-world environment. This can only be good for competition in the genre, pushing both franchises to deliver even better experiences in the future.
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