Impressions: Forza Street is a simplistic racing game built for mobile

Microsoft recently released Forza Street, a mobile F2P installment of their popular Forza franchise of racing games. It’s currently available for Windows 10 via the Microsoft Store, and will be available for iOS and Android later this year.

Gameplay boils down to a simple one-touch system meant for touch screens. To accelerate, just press and hold the left mouse button (or, in the future, touch the screen). Curves are highlighted with a yellow brake zone, a red zone, and then another yellow acceleration zone. You release the left mouse button to brake inside the brake zone and you press again to accelerate in the acceleration zone. Your goal is to brake and accelerate as close to the border between the yellow and red zones as possible. Steering is automatic.

The game lets you know how well you did, and the better you do, the more your boost meter fills. The boost meter has two stages, and you can boost longer when you fill both meters. You want to use this between curves on straightaways to maximize your lead on your opponent or catch up after a bad turn.

You enter race events that consist of a series of races connected by a series of nodes and pathways. You can only take certain paths if you are driving a certain kind of car. Winning races gives you credits while winning whole events give you credits and additional resources.

Car power is measured in PI (which I think stands for Power Index?) and if your PI is 20 or more points higher than your opponent, you can choose to autorace and automatically beat them.

You eventually unlock race events that provide upgrade parts that will allow you to improve your cars, increasing their PI. There are also extra challenging spotlight events that can earn you extra rewards if you complete them in time.

Once you commit to a race event, that car is locked into that event. You can’t use it in another event until you either complete the first event or quit that event, losing all progress. Spotlight and upgrade events, in particular, are gated by intensely lopsided races.

There’s a complicated resource system to manage, as is common in F2P games. Hitting each node in a race event costs you energy, which slowly regenerates over time. You can also spend gold to buy more energy immediately. Every time you use a car in a race, you damage it, and you need to spend wrenches to repair your car or you can’t use it. You spend credits and upgrade kits to increase your car’s PI so you can compete in more races. You also get different currency for each kind of car class, which lets you buy new cars and look, do you really care about all of this?

This is a racing game only insomuch as cars are involved. Like most mobile games, it’s an elaborate attempt to get you to pay real money in order to advance through the game. It’s not the most abusive F2P system I’ve ever seen but it’s definitely designed to prey on a whale’s worst instincts.

It seems odd that Microsoft released Forza Street on Windows 10 first given the abundance of actual racing games available on PC. PC is the home of hardcore racing games, not mobile games designed to kill time while commuting on mass transit. If I’m at my PC, and I like cars and racing, I have dozens of better options.

Forza Street provides a nice little dose of visual dopamine with its trackside lightshow and fireworks, but once you’ve completed ten races you’ve seen all there is to see. I know that Street is built around street racing culture, but it’d be nice to have races somewhere other than the same eight anonymous midnight streets.

I’m still waiting for a mobile racing game that utilizes my phone’s accelerometers to steer. Street could have really lived up to the Forza name, but instead we basically get Microsoft’s attempt at the Asphalt series. Folks looking for a time-killing mobile game with real cars will find Street amusing. Forza fans looking for a skill-based mobile racing game will have to keep waiting.