Asset reuse is a common thing seen in game development. It saves loads of time that can be better allocated to other areas the game needs work in. There’s very little shame in asset reuse, and assuming it’s carefully done, is one of the most efficient and time saving methods of development. Nearly any game that’s a sequel or continuation reuses assets in some way, whether it’s models, scripts or animations.
However, myself and many other players notice Forza’s stubborn and worrying overuse of this development method, far beyond what’s even remotely excusable, especially for an established game franchise with 12 titles and 2 studios under it’s belt.
Let’s talk about the most glaring issues: The car models. Now with driving games car models are a very important aspect, and since the same cars will keep appearing in games throughout the franchise, there’s little shame in simply copying over the exact same car model from a previous game and simply doing some graphical work on it.
However, there comes a time when the model is simply too old and must be rescanned or completely remade. This is to keep the model fresh and new, and to keep it in line with the other models. Many game franchises scrapped it’s entire car list and started over for the eighth generation of consoles. Need For Speed went through a soft reboot, with every car in it’s 2015 release being a laser-accurate scanned model. It may not have had the plethora of cars from earlier titles, but the visual fidelity, attention to detail, and car customization was fantastic and a certain generational upgrade.
A little late to the party, Gran Turismo Sport was the first GT entry on these new consoles and released in 2017. Like Need For Speed, every car model in this game was remade to a stunning degree. It may not have had over 1,000 cars like the previous title, but every car was made nearly 1:1 with it’s real counterpart.
Now that both NFS and GT have had titles building off these games, asset reuse has come into play. The models for certain cars are the exact same across NFS 2015 and up. Same with GT Sport. However, Forza’s case with reusing assets is completely inexcusable on any remote degree. You want to know why Forza’s the exception for this being bad?
Forza never had a “generational reset” for it’s car models. In 2023, we’re still using models taken from the earliest games in the franchise, some as old as the original Forza Motorsport from 2005. That’s right. Back in 2000’s, laser scanning wasn’t commonplace, and every car was modeled by photo reference. This means many cars have inaccurate details, textures, and body proportions. While these models have been slightly “refreshed” over the years, they still lack the detail and quality newer models made for Forza have. In 2023, Forza players are rolling around in car models old enough to be legally classified as adults. No, that’s not a hyperbole.
Personally, what’s insulting to me is the game’s laughable lack of customization options. Let’s take the dreaded “Forza Aero”. First seen in Motorsport 5, it’s a universal wing that fits on virtually every car in the game. The only problem? It’s universally seen as an ugly and hideous wing by the entire community. Every inch of that monstrosity conflicts with one another. It’s style hardly matches any cars. It’s sharp edges contrast with it’s curved ones. The wire-thin risers make it look like a 20$ buy off Ebay. The middle of the wing has this ugly hump for seemingly no reason. The sudden curve is to help with downforce but it’s so abrupt and steep it looks bad.
Keep in mind since Motorsport 5, the game which this eyesore was introduced, customization has been sorely lacking. With the lack of customization on the large majority of cars, this was the ONLY option available for all of them. Motorsport launched in 2013, ten years ago as of writing this. With the universally panned critiques of the wing and ten years of time, surely the Forza devs have implemented many other universal wing types to combat this, right? Nope. Not a single other wing has been ever developed to fit on every car. Keep in mind, the Forza Aero is the only actually adjustable wing in the game. If you do have the luck of owning one of the small handful of cars with other wing options, they can’t be tuned to get the most downforce, even if the wing’s real life equivalent can. If you want to get the most downforce out of your car, you MUST use the hideous Forza Aero. You have NO OTHER option.
By far what’s so insulting yet comical about this all, is the refusal to reuse assets to the playerbases benefit. We’ve been seeing the same models recycled over and over again for 20 years at this point, but the developers have designed and added hundreds of new assets in that time that could be masterfully repurposed and reused to enhance the customization, but they just don’t. These are all virtual models, ones that can be disassembled, stretched, resized, and recolored. Forza has added a multitude of custom built show and race cars, each one teeming with asset reuse potential. Take Ken Block’s (god rest his soul) custom Mustang. The car build is absolutely ridiculous, with a custom widebody, stripped interior, and a dangerously powerful twin-turbocharged engine. The iconic hood with each turbo sticking out of it and spitting ridiculous flames is an example.
That hood was built to fit on a sixties Mustang. We have not one, but TWO sixties Mustangs. What’s stopping you from making that a hood option when you twin turbocharge an old Mustang in Forza? What’s stopping you from repurposing the dozen or so widebodies from the Formula Drift cars and reworking them as options for their stock counterparts? What’s stopping them from reusing the stripped interiors as visual upgrades for weight reduction? Keep in mind, any licensing issues could easily be countered by altering the visual model. Remove the brand logos, recolor the seats, it doesn’t matter.
What I just described above was an excellent and clever way to bring more customization options to Forza. But they just seemingly can’t even do that. They copy and reuse outdated assets, but not even to the playerbase’s benefit. The same outdated car models, the same outdated customization, the same outdated crap over and over again for over 15 years at this point. It’s cheap, insulting, and shows just how much this franchise has fallen from grace. They don’t care anymore and I’m pretty sure they haven’t since Motorsport 5 dropped all those years ago.