Forza 4 is a great game when taken on its own merits, that's not debatable. If you like racing games at all then this is a game that you will almost definitely enjoy. Even the more casual fans can enjoy themselves thanks to the ability to rewind time introduced in Forza 3, allowing you to retry hairpin turns or tricky drifts. But on that same token, I have to wonder why we needed to see this game at retail?
The main issue here is that this can basically be summed up as Forza 3.5. Basically all of the new features are Kinect based and are completely worthless. The ability to drive by moving your hands is as unresponsive as playing Rock Band with an air guitar. Also included is a mode called Autovista where you can look at 24 cars in immense detail by using head tracking and the hand cursor to investigate both the inside and outside of these vehicles. The best part? This can be done quicker, and easier, without the Kinect at all making the biggest selling point of the "Kinect features" entirely worthless.
Honestly the only Kinect feature that is even remotely useful is the head tracking during races. This will allow you to turn your head to glance around the racetrack, giving you a better view of what's coming up. Rather than relying on your mini-map to navigate twisting your head allows you to visually see the upcoming turn and better prepare for it. It's an interesting thing if you happen to have a dusty Kinect lying around but overall it's nothing all that special.
Other than that and a few new cars / tracks the new features are unfortunately incredibly thin. Beyond that there are only two other changes that really stand out to the player. Firstly you can choose which cars you obtain upon leveling up which allows you to more readily customize your playing experience to whatever suits you. Secondly the game has embraced more of a dynamic difficulty level. Opposing cars will get better or worse depending on how well you're doing, even going so far as to seemingly upgrade their tuning to better match you.
Without these new features there really isn't anything here that separates it from the previous entry in the series. This has the unfortunate side of effect of leaving the game feeling like a slightly more polished version of Forza 3. Honestly that fact in and of itself is just horribly depressing since Forza 3 was head and shoulders above its predecessor but this game is more like a Capcom updated rerelease than a new game. At least those games are honest by just appending new prefixes to the games to differentiate them instead of branding it a whole new game.
Honestly Forza is one of the damn prettiest games out there on the market and when paired up with its fantastic racing there is no reason not to own it. If you don't own Forza 3 that is. If you do then this game can wait until you finish up that one then you can import your data to gain bonus credits and cars from the get go. Transferring your progress allows the two games to feel like less of a rip-off and more like a continuing investment which spares a lot of agony.
The main group that Forza 4 is completely direct at is the more casual racing fans, those who love cars but don't necessarily like the guff they get with racing games. If you've ever been put off by that loveable rubber band AI racing games so love (and most gamers hate) then this is the game for you. Enjoy ogling the cars and scenery while playing the most responsive racing game of this console generation and if you happen to have a Kinect on hand give that a whirl. Just don't try racing with just the Kinect or be prepared for a world of misery.