Forza Motorsport 4 was released in the US today (Europe later this week and rest of the world next week) and as you may have seen, I’ve been featuring the game, and its creators from Turn 10 Studios, here on Next for the last few weeks.
If it’s not obvious, I’m a big fan of Forza and excited about this fourth version of the game. As I met the team and heard about the journey to build this game, I got a sense of the craftsmanship that has gone into it. In fact that’s a big part of why I’ve featured it on this blog, as I think Turn 10 Studios stands as a great example of a team dedicated to customers. I suspect they’re a lot like their customers in fact, and I got a real sense that heart and soul has gone into this creation – be it the cars, tracks, physics engine, the community features or entirely new features like Autovista and Kinect integration.
So what’s it like? Well I’m no hardcore game reviewer but having spent the best part of 24 hours over since I received an advance copy on Saturday, I can honestly say that it’s stunning. I’ve now spent several hours behind the wheel of the Aston Martin One-77 on the new Bernese Alps track and it’s addictive. The cars look incredible, thanks to the new image-based lighting techniques, and that fictional track is hard to tear yourself away from with beautifully detailed scenery and a challenging ribbon. In fact, as I admired the scenery, I was hoping there would be a photo mode in the game to capture it. Sure enough there is – you can pause your game at any moment and not only take a photo but tweak it with all manner of photo effects. All of the photos in this post are taken using that feature (and uploaded to my profile on forzamotorsport.net). If the Aston Martin is as epic on the road as it is in this game, it’s going to be one hell of drive. And I hope they’ve strapped some serious brakes to that thing.
I got as close as I’ll ever get to driving the One-77 but then I decided to step inside a few other motors thanks to the Autovista feature. I sat inside the Ferrari 458 Italia, Ferrari 250 Testarossa, Bugatti Veyron, De Lorean, Ferrari Enzo, Lamborghini Reventon, Lexus LFA, McLaren F1, Pagani Zonda Cinque Roadster….you get the idea. Oh, and the tours of these vehicles are narrated by none other than Jeremy Clarkson – though the relationship with Top Gear doesn’t end there. The game literally starts with the Clarkson voiceover from the Endangered Species advert, and the Top Gear track is available for hurtling cars like the F40 Competizione around as well as numerous Top Gear games.
Forza stalwarts like myself are rewarded with an extra badge and credits (XP) for importing your FM3 history, and small annoyances from the previous game such as lock to lock steering rate has been addressed. That meant I could drift a McLaren MP4-12C with ease, despite the Pirelli P Zero’s that car is booted with. Did I mention that Turn 10 worked with Pirelli to secure tire data? No stone has been left unturned in the quest to make this game remarkable.
I’ve not had chance to explore the different game modes too much but I hear the World Tour and Rivals mode looks to be addictive as you pit yourself against the community online. I enjoyed a Senna-esque moment of driving the Honda NSX-R around Suzuka and cruising through the Alps in McLaren.
The much anticipated Kinect head tracking was a feature I was very keen to see and it was surprisingly subtle – to the extent that you don’t really notice it occurring, hence it feels quite natural. Even better in my opinion is the Kinect voice integration that enables you to drive the multilayered menus with simple voice commands. Very handy.
So there you have it…the 2 years of hard graft from a team huddled in a warehouse in Redmond is unleashed. Forza 4 is, in my humble (and admittedly biased) opinion, is the world’s best driving simulator. It’s a wonderful homage to all that is great about cars and after meeting the team, that’s precisely what I expected.
But don’t take my word for it, read the reviews.