|System: Xbox 360|
|Dev: Turn 10 Studios|
|Release: October 11, 2011|
|Players: 1-2 Local, (2+ Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-720p|
by Patriel Manning
Turn 10 Studios is set to release the next entry into its flagship racing franchise, Forza Motorsport, next month. However, until recently, a lot of the details surrounding what new cars, tracks, and game modes would be included have been kept under wraps. That has begun to change as, starting at Gamescom 2011, Turn 10 has let open the floodgates of pre-release information goodness.
Just prior to Gamescom, Turn 10 detailed the process they went through to create the Bernese Aps track, which they've been showcasing since before E3. The track shows off the game's new image-based lighting technology. For more on that, check out our hands-on preview. If you can't be bothered to click over, image-based lighting basically means they've "reverse engineered" the sun. For example, the sun and a white piece of paper rendered with Forza's graphics engine will not look identical, as so often is the case in rendered video game worlds. Whether or not you actually believe their claim, one thing is clear: the result of their work is stunning.
When stacked up next to 2009's Forza Motorsport 3, which wasn't ugly despite looking a bit "off" at times, the improvements are blatantly obvious. This is especially true in Autovista Mode, where each of the vehicles selected is comprised of 1 million polygons. Here players will be able to experience the vehicle in an up-close and personal way. Kinect users will even be able to "walk" around the car, using hand gestures to open doors, flip switches, and highlight points of interest. The fact that they've achieved this in just two years (with some help from Pixar, literally) is mind-boggling. More of this was shown at Gamescom this year, including some unfiltered jabs from Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear toward a certain German car maker who will remain nameless (lest Porsche should take offense).
There were also a few multiplayer modes that have been detailed over the last few days, including "Top Gear Football" (or Soccer, if you will), in which 16 players will get together and, much like the segment on the show, have a game of soccer. Rivals mode, where players will be able to compete in asynchronous challenges (not unlike the Autolog for Shift 2: Unleashed), was also detailed.
While some of the more hardcore fans of the series may be a bit disappointed at features that seem to be aimed at a more casual crowd, there were a few bits of information released at Gamescom that left many excited. Turn 10 announced and showed off the fabled Hockenheim circuit. Though it isn't its former self—the old track was torn up and redesigned in 2001—racing fans will welcome this addition. The same can probably be said of the ability to race at dusk in choice locations, including Hockenheim, though there's no official word on whether or not night racing is featured.
Another bit of information Turn 10 has yet to confirm is whether or not the Porsche brand will appear in the game. Rumor suggests that licensing talks with EA went sour, leading to a withdrawal of the German automaker's brand from the Forza franchise. Microsoft, in turn, is rumored to have removed the Ferrari brand, to which they hold the rights, from EA's Need for Speed. Hopefully, none of this turns out to be true, so 911s and 458s can be driven by all.
There have also been a few bits of information to leak surrounding Turn 10's latest in the last few weeks. While a full car list hasn't been announced, web pages featuring car lists and track lists have been uncovered by some diligent fans. The game studio has also been reluctant as yet to include open wheel vehicles, such as the Catheram R500 and the Ariel Atom. That may also be changing as Bob Bondurant, famous in part for his F1 racing career during the mid-60s, was photographed behind the wheel of Forza 4, smiling devilishly and supposedly driving a car he's closely associated with. Could it be the Ferrari 158? Whatever the case, fans remain hopeful that this could be an indication that Turn 10 may have adjusted their stance on open wheel racers in their franchise.
We can be sure to hear more in the future, as Microsoft will be keen to show more at this year's Tokyo Game Show, which begins September 15. Forza Motorsport 4 is shaping up to be quite the package and, at least at this point, you'd be remiss to ignore this game if you're even remotely interested in racing games.
Stay tuned to Cheat Code Central for more on Turn 10's latest.
CCC Contributing Writer