Forza 4 faces a mountain of interest, but in equal measure a mountain of fans ready to pick the entire game apart – thanks to stiff competition like Gran Turismo. Recently we had hands-on with Turn 10′s latest offering to the franchise to see what all the fuss was about.
From the get-go there’s something about Forza 4 that is breathtaking; the graphics. Powered by a new image-based lighting system, and thanks to help from Pixar and other respected studios, Forza 4 is one of the most beautiful titles we’ve ever seen. The tracks and circuits are rendered to precision and look “hyper-real” to coin a phrase that, to be honest, is over used – so forgive my use of it once more. Obviously how the cars are represented and feel is vital in the Forza franchise and they just look jaw-dropping here. Reflections rolls effortlessly off cars as light drowns objects; this culmination of effects is something very rarely executed so well.
Thankfully, through the work of Turn 10, the cars all feel distinctive; weight is present here and every car feels tuned to represent that car respectively. While demoing the the game to us, Dan Greenawalt said that Turn 10′s aim is to create cars in such a manner that gamers will eventually find “the car that speaks to them”. This was clear, even through our play-through, that even though there’s a vast selection of cars ready to burn – Forza 4 almost guides you towards cars you’ll favour.
The Season mode to the game has had a complete revamp under the hood with a brand new location system guiding players around a world map. Gone is the old calendar system, now players can skim through numerous hotspots on a world map and chose races accordingly – players can also use this world map to browse through the mini-games that are gradually unlocked. What’s important to note here actully is the progression system in the single player game. While not evident during our preview play through, Turn 10 have assured gamers that the AI will adapt to your progression and skill and upgrade itself to complete realistically with you. So instead of just selecting a random track and slamming into the AI to get ahead; players will be forced to plan ahead.
How does Forza 4 control? Well, very well actually. Driving feels more natural this time around compared to that of Forza 3; it’s almost more instinctive in some respects. Thanks to a new partnership with Pirelli, Turn 10 are aiming to bring players detail that has never been seen before. Dan Greenawalt informed us that Turn 10 have ditched all previous programming data which housed specific details about tyres, pressure and more, and instead, have absorbed data directly from the team at Pirelli. This means that precision, authenticity and accuracy are now at an all time high – and you’ll notice this difference almost immediately. Don’t get me wrong, Forza 3 controlled well, but the changes in Forza 4 are quite clear.
Autovista is something that fans of the franchise might have smerked at in the beginining, but thanks to our hands-on, we can say that it works well. Allowing players to view various cars up close and personal, Autovista encourages players to learn more about their vehicles, engines and ultimately the machines that might be the winning ticket for them. Utilising motion control via Kinect, Autovista delves into details what would remain previously unheard of. Awarding gamers the ability to “move” around a vehicle, there’s a real sense of something on front of you – as if you are wearing a VR headset of some description. By taking step to the side, Autovista will scroll around the vehicle, and by standing a step closer to the sensor, Autovista will move in closer. The only major drawback about Autovista is that Kinect proves to be a little inaccurate sometimes; especially when selecting precise spots to manipulate. Take for example the want to lift the hood of the car – you are asked to hover over a small icon and drag your hand upwards – which simulates the effort needed to complete the action. Struggling to gesture my hand to this miniature icon meant the smoke screen lifted and suddenly I was using Kinect, surrounded by the media, instead of existing in a virtual showroom with my sports car.
The Kinect functionallity doesn’t end with Autovista though, in fact, Turn 10 have expanded Kinect integration into the more “hard-core” realm of the game. Using Kinect, Forza 4 also offers a head-tracking function which detects slight head gestures by the players, and turns the camera accordingly. It doesn’t react in a wild manner, but it simply extends your periferal vision about 15% either side, which adds to a more authentic “I’m skimming on the paint” feeling from races and trials alike.
Fans of the franchise might feel slightly alienated by the sudden attention to Kinect but we’re confident you’ll enjoy it. Thanks to the graphics, details available, Autovista, Pirelli partnership and teaming up with Top Gear – Forza 4 offers gamers one of the most authetic and enjoyable driving/racing game of all time; again.
Forza 4 launches October 14th here in Ireland and the EU, and October 11th in the US.