Forza Motorsport 4 - Xbox 360

Game Description: Turn 10 and Microsoft Game Studios continue the acclaimed racing series Forza with Forza Motorsport 4. With new features, including Kinect integration, Forza 4 continues the tradition of realistic racing, gorgeous presentation and fast-paced fun for players of all skill levels.
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Forza Motorsport 4 Hands-On Preview -- Top Gear Answers Prayers With...Car Bowling?

Forza Motorsport 4 Hands-On Preview -- Top Gear Answers Prayers With...Car Bowling?

By Sophie Prell - Posted Jul 28, 2011

I'm a car person. That might not sound like a particularly big statement to make, but it wasn't until my recent hands-on time with Forza Motorsport 4 that I actually discovered that. In fact, when the presentation started, I repeated several times to my hosts, "I am not a car person." I don't know the difference between a V8 and Hemi engine or even between a spark plug and an oil filter. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating. Point remains, I wasn't a car person. But Forza 4 has convinced me I am.

"Everyone's a car person," John Wendl, Content Director of Turn 10 Studios told me confidently, before asking me what my first car was.


"'98 Pontiac Grand Am," I said with a bitter tone, recalling the lack of functioning A/C and broken lock on the rear passenger door. But then I thought of how, without A/C, I always felt the fresh breeze on my face, and how having a broken door actually saved me a couple times from locking myself out. My sour expression turned into a smile and I nodded. "Yeah, I remember that car."

"See? You know the year, make, and model of your first car," Wendl said. And those feelings of freedom, excitement, and the twinge of fantasy one gets from driving any car, be it your first, second, third or beyond, are exactly what Forza Motorsport 4 is about.

Picture your car - the one you own right now, the one you first owned, or the one you hope to own someday - racing along the Bernese Alps. It swings along the edge of a cliff face on an impossibly tight corner, and as you look forward you see a drop-off; thousands of feet below and all around you, a valley of snow shines brilliant white. If that sounds like a commercial, it's because that's exactly how I felt watching the Forza 4 demo.

All Forza 4 tracks look to be a dream for those of us who ever watched an advertisement for the latest, greatest model and thought how much fun it would be to own that car, if only we could drive those winding roads and see those larger-than-life sights. The tracks are fictional, as are some of the locations, but their inspiration comes from real-life wonders. The new graphics and lighting engine in particular help bring out a ridiculous level of detail in both the environment and the cars themselves.

Forza Motorsport 4 To Include Kinect Support

It doesn't look what I would call photorealistic, but instead keeps that theme of commercial presentation with some clever use of high-dynamic range lighting to give cars a pristine, showroom presence. Speaking of showrooms, it wouldn't be fair to talk about Forza 4 without going into the Autovista feature.

Autovista is far more than a virtual garage for your hard-won vehicles to call home. In Autovista, you can get right behind the wheel, pop the hood, and basically get the most visceral, in-depth look at any vehicle you'd like. Considering there are 500 cars in Forza 4, expect to spend a ton of time in Autovista, learning all about what makes those pretty kitties purr. Prep yourself though, because car show Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson has recorded an intro and summary of every car, and if he thinks yours is an overrated hunk of junk, he'll say so.

The Top Gear collaboration with Forza Motorsport 4 doesn't end with voiceovers though. The show, which has driven cars across volcanoes, reproduced James Bond-like stunts and more, was encouraged by the Forza team to think outside the box. If they weren't constrained by the real world, what would they create? Turns out the answer is bowling and soccer. Oh, those crazy Brits.

I'm not kidding, by the way. My hands-on with Forza 4 was limited, but the biggest chunk of time was spent powersliding across the Top Gear test track, knocking down pins to earn bonuses and credits for use in the game. I drove a Mom-mobile 4-door sedan, but Wendl promised every car can be used in these game modes. He remarked how, with some of the big muscle cars, pins would "absolutely fly," sometimes shooting up like rockets into the sky.

Forza 4

Though I wasn't able to try out the soccer mode, it sounded like a perfect party game. SUVs and trucks can operate as goalies and blockers, while the more agile, smaller cars zip around the field, trying to knock the giant soccer ball into a goal. I imagined a Ferrari spinning around, popping open its trunk to "kick" the ball like a little Pixar vision of David Beckham. I have no idea how close that is to the game's reality, but a girl can dream.

The last feature shown was Kinect integration. Like the game itself, Kinect is designed to appeal to casual use and hardcore gamers. While the game can turn on abilities like brake assist and steering assist in an effort to bridge the difficulty gap for newcomers, Kinect is likewise aimed at appealing to the casual crowd by having players - you guessed it - hold out their arms as though holding a steering wheel. Kinect also features prominently in the Autovista section of the game, allowing you to do things like reach under the hood, turn the ignition, or open the doors.

Those less inclined to hold an invisible wheel can use Kinect to hyperlink through the game for quick and easy access to some of their favorite modes. Since the game is so large, with an immense career mode that has several branching options based on your preference of play, the Autovista showroom, a community tab, splitscreen options, and more, it's natural that the menus could easily overflow and become cluttered as opposed to useful. With Kinect, you can hop to a mode with just one or two voice commands instead of backing up through layers upon layers of menus. It seems like a small addition, but it keeps things quick and easy.

Forza 4 preview

Quick and easy is right where I like my racing games. I've never understood why someone would tinker with suspension, or torque, or any other words I don't actually know. I'm drawn to the arcade racers, with explosions and aggressive driving, not to simulations with photorealistic car models and customization options that can absorb hours of time. So it's interesting that Forza 4 honestly has caught my eye.

If I had to guess, I'd say the reason why is that it falls neatly between those two extremes, with a streamlined, organic and fun racing experience for the casuals and a deep, sophisticated competitive streak for the hardcores, not to mention the community support Forza 4 offers with car clubs and of paints. Heck, if you have a Forza Motorsport 3 profile, you can even import it straight into Forza 4 to get a head-start on the game.

That's the way I've rationalized my feelings in my head, anyway. If I were to just go with my gut though, I might say the reason I enjoyed my time with Forza 4 is because Wendl was right: I'm a car person after all.

Comments are Closed

  • jgibson75

    gods I can't wait to get my hands on this. I picked up the Platinum version of Forza 3 a couple of weeks ago to start getting warmed up for Forza 4 (I initially skipped Forza 3... but hearing about being able to transfer your stuff from that game to the new one pushed me over the edge to get it... and I'm glad I did. I'm having a blast with it)....
    And the Top Gear stuff is exciting. That is one of my favorite shows. Funny thing is, I wouldn't consider myself a car person either. I too generally like arcade style racing games (things like Burnout or Mario Kart)... but I dig Forza and I dig Top Gear... and little by little, these two are giving me a deeper appreciation and love for cars.

    Posted: August 22, 2011 7:03 AM
  • Silverwolf001

    To all the comments saying this game is between arcade and simulation, you're wrong. It is both arcade AND sim. You can tune and customize your vehicle to the bolts just like previous games, a huge decal paint system, car clubs, and Forza has always been known for packing the most realistic car physics engine of any simulation racer. And then there are the arcade/casual options as stated above.

    Posted: July 30, 2011 6:58 PM

    It sounds okay except for being between arcade and Sim. I think most driving games try that formula most notably NFS Shift series. I do like the customization though.

    Posted: July 29, 2011 1:57 PM
  • 2ply

    I think i'm a bit jealous and wishing my 360 still worked :3

    Curious to hear how the kinect head tracking works that's for sure. Hope it works great because all racing games need non-awkward head movement controls, and using the controller stick to look around just does not work so well.

    Posted: July 29, 2011 12:31 AM
  • AngelsandDemons

    I have 11 games on pre-order for the rest of the year...I unfortunately will not be able to put this one in my budget at lauch. Crazy how this year as developed when it started off so slow.

    Posted: July 28, 2011 3:58 PM
  • Arm3g3don

    I've seen the video of the car 'bowling' demo and I must say it looks gimicky. The soccer, however, sounds interesting but i have yet to see it in action. Overall I'm pretty excited about this game and October needs to hurry up so I can have purchased Gears of War 3 and then be ready to rock and roll on Forza.

    Posted: July 28, 2011 2:36 PM
  • Snakepond

    Gets me hard.

    Posted: July 28, 2011 2:21 PM
  • kungfuj0

    I don't really want or need soccer and bowling in my racing games, but I will overlook that stuff because the rest of the game will be so good.

    Posted: July 28, 2011 12:49 PM
  • SirCitadel

    "constrained by the real world?" top gear has already done bowling and soccer. soccer several times.

    and personally i like messing with suspension and spring rates etc. why? because it helps lap times.

    Posted: July 28, 2011 12:45 PM
  • T_Rexx

    Same old Arcade re-hash .... !

    Posted: July 28, 2011 11:09 AM
  • nightsnipe

    Forza 4 wasn't really on my radar, but just how amazing it looks AND Forza Soccer, I think im sold.

    Posted: July 28, 2011 9:55 AM
  • mittens1231

    I like cars :3

    Posted: July 28, 2011 9:29 AM