|Dan is the guy you usually think about when it comes to the face of Turn 10 and Forza Motorsports. Being the Creative Director, he kind of has no choice in the matter, really. He went into the concept of the game and the different features. However, the first thing on my mind was could he have he imagined Forza growing from just a basic simulator to now this open world racer in Horizon? “First off, I was much younger person and I think my imagination was much more limited and yet in some ways, even more ambitious. So, we started back in 2002 and our goal was to make a game that would actually change culture,” he begins, “We wanted more car lovers and more gamers to intermingle and create a larger and interactive automotive entertainment platform. So, very lofty, lofty goals. But, I didn't expect Forza to get such a rabid fanbase that really love the game and I don't really know why, but I never dreamed it would be so big. Which is great, but in some ways, we are still just scratching the surface on that larger goal of making a difference culturally.”|
One of the more impressive features was the great frame rate with such a large environment with AI that not only race against you, but also control the traffic around you on the roads. Every AI is different, too. With so much computing power, how did they keep the frame rate up? “This is a bespoke engine that was made just for the 360,” Greenwalt informs me, “It was really custom made for this console and that gives it, dials, I guess you can say, to utilize the console in different ways, but also we started Playground Games with our Forza 4 Engine.”
For you guys who are console and PC gaming unfamiliars, a gaming engine is the software the drives the game and deals with rendering, physics, collisions, AI, and many other components that make a game a game. It is pretty unique to the Forza Franchise, too. “So having a great engine and having a great development team (Playground Games) and modifying it to work in this open world, they didn't have to build it from scratch and they weren't working on an engine that would be compromised because it would have to be multi-platform.“
|One really intersting feature that couldn't be demo'ed that day was the use of the Kinect. While Forza 4 used Kinect for Autovista functions, Horizon will use it for your GPS. Instead of roaming a map and pausing constantly to find stuff, you can tell your “GPS” to find locations for you just like a GPS does in the real world. Sort of a way to “keep your hands on the wheel,” so to speak. They want you immersed in this game, so much so they really don't want you pausing all the time and not driving. That's the whole point of Forza, to drive your car. Hey, that guy in the black shirt and shaved head, he looks familiar!|
|Well, what do you know! It's Drew Fishbein of OMGDrift! Even as I talked to him and took his pictures, he stayed glued to the screen like a Forza Pro! Well, like me, he's played Forza since its inception in 2002 on the original XBOX. I should have walked in front of him, but he might have seen through me anyhow. Kidding, Drew!|
|Another thing Dan mentioned that he didn't like about other racing games was their, progression, if you can really call it that. Normally, when you level up, you have to get the next level car. That Focus you started with is now worthless. So you trade up to a Mustang until it's worthless and you have to trade up to a Ford GT, and so on. You lose the point of owning the car because of this. So, while the 2013 Dodge Viper is the hero car…|
|You, too, can have your own Project FR-S like we do in real life!|
|Just know we won't drive ours like this in real life, unless the 5 is backed up.|
So, what was my impression? I went in with a clouded mind. I thought, yep, the Forza franchise I loved is gone. “I now have a 'Need for Speed' clone of my lovely Forza,” was exactly my thought going into it. So, I gnashed my teeth, held my stomach, and expected to puke up a horrible game. However, it wasn't like that. When you first turn on the game, you are greeted with a car show similar to what you'd see at a Formula Drift event. Then, they put you into a car that has all of the aids turned on for you to prepare youself for the game. To give you an idea of what Horizon and its festival is all about. Once that is over with, you can then turn off or on all the aids you want, as all of the original ones from Forza 4 are there. I turned them the hell off, I like my driving straight, well, ok, I kick the tail out every chance I get, but I had no driving aids on except for one, the auto clutch. I haven't quite got my fingers around clutching yet.
Once I did, holy crap. This is exactly the Forza Franchise I remember since 2002! Horizon has not taken away from the physics of the game, at all. If anything, they seem to have improved it. I can use the brakes to help turn a front-wheel drive car, I can flick my rear drive car into a drift, and AWD kicks ass in dirt! Everything felt right and the AI were still some of the toughtest bastards I ever met. Seriously, some guys would close the door and wreck while others would allow me to slide out of a corner just to patiently overtake me again. The AI is still as specatular as it is fist clinching, but I like an AI with personality and they didn't turn that down a wick, even with traffic.
Despite the huge world, the framerate was still at 60fps. This has been a claim from Forza since Forza 4 and they have not lost it. They are pretty imaginitive, too, when it comes to this world. Everything is in place as it should, just like a real festival. The town feels like a town, the mountains feel like something you would see in Colorado. Dan, growing up in the state, was even able to describe the areas from places he grew up around. Then, there are the events in Horizon. You have your normal car races, but you also have races against planes, balloons, and other bizzare, but fun matches. I had to race a P51 Mustang with a 1970 Boss 302 Mustang. It's events like these and flarey driving that earn you reputation to enter bigger and better events, too. So, drifts, close calls, jumps, and a number of other hoonage will help propel you into better paying events.
There are many other secrets in this game, too. It's stuff you'll have to find when the game is released on October 23 and be prepared. It will not be as lame as the open world and story boarding initially sounds.