Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Mercedes-Benz McLaren. These names all relate to cars that will likely only be the stuff of dreams for most of us. They are beyond our reach and the best that we can hope for is to watch them on TV and perhaps, one day see one in real life. Such is the way of things, these automotive beauties are not meant for the likes of normal people.
Which is perhaps what the Turn 10 team had in mind when beginning development of Forza Motorsport 4. It is a gift to us, we who lust after unobtainable supercars, and it has been given in the most beautiful way.
The Turn 10 guys have done an amazing job of recreating a massive stable of cars, including some of the most desirable supercars in the world alongside cars that you or I may actually drive, and putting them into this game. Each of the cars look simply sublime in high detail and complete with interiors. They have even ensured that each car sounds like its real-world counterpart. Petrol-heads will be kept busy simply browsing the available cars for hours, without even looking at a race.
But the dream takes one step even closer to reality in Forza’s new Autovista mode. A selection of stunning cars have been recreated in astounding detail and parked up in a hangar for the player to cast their eyes over. Different aspects can be tinkered with, such as opening the bonnet or doors, and the player can climb in and even turn the key to hear the car roar into life. Various points around the car come with spoken descriptions, and even Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson can share his views on teh given car. Only a few are available to begin with, and the player will need to unlock the rest by completing challenges in the given cars. In one of the examples of Kinect support that can be found in Forza 4, the player can even get interactive to some degree with the motion sensor when looking around the car.
Other ways that Kinect has been integrated into the game include voice navigation of the menus and head tracking whilst driving. Although the voice navigation is a bit of a gimmick and not really necessary, the head tracking, which allows the player to turn their head to the left or right in order to adjust the view on-screen, works remarkably well. It allows the player to look into corners as they turn them, making the racing feel much more realistic.
Returning to the stunning looks of the game, we have already established that the cars all look incredible. But the attention to detail doesn’t stop there. With a huge number of tracks in the game, including some of the most famous in the world such as Silverstone, Laguna Seca and Nurburgring, and the famous Top Gear test track, the player is certainly spoilt for choice as to where they race. Wherever they end up, they can be guaranteed that the track has been lovingly recreated and, thanks to an impressive new lighting model, look as great as the cars themselves. Only the absence of weather and the occasional static backdrop offer any kind of blip in these otherwise perfect tracks. But when the rest of this package is so perfect, these small blips can be ignored.
I now what you are thinking. We have all been teased by games that offer visual perfection, only to be let down by gameplay. Thankfully the team at Turn 10 have managed to deliver in that aspect as well. Each car handles as you would expect on the tracks, offering a different experience for each car in your virtual garage. Forza 4 doesn’t have the precision of Gran Turismo, but that is okay as the result is something that often feels more dramatic. All levels of driving ability are catered for, with the easiest mode offering assists for both braking and steering, ensuring that everyone can enjoy driving their dream car around a track. All of the various assists can be tweaked to the players own taste, providing a truly customisable experience.
The World Tour mode takes the player from one track to the next as they travel the world, taking part in races and moving through the different driver levels. At each venue, the player is presented with three different races, depending on which car they are currently sitting in, and the races can be changed simply by changing cars. It is all fairly straight forward stuff, but the inclusion of some different types of events mix things up a bit. The Top Gear guys occasionally throw out some bizarre challenges on their test track, such as car bowling, and point to point races through traffic or multi-class races offer yet more variety.
Going online, there is plenty to keep the player busy for the foreseeable future. Everything from car football and bowling to your standard lap races are available, all of which can be customised to the players preference. The whole community spirit of the game has returned with the sharing of custom paint jobs and tuning setups, and the player is encouraged to keep checking in the community area with the promise of daily cash deposits. There are even car clubs that can be created by groups of friends, providing players with clan-style camaraderie on wheels.
Mr Clarkson hits the nail on the head when, at the beginning of the Forza 4 cinematic intro, he says that we are a dying breed. But for the lovers of all things automotive, this is the closest thing to heaven that I have seen, so I am not worried. Forza Motorsport 4 is unapologetic in the way that it taps into our most primal desires for speed and beauty. It is “where dreams are driven” and, to be honest, my dreams have never looked or felt so good.