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Forza Horizon – the Top Gear preview
A new version of Forza already? I haven’t got bored with Forza Motorsport 4 yet. What’s up?
Yes, it’s a new game from the Forza franchise, but it’s completely different from FM4. This one is called Forza Horizon and is focused on road - and off-road - driving and racing instead of track-based work. It’s based around the fictional Horizon music festival in Colorado and involves scoring points for all manner of illegal activities. From smashing road furniture, drafting and barging other cars, drifting, plus getting as much air as possible over jumps, instead of winning championships, you earn bracelets which give you access to new areas of the game.
Music festival? What’s that got to do with car racing?
Everything. It gives the whole game a centre to tie the racing around, plus it adds an entirely new realm of proper music to listen to while you bash the door handles off your oppos. Instead of the normal stuff, there are three radio channels (Rock, Indie and Electro) for you to select. The stations, and the rest of the game’s music, which includes a lot of dubstep, such as the game opener Show Me a Sign by Modestep, has been curated by Robert John Gorham, aka BBC Radio 1’s very own Rob Da Bank. All three stations make you drive much, much faster than you should.
OK, sounds interesting, but what about the racing?
That’s looking good, too. Imagine all the fantastic Forza physics applied to driving cars on the road and dirt, and you’ll have a good idea of what to expect. We only got to drive the new SRT Viper on a short section of the game, but there are another 199 cars to be unlocked and a stunning 65 different road and trail surfaces for you to master your car craft on. There are plenty of drones for you to race in the game - either on a motorway, back roads, or around a hay-baled off circuit like the TT - but you will also be able to race against your mates whether they are sitting next to you or 10,000 miles away.
Surely, if I have all of Colorado to race around in I’m going to get lost a lot?
Not if you have a Kinect. At any time you can ask - well, shout - for directions back to a location and turn-by-turn directions will be shown to you on a map. Just like in a real car. Only better.
How did Turn 10 (the studio at Microsoft that makes Forza) find the time to build this game?
They collaborated with a UK games company called Playground Games. This is staffed by people who cut their teeth developing racing games such as DIRT, GRID, and TOCA. So they know a thing or two about making compelling on and off-road driving games.
Will Top Gear feature in this game?
Nope. Not a Clarkson drum solo or May keyboard riff to be seen anywhere. This game is TG free. But the style of the game - cocking around with cars to great music - is absolutely Top Gear through and through.
And what about all the other stuff that goes on at music festivals? Y’know, the mud, the overflowing porta-potties, the alcohol, the, er, herbs and, well, maybe I should stop there?
Yes, you should. There were no signs of any other recreational behaviour other than the hooning around in the cars. The game’s rating is still pending, but don’t expect Grand Theft Auto levels of hidden debauchery.
When can I get it?
Forza Horizon’s official launch date is 23 October, 2012.
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