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Game Profile
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
Xbox
PUBLISHER:
Microsoft
DEVELOPER:
Microsoft
GENRE: Racing
PLAYERS:   1-2
RELEASE DATE:
May 03, 2005
ESRB RATING:
Everyone
IN THE SERIES
Forza Motorsport 7

Forza Motorsport 6

Forza Motorsport 5

Forza Motorsport 4

Forza Motorsport 3

More in this Series
 Written by Troy Matsumiya  on April 08, 2005

Final Glimpse: Gran Turismo who?


Almost buried in the hype surrounding Halo is the fact that Microsoft Game Studios has been steadily building a reputation as a premier publisher and developer of top quality racing games. Project Gotham Racing launched the Xbox as one of the best street racers ever, and was soon followed up by RalliSport Challenge, widely considered as one of the top rally racers on the planet. Although both of these titles and their outstanding sequels are arcade racers, comparisons were inevitably drawn with the big heavyweight in the genre, the mighty Gran Turismo racing simulation series. ?Sure,? the cynics sniffed, ?Microsoft can make a good arcade racer, but until they come up with something that can compete with GT, I'll stick with my PS2.?

Microsoft is never one to back down from a challenge, and after three years in the making, they are about to release what many are calling the biggest and most serious threat to GT's dominance, Forza Motorsport.

Looking at the numbers, Forza will ?only? have 230+ cars from over 60 different manufacturers (versus 700+ cars for GT4) competing in 400 races (200 in GT4) on over 30 tracks (50+ for GT4). But what Forza lacks in sheer numbers it more than makes up for in jaw-dropping features that GT fans and car enthusiasts have been eagerly wanting for years.

For example, take car customization. Not only will you be able to change the color of your car, but also add decals, spoilers, side-skirts, light kits, wheels and a gazillion other cosmetic accessories from 150 real aftermarket manufacturers. Most importantly, you will also be able to customize what's under the sheet metal by: adding a supercharger or changing the engine completely; changing your brakes and suspension; and tune your gear ratios, ignition timing, fuel-mapping, forced induction pressure and even tire pressure. If you want to know the results of your fiddling and fine tuning, you can run a benchmark test in your garage which will translate your changes into hard figures. But since numbers can only tell you so much, you will be able to run laps on a test track to see how things feel for yourself. Very cool.

Since Forza is a racing simulator, Microsoft has focused heavily on realism; in fact, they consulted with several automotive engineers to ensure that the driving physics are the most accurate ever in a video game. How realistic are we talking about? Take for example car damage, which will be localized and realistic, ranging from cosmetic scratches to missing or broken parts which will affect your car's performance. So let's say you bounce off a wall and lose your front bumper. The game will immediately adjust the additional aerodynamic load on your car as a result of the missing bumper, affecting how it drives at high speed. Now how cool is that? And that's not all; thanks to sophisticated suspension and tire models, the game will also calculate the effects of weight transfer in turns as well as heat and pressure changes on the tires.

Remember, this is not an arcade racer; it's a racing simulator so the driving physics will not be as forgiving. Fortunately, driver's aids like antilock brakes, stability control and traction control are turned on by default to help you get used to the physics. You can always turn these off, but be aware that it could have a dramatic effect on your car. You can also tweak the same settings of the opponent AI cars to adjust the difficulty level (and your potential rewards; more on this later).

But before you can begin all of this tweaking and fine tuning, you will have to select your car first. When you start the game, you will be prompted to pick a region: North America, Europe or Asia. Which region you choose affects the manufacturers, costs and rarity of cars and aftermarket parts initially available to you (the races will remain the same no matter which region you pick). So for example, if you pick Asia, you will initially have access to manufacturers from that region only, and will be unable to switch to another region unless you want to start over. Microsoft calls this ?rarity?, meaning that while players from other regions may be drooling over your Nissan Skyline GT-R, you could be drooling over someone else's Ferrari. Eventually, you will be able to access cars from other regions, though they will be more expensive to purchase. If you progress far enough into the game, you will be able to access every car no matter which region you chose, but it will likely take a lot of work to get to this point.

To further enhance rarity, you will be able to race your lovingly customized, tricked-out ride on Xbox Live for all to envy. Nice! You can even buy and sell cars over Xbox Live, so if you have difficulty unlocking a particular car, you can buy it from someone if you have enough credits; or if you're a true entrepreneur, you can try building a nice virtual business customizing and selling your own cars online.

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