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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
Xbox 360
Turn 10 Studios
GENRE: Racing
May 29, 2007

Forza Motorsport 7

Forza Motorsport 6

Forza Motorsport 5

Forza Motorsport 4

Forza Motorsport 3

More in this Series
 Written by Troy Matsumiya  on July 05, 2006

First Impressions: The Gran Turismo slayer gears up for the next gen.

Last year, Forza Motorsport hit the gaming world at full throttle to earn impressive commercial and critical success, including a stellar 9.8 rating right here at Gaming Target. Forza took the racing sim to new levels thanks to stunning graphics, intricate attention to detail, deep customization and tuning options, and incredibly realistic driving physics (where the effects of brake fade, tire wear and even aerodynamic drag caused by damaged bodywork were calculated into your car's performance). For hardcore racing fans and tuners, this was the game to own and easily blew the doors off the former king of the genre, Gran Turismo.

So needless to say, gamers are beside themselves in anticipation of Forza Motorsport 2, scheduled for a 2006 holiday release. And while we've only been teased with tiny scraps of information here and there, all indications are that the sequel will further cement Forza's grip on the racing sim throne.

As with the original, the sequel will be defined by Microsoft Game Studios' near religious devotion to realism. From consulting automotive engineers and real race car drivers to actual on-track and dynamometer testing, Turn 10 (as the Forza team calls themselves) is determined to make the driving physics as real as possible. How determined? Check out these quotes from Game Director Dan Greenawalt (courtesy of the official Forza website) regarding how each car requires complex mathematical models to ensure its performance is accurately recreated:

?I was just working out how to model the efficiency of gasses going in and out of the engine so as it revs up, how much power could it really make ... and I like the results so far, but there's more work to be done. But that's fun for me! Working on the math model is so much more tangible and so much more tactile.?

?[W]e actually want to simulate all of the technology of what happens when you replace all the parts of your Volvo's engine with magnesium, beryllium, sodium-filled valves ... but nobody's really done that so we want to base our model on actual science.?

Whoa. Looks like paying attention to your high school math classes really does matter! As further evidence of the developer's devotion to realism, Microsoft and Turn 10 are also sponsoring the Risi Competizione race team, who run a beautiful red Ferrari 430GT in the 2006 American Le Mans Series. And it's not just for marketing purposes; the sponsorship includes full access to Risi's technicians and drivers, which provides a wealth of information that is used in the game's development.

The zeal for realism is not just limited to the driving physics either; the developers recorded actual engine and supercharger sounds, and even crashed real cars at 60mph in order to accurately capture crunching steel and shattering glass for our aural pleasure.

Naturally, they are determined to make things look as real as possible as well, starting with a brand new game engine. Instead of taking a typical shortcut by simply updating the original game's assets, Turn 10 is building practically everything from scratch to ensure the game will have true next gen quality. Thanks to the new engine, the game will run at a blistering 60 fps at 720p, with dynamic per-pixel reflections on the car updated at the same rate. It is also capable of 4x anti-aliasing, dramatic motion blur, increased polygons per car and a whole whack of other technical mumbo jumbo only an engineer could love ? but all we techno newbs need to know is that this game is going to look good. Just look at the E3 video teaser; yes, I know that everything was pre-rendered and it didn't use the actual game engine, but it did use actual in-game car and track models, and the developers assure us that the game will look as good (if not better) than the video. Nice!

Wrapped up in all of that graphical goodness will be significantly expanded gameplay. The number of tracks will increase to 60, including all of the original Forza tracks (updated for high definition) and 13 real circuits accurately recreated down to the finest detail. Racing fans will especially be pleased to see the new addition of the famed Sebring International Raceway. The number of cars has increased to a little over 300 from over 50 manufacturers, including the addition of the charging bull herself, Lamborghini. There will also be more car classes with each class adjusted to make them more realistic and fair.

Tuner-heads will be pleased to know that the customization options will also be expanded, allowing you to not only modify, but swap out the entire engine, suspension, superchargers, brakes, wheels, tires and of course fiddle with advanced suspension, tire pressure and gear ratio settings. The customizable paint and decal tool set is also being tweaked to guarantee that gamers will burn up many hours getting their ride looking as sweet as can be. As before, you will be able to race your customized car on Xbox Live but a new feature will allow you post pictures of your ride online for everyone to envy. Cool!

Speaking of Xbox Live, the number of players per race has increased to 12, meaning you will be able to bump even more friends into walls. If you don't feel like participating, you will be able to take advantage of a new feature that allows you to watch any race on Xbox Live, similar to the PGR TV feature of Project Gotham Racing 3. Forza 2 will also support Live Anywhere and allow you to customize and trade cars between your console, PC and cell phone.

Finally, the game will support the upcoming Microsoft wireless racing wheel, which features true force feedback to simulate front tire torque and rumble to simulate rear slippage. The gas and brake pedals have progressive springs and individually distinct feel, just like in real life. Incidentally, all future 360 racing games will have to be compatible with the wheel, welcome news to any gamer who has been burned in the past with an expensive wheel useable with only a small handful of games.

Final Thoughts
Forza Motorsport 2 is shaping up to not only be a worthy successor to the original, but to surpass it in every single way. It's a lofty goal, but based on the sequels to Project Gotham Racing and Rallisport Challenge, the MGS team has successfully proven that they can up the racing ante with each new version. So get ready to start your engines as we await the industry's premier racing sim later this year.

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