Forza Horizon preview

By John Keefer, Jun 06, 2012 12:00pm PDT

QUICKTAKE: Co-developers Playground Games and Turn 10 Studios are taking the Forza franchise in a bit of a new direction with "pick-up and play fun," while trying to keep the same authenticity that the series has been famous for. Forza Horizon takes to the roads of Colorado, a spot the developers chose because of the panoramic vistas, winding roads and open highways. Unfortunately, there wasn't too much shown in the demo, with a little bit of racing, a sneak peak at the hub of the game called the Horizon Festival and some Kinect voice commands that can aid the players in getting around the large open-world expanse.

THE DEMO: There wasn't too much to see in this hands-off demo, with Playground Games' Ralph Fulton talking about the game and key snippets being demoed in the background. One segment showed a bit of racing through the winding roads of the new setting of Colorado, while another segment showed a first for the Forza series, off-road racing. Points and scores would occasionally pop up as the person controlling the car would crash through objects, weave in and out of traffic or hit a certain speed for a consistent amount of time.

The hub of the game will be an area called the Horizon Festival, which is where players will go to pick up races, customize their cars of chill with friends. It's also a music festival, where BBC Radio 1 DJ Rob Da Bank helped choose the music for the rather varied soundtrack. We didn't get to see much of the interfaces or the area, other than to see it looked like a county fair.

We did find out that the game will support Kinect voice commands, although we couldn't see it on display because of the rather noisy venue that is E3. The idea is to allow players quick access to a GPS to help them find their way around the vast open world game.

DETAILS: While the demo was short on action, Fulton was full of information about the game. The goal, he said, was to turn car lovers into gamers and gamers into car lovers through pick-up and play fun. At its heart, Forza Horizons is an action racing game, but it is more than just racing: It has to be about speed and style, he said.

As with every Forza game to date, authenticity is king. The team has continued to do extensive testing on every car in the game to make sure the game's physics system properly handles the car, making as many as 360 adjustments every second for the proper feel on the road. The game also has 65 different road surface types that will provide an accurate representation of driving on the any types of roads in Colorado. In early testing of the game, Fulton said there were two main complaints: It was easy to get lost and players didn't know what to do next. He then mentioned how the Kinect would help players with that problem and guide players to their next destination through simple voice commands.

Only two cars have been revealed so far, the BMW M5, and the Viper GTS which graces the game's cover. A complete list is expected in the next month or so. He also mentioned that DLC is planned, but wouldn't offer and details on new modes, new cars or new challenges.

The game is scheduled to hit Xbox 360 on October 23.

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