Forza Horizon - New Game of the Day #40
- Turn 10 Studios
- Forza Motorsport 4
You’ve read about the miraculous return of Porsche and digested the new car content for Forza Motorsport 4. But we’re not done with it just yet this week.
What? Forza Motorsport gets an unexpected sequel later this year – but it’s not Forza Motorsport 5. In fact, it’s not even developed by Turn 10.
When? Autumn 2012.
Last week, what was said to be a leaked trailer for an apparent sequel to Forza Motorsport surfaced onto the internet. Known simply as Forza Horizon, the video in question contained no gameplay footage whatsoever, instead sticking to live action shots of exotica supercars, DJs and scantily-clad women. Sound familiar, Need for Speed?
Coupled with the rather rudimentary logo, I will admit to being sceptical and brushed it off as the work of someone who spent their Sunday afternoon over indulging in Windows Movie Maker. After all, Forza Motorsport 4 has only been with us for five months now, so a direct sequel seemed improbable so soon.
Taking a closer look at the trailer also revealed another ambiguity – the presence of Porsche. Every Forza fan knows about Turn 10’s well publicised struggle with EA hogging the prestigious Porsche license, yet the trailer featured a whole line of Porsches proudly on display.
Of course, we now know that Porsche is indeed returning to Forza Motorsport after Turn 10 announced the expansion pack due in May, much to the delight of fans. As for the mysterious Forza Horizon, Turn 10 simply confirmed its existence by sharing the already-leaked teaser trailer, refusing to spill any more details.
Rumour has it that Forza Horizon stems from Forza World, an open world Forza project hinted by Microsoft last year when they conducted a survey asking if fans would enjoy a Forza game that would “allow drivers to go anywhere on the open road, as opposed to closed-circuit racing.”
The idea of an open world Forza game doesn't fill us with hope when you consider that the genre hasn’t exactly fared well lately, however. Test Drive: Unlimited 2 was broken beyond repair for months on end, and Need for Speed: The Run's attempt at immersing you into an epic open race felt disappointingly fragmented.
Watching the trailer, comparisons to Need for Speed are obvious, but it’s the setting that intrigues us most. Vast open desert roads are featured prominently, which instantly reminds us of Need for Speed: The Run's ambitious cross country race across the State of America. Could Forza Horizon be a new attempt at a cross country race event? We certainly hope so, as Need for Speed The Run’s premise could and should have been spectacular.
And for those wondering if we will see a direct sequel to Forza Motorsport 4, fear not as Forza Motorsport 5 has already been confirmed for 2013 in the same vein that DiRT 4 will follow DiRT Showdown. Whether Forza Motorsport will become a yearly franchise like Need for Speed with different developers swapping seats remains to be seen.
Indeed, Forza Horizons seems to be the latest in a growing trend for driving games this year: the spin-off. Need for Speed has branched off in just about every direction possible over the years with mixed success, but this year has seen both DiRT and Ridge Racer take the plunge into spin-off territory, with both DiRT: Showdown and Bugbear's Ridge Racer: Unbounded due in the coming months. It’s a dangerous road for sure, which Turn 10 seem to be all too aware of - surely you need a team with a broad experience of developing racing games if this experimental project has a hope in hell of succeeding, right?
Developer legacy: This is where it gets interesting. It turns out that Forza Horizon is being developed by Playground Games, an independent UK studio started in 2009 by ex Codemasters executives Trevor Williams and Nick Wheelwright, i.e. the management team that brought us Colin McRae Rally, Toca, DiRT and GRiD. Playground Games soon welcomed former talent from the now defunct Bizarre Creations, famed for the Project Gotham series and Blur, and Black Rock Studios ,who were responsible for the criminally underlooked Split/Second. That’s some serious pedigree, and a reason to start feeling excited. In other words: this team knows their racing games, and Microsoft has seemingly put a lot of confidence into this new team.
They say: "Forza Horizon is a fast-paced, pick-up-and-play racing game and the newest entry in the Forza Motorsport franchise. Available this Fall, the game is being created in partnership with acclaimed racing development studio Playground Games."
We say: We’ll have to wait until the inventible E3 announcement for any concrete details on this project, but for now we’re feeling somewhat optimistic. Giving a fresh development team with the combining creative talent of Playground Games the keys to the Forza brand is undeniably risky, but the decision could well deliver the driving experience Need for Speed has continually tried and failed to achieve. We can't wait for E3 now.
Can't wait? Play this: Forza Motorsport 4 is the obvious choice given that it's simply one of the finest drives of this generation. But if you want an idea of Forza Horizon's possible themes then Need for Speed: The Run is your best choice providing you can pick it up cheaply due to its pitiful running time.
Words by Martin Bigg (Twitter: @drivinggamespro)
- Related Games
- Forza Motorsport 4
Feast your eyes on the latest car DLC for Forza Motorsport 4, including muscle cars, grand tourers and...a 1960's station wagon.
Forza fans rejoice! Say hello to an old German friend…
It's that time of the month for a fresh batch of Forza Motorsport 4 car DLC, and we're once again praising it profusely.