'Forza 4' Prepares to Light Up Xbox 360 Consoles in October

Every year, the video game community looks forward to the Electronic Entertainment Expo, aka E3. We’re fans of racing games here, so we had to ogle “Forza Motorsport 4.”

In the car community, being a so-called ‘armchair expert’ isn’t the most flattering title to receive. But in the video gaming world, ‘armchair expert’ is literally as good as it gets. What happens when the two worlds collide?

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Answer: You get games like “Forza 4,” which continues to build up the highly popular Xbox 360 franchise. To some Xbox armchair experts, “Forza” is the only racing game worth having. Turn 10 Studios, the developer responsible for predecessor “Forza 3,” is back at it and the fourth installment will have cars from over 80 automotive brands and a new lighting engine that’s supposed to provide even more realistic graphics.

Graphics are very important in modern-day games, but physics engines and immersive experiences are especially critical for today’s racing games. Most consumers will never get behind the wheel of a multi-million-dollar 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa but they can virtually lap and explore one to their heart’s content in “Forza 4.” Same goes for an Enzo, Lamborghini Reventon, or Mosler MT900S. A new physics modeling system will presumably be more finely tuned than ever before. Games can never fully replace the real deal but there’s no denying developers are pulling every code, simulation, and expert consulting trick in the book to produce the most realistic driving experience yet. We’re certain if there was a way to bundle the smell of hot rubber, brakes, and spent fuel into the game, they’d do it.

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While our olfactory senses won’t be titillated, “Forza 4” will incorporate the latest motion-capture technology. The craze of using our entire bodies as controllers has been sweeping the video game market and “Forza 4” has some special features for Xbox 360s with Kinect attachments. AutovistaMode will allow gamers to walk around a car in preview mode using their body instead of simply pressing a joystick. Opening digital cars’ doors and hoods only requires the customary hand motions. Want to geek-out over the details? The screenshot focused on an Enzo’s pushrod damper is a taste of the level of intricacy Turn 10 put into the game.

Whether you’re in a car or on a motorcycle, you’re always taught to look through the turn, especially if you’re moving quickly. KinectHead Tracking has the Kinect trace the racer’s head motion and pans the in-game camera to simulate looking through the corner. Kinectvoice control uses voice recognition to move through the game’s menus. You’ll be able to take your competitive side onto Xbox Live and participate in the Rivals mode, all the time tracking the competition’s rankings and racing in 16-player races.

This is just a sneak peek. We anticipate seeing more of the game as we draw closer to the October 11 U.S. release (October 14 in Europe, October 20 in all other markets). If it’s everything it’s promised, we’ll gladly trade work time for some “Forza 4” sessions.

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