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They say that competition between rivals stimulates the greatest amount of improvement. It is true for cellular phones, hamburgers, and as always, the gaming industry. Therefore, the latest installment of Forza Motorsport 4 is shaping up to be the perennial racing game to beat for the foreseeable future.
Starting off with a bang, the scope of Forza 4 seems larger than ever before, evolving in unexpected ways. The host of cars and most tracks will be well-known to veteran players of the series, as these details will make them feel right at home. Loyal fans from Forza 3 will find that they gain an upfront bonus in credits and at least one high class starter car right off the bat in Forza 4.
The usual suite of tuning modifications returns as well. The menus for the general career mode and the Event List look fairly familiar, but the menu changes are like comparing two Ferraris from separate decades. The real difference lies in the driving of the automobiles themselves and brings the game to life.
Beneath the hood of Forza 4, beats the heart of a seemingly new game upgraded from previous versions. The concept of sunlight and how it impacts your Forza world has been completely redone to show a much more vibrant and realistic lighting scheme. This model is more in keeping with the capabilities of the human eye, seeing several different layers of light almost weaved together and no longer limited by the capabilities of one’s television set.
Driving dynamics have been changed to allow for a more tight-knit set of racers on track, keeping the racing experience lively and challenging. A greater degree in braking pressure is also evident, leading to varying styles of braking within the game. This superior sense of weight and reality in each car makes for dynamic braking changes in every facet of cornering.
One can easily make corrections on the fly in weight distribution and vehicle direction in a thrilling, finger-snapping second. Just watch out for increased brake pad wearing. Opponent AI is also affected in this case. Now cars are more evenly matched in career mode, so there is no more overpowering other cars that are several race classes beneath you during a race.
The single player World Tour mode is much more organic, with the previously uninteresting career mode replaced by a much more rewarding progression. Though the player does not select the track played, they do have the ability to impact the class of race being driven and the rewards given.
Varying between an extra set of experience point bonuses in brand affinity or a mystery bonus of either two for those who feel lucky, these three choices give the player expanded options in how to progress through what would otherwise be a tedious career mode.
Within hours of playing, the major manufacturers that a player has used the most often now give the player free access to all those manufacturer parts with the Brand Affinity system. One of the newest features that is sure to set the racing world on fire is the ability to see how you stack up to one of the world’s largest racing scoreboards.
Want to challenge players from any number of countries and time zones? Go ahead and enjoy with the new Rivals Mode, which includes a small reward for each race won. Here, you will be racing against a ghost car from another actual human being, one that is not afraid to scratch the paint or make the tires squeal a little bit.
Another notably new feature, the Autovista mode, will give players a closer view at some of the most desired supercars available on the consumer market. This mode is enhanced by the voice of Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson. On each of the featured 24 cars, Clarkson’s voice is featured once in the dozen or so interactive icons that the cars possess.
The rest are narrated by Englishmen Peter Egan, whom fans will recognize as the narrator from Forza 3. Furthermore, the inclusion of their Top Gear test track should give fans of the Forza series yet another avenue of the racing world to enjoy. We can only hope that more cars will be announced in the future for Autovista.
The sound design of each car is a welcome distinction, featuring a more vivid symphony of gears and exhaust notes that border on the more throaty side of the spectrum. The crash sounds on most settings, however, seem more akin to bumper cars than a real smash of metal on metal. Also, the focus on the cars is so great, you will never notice the crowd which does not move at all.
In closing, the sounds and visual of the game are better in every way on a consistent basis. The driving is crisp, and the overall feel of the game is excellent. Forza 4 manages to expand itself in a variety of ways, yet also keeps the Forza formula alive and well. Minor and major changes have served to enhance the game and increase its polish and appeal.
In the grand scheme of things, this game may eventually be eclipsed by another, but that day will not be for some time, and that battle will not be easy.
Image Courtesy of xbox.com