Forza Horizon still on the…horizon!

Its been a while since I was excited for any new Need For Speed. The last two titles I truly enjoyed were ProStreet and the first Shift. I’m a simulator racer at heart and prefer fine-tuning a drift with a Mazda RX-7 in Gran Tourismo than in an arcade racer failure like Hot Pursuit (I dislike Hot Pursuit in general, it feels very cobbled together for me). I don’t like the new Ridge Racers and I hate the way Test Drive Unlimited 2 has degraded to being another arcade romp with little nodding in the direction of fans who enjoyed the previous titles in the series. Its times like these I wish I had an Xbox. Its times like these I also could play Forza.

I always stop at Look and Listen in P.E. whenever I get the chance to take some of the cars for a spin in Forza Motorsport and I enjoy it. Its like a beefed-up version of Shift and its a love letter to players who enjoy using racing wheels, rewarding to master and simple to pick up. The latest in the series, Horizon, will bring players into an open world with changing weather and road conditions as well as realistic damage of all kinds of shapes, bumps and squishes. Strangely enough, it seems, the game is actually taxing on the Xbox 360, prompting the developers to announce that it will run at a solid 30fps instead of the regular 60fps on most console titles. More info after the break.

“This is something we talked about with the Turn 10 guys right at the start,” said Playground Games’ Ralph Fulton to “60fps is something that’s important to the mastery of Forza Motorsport. But what we want to do, in terms of the open world, in terms of the day/night cycle, in terms of the many technologies we’ve layered on top, really means that we couldn’t do all those things and still run at 60fps.”

“What it came down to was a choice of what’s really important. What we alighted upon was that the immersion of the world, its believability, and all of the features and technologies we’re packing in take precedence.” The game was demoed on the E3 floor and Fulton went into a lot of detail about how the game is centered on realism and accuracy – its no Gran Tourismo 5, but then it doesn’t need to be. Fulton continues, saying that, “We have a real-time dynamic sky and cloud simulation, that’s always changing and always evolving. On top of that we have a dynamic sun, that moves across the sky casting shadows from every object from within the world – even the cars.”

“Finally we have atmospheric scattering, and that picks out individual particles from within the atmosphere and really deals with how light creates depth and realism within the view. We knew right there and then we were going to have to invest some serious time in creating technology to adequately render those views. Now Forza 4 has great vistas, right? You’ve seen the Alps track. The difference in Horizon is that if you can see it, you can drive to it. So we had to create what we call uber-LOD technology. Basically that enables us to draw up to 20km into the distance while still maintaining the high level of visual fidelity you’ve come to expect and demand from Forza games.”


Forza Horizon is set for an October 23rd this year. Who’s buying it? Do you think running the game at a smooth 30fps is less realistic or playable than the regular 60fps? I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments and the forum.


Discuss this in the forums: Linky