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An entirely new car experience

The developers behind Forza Motorsport 4 are widening their scope with the release of their new simulation racing game.

The developers behind Forza Motorsport 4 are widening their scope with the release of their new simulation racing game.

If you’re a hardcore video gamer, they’re aiming to please you. But they also stress that even if you’re a novice gamer, yet have a passion for cars, you should really take notice.

“Our goal with Forza 4 is to turn car lovers into gamers, and gamers into car lovers,” said Brian Ekberg, community manager for Turn 10 Studios, the developer behind the game. Ekberg was in Toronto last week promoting the game at an Xbox 360 holiday preview event.

Exclusive to the 360, the upcoming instalment of the popular Forza series is set for an Oct. 11 release.

When a new Forza game comes out, it’s usually considered a big deal — for Xbox owners, at least — as the series has garnered critical acclaim. Forza Motorsport 3, which was released in 2009, notched Best Driving Game awards from USA Today and IGN, in addition to a Game of the Year nod from The Associated Press.

One of the big advancements in Forza 4 is the inclusion of the all-new Autovista Mode. Described by Ekberg as a “virtual showroom,” the mode, which is exclusive to the game, allows players to examine real-life cars just as if they were viewing them at a dealership — a really expensive dealership that is.

The Ferrari 458 Italia, Ferrari California, and McLaren F1 are just a few of the cars to be featured in this mode.

“It’s a way to experience cars in a way you’ve never been able to do so before,” said Ekberg.

Paired with the 360’s motion-sensing Kinect device, players in Autovista can move their body left or right and the camera will move the same way around the car. With no controller required, they can physically crouch down to check out the wheels, open the doors to look inside the car, or even pop the hood to check out the engine. As well, players can place their hand over certain “points of interest,” and it’ll bring up information about the cars.

“If you’re a car lover, you can come to Autovista Mode and find out about and really appreciate these cars and maybe learn something you didn’t already know,” said Ekberg. “If you’re not a big car fan, we want you to come to this mode, learn about cars and maybe that blossoms into a car passion throughout the rest of your life.”

While Autovista Mode is a nice addition to the game, at its heart Forza is a racing game, and Ekberg says it won’t disappoint in that regard.

A new lighting engine has been added to enhance the game’s silky-smooth graphics, while the Kinect will be integrated into the driving experience by allowing players to move the camera by simply tilting their head.

To create the realistic race tracks featured in the game, Turn 10 photographed, filmed and GPS-ed different locales in the world. Ekberg says that attention was paid to even the smallest details, such as creating blinding snow effects in some tracks, for example.

The developer has also partnered with Pirelli, gaining full access to the company’s tire data. The desired goal was to achieve a driving dynamic that closely mirrors real-life cars and their interaction with the roads.

“We take our physics seriously,” said Turn 10’s Brian Ekberg. “We spent an incredible amount of investment into our physics, because we believe it’s important to be as realistic and as true to life as we possibly can.”

While many simulation racing games can seem intimidating to new players, Ekberg says his team ensured that Forza 4 is different. The game does have a new simulation steering mode that is designed for “hardcore people,” but gamers on the opposite end of the spectrum will be looked after as well.

“Depending on your skill level, you can still have a good time with this game,” Ekberg said.

“We have a lot of assists you can turn on — steering assists, braking assists. Even if you don’t have a lot of experience playing games, you can come in, get inside this Ferrari 458 and blast around the track and have a great time.”

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