Forza Hori­zon 2

Xbox One

EDGE - - GAMES - Pub­lisher De­vel­oper For­mat Ori­gin Re­lease Mi­crosoft Play­ground Games Xbox One UK Septem­ber 30

Would it be cruel to call the first

Forza Hori­zon a rush job? In the space of 18 months, Play­ground Games went from 19 co-founders and a va­cant of­fice to a full team and a shipped game that dragged Forza Mo­tor­sport’s physics model off the track and onto a scale model of Colorado. The first open-world Forza was a spec­tac­u­lar achieve­ment, but one with no­table omis­sions in the wake of Forza 4. With Play­ground’s fast turn­around, there could be no tuning, no car auc­tions, no tech­ni­cal HUD, and no Top Gear tie-ins. Hori­zon also put fewer cars on track and in play­ers’ garages. But two years later on Xbox One, Play­ground has the ad­van­tage. After all, Forza 5 is proof that, yes, call­ing

Hori­zon a rush job would be cruel. Turn 10’s launch-day racer was a re­mark­able piece of tech­nol­ogy, but miss­ing two-thirds of Forza

4’ s tracks, 300 of its cars and count­less modes and fea­tures. Forza 5 was a skele­ton com­pared with the fleshed-out Forza 4. Worse, it skipped fea­tures Turn 10 had never promised but play­ers had been an­tic­i­pat­ing for years: night racing and dy­namic weather.

Turn 10 had all the trou­bles of work­ing with a new en­gine on new hard­ware, but Play­ground is ar­riv­ing a year later with its open-world se­quel hav­ing en­joyed all the lux­u­ries of work­ing with newer APIs on more ma­ture Xbox One hard­ware and with Turn 10’s new en­gine. Hori­zon 2 matches Forza 5’ s ve­hi­cle count with 200 cars, strips out that game’s con­tro­ver­sial mi­cro­trans­ac­tions, ups the ra­dio sta­tions from three to eight, in­cludes a full tuning sys­tem, and adds a day/ night cy­cle and weather. But to frame this as a con­test would be to miss the point; cer­tainly there’s a de­gree of com­pe­ti­tion be­tween Play­ground and Turn 10, but ev­ery­one wins.

“We now have two world-class teams work­ing on the same tech­nol­ogy and the same code­base, shar­ing ideas and pool­ing cre­ativ­ity,” Play­ground’s cre­ative direc­tor

Ralph Ful­ton says. “I think that lets us push harder and fur­ther than we ever could alone.”

Armed with Turn 10’s new en­gine, Play­ground is re­spon­si­ble for re­work­ing the code to fit an open-world game, which comes at a cost: the fram­er­ate has fallen from 60fps to 30fps, and the num­ber of player-con­trolled cars on the road is down from 16 to 12. The pay­off is gid­dy­ing space and sur­pass­ing beauty. Span­ning the beau­ti­ful south of France and north­ern Italy, Hori­zon 2 takes in the sights and spec­ta­cles of Provence, the Côte d’Azur, Tus­cany and the rolling foothills and majestic moun­tains of the Alps, where the Hori­zon fes­ti­val has set up shop for 2014.

“Set­ting your game in one of the world’s most beau­ti­ful places is a good start for

Ralph Ful­ton, cre­ative direc­tor, Play­ground Games

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