forza mo­tor­sport 7

Turn 10 re­turns to take pole po­si­tion Paul Tay­lor

XBox: The Official Magazine - - START -

“We want play­ers to see, hear and feel the ex­plo­sive power of mo­tor­sport”

Pub­lisher Mi­crosoft Stu­dios De­vel­oper Turn 10 For­mat Xbox One ETA 3 Oc­to­ber

Xbox and Forza go hand in wheel. The two are so in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked that to con­ceive of one with­out the other would be like hav­ing a fin­ish line with­out a che­quered flag, or a podium with­out a win­ner’s step. Just as Mo­tor­sport 5 was the poster­child of the Xbox One launch, Forza Mo­tor­sport 7 is the game to get when Xbox One X hits in Novem­ber – and Turn 10’s hard work has made the game even better on your One or One S.

Forza Mo­tor­sport 7 has been de­signed to be a vis­ual pow­er­house on all Xboxes, though it’s clearly at its ab­so­lute best when run­ning on the One X. Forza’s no stranger to dis­play­ing at 60fps, and HDR in con­junc­tion with the 4K res­o­lu­tion boost has given Turn 10 the op­por­tu­nity to dial up the race at­mos­phere. Ev­ery Xbox ben­e­fits from tech like dy­namic im­age-based light­ing (Play­ground Games em­ployed this in the fan­tas­tic Forza Hori­zon 3), while the S and X glee­fully show off dy­namic HDR skies (another sig­na­ture piece from Hori­zon 3).

It’s the smaller de­tails that make the game feel big­ger than it cur­rently is. In­creas­ing grass den­sity and im­prov­ing par­ti­cle ef­fects help make each track feel more real, and the cars are in­jected with more life and trim­mings too. Xbox One X own­ers get to wit­ness ‘dy­namic cube maps’, a tech­nique that Bill Giese, cre­ative di­rec­tor for Forza Mo­tor­sport, says “better seats our cars in the world”. Peer at the dash­board and de­pend­ing on the model you’ll be able to gawp at the suede-like al­cantra, and ad­mire am­bi­ent oc­clu­sion light­ing tech­niques. All very nice, very buz­zwordy, but what’s re­ally been miss­ing is a touch of vi­o­lence.

Giese ex­plains: “We want play­ers to see, hear and feel the ex­plo­sive power of mo­tor­sport,” he says. “For all 700 cars the in­stru­men­ta­tion clus­ters are go­ing to rat­tle, wind­shield wipers and mir­rors vi­brate – it’s that feeling of the car at its peak. We’ve over­hauled the au­dio for our driv­e­line flex, so you can hear the car tear­ing it­self apart. It can be scary, but it feels more grounded and alive than be­fore.”

Gear­boxes of war

He’s not wrong. We got our hands on the new Porsche 911 GT2 RS, pos­si­bly the most in­sane in­car­na­tion of the Ger­man mar­que’s hero car that’s ever been de­vised. There’s a se­ri­ous roar to how it sounds along­side its com­peti­tors, and as the 911 tears around the Dubai black­top its rear wing wob­bles, fight­ing to keep the rub­ber firmly planted. Forza 7 will have more Porsche, Fer­rari and Lam­borgh­ini mod­els than any other rac­ing game.

Then there’s the cir­cuit it­self. Sand from the dunes whips across the track as the wind picks up, and it’s likely that the next time we were to play it we wouldn’t see this hap­pen. Un­like Forza Mo­tor­sport 6, weather con­di­tions aren’t ‘baked in’, mean­ing ev­ery time you pull up to the start line your event will dif­fer to the last. Back­drops and car mod­els are noth­ing short of gor­geous, and as the har­row­ing, con­vinc­ing weather ef­fects play out, the fram­er­ate never dips be­low 60fps, even when play­ing

“More pix­els, and pret­tier ones, cer­tainly add more in­ten­sity to en­vi­ron­ments”

in a sil­i­con-pun­ish­ing 4K res­o­lu­tion. Ut­ter magic.

“We want each race to be a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence,” ex­plains Giese. “We cre­ate that ex­pe­ri­ence with dy­namic con­di­tions, in­clud­ing chang­ing time of day, dra­matic weather con­di­tions and vary­ing con­di­tions on the track.”

The screen­shots give some hint as to what ex­pect: dan­ger­ous, puls­ing skies that flicker with sheet light­ning dur­ing a storm, rain pool­ing on the track, and the golden rays of post-storm sun­shine re­flect­ing in the water. “We used a new tech­nique called pho­togram­me­try,” con­tin­ues Giese. “We’ve done laser scan­ning for years, but when you get a photo ref­er­ence and artists have to touch up ge­om­e­try to make the track au­then­tic, it takes a lot of time. Pho­togram­me­try uses laser scan­ning and photos to cre­ate the track ge­om­e­try more ac­cu­rately than be­fore, and you get that im­per­fec­tion in the rocks which we see trackside on the Dubai cir­cuit.”

Again, im­per­fec­tions aren’t just there for de­tail’s sake, and Turn 10 hopes they pro­mote a sense of depth and im­mer­sion. “[Pho­togram­me­try] al­lowed us not only to build th­ese com­plex ge­o­graphic for­ma­tions quickly, it also gave us inch-per­fect ac­cu­racy,” ex­plains Giese.

“In the end, it’s some­thing that the av­er­age player may not no­tice when speed­ing past at more than 100mph, but we be­lieve that ex­tra ef­fort adds to the im­mer­sion and feel of the tracks we cre­ate. At the end of the day, we built a gor­geous world for our fans to play in.”

The 4K ef­fect

In a way, though, this is al­most a given, con­sid­er­ing the ex­tra power af­forded by the One X. As a first-party stu­dio Turn 10 was one of the ini­tial out­fits given Project Scorpio hard­ware to play with, and knew it was go­ing to have to work on tex­tures and light­ing to ac­count for beefier hard­ware. “As the cre­ative di­rec­tor for Forza Mo­tor­sport, this is the first time in my ca­reer that I’ve had more head­room to build with at the launch of a con­sole,” fur­thers Giese. “Play­ing the game in 4K and HDR re­minds me of see­ing a 1080p im­age for the first time – the re­sults have been in­spir­ing.”

More pix­els, and pret­tier ones, cer­tainly add more in­ten­sity to en­vi­ron­ments. The real dilemma was how to build around it. To that end, Forza Mo­tor­sport 7 boasts 700 cars for you to race and ogle in Forza­v­ista (the game’s model viewer), and 30 rac­ing en­vi­ron­ments and 200 ‘rib­bons’ (think lay­outs or per­mu­ta­tions of a track).

A new cam­paign mode is also in the works, ti­tled Forza Driv­ers Cup. With so many cir­cuits on of­fer and lo­ca­tions to race in, we’re look­ing for­ward to see­ing more of a per­son­al­ity from the usu­ally stiff-col­lared racer. Rather than sim­ply tick­ing off races like you would a spread­sheet, the Cup is all about series, scor­ing points and tro­phies.

“We’ve had great suc­cess with Forza Rac­ing Cham­pi­onship,” says Giese. “We’re look­ing at Mixer in­te­gra­tion, new spec­tat­ing tools. Be­ing able to watch this in 4K and HDR turns this from a com­pet­i­tive sport into a spec­ta­tor sport.”

And what a spec­ta­cle it’ll be. Rac­ers are no longer con­fined to sim­ply choos­ing the gen­der or ba­sic fa­cial fea­tures, as an RPGlite func­tion is be­ing in­tro­duced: a mas­sive Driver Gear col­lec­tion that in­cludes hun­dreds of new op­tions to deck out your avatar in race suits drawn from decades of rac­ing his­tory and – cu­ri­ously – pop cul­ture. Away from the sin­gle player-fo­cused Forza Driv­ers Cup you’ll find mul­ti­player modes such as League Sea­sons, where you can bat­tle other driv­ers with a sim­i­lar skill level from all over the world.

Even if the most ex­pe­ri­ence you’ve had driv­ing a car is mak­ing brum brum noises with your Match­box set, there’s a layer of as­sists on top so all that you have to do is work the ‘go’ pedal and the steer­ing wheel. More ex­pe­ri­enced rac­ers can hap­pily strip all of this away and ad­mire the fine sim­u­la­tion model wait­ing to be given a big rev. Forza Mo­tor­sport 7 rep­re­sents the ul­ti­mate vi­sion of rac­ing games on con­sole, and a con­sole that pushes the very limit of what your game boxes can do. But then, like that podium and its top step, that’s al­ways been the case.

Main You’ll see rat­tling parts and vi­o­lent cam­era shakes in the cock­pit when trav­el­ling at many hun­dreds of some­things per hour.

be­low Some races could see sand blow­ing in your face; some, driv­ing rain.

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