When the Kinect was released last year, the launch titles used Microsoft's new hands-free motion sensor almost exclusively. But as time has gone on, we're now starting to see more and more games blending that technology with a traditional controller for some new and interesting control schemes. One of the cleverest examples has to be the upcoming Xbox 360 exclusive Forza Motorsport 4. Rather than throw in an alternate controller-free method of steering your car and calling it a day, developer Turn 10 has added a number of interesting features that use the Kinect in some unexpected ways.
The big attention grabber is a mode called Autovista. In this feature, you're able to use the Kinect to walk around and examine a highly detailed selection of cars all rendered at a startling level of realism. You can walk around a car, open the door, sit inside, soak up the leather interior, and even start the engine to see how that metal beast sounds. According to game director Dan Greenawalt, the select number of cars featured in Autovista have been designed to be viewed from a "sub-six-inch" perspective, meaning you're not going to see those odd jagged edges and checkerboard textures when you zoom the camera in super close. We got to see a very early version of Autovista at last year's E3, but now, it has been fleshed out with new bells and whistles, including a number of voice-overs provided by Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson. The voice-overs focus on various points of interest for each car. In typical Clarkson fashion, he doesn't hold back; he notes that the beautiful design of the Ferrari 458 Italia is quite a departure from the manufacturer's recent efforts, one of which had the front end of "a leering idiot."
Another clever use of the Kinect is the way Forza lets you use voice recognition to take shortcuts through the elaborate user interface and menu trees. Say you're deep into the car customization screen, applying new vinyls to your car, and you suddenly feel a burning desire to go see if your most recent creation is selling well on the storefront. Simply say, "Forza Community" and the Kinect will teleport you right to the game's community hub. For a game with such extensive menus, this is certainly a neat little feature that probably won't make you want to rush out and buy a Kinect, but it will certainly offer a nice bonus for those who already have one.
We also got a chance to see some of the changes to Forza 4's Career mode, some of the changes to the community tools, and a little bit of multiplayer. You can see all of that, plus the aforementioned Kinect features, in the video below. Be sure to give it a look--it's a treasure trove of information for Forza diehards. Check it out: