Gamescom 2011: Forza Motorsport 4 Impressions and Full Video Demo

Watch the full Gamescom demo and read our thoughts on Top Gear, lighting, and even Pokemon.

While the name "Forza" may derive from the Italian word for "strength," it's been a decidedly German week for the team at Turn 10. At Gamescom in Cologne, the Xbox developer announced a new track in the Hockenheimring, which is a relatively flat circuit situated in the Rhine valley of southwest Germany that you can play either during broad daylight or the pre-sunset "golden hour." The studio also brought along the first production model BMW M5, a heavy, high-powered sedan that fans will be able to drive in Forza 4 before it hits the streets.

However, those German-centric reveals weren't all that Turn 10 brought to Germany. Game director Dan Greenawalt was also in attendance showing a demo of Forza 4 behind closed doors. While a lot of it was content we've covered before at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, there were some very interesting new details revealed in the demo that we hadn't yet seen. Luckily for you, we were able to film the whole thing. Have a look at the video below, followed by some of our own impressions.

The Top Gear Touch

One of the ways that Turn 10 has incorporated Top Gear into Forza 4 has been through the use of voice-overs in Autovista mode. Autovista is a feature that lets you use either the Kinect or a controller to explore the nitty-gritty details of a car through things like hearing what the engine sounds like when you fire it up or popping up the hood and examining every last nook and cranny of the engine. Basically, it's the equivalent of finding a $200,000 sports car parked in grocery store parking lot and ogling it for a good 15 minutes without the fear of accidentally setting off its alarm.

When you're examining these cars, you can trigger certain audio prompts that let you hear what Top Gear's lovably grumpy Jeremy Clarkson thinks of the car. Showing off the 2011 Mercedes SLS AMG, Greenawalt played a Clarkson voice-over that went, "This is not just the greatest car Mercedes makes. Right now, I think, it's the greatest car in the world." We'll be honest: Hearing that sort of positivity from Clarkson was very refreshing. While it's hilarious hearing Clarkson make fun of cars on Top Gear, we'd imagine it's probably a lot less fun when you've spent the past 10 hours saving up to buy a car in the game, only to hear Clarkson tell you in no uncertain terms why anyone who drives this car has awful taste. Certainly, that'll probably still happen with a few Autovista models--Greenawalt insists they didn't censor Clarkson's strong opinions--but it's at least nice to see there's some variety to those opinions.

Clarkson is a big fan of the SLS AMG.

Lighting in a Bottle

There aren't a lot of people in the video game development world who can make a new lighting model sound fascinating, but Dan Greenawalt is certainly one of them. Forza 4 uses a new system called "image-based lighting" that unifies the lighting on the car with the world around it. Previously, Turn 10 used one lighting model on the car and a different one for the track; then, it used smoke and mirrors to make the two seem like they belonged to the same lighting source. Now Turn 10 doesn't have to pretend.

In practical terms, this means you'll see lighting that's less flat and more alive. Greenawalt showed off a car modeled after his own black metallic blue BMW M3, and it was interesting seeing how the dark paint job actually went from looking black in normal light to bluish (almost like a comic book character's black hair) when reflected by the full-spectrum lighting off the sun. Even more impressive is how the lighting looks in the cockpit. Whereas the car interiors looked relatively flat and drab in Forza 3, now you'll see a lot more dynamic lighting as the sun bounces off the leather wheel or dash. It'll be interesting to see how many people convert from an outside-the-car camera to a cockpit view as a result.

Germany's Hockenheimring

Hands Off the Wheel

One of the questions we asked Greenawalt after the demo ended was how much he and his team look outside the racing genre for inspiration. It was interesting to hear his response that it's a combination of expected reference points and more out-of-left-field ones that really make you think. He said that World of Warcraft was a big inspiration for the online auction house that lets players sell cars for in-game currency, which certainly makes sense. Those are two games with very similar features, so why not borrow from the ones who've found the most success? Less expected was Greenawalt's claim that Pokemon has been a big influence on his team. It's one of those things that sounds thoroughly bizarre at first but makes sense after a while. If there's one thing that sums up the Forza garage system, it's Pokemon's trademark slogan "Gotta catch 'em all!" There's a certain childlike joy, almost like collecting toys, which both games do exceptionally well.

In the end, Greenawalt summed it up nicely: "Honestly, we're huge gamers. It kind of sucks, actually, coming to a game show like this, and I'm doing interviews so I don't get to go play any of the games!"

Written By

Want the latest news about Forza Motorsport 4?

Forza Motorsport 4

Forza Motorsport 4

Follow

Discussion

46 comments
DavidFry1
DavidFry1

Will they port this to the pc. I think it would be a great game to have on the pc as well and maybe using directx 10 and or 11 technology.

DAMSOG
DAMSOG

The Forza games have gone from strength to strength so I can't see any reason that No4 will be anything other than fantastic....now where is my Plymouth Roadrunner?

mad0260
mad0260

Is there anyone who'd rather have silly kinect over something like bracket drag racing?

KrazzyDJ
KrazzyDJ

Holy .... Even this comes out on Q4 2011. Seriously, its gonna be fireworks this fall !!!

BelaidKL
BelaidKL

Winter 2011.... oh how broke I will be

manu97416
manu97416

This is what I call a "real" racing game where cars can actually spin off the tracks and crash I LOVE IT THIS IS THE BEST RACING SIMULATION GAME I KNOW TUFF LUCK PS3 !!!!!!

CTR360
CTR360

FM4 looks gorgeous i cant wait for october 14

redguard117
redguard117

to the people complaining about the physics of Forza compared to GT, yes GT has better physics BUT GT cannot hold a candle to either Live for Speed or GTR. It's all about finding the right balance of physics and (ph)un, and I think Forza does this beautifully. GT's concept of fun leans more towards the sim part yes but Forza is very very good too

jelle06
jelle06

So @ 16.00 he talking about a track featured in 2 times of day. So no 24h timelapse? And will there be weather effects? Graphics look great an all, but dynamic rain is a must for me.

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

@RadView he already said that controlling the car using kinect is not for a hardcore experience but is better for casual gamers and families etc. whereas it can be used alongside a controller to better the experience in a subtle but significant way, being able to move your head to look around. They are not trying to fool anyone into thinking kinect will be amazing, its just a nice addition to those who have it. and im quite sure that they have shown some kinect footage of this game in one of their videos...but maybe i am mistaken

the22for4
the22for4

btw i need this game to beat other games hehehehe

Supabul
Supabul

Only a select few car are in autovista mode, considering the detail and how much effort has gone into each car I'm okay with that.

zpluffy
zpluffy

sooo many good games coming out this year

sultros
sultros

Who isnt a fan of the SLS.

angrySanches
angrySanches

Again, all his words about kinect feature and cool graphic, indeed it is very beautiful game, but what about driving phisics? FM3 was sucks about it. Im not sure this go far too.

lozvil
lozvil

Don't get me wrong, I love Gran Turismo 5 but I think that this game will be way better....

RadView
RadView

He doesnt want to show the demo using kinect because its crap for games like this..., delays suck for fast action games...just say it already.

meke186
meke186

@zidan4000, ya for sure, once i traded in gt5, i missed its driving feel a bit, like its driving felt really smooth and once you got used to it it felt awesome. But i was super dissappointed, that one it had like 5 updates in the 1st 2 weeks because they rushed it towards the end (i know it was in production for 5 years, but that was mainly physics and graphics, not actuall technical things) and they totally ignored the tracks themselves, it felt like you driving this super good looking car on a 2001 graphics track. And they lied about the physics too, they really werent good.

twztid13
twztid13

gt5 sucks when you have to play it with a 2 position controller (go, or not). the 360 triggers have MANY different points that simulate a real gas & brake, plus i prefer the analog sticks over anything on any other system. i have FM4LE ordered & can't wait. gt5 was nowhere close to FM3 to me, so i can't wait to see what Turn 10 has done in 2 years.

NodakJo2010
NodakJo2010

If Forza 4's physics is almost as good as GT5 this will be the best console racing sim this generation.

1uP_OnYou
1uP_OnYou

I hope the driving mechanics are on par with GT5 cause when I went to play FM3 it felt a little sloppy. With that said though I have FM4LE pre-ordered and can't wait too play it!

acerx7
acerx7

way to improve on Forza!

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

i cant wait for this, its just so awesome :D

cf_Kage
cf_Kage

Loving this! Pretty damn impressed to be honest. I'm someone that gets bored of simulation games pretty easily though, but would still be very tempted to pick this up

zidan4000
zidan4000

@meke186 the problem with GT games that they NEVER evolve , they never change , they are basically the same but with improved physics , that is why sometimes i don't think that it qualifies to be called a game because it has very realistic physics and they concentrated too much on the driving and neglected the rest (customization options , liveries and such) i was disappointed by GT5 too , i had more fun playing FM3 to be honest , but i had more fun driving cars in GT5 , in my opinion every sim fan should get both as i can't see myself playing one and ignoring the other.

zidan4000
zidan4000

just hearing the name made it hard (not really but seriously this game is sexy) too bad my xbox360 is dead since 2009 and too bad that i am a poor college boy who couldn't afford a new one , guess i got to wait until i get a job to buy a 360 or the next gen xbox along with FM4.

advanracer
advanracer

AiGeeEn1 : Way to Trap em and Delete your message after. LMAO! Classic. I bet you're getting it either way.

AiGeeEn1
AiGeeEn1

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

JGMRACING
JGMRACING

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

NP1_PC
NP1_PC

looks awesome running on 360 hardware :) although i hope the screen tearing is removed from the final product, i find screen tearing really distracting in a game especially when a game looks that good

meke186
meke186

looks better than gt5. i was dissappointed with gt 5

racing1750
racing1750

So forza 4 is forza 3, but x100 more definitive :D Can't wait for this game. Turn 10 will again deliver!

pcty
pcty

This game looks amazing! I wish it was released on pc or ps3. lucky 360 owners

Steba93
Steba93

I've never really cared for racing games, but this looks awesome. Just might put this on my must buy list

Johny_47
Johny_47

5:03 THAT is 'car porn' =P This looks so cool, I have Gran Turismo 5 and I think it's a half finished game at best, luckily for Polyphony I like it a bit more than I don't if you know what I mean? But it's too serious, and not(if you played it you'll know what I mean, cheesy damagae physics etc, everything 'feels the same') this game is just cool and I really want to play it even if it's just to collect cars and hear Jeremy talk as your in that very detailed 'look around' thing, looks and sounds so realistic. Looking forward =)

nissanmaxima
nissanmaxima

can't wait to get my copy on oct 11th. this game will be epic. nuf said.

ste-g
ste-g

cant wait to play this game after GT was such a let down. looks like there gona be keeping that racing sim top spot.

guertt
guertt

ooohhh myy godddddd!!!!! I can't wait to play that game :)

AiGeeEn1
AiGeeEn1

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

R3FURBISHED
R3FURBISHED

It all sounds great, but lets see what those 80+ manufacturers are going to be offering with an official car list.