Microsoft‘s Turn 10 Studios have just released the above trailer for the “Better With KinectXbox 360 racing game Forza Horizon, which showcases the incredible open-world environments during both day and night which also includes traffic!

PAX Prime demo

Forza Horizon was at PAX Prime last week and the San Jose Mercury News, of all places, has a very in-depth preview of the game which you can read in full at the source link. Here are some excerpts, including some minor info about the Kinect voice commands:

THE IDEA OF MOTIVATION: Although it’s an “action racing game” (his words), the title still retains that love of cars and racing, but instead of the obsession over the fastest lap time, Forza Horizon focuses on exploration. That’s going to be the motivation for players to drive through the 65 different terrain types of Colorado, where the games is set.

Also included in the campaign is a legitimate story. Its centers on the Horizon Festival, which is a fictional event based on a outdoor megaconcerts such as Bonnaroo or Lollapalooza. As a male driver, players enter the celebration which draws racers and acts from around the globe. They’ll immediately be drawn into the fiction after seeing Darius Flynt, last year’s champion, cruising around the Colorado road.

Players can’t really customize their avatar. He’s just a silent stand-in for the player as they progress through the festival unlocking wristbands that open up more and more events. Each wristband — there are at least eight — has a rival. In the offroad race, I was involved in I beat Ramona Cravache in her Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. After the match, she challenged me one on one for pink slips. After a few tries, I beat her and added her car to my garage.

THE RIGHT FEEL: When it comes to the feel of the title, Playground Games nails the cars. Unlike most arcade racers, Forza Horizon takes the track data from Forza Motorsports 4 and the team applies it to this open world game. That means every car handles differently.

And what’s even better, each vehicle from trucks to sedans to supercars all have a role when it comes to races. Obviously, one wouldn’t want to use a Porsche in an offroad race on gravel. A four-wheel drive vehicle would be better. This helps players build relationships with more than one vehicle. As for car damage, it does exist — you see windows break and doors crumple — but it doesn’t affect the handling of the vehicle. It’s cosmetic.

That’s a credit to a team, which is made up of former members of Bizarre Creations, Black Rock Studio and Codemasters. It’s a new studio full of industry veterans and that experience shines through in the beautiful look of the game and some of the creativity in the structure.

HOW PLAYER PROGRESSION WORKS: As I mentioned before, Forza Horizon has a Festival Progression, but in addition, it also has a separate Player Progression track. The latter advances the story while the other focuses on your experience points and player level. They both reward players with vehicles but it’s done in different ways.

In Player Progression, players can expect the typical advancement. Each competition provides more experience points and credits. Those credits go toward the purchase of new cars or upgrades. They can compete in the following events:
1. Regular closed course races
2. Photography competitions, where players go out and take pictures in the gorgeous Colorado environment.
3. Street Races. These are spontaneous events that happen when players are wandering around the countryside and run into a computer-controlled racer.
4. Style Events. Borrowing a bit from Project Gotham Racing, this mode gives players points based on the tricks they perform while they drive.

There are also random opportunities for competition strewn around the world. For example, players will see metered boxes that measure speed. It tracks how fast players are going and registers it online. Often, they can see how their speed stacks up with friend’s and try to maintain a lead or beat a buddies’ speed score. Elswehere, they can search the world for barns that hold secret cars. These found vehicles can be fixed up by the local mechanic Dak. He’ll even give players a quick history on the car they just found. All of this reinforces the exploration that’s one of the touchstones for the game.

BONUS POINTS
What about Kinect? Yes, there is Kinect support for Forza Horizon. No, it’s not going to be like Kinect Joy Ride or Autovista. Playground Games eliminates any motion control and sticks with the voice. Using the sensor, players are able to ask the Kinect to get directions to a specific location. All they have to say is “GPS festival” and the guiding line in the game will point players to the direction of the Horizon Festival. It keeps players in the game without bringing up a map in a menu.

Hot imports incoming. Like in previous Forza games, players who have Forza Motorsports 3 or Forza Motorsports 4 saves will be able to import that into the game. The game will give you rewards such as cars based on your level in the previous game. Players can also take their liveries from one game to Horizon. So it pays to work toward that level 999 or paint that Hello Kitty graphic on your car.

 

Here is some off-screen video of the PAX Prime demo, recorded by Gaming Feud:

 

 

Source: Turn 10 Studios YouTube Channel, San Jose Mercury News, Gaming Feud YouTube Channel