Leave any notion of Mario Kart motoring behind when you take to a controller to play one of the titles in the Forza Motorsport franchise. These games are not so much games as racing simulations; they provide you with the opportunity to take to the wheel in any one of a vast assortment of motor vehicles to hit the track and prove your worth. Since the debut of the original Forza in May, 2005, the series has grown increasingly popular and rumors of future forays into this world of motoring simulation abound.
Once upon a time there was only one name when it came to serious motorsport games, and that was Gran Turismo. Launched back in 1998 for the original PlayStation, these titles were unlike anything that we'd seen before. The Gran Turismo games brought us hundreds of beautiful cars to drive, and forced us to learn how to apply the brakes; something we'd never been forced to do in a racing game before! Although the graphics have improved over time, even the original games in this series showed us incredible detail in vehicles, tracks and scenery, and even those not normally inclined to reach for a racing game were intrigued at what Sony had to offer.
It's not really surprising that Microsoft was disinclined to force those individuals vaguely interested in racing into the Sony PlayStation market, and that's where Forza Motorsport was born. Developed by Turn 10 Studios and published by the people at Microsoft themselves, Forza was an alternative to Gran Turismo and, surprise surprise, one that could only be played on the Xbox.
There are a multitude of similarities between Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport, namely the absolutely stunning graphics that both of the latest games bring to the marketplace, and also the sheer volume of vehicles that you can jump straight into. The very first Forza game featured more than 200 cars, with Forza 4 boasting more than 500! Everything from your average road car to the supercars of your wildest dreams is accessible within these games, and you can enjoy them on the various different closed circuit tracks. There's no open world experience in the Forza Motorsport titles, but that's not what the game is all about. This is supposed to be a realistic simulation of what it's really like to drive competitively, and the career mode contained within the later games truly gives you a taste of the journey from unknown racer to renowned success.
The previous four Forza Motorsport games have been released on a cycle of roughly two years, however it seems that Microsoft are unhappy with this schedule and are pushing to get Forza titles onto the shelves more frequently. Although the next Forza Motorsport game, number 5, is pegged for release at some point in 2013 which will be approximately two years from the debut of number 4, it seems the Forza name has been given to another company to play with.
October, 2012 will see the release of Forza Horizon, a game that's more of a spinoff from the original Motorsport franchise than any sort of sequel. It's a whole new developer, Playground Games, and it's going to be a game more akin to Need for Speed than the simulation driven Forza Motorsport. There will still be numerous cars to drive and the photorealistic graphics that we've come to know and love from Turn 10 Studios, but it sounds like Horizon is going to be reaching for a different market, one looking for a more accessible racing game.
The future of the Forza franchise may depend, in part, on the success of Forza Horizon. Will we see Turn 10 Studios turning to the more open world experience in Forza 5 or 6? Or will the main series of simulation titles continue while these spinoffs from British developer Playground Games take things in a different direction? Will the push to release more titles result in a lack of quality? Or will the faster release of games simply give the series more momentum? Only time will tell.
Wherever the Forza franchise does find itself in years to come we can rest assured that it will still be here. The racing simulation genre looks set to continue into the realm of the next generation consoles. With photorealistic graphics and accurate handling the aim of Forza Motorsport, we can't wait to see what both Turn 10 Studios and Playground Games can do with the extra processing and graphical power that will be available in the Xbox One.
Article by - Rebecca Waterman
Insert Date: 08/29/2012