Turn 10 Studios has announced that the hugely anticipated Forza Motorsport 3 has "gone gold", meaning that the codebase has been locked down and the final disc image has been dispatched for duplication. To celebrate, the developer has released details of the forthcoming playable demo along with a 60FPS gameplay capture, showing a 2004 "Yellow Hat" racing Toyota Supra in action on the Sedona Raceway Park circuit.
Having played the demo at gamescom, I know that this is a beautiful-looking game, and a worthy rival for the forthcoming Gran Turismo 5. However, the new video released by Turn 10 features a very significant performance upgrade over the previous GC sampler: sustained 60FPS gameplay, no matter which viewpoint you choose to use. At gamescom, all of the external views ran at a beautifully smooth frame rate, but the in-car dashboard view was savagely cut-down to a mere 30FPS. The look was different, the feel was different; it just didn't work. It wasn't quite Forza any more.
Frame rate analysis of the gameplay sections of Turn 10's new video confirms the good news: in-car gameplay with no performance penalty. In fact, the only dropped frames we see occur when the player changes the viewpoint, so hardly intrusive on the gameplay. It's interesting to note that the same thing happens in Forza 2 as well.
Analysis of compressed video like this sometimes introduces a small element of error. In a pure digital HDMI capture direct from the console, a dropped frame is zero per cent different from the previous one. Compression artifacts in an internet download skew the threshold much higher than the usual baseline, meaning that "potential" dropped frames need to be double-checked by eye. However, with assets like this one where the whole screen is updated so quickly with so much new information, the dropped frames stick out like sore thumbs and are easy to isolate. Not only that but there are so few of them here that they can easily be double-checked manually too. This is the real deal: Forza 3 is butter-smooth.
Over and above the frame rate, the intro scenes and the dashboard view give us some clean edges to look at, and it seems that native 720p with 2x multi-sampling anti-aliasing is confirmed. Based on both my gameplay experiences, and this new video, the game also appears to be v-synced too.
In short, the evidence of the gamescom demo, combined with the new video, suggests that Turn 10 has extracted excellent performance and some stunning visuals from the Xbox 360. We'll be able to see for ourselves when the demo hits the Xbox Live Marketplace on September 24, bringing with it the full, unabridged Camino Viejo circuit and five cars:
- 2007 Porsche #80 Flying Lizard 911 GT3-RSR
- 2010 Audi R8 5.2 FSI quattro
- 2009 Ferrari California
- 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X GSR
- 2009 Mini John Cooper Works
The full game arrives at retail almost a month later, on October 23.