Every week, Forza Horizon 4 features a new Forzathon weekly challenge. These charge you with owning a particular car and using it to complete a series of challenges. This past week's challenge has been called Horizon Anniversary and marks the release, six years ago this week, of the first Forza Horizon. To complete it, you need to own a 1995 Volkswagen Corrado VR6, rack up two million skill score with it, win a race in it, and carry on racing to earn a few clean racing skills.
Microsoft restarted its programme of Xbox One X enhancements for Xbox 360 games this week with four new titles - Forza Horizon, The Witcher 2, Crackdown and Fable Anniversary Edition. We're seeing the same 9x resolution boost on all releases in concert with improved performance where appropriate, but it's the first game in this new line-up that's our focus today. Image quality in Forza Horizon is off the charts in the transition to ultra HD and there are a couple of further, surprising enhancements that caught our eye.
I finally saw the documentary Senna this year. I'm late to the party, I know. The film came out in 2010, and it chronicles the career of the late Brazilian Formula One champion Ayrton Senna, perhaps the best racing driver in history. I took my time getting around to Senna because I don't really consider myself a car guy.
Motor racing, despite its roots in France, its scarlet red Italian heart and its current domination at the top tier by a German and a Spaniard, is a very British affair. In the heart of England, amidst the pockets of nondescript countryside of Banbury, Oxford and Woking there's the self-titled Motorsport Valley, where a large part of the global circus that's F1 calls home.
Greetings! This is the spot graciously given us by Eurogamer to lay out a video sampler of what's been going on at Outside Xbox in the past seven days.
Judged in terms of established precedents, Forza Horizon simply has no right to be this good. Handing off the keys to a prestige franchise to an all-new development studio was a massive gamble in itself, but the risk-taking doesn't end there. Playground Games didn't take the obvious safe route and simply iterate on the existing formula using the established engine: instead the fledgling developer took that technology, retained its core attributes and then expanded upon them, taking the whole franchise in a new direction.
During production of yesterday's Digital Foundry vs. Forza Horizon article, we reached out to Playground Games with a view to adding their input to our analysis on this exceptional game. We could only include some of their information in our piece, but the team was so lavish and exhaustive in its replies to our questions that we realised that we'd be doing our readers a disservice by not publishing the entire transcript verbatim.
When the Washington-based Turn 10 makes Forza games, it does so with a European accent. It's a slightly forced one at times, but there's still an understatement and refinement to the Forza Motorsport series that belies the game's American roots.
Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo pride themselves on a passion for cars. Simulated handling, fastidiously recreated bodywork, under-the-hood tinkering, carefully curated car lists: they leave no stone unturned in satisfying the ownership fantasies of every car lover.
But there's one vital aspect of autophilia that these circuit racing games can't satisfy. It's the thrill of getting into your car, pointing its nose at the vanishing point, opening the throttle and seeing where it takes you. People don't just love cars because they're beautiful and fast - they love them because they hold the promise of freedom and exploration, of power over your own destiny. It's a dream no amount of laps of Silverstone or Laguna Seca can realise, and it's one that's close to my heart.
In modern gaming, that dream is best expressed by the ramshackle yet loveable Test Drive Unlimited games, with their full-size recreations of the islands of Oahu and Ibiza to cruise around. There are some fine open-world arcade racers too, especially Criterion's Burnout Paradise and Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, but their hyperactive, drifty action racing is too far removed from reality to count as wish-fulfilment. That's why I love TDU more than it arguably deserves.